The “fill your freezer with ice cream” weight loss strategy

by Kim on February 20, 2013

Do you ever have SO much pent-up energy (frustration…anxiety…call it what you want to call it…) going into a workout that you get on a machine and just KILL IT? Like the machine can barely keep up with you?

I had one of those workouts the other day. I’d worn yoga pants to the gym because I was just planning on a relaxing elliptical sesh, but as soon as I climbed on, my legs started itching. I couldn’t get those foot pedals going fast enough.

Then, the second an extra upbeat song came on my iPod, I could barely contain the urge to switch to a treadmill and start sprinting. But I hate running in my yoga pants (the slight flare at the bottom flaps around my ankles and annoys me), so I resisted.

Does this ever happen to you?

I knew I was stressed out, which is why I’d thought a nice, calming elliptical workout would be perfect. I even packed some reading material, which is rare for me:

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But I guess I was wrong. I needed something less graceful and more aggressive.

The same thing happened last night, after I got frustrated with a freelance writing project I was working on, and I ended up banging out 3 speedy miles on the treadmill at 9:30 PM. Now that felt good. It was exactly what my legs wanted.

So my question for you is:

When you’re stressed, how do you know whether you need something relaxing or something high intensity??

Oh, and speaking of my reading material, have you read that issue? And if so, did you see this article?

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It seems like pretty much everyone in the fitness world considers “diet” a 4-letter word these days. So when I first read that title, I thought “yeah, yeah, diets don’t work, I get it.” But this was actually something a little different.

The article tells the story of a woman with a weight problem and an ice cream weakness. Instead of banishing Ben & Jerry from her house, per the “if it’s not here, I can’t eat it” policy, she packed her freezer chock-full of the stuff and gave herself full permission to eat it.

According to the article, at first, she did. A lot. But then, after a couple months (!!), it “lost its sparkle.”

The strategy is called habituation. You make the food readily available 24/7 with the goal that it will eventually lose power over you.

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I like this approach a lot!

So many of us don’t realize we’re being controlled by food. When we’re daydreaming about a food long before we’ll eat it, or we can’t wait to go to bed so we can wake up and eat a certain breakfast, or we work our butts off in the gym so we can enjoy a certain food—that all sounds a little controlling to me.

As long as we’re hiding from our trigger foods by keeping them out of the house, they still have the ability to control us.

But learn how to look them in the face and say, “eh, I could take you or leave you” (and really mean it) and that control is back in your court.

Anyway. When I was done reading the issue, Mase asked if he could take a look…

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Do you think, if I made magazines available to him 24/7, he’d eventually lose interest in ripping them up into small pieces and eating them?

Have you ever tried the habituation method?

What food do you struggle with the most?

This doesn’t really count as food, but I struggle with Diet Coke a lot. I know it’s horrible for me and I should stop drinking it, but I just love it. I’m hoping someday I’ll be able to find a replacement beverage to get into instead, or that DC will one day stop being so dang refreshing. But for now, I readily admit that the stuff is controlling me.

I mean, I’m not downing massive amounts of it or anything, but I’m pretty confident that no amount of a chemical-laden beverage is really good for you.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne February 21, 2013 at 7:19 pm

I haven’t heard it put quite that way before but I’ve heard of applying that principle and while it makes since there has to be moderation or it could get out of control really quickly. Mase looks like he got a lot out of the magazine article too!
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Alex @ Cookie Dough Katzen February 21, 2013 at 4:09 pm

I haven’t seen this article but it totally makes since. The only problem for me is that I sometimes let myself over indulge thinking that I’ll get sick of whatever it is I’m eating but it doesn’t always work. I definitely agree that deprivation is the worst. Great post!
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PickyRunner February 21, 2013 at 6:30 am

This article is exactly what I needed to hear about. I really struggle with keeping a lot of foods in my house because I know I’ll eat the entire thing. That’s because they still have power over me. I think I’d be absolutely terrified to try it but it’s something I should really think about doing.
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Kim February 21, 2013 at 8:44 am

I’d be nervous too…especially since the woman in the Fitness article said it took her MONTHS to get used to having ice cream around all the time. If you do try something like this, you should let us know how it goes!

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Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome February 20, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Huh, interesting diet. I can’t say I’ve ever tried it and don’t know if I agree with it. But what works for some doesn’t for others. The one food I struggle the most with is definitely Almond or peanut butter. I seriously eat it everyday! Yes, I know it’s good for you in some ways but only in moderation :-)
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Kim February 21, 2013 at 8:41 am

I’m skeptical too, but I agree with the underlying principle–you won’t get anywhere with weight loss as long as the food is in control. If you’re loving a food and able to eat it in moderation, that’s a totally different story! :) I used to eat peanut butter multiple times a day, too, before I figured out my son’s allergic…but once I’m done breastfeeding, you bet I’ll be back in that jar! :)

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Sarah February 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hey Kim!

I love this post because I think about how food controls me every day (especially sugar!) and I can actually relate to the “anti-diet” idea because I will admit I was craving these crazy huge soft sugar cookies frosted with really sweet frosting from a local cookie shop the past 2 months…it seemed whenever I was out and about running errands or coming home from work (even when I wasn’t hungry) I would start thinking about those cookies and…just…had…to have one!!! SO I DID and it became a secret little habit and I was having 1-3 a week until one day I was eating one in my car and got so grossed out by how sweet it was and that it wasn’t a “treat” anymore but a “habit” (a bad one!) so I just stopped cold turkey since I know I can have one anytime I want like I was doing but just don’t have the desire anymore…weird but true (and better for my waistline!). ANYWAY, long story short, I think I can be controlled by sweets and the more I have of them in small doses, the more I feel “addicted” to wanting something sweet. UGH! But I am getting better!:) Thanks for this article! Good luck with DC–my only advice is don’t buy it and drink lots of water with lemon squirted in–that helps me!

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Kim February 21, 2013 at 8:38 am

Hey Sarah! Thanks for sharing that–I think I know the exact cookies you’re talking about (or they have similar ones at the grocery story, at least), and I love them too! However, I haven’t had one in forever and they never cross my mind anymore. So true about a treat becoming a habit–I was actually going to talk about that in this post but then removed it because I decided it could be a whole separate post in itself! So stay tuned for that. :)

I’ll have to try the lemon water idea…I’m worried that part of the addiction is related to the carbonation though, and I don’t like carbonated water…gaaah! :)

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Kloe @ Running Shoes &Chocolate Mousse February 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I find for me it really depends how I’m feeling! if I’m angry or fristrated, there’s nothing like an intense workout like a spin class or even body pump to make you feel like you’re insanely strong ;)
if I’m sad about something, I’ll opt for yoga or a relaxing walk to reflect and nourish my body with low intensity stuff. I know that’s when my body needs a rest :)

oh my gosh, I can relate to the ice cream theory! except my weakness is nut butters! if I don’t let myself but the for a while, when I do I completely go hog wild and eat the whole jar!
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Kim February 20, 2013 at 6:55 pm

I like that — intensity for anger, relaxation for sadness. Makes sense!

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Jessica @ Prayers and Apples February 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm

..love that u wrote about habituation! :) i have a little (ok not so little haha) glass bowl of M&Ms out on my kitchen counter… every now and then i grab one or two, but it takes FOREVER for them to run out :) plus i never get insane cravings to devour 10 candy bars anymore, which is good haha
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Kim February 20, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Awesome, so it DOES work! :)

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Britt @ A Life Worth Living February 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I read that article just the other night. I’ve tried that approach before and all I do is eat it haha! As long as it’s not in the house I don’t think about it. And I definitely understand about the elliptical machine, that’s happened to me a time or two.
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Kim February 20, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Yeah, I was worried about that too when I read it. I’m still pretty skeptical!

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Nicole @ Fruit 'N' Fitness February 20, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I don’t think this would work for me, I am a huge nut butter lover! I always have nut butter in the house and always want to eat it, I don’t think it will ever lose its power over me. I almost always have blue bell ice cream in the freezer too!
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Carrie February 20, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Hey fellow SPA! I had a similar blog post today, so I had to comment! When I’m stressed, I need to run. It relaxes me. My run is usually the only part of the day that is “mine.” Your little Mason is adorable!
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Kim February 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Carrie!

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