Dear Brain, Have a Piece of Chocolate

Let’s call this an incentive. 


Like most Americans, weight loss is on my mind this time of year. Losing weight and getting more exercise are the top New Year’s Resolutions in this country. And looking at my expanding waistline, I’m not surprised. However, this is not going to be a whiney post about how much I’ve packed on due to my now sedentary job and extreme lack of sunshine. This is a post about chocolate.

I have a serious love affair with chocolate. Certain times of the month my obsession is downright pathological. I need it almost as much as I need tea. But unlike tea, it’s not exactly sugar free or diet friendly.

And exercise? Um…  I tell myself that I enjoy exercising. Every day. “Self, you love this. Yes, you do.” But my brain knows that I’m a big fat liar. My brain wants proof. Or a distraction. So, I’m giving it an incentive. You want chocolate, then exercise. 

Now, the only way to earn one of those tasty (and only 42 calories of sin,er, goodness) pieces is to put in 20 minutes of high-powered activity. Which is an euphemism for exercise, just don’t tell my brain.

There is some evidence that the brain stops being a part of the decision making process once a habit is formed. And the best way to form a habit is to make whatever it is you’re doing enjoyable. If exercise isn’t: then a reward of chocolate after the fact–might just short-circut my “you swear to tell the whole truth” brain’s say in the process. Eventually, with a habit in place my brain won’t know I’m lying to it. I’m counting on the fact that habits are hard to break and that my brain doesn’t stand a chance.  

If this sounds delusional, well, it’s January.  We’ll talk in June. M’kay? 

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