Food For Thought

girl looking at unhealthy donut with appetite on a table. Isolated on a white background

Don’t Let Modern-Day Sirens Ruin Your Weight Loss Plan

Coach Caroline, 07/27/2015

Sailing home after the Trojan War, Odysseus encountered the Sirens. Their strange but beautiful song threatened to lure him and his fellow sailors to an out-of-the way island, where they would serve as chow for the Winged Monsters. Luckily, Odysseus had been forewarned about these temptresses and was prepared to implement a plan of action.

Although Odysseus could be prideful and arrogant, he knew himself well enough to realize that even he, with all his cunning and fortitude, would be incapable of resisting the infamous Sirens.  So as his ship approached this wicked isle, he commanded his crew to cram wax into their ears. But since he wanted to partake of the Sirens’ haunting music, he ordered his men to bind him to the mast, sans ear plugs!

When he was in his right mind Odysseus knew he wasn’t strong enough to resist the pull of these mesmerizing echoes. He was somehow intuitively aware of the hot-cold empathy gap—psychological lingo for our inability, during rational moments, to grasp how much our solid commitment will depreciate under temptation.

But as the ship grew within shouting distance of the Sirens’ home, their song so enamored him that he thrashed about. At first, in desperation, he begged the sailors to release him from the ropes—now! Luckily, none could hear his pleas due to the wax, so the great vessel and crew sailed past this atoll of certain death.

Your Weight Loss Plan and Modern-Day Sirens

What I want you to surmise from this allegory is that Sirens are around you all the time—in the form of chocolate cake, donuts, potato chips, nachos, hamburgers, rib eye steak, pasta, and pizza.

What are YOUR Sirens, and how do they affect your weight loss plan? Take a moment to bring to mind your most potent, gustatory temptations.

Have you ever felt totally committed to a weight loss plan, certain that this time you were in it for the long haul? But the next thing you know, you’re downing a greasy pizza with extra cheese or a quart of Ben and Jerry’s when you were supposed to be exercising in the neighborhood gym? Not only are Sirens pandemic in the modern, industrialized world, but most of us are unaware of the hot-cold empathy gap—no matter the strength of our intention to resist them in this moment, every bit of that resolve can be stripped away in a New York minute.

The Odysseus fable is an excellent reminder of our erratic tendencies. Luckily, like Odysseus, you, too, can stay on the straight and narrow if you plan ahead, refusing to allow the Sirens to convince you that planning is not really necessary.

Planning is Necessary for Permanent Weight Loss

You probably won’t need to take such extreme measures as Odysseus. But if you wish to stick to a weight loss plan rich in fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds, you will have a much greater chance of success if you, like Odysseus, employ a multitude of strategies. For instance, have a plan—a food plan, that is. Your risk of failure is high when you’re hungry and don’t know what you’re gonna eat. Sirens can smell weakness a mile away. Also, ask yourself what could go wrong. What might get in the way of you sticking to your food plan? Finally, devise a strategy for dealing with those possibilities.

To Remember

Approaching a sticky-bun situation? Ask yourself, “What would Odysseus do?” He would:

  1. Make a plan
  2. Anticipate problems
  3. Strategize




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