October 15, 2015

(Giveaway!) Exercise Self Control Over Food... Without A Straightjacket

Guest Post By Michael Alvear

So this next guest post contains a giveaway, yay! Although sorry, you cannot win a stylish straightjacket of your very own.

Instead, two random Cranky Commenters can win a free copy of Michael's Alvear's E-book: Eat It Later: Mastering Self Control & The Slimming Power Of Postponement.

To be honest, part of the reason I was intrigued my Michael's pitch to contribute was not just that he's got an ebook on a useful topic, but that he modestly didn't even mention that he was the co-host of HBO’s The Sex Inspectors, a late-night sex makeover series!

How cool is that? Cranky Fitness doesn't get out much anymore. The opportunity to be vicariously associated with reality television, sex, and staying up past 9pm was too hard to resist.

As it happens, some of his Michael's other titles are a bit risque, so be forewarned.  One of possible interest to readers might be one of Michael's own personal favorites: 

Not Tonight Dear, I Feel Fat: How To Stop Worrying About Your Body & Have Great Sex.

Anyway, giveaway winners will be picked in a week so please check back. --Crabby.

Most of us think of self control as exercising white-knuckled willpower against G-force desires that leave us physically exhausted and emotionally spent.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to suit up your armor and spend loads of energy to say no to foods that make you want to leave home, family and career just to smell the packaging. I’ve discovered a much easier, calm way to practice self-sovereignty, even in the face of an “Everything” bagel.

It’s a delayed gratification technique I call “Postponing The Goods.” It helps me to say “NO” to fat and sugar bombs without pain or suffering. It was an integral part of a plan that helped me drop 15 pounds and two waist sizes and keep them off for the last 25 years.

Before I tell you how do works, it’s important to realize that my approach is not a diet strategy even though it will help you lose weight. Diet means deprivation. What I’m going to show you is not how to deprive yourself but how to strategically indulge in a way that results in weight loss (albeit slowly).

The whole idea behind my approach is to eliminate “no and low” craving eating. And by that I mean eating when you’re not hungry or when your craving for a certain food isn’t that high. Ever eaten a doughnut and thought, “This was delicious but why did I eat it-- I didn’t want it that badly?”

There are lots of reasons why you ate a donut without a high craving for it–– It could be emotional distress, the peer pressure of communal eating (everybody in the group dug into the box), or simply because you didn’t have a framework for deciding when to eat a doughnut.

It’s this last point that I want to focus on. Most of us think of indulging in something like donuts with a “yes” or “no” answer. I have better response for you – –“LATER.” As in, “How about I have a donut later when my craving for it is higher than it is now.”

Allow me to introduce a delayed gratification technique I call Postponement Of The Goods. You are not going to deny yourself that donut; you’re going to postpone eating it until your craving for it is stronger. And by doing that you will be doing two things: 1) Avoid “no or low” craving eating and 2) Indulge yourself in one of the truly great foods. The result is weight loss because you can, as I did, eliminate almost all “no and low” craving eating, which could be up to half your caloric consumption.

The first thing you have to do is to establish a trigger point for your cravings. I use a “7” out of a 1 – 10 scale (1 meaning you barely want it, 10 meaning you’d drown a kitten just to lick the food). I use “7” because for me it is the beginning of a real pain point.

So let’s take a look at how it works:

An office worker walks in with a box of hot, freshly baked Krispy Kreme donuts (the bastard!). I do three things:

1. Pause. I do not reach for the donut and I do not tell myself I shouldn’t have it. I simply pause for a couple seconds.

2. Rate the craving. On a scale of one to 10 I ask myself, “How badly do I want this donut?”

3. Eat or postpone. If I can honestly say that my craving for the doughnut is a “7” or higher, I eat it. Gleefully, by the way, because the proper response to eating a delicious food when you have a high desire for it is to enjoy it. If it doesn’t reach my trigger point, I say to myself, “Why don’t I have it when my craving for it is stronger?” So I decline the invitation to dig in.

What does it mean to “postpone” eating a donut? It means waiting for the next opportunity (it could be later that night or next week) and if the craving hits the pre-agreed trigger you eat it (gleefully, don’t forget!).

The point isn’t to deprive yourself of donuts (that would be a diet)––it is to provide a criteria for when to indulge. My “Postponement of the Goods” strategy is a delayed gratification technique that teaches you discipline without suffering. There is no real pain associated with saying no to a donut when your craving for it is low. Even if your craving reaches a “5” or “6” saying no causes mild discomfort not sharp pain.

You don’t need a straight jacket to exercise self control over fattening foods, you just need a set of criteria that helps you differentiate “no and low” cravings from truly high desires.

For more on “Postponing The Goods” and other delayed gratification techniques check out Mike’s blog on mindful eating and his book, Eat It Later: Mastering Self Control & The Slimming Power Of Postponement

“Eating mindfully,” Michael likes to say in his seminars, “is a habit, not an event.” 


  1. Interesting idea... I'd love to read more! Thanks for hosting.

  2. I like the idea of rating a craving before taking a temptation. Hope to win!

  3. I'm still trying, after several years, to understand the concept of craving. People talk about it a lot, but apparently I don't feel it. Mostly I eat whatever I want that I'm not allergic to. Perhaps that's easy for me because the results of allergy are a lot faster than the results of weight gain or loss.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

    1. Could it be because you are already satisfying the craving by eating whatever you want? Just a possibility... I obviously am just speculating... :)

    2. I don't think so, because I am NOT eating whatever I want if I'm allergic to it. That would be unpleasant.
      Mary Anne in Kentucky

  4. Yep, I have done this! I'm doing it right now, in fact, with a couple mini chocolates at my desk at work. :) It does work to make you feel better in control, and makes you connect better to what is going on in your body and in your mind.

  5. Hi Cranky, and Michael! I would love to win the giveaway! Recently I've been trying to learn to eat mindfully, but so far it seems I'm just eating more things that I would have otherwise skipped. So...more learning is needed, methinks.

    1. Hmmm...I see I've left no way for you to identify me should I win. I'm Agnes!

  6. Fabulous idea! Often in life i've found myself behaving as if this is the last time i will ever get to have that particular food again, which is odd, because there is almost always more. Stopping to ask if i'm craving it enough would make much more sense.

  7. We are actually working on a similar thought process in my weight loss group. We are having to rank our levels of hunger. I had them do a challenge on one week where they just listed how hungry they were when they ate something. Another week they had to give each hour of the day a number ranking of how hungry they were at that time. Even though most knew they did it, they were still surprised at how often they ate when they were really not hungry!

  8. I need so much help with this....I basically see the food, want the food, eat the food....and tell myself that I will just run it off. Ahem....it doesn't quite work that way, as my ever tighter pants will attest. Hope to win!

  9. I think this is a good technique to have in the toolbox. Delaying the gratification is a good jedi mind trick to help you believe that you will have it soon, just not now. So cool! This gets rid of our tendency to be extreme and believe, " I will never get to have that Ice cream!!" Then the scarcity kicks in and I want to eat it right away!

    I think combining this with a strong foundation of "why" you want to be healthy will equal a successful health and fitness journey!

  10. I've seen this book popping up more and more, I'm intrigued. I have very little self control over my eating.

  11. I think incorporating postponement as another way to deal with an eating situation could be very beneficial to me. The times I have done it successfully in the past, it often surprises me that I forget about it altogether, when my fear has always been that the introduction of the food will just start me obsessing. I would love to read more about Michael's techniques!

  12. Exercise is soooo vital. I think one of the biggest benefits to exercise is good health. Healthy people find it easier to control their weight.


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