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Old 07-08-2013, 09:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jun 2009
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Fitness, dieting, and the "what the heck effect"

A lot of time in reading I run across what psychologists have dubbed the "what the heck effect". I kid you not that is the "technical" name for it.

Let me start with an example. I was practicing vegetarianism for about 18 months at one point in my life. I made it through the holidays even. Then one day I went to a ball game in Chicago. A ball game without a hot dog is just not right so I had one... or two. I can tell you, with certainty, when my daliance with vegetarianism ended and it handed hard that weekend. All the foods I had denied myself became suddenly available.

When psychologists study it they often study it in dieting. People set a goal for themselves when dieting - often calorie based. When that goal is broken (either on purpose or accident) they decide to write off the entire day and often go on binges. Often this carries over to the next day. They have "broken" their diet so to speak and completely stop it - even in the face of previous progress towards the overall goal they had set.

I have found the same thing can happen for exercise, specifically running for me. I realize I am going to miss a weekly goal so rather than missing it by the one run I skipped I will skip several. If one were to look at my running tallies by percentage they would see +10%, + 15% and then you will see a negative 50%.

The "what the heck effect" is an interesting thing to be aware of and how it impacts you. What I had to learn first was to approach each new week as a new week towards my goals. In some cases I have learned to approach each new day or each new meal as a new one. Failure to meet my goals yesterday does not mean failure today. Failure at lunch does not mean failure at dinner. The lesson learned from this effect is to approach your goals going forward and not worry about the past.
"In the essentials: unity; in the non-essentials: liberty; in all things: love" - often incorrectly attributed to Augustine or John Wesley - original source in question

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Old 07-08-2013, 12:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Haha I know that feeling! I skipped 1 1/2 week of gym cause it was raining too much and went off my diet. I went back on track mid week last week :P
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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This hits close to home. I'm fighting this battle right this very minute. I was 100% righteous with my exercise and diet for 4 months...lost a ton of weight and was feeling great. Then had a little injury setback and it was What the Heck. It feels easy when I'm in the middle of a "good" period, but damn it's hard to get 100% back on track.
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Yeah i feel it too it's too hot to run 95 degrees outside... no thanks
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 07-08-2013, 02:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yea. I feel so weak now after taking a long break from lifting. Gotta get straight back into it now though.
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Old 07-12-2013, 01:31 AM   #7 (permalink)
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This applies to fat chicks at last call, right?

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Old 08-28-2013, 04:03 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jc_10 View Post
This applies to fat chicks at last call, right?

But in all seriousness - Fitness is as much mental, if not more, than it is physical. If you cheat on your diet or skip a workout it is imperative that you immediately refocus on what you SHOULD be doing and DO IT!!!
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