Is it a photo or a movie?
When I think about my favourite (unhealthy) food I imagine a still photo. I see the food big, colourful, and close. I smell its wonderful aroma and imagine how it will taste in my mouth. I see a vivid picture in my head.
If I change that photo into a movie, and let it run from the beginning to the end, my experience changes. I see myself eating the food, then eating more and more until I am uncomfortable. I feel my bloated stomach as I climb into bed and experience a night of disturbed sleep. I can feel the disappointment and self criticism that follows and suddenly the food isn't as attractive as that photo I had in my head.
When I think about going on a diet I imagine a photo. It is a picture of me standing on the scales and the number flashing back at me gives me a wave of pleasure. It is a wonderful thrill that I miss.
If I change that photo into a movie, and let it run from beginning to end, my experience changes. I see myself restricting my calories, exercising until I drop and being tired, cold and miserable the whole time. I see myself reaching that magic "lowest weight ever" number on the scales but the movie doesn't stop there. It is biologically impossible for me to be in a restrict my food without the bingeing that follows. I watch my self-control and will power slip away as I binge again and again until I have regained all the weight I have lost. I can see the entire miserable cycle and suddenly the gratification of losing weight through calorie restriction and over exercising isn't as attractive as the photo in my head.
It has been said that all poor decisions are based on photos - glorifying one moment in time; and all good decisions are based on movies - considering the action and its consequences over time.
Next time you are faced with a decision, make sure you are seeing the entire movie from start to finish and not just a single snapshot frozen in time. If you make this choice, how will you feel at the end of the day, and how will you feel tomorrow?
Are your decisions based on a photo or on a movie?