On vacation in Trinidad years ago, I was saddened to see people living in shacks made of cardboard and tin. Luckily they have a warm climate on their side. What was surprising, despite their poverty and cramped quarters, was the hypnotic blue light of television occupying their living space, as it does ours. In homes around the world televisions rule.
As the days are getting colder and darker on this side of the planet, many of us will hunker down for another season of sports, dramas, sitcoms and (groan) . . . reality TV.
And for many of us, televisions aren’t getting any smaller or less important. We’re designing rooms around them – not family rooms, but home theatres with everything but a flashlight bearing usher.
There is good to come from television. It’s entertainment, after all. We can relax, have a few laughs, we can even learn a thing or two. TV connects us on many levels. However, even good things can become a problem when taken to the extreme.
Through my work I know that most people who struggle with weight do most of their overeating in the evenings. We all know that people everywhere watch a lot of television. Can we put that together in that people overeat in front of the television?
There are two possibilities here.
1. When over-used, television prevents you from doing other things, like engaging with life and loved ones. In other words, you’re not paying attention to your life.
2. When you eat in front of the television you’re not paying attention to your eating. Have you ever eaten something to suddenly wonder where it went? Don’t blame the dog!
So what does television represent for you? Does it add to your life or does it prevent, or distract you, from doing, or being other things that could add to your life? Both food and television are often used as an escape, a way of shutting out the world, not dealing with what is, not feeling your feelings or facing your fears.
Maybe you’re just stuck in a rut. If your TV time is out of balance with other aspects of your life, stand up and find something to do that will please you. You can start with short-term measures, like going to the library or visiting a friend. Work towards long-term solutions like nurturing a hobby or passion. Cleaning out a closet is not likely to provide much magnetism, unless you really dig that sort of thing. Choose selfishly.
I know what you’re thinking. "I’m too tired in the evenings to do anything." Ask yourself, "Is television truly relaxing or does it drain your energy?" For me it’s more of a drain. Consider this. Energy begets energy. In other words, spending a little energy will actually make you feel more energetic, one of the many advantages of physical activity. The longer you lounge, the more lizard-like you will feel. You might have to give yourself a little nudge to get off the couch, but I assure you it will be well worth it. You won’t miss the endless stimuli of food commercials either.
Setting the Intention
1. Determine what you want to eat, or watch, then walk away when it’s over.
2. When you eat, you just eat – at a table, preferably, until you’ve had enough. When you watch television, you just watch television until you’ve had enough.
Here’s what will happen. You will appreciate your snacks more and eat less. And you will find other things to do that will make you feel more alive and less like eating.
When you go to a concert or a play you probably don’t eat. Why is eating synonymous with watching movies or television? It’s only your thinking that makes it so. If you want to weigh less, change the thinking. Change the furniture.
Eating goes with a table. Television goes with a sofa.