Thursday, 16 July 2009

What have I learned???

This is my friendly neighbourhood camera crew outside the Malmaison Hotel in Manchester last Friday. We went out for a meal so they could film us "in a social setting"!!

For a cameraman, he didn't take a great photo! He cut my foot off and got his own reflection in the building and the angle isn't the most flattering. I think he must have been the sound man!
Me and my fellow participants in the show.

Mucking around on the poncy furniture in a deserte Mal lobby. Like kids we were after the film crew had left...

We had a really hard session on the track on Tuesday night. It was good because we haven't been able to get any time on the track since our last time trial 3 weeks ago. it was good to see that our fitness is still improving and to work on techniques like the sprint start and intervals. We also had a good chat with the psych guy about how we have been getting on. I am kicking myself a little though as I feel that I have not used his expertise much in the last few weeks. I had started to wean myself off the programme and prepare for its finish but now realise that I should have squeezed as much out of him as I can while that resource is available. Doh!

Oh well, I have 10 days left so I'm going to pepper him with emails in that time and hopefully glean some more wisdom.

He set us some homework last night. One thing was to rehearse a piece to camera explaining the 2 (or more) most important things we think we have learned during the programme. This is not to do with the weight or exercise stuff but solely about our mental development. The other thing was personal tasks for each of the 4 of us. Apparently my chimp is intelligent and rational and learns ways to fool me into thinking that everything is okay so that I won't push the diet and exercise stuff. Typical. So my exercise was to work on instances in my day to day life when my chimp fools me and uses rationalising tricks to make me think the status quo is okay. If I spot one, I have to work on stopping it immediately - not letting myself go into the Fog and thinking that that is okay, just putting a stop to it!

The most obvious recent time this happened was when we went to Ireland a couple of months ago when I thought everything was going swimmingly and then realised that actually my weight had stayed the same for 3 weeks!! My chimp had used rationalisation to make me think this was okay even though it clearly wasn't. It was only when the Psych guy pointed out to me that my weight was the same as it had been weeks earlier, that I realised what had happened. But it happens on a smaller scale at other times as well. If I spot it (which I need to practise doing) I must stop it there and then rather than giving in to excuses.

On the things I have learned, I'm not sure what is the most important to me. I thought a good way to start would be just to do a brain dump here and then see which leaps out at me. So, here goes:

What have I learned?

That I have a chimp and that her motivations are not the same as mine.
It makes no sense to feel guilty when I eat too much or don’t exercise. This is my chimp and I just need to learn the skills to control her.

My chimp is motivated by food, insecurity and maternal instinct. Her primary driver is to reproduce and all these are geared towards making her a good mother. These drivers do not fit well with my modern life but I can’t change them. I have to work with her. She is very strong.
My chimp makes me procrastinate. She is physically lazy and wants to eat when it is available (ie. all the time). She is concerned about appearances and her social standing. She may not stand up for herself when it makes sense to do so. I may allow her emotions to cloud my actions.

I can learn skills to work with my chimp and, if I keep practising them, I can be happier and more successful at achieving what I want out of life.
This will result in my living life on a more even keel. Fewer ups and downs and more contentment. But I must work at it and be vigilant against the chimp fooling me.
My chimp is intelligent and rational. She learns ways to fool me using rationalising. Because she is not overtly emotional and volatile she is tricky to identify.
I need to keep working at the mental side of things and set up systems to monitor objectively my progress towards my goals.

"What doesn’t speak doesn’t lie." My chimp responds well to goals and targets but I need to record objectively how well I’m doing in achieving them or she may learn to fool me (see above).
My chimp likes goals and rules. She is less likely to deviate when I have a manageable task to achieve and a reward at the end of it. The danger is taking on too much and scaring her leading towards fight/flight/freeze and procrastination/stress.
"When you have to eat a frog, don’t play with it first." Train yourself to dive in and break the procrastination habit.
My chimp will learn that we can do things and that I am the sort of person who gets on with things as a matter of course.

Reliance on treats and rewards is dangerous. They teach you that the good behaviour is abnormal.
Make healthy eating and exercise and dealing with difficult things part of my everyday routine and I will learn that I am "that person".

I am not a lazy person. I had a belief that if I was relaxing, I was wasting my time and that I was a lazy person. This is objectively not true. I do loads.
Remove guilt and shame and lets me listen to my body and react to what I need.

Everyone has a chimp. Just as with me, they don’t always mean everything they say either. Also, they may not be in control of their chimp so it is pointless to get upset.
Try and work out what the underlying issue is and solve it rather than getting bogged down with emotional reactions.

You can choose your emotions. Just because my chimp offers me a response, I do not have to take it. So, if she is scared and wants to hide, I don’t have to do that. I can choose to deal with the issue and teach her that we can face things.
Less stress, less eating, more success, more happiness.

When my chimp is playing up, there are 3 different ways to deal with her: bananas (ie. a distraction); exercise her (ie. let her out of her box to rant and rave but in a safe environment, to someone safe); box her in (ie. hit her with grade A truths). A grade A truth is confronting her with the reality of what she wants to do. Something that really hits hard. I need to work on the latter. An armoury of weapons to avoid temptation and keeping to my goals.

I should pause before I eat anything and consider whether it is me or the chimp who wants it. I should but I don’t do this enough.
Generally, I could do without whatever it is that is calling to my chimp!

Laughing at your chimp works! She doesn’t like it and often backs down. Eg. if she wants me to snack, recognising the "offer" and responding with a humorous "no chance, what do you take me for, you silly cow!!"
Using humour to deflect potential bad behaviour and reinforce my belief that the good behaviour is my norm.

Peer pressure works! Or outside accountability, call it what you will.
If I tell someone that I’m not eating, it is easier not to eat. Likewise setting a date for exercise.

My God! What a tome. I got a bit carried away but it was useful to organise my thoughts. I’ll have to come back with what is the most important thing. I really feel as though I am making progress though and changing…really changing.


Peridot said...

As usual, you have really thrown yourself into this and got the most out of it. I do so want to see the programme, sigh. You all look very glam by the way! Do you look like that in your cycling togs?!

Peridot x

Lainey said...

I agree with Peridot - you look fab in your pics.

Christ - that chimp is a pain in the arse! I'd give her up for adoption! Hehe.