What happens next? You think since I have already blown my diet, I might as well keep going. WHAT THE HELL.
The “what-the-hell effect” is well known to willpower researchers such as Roy Baumeister. There’s even a formal scientific term for it—counterregulatory eating—but since that’s such a mouthful, let’s just stick to the “what-the-hell effect.” In their recent book, Willpower, Baumeister and co-author John Tierney cite numerous experiments that show that dieters often do okay until the inevitable day when they break their diet rules. Then they stop monitoring their eating (“Was that my fourth piece?”) and ignore or are unaware of their feelings of fullness.
How can you avoid the what-the-hell effect? First, STOP DIETING! Dieters can become so preoccupied with following the rules of their diet that they can lose touch with their inner sensations of hunger and fullness. Moreover, if you are on an extreme diet, your hunger will propel you to gobble more than you intend—or even want. And diets don’t work! 95% of dieters regain their lost weight within two years. Instead of dieting, follow a sensible eating plan.
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO PREVENT THE “What the Hell Effect”
1. Set specific short term goals – give your willpower the best chance for success, break your goals down to smaller specific chunks. Create small wins that help you build emotional momentum.
2. USE ACCOUNTABILITY LOGS – mistakes happen. When you maintain an overall positive daily trend with a habit, it becomes easier to accept those small failures. Simply take note of the mistake, record it in your journal & then move on. It is NOT a catastrophe.
3. UNDERSTAND THE UNDERLYING PROBLEMS – remind yourself not to turn a “little” mistake become a “big” mistake by remembering that everyone experiences some form of habit regression from time to time.
4. TURN GOALS INTO CELEBRATIONS – tell yourself when you have achieved your first small goal, you will buy yourself that new dress, or go to Gold Class Movies.
In summary, focus on one habit at a time, be specific in your goal setting, & understand that mistakes will happen.
When you realise you’re experiencing this kind of mindset, you can avoid complete failure & simply have a “bad day” that’s easy to overcome.