Psychologist, Bruce Alexander, has found a link between captivity and addiction.
“I’m not in prison or in a cage. I just wanna shed some weight – what’s this have to do with me?”
Read on, sweetheart. You’ll be pleased you did.
I know I was.
This clever chap Alexander took two groups of rats. One group was homed in an ordinary cage. It had the basics – food, water, shelter, company.
The other group was housed in a veritable ‘rat paradise’. These rats had toys, tunnels, burrows, room to roam – lots of stimulation and opportunities for exploration. Think Dreamworld for rats.
Both groups had the choice of plain water or sugar-water laced with morphine. The ‘basic cage’ rats (those with no amusements) headed for the morphine sugar-water and, were soon addicted.
The rats in Dreamworld preferred the plain water. No matter how much sugar was added to the drugged water, these rats wouldn’t drink it, which is especially impressive since rats adore sugar-water.
Here’s the thing. When the ‘basic cage’ rats were thoroughly addicted to the morphine, Alexander re-housed them in the rat Dreamworld where – get this – they ceased drinking drugged-water immediately.
They quit the addiction, as it were, and weaned themselves off the very addictive morphine, quickly and with little effort.
And that’s where the implications for weight loss arise, methinks.
Discipline versus joy
This research got me thinking about my own food journey. As I looked back, I noticed I used food most when I felt trapped or captive in some way.
Or, there simply wasn’t very much joy in my life.
When I was most addicted and obsessed with food, eating (ahem, overeating) was one of the few pleasures in my day.
I see this very often in my clients.
Typically clients are the archetypal ‘good girls’. They’re hard-working perfectionists, eager to please others and are the first to put their hands up for the tough jobs. They very often put other people’s needs first, while depriving themselves.
When clients describe a typical day, I notice that frequently there’s not much in the day that they actually really, truly, deeply enjoy.
They often mention “feeling trapped” or “just going through the motions” to describe their work or life in general. Food, very often, is their only joy.
And, so often these gorgeous women come to me to learn the secret of how to be even more disciplined so they can lose weight. The rat research (as well as my own observation) implies it’s more joy they need, not more discipline.
Fortunately, for most clients the allure of overeating subsides when the feeling of captivity and unhappiness diminish, simply with the addition of joyful activities.
Sure, there’s no outlet or activity that works for everyone. All you need to do is follow your joy and notice which activities liberate and nourish your soul.
For me, joy-oozing activities include being in, on or under the water, walking (actually, doing anything with) my woofer, and running…especially with said woofer.
Your own personal joy creation starts now
Moving forward, start to add joyful activities into your day. It needn’t take much time. Make joy-creation a habit and watch yourself bloom in a joyful (not belt-expanding) way.
Some Qs for starters
What do you do every day just for giggles or the 100% pure fun of it?
What needs to happen for you to have a smile on your dial, a spring in your step and a sparkle in your eye?
Where’s your happy place? And how can you bring even more of it into your life? Every day?
So sweetheart, share and inspire us in the comments section below. What are you going to do even more of so you get to experience more joy every day? What will you stop doing so you can clear space for joy to shine through?
Go on, create your own Dreamworld. Joy makes a terrific foundation.
Laters joy-creators. Time for me to hang with my woofer.
Joyful love etc, Avril