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Riding in Cars with Chips!

March 30, 2012

I spent 3 1/2 hours in a car with an open three pound bag of my favorite potato chips on the seat beside me. I only ate a single one-ounce serving!

You may read this and think, “so what?” For many it may be a “so what” and no need to celebrate, but that’s not the case for me. Let me explain where I came from and how I got to what for me, is quite a fantastic feat.

Chips were what is commonly called in weight loss vernacular a “red-light” food for me. In other words it was one of many foods that I abused by overeating. Remember the potato chip ad that used to caution these chips were so good nobody could eat just one? Well, I guess I grew up believing that my potato chip habit was justifiable and shared by the entire American population.

I blamed the chips for my inability to eat them responsibly. I would say, “if I start eating them I can’t stop until the whole bag is gone, no matter how large the whole bag may be.” Pretty much every time I ate chips, that was the self-talk going through my mind. When the bag was empty I felt miserable that I had consumed its entirety, but felt some small comfort knowing that it wasn’t really my fault; it was the chips’ fault.

I would struggle to just stay away from them altogether and that didn’t work either. I would give in and soon as I did – the bag was emptied in a mad, potato chip-feeding frenzy! I finally came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to chose between my weight goal and chips .

I needed a plan to allow me to have both. So I started by changing my self-talk from “once I start, I can’t stop,” to “I want to eat a single serving and work it into my food plan.” Then I picked up a bag to read the nutritional facts posted on the back. A serving was about 14 chips and 150 calories. I took 14 chips and put them in a bowl and ate them slowly, one-by-one, savoring the crunch, the saltiness, and the exquisite fried potato flavor. When the last chip was eaten I was thinking, “those were good; gimme more.”

Do you know how easy it would have then been to say to myself, “I’m having more and it’s not my fault. I can’t help it.  I knew when I started eating those chips I wouldn’t be able to stop!” My plan, however, called for me to change my self talk. The new message was, “I can have them if I want them, but do I really want them? Will another serving taste better than the serving I just ate? Do I want to spend more than 150 calories on chips today? What would I have to give up to eat the rest of the bag? Is it worth sacrificing my weight loss progress for more chips?”

I’m not going to tell you it was easy to keep the bag closed at first because it wasn’t. But, WOW! It sure made me feel good and it sure made me feel strong. Eventually I got to the point where I could ride in a car, by myself, with an open bag within reach and eat only one ounce. The “by myself” is significant too, because in days past I used to subscribe to the “if nobody saw me eat it, then I must not have really eaten it, right?” school of thought.

One day riding in cars with chips and eating a single serving may not be such a big deal to me anymore. Today it is and I’m going to celebrate the victory every time!

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