I was meeting with Ben prior to my last post and we were planning, talking and just hanging out a bit. He reminded me of a story that I had shared with him over a year ago. It seems relevant to what we are trying to do here, so I thought I would share it with you.
Quite a few years ago, I had received a gift of some very beautiful pottery dishes. I really liked them but they were really big, almost twice the size of a standard dinner plate. So without too much thought, the old dishes were donated to charity and the new dishes were put into use. About a month later, I realized that I had gained some weight. Now, I don’t weigh myself often and my weight has been pretty consistent for the last 20 years, so I got on the scale and sure enough I had gained about 10 pounds.
Luckily, I know a really good fitness consultant, and started keeping a food journal like I always have my clients do under these circumstances. The problem became quite obvious after a couple days of journaling – I was eating too much. Interestingly enough, my habits had not changed during the last month. I was eating what I typically ate, and my exercise habits were the same. The only real change that had occurred in my life were the new dishes. After thinking about it for a while, I went out and bought new, normal sized, dishes and donated the pottery to charity.
You see, I was raised in a military family with 5 children. There was always enough food, but there was never any extra. Therefore, you ate the food that was put on your plate. Officially, that made me a member of the “clean your plate club.” Having been raised that way, I have continued that behavior into adulthood.
Cleaning my plate had never posed a problem for me until I was given those BIG plates. Because the plate was bigger, apparently so were my portions, and larger portions equals too many calories, which over a month or so, leads to weight gain. By switching to a smaller plate, I was better able to control my food intake and my weight returned to normal within a couple months.
Over the years, I have shared that story with many clients. The usual response is, “couldn’t you just take smaller portions or just leave some food on your plate?” Now, both of those are really reasonable choices except for the fact that I really like my plate to appear full and I have been cleaning my plate for the better part of 50 years now. That’s a habit that is very strongly ingrained into my brain. So, I could fight 50 years of learned behavior or I could buy smaller plates.
When I shared this with Ben, I didn’t realize the affect it would have on him. While we were talking yesterday he told me about the phrase “small plate solutions,” which he had coined after that initial discussion. I don’t want to put words into his mouth but I took it to mean that when making behavioral changes; rather than change the core of who we are, by knowing ourselves well, we can simply accept who we are and change some of our circumstances and create the positive change we were hoping to make.
Now, I bet you’re wondering what this has to do with the Training Tiger Woods program. Well during this training program we will be bumping into many behavioral patterns. Some will be completely ingrained and others can be solved by applying “small plate solutions.”
Between now and my next post, keep centering and breathing.