Sat in bed reading Paul McKenna's "I Can Make You Thin" I gently brush aside the crumbs of Victoria Sponge and turn the page. I stare at the cake box mulling over the idea of a third slice, with the stern words of a Doctor ringing in my ears with the phrase "morbidly obese".
It seems odd that as a species we are so successful, yet, as individuals, so often flawed. Why does something as marvellous and complex as the human brain come with no instructions? How has has evolution propelled us to such heights when most of us can so happily indulge in potentially harmful habits like drinking, smoking and eating crap?
It took the emergence of Richard Bandler and John Grinder to make a first quantum leap in self control. I have their tool (NLP) firmly in my grasp, and I've had a degree of success with it in the past (destroying a phobia my Mum had in about 10 minutes) However, I have consistently failed to use that tool for my own benefit.
The answer, I think is the sheer power and comfort of habits. Every weekend I come home with the firm intention of swimming a couple of times, going for a bike ride and making an impact on the two hundred plus unread books I've bought from Amazon in the last ten years. And every weekend I completely fail to do those things. This is because I have a habit, a pattern, a furrow which I find comfortable and reassuring.
I have a two and a half hour drive home on Thursdays and I'm usually quite tired from a week of sleeping badly in strange hotel beds. When I get in I enjoy, without a pang of guilt, the jumbo sausage, fried chicken and chips that Sue brings home. I enjoy a couple of Murphy's and a bit of TV before bed. I enjoy going to bed gone midnight, getting up around 10:30. But these are things I need to change. The adult swimming session starts at 07:00...
I spend Friday productively, for the most part, progressing various projects... but that bike ride... when do I do that bike ride? It's evening again and I've been working all day, time for more Murphy's, more TV, another late-night-and-lie-in. Something has to change...
Saturday is chores day followed by an evening out with friends. Another swim missed another bike ride avoided... Something has to change...
Sunday, big lie in, listening to BH on Radio 4 and the Podcast of Friday Night Comedy. Another missed swim and the overcast skies make a bike ride an unattractive prospect. Something has to change!
I've bought Bandler's new book "Get the Life You Want" and the chapter headings indicate that there are elements of moving towards desirable behaviour as well as curing bad memories and modifying bad behaviour. A month from now I hope to be reporting the wonders dipping cellery into a tub of houmous and talking nostalgically of deep fried chicken. I'll keep you all informed how it goes.
PS To all snooping health insurers I only really had one guilty slice of sponge, call it artistic licence!