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Diet: Changing Your Focus

Have you ever decided to take a trip somewhere relatively unfamiliar? Suddenly, everywhere you look, there is something about your planned destination. Turn on a television travel channel and it is featured. Pick up a newspaper and there is an article about it. Why this sudden universal interest in somewhere you had never really thought much about?

That is the secret: you were not previously thinking about it. The subject was always out there but you didn't -attend so you didn't notice. We are surrounded by so much stimulation and information that we cannot grasp more than a fraction of what comes into our environment. We filter out the vast majority of that stimuli by our own interests and by our lack of interest. Become involved in a new field and what you thought was a rather narrow and under-developed subject is revealed as a worldwide, enormous, fully developed area in which you are a novice surrounded by experts who appear to be widely known and respected -- the "gurus" of the new field -- but you have never heard of them before.

Changing your interests changes your world because your filters have been reshaped. It frequently happens spontaneously when something you see or hear hits an internal chord, intrigues you, and drags your thoughts in new directions.

It may also happen by necessity when you are forced to explore new areas in order to accomplish a different goal. For example, I wrote for years. I never thought outside the box of traditional publishing which says submit to the commercial publishers and hope that after an unbelievable number of rejections, something will stick. One day on the internet, I found self-publishing and walked into a vast universe I knew nothing about. Once published, I was forced to foray into the world of publicity that I always thought was a small field encompassing celebrities and public personalities. The depth and breadth of information and resources was overwhelming. After many months of trolling, I have still only scraped the surface.

What is this leading to? If we change our world outlook spontaneously or by necessity, WHY NOT CHANGE IT BY DESIGN?

If I often think about food then my world is filled with food-related stimuli. I watch and attend to food commercials, cooking shows, recipe sources, new restaurants, cookware, and "utterly amazing" kitchen gadgets. If I consider myself a gourmet, I scrutinize the appearance of the dish and the sophistication of the ingredients. If I am on a diet, I scan the details of how many carbohydrates, how much fat, how many grams of protein, the total caloric content. If my focus is health, I look for the vitamins, mineral, and free radical scavengers.

Wherever my particular focus lies, it doesn't really matter: IT'S ALL ABOUT FOOD!

If we want to change that, to remove food from its central role in our lives, we have to stop thinking about it. Not an easy task but it can be done, even if painful. The real question is how can we do it.

Reread the last two pages. We color our world by how we filter its input. We are going to filter out every scrap of food (excuse the pun) that we can and replace it with different input that won't make us fat.

What kind of stimuli shall we let in?

This is where we go in different directions because each individual has their own likes and dislikes. For one person, thinking about sex may be an excellent substitution, for another football may provide a pleasant diversion while another may prefer to curl up with a great mystery novel.

What is important at this point is to pick something you like to do! You're going to have plenty of time to work on the painful aspects of losing weight but at this early stage, being comfortable is of utmost importance. Leave your tendencies toward martyrdom for later.

Take your pleasure from any of these items or add your personal selections.

Video games
Jigsaw puzzles

I hesitate to include exercise. While that is obviously a wonderful thing for your health, if it is something you love, you wouldn't be overweight. We are looking for enjoyable diversions here, not more "shoulds" and "ought-tos."

Virginia Bola is a licensed psychologist and an admitted diet fanatic. She specializes in therapeutic reframing and the effects of attitudes and motivation on individual goals. The author of The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a free ezine, The Worker's Edge, she recently completed a psychologically-based weight control book: Diet with an Attitude:A Weight Loss Workbook. She can be reached at


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