Thursday, May 1, 2014

Environment vs. behavior Part I

One of the more resonating ideas in Lustig's Fat Chance book is that behavior modification doesn't work all that well. We can change our behaviors: we can eat less, put the fork down between bites, sip water every other mouthful, knit or crochet in front of the TV, go for a long walk every day. But those behaviors alone aren't enough to make major changes in our health or our weight.

The key, he believes, is in changing our environment. Easy enough to do, you may say. I'll just clean out my cupboards of all the sugar or all the booze or cut up all my credit cards. And that's a good start. But it's only a start.

AA has known this principle for a long time. One of the first lectures I was sober enough to pay attention to in the treatment center was called "Change your playgrounds, change your playmates." If you want to stay sober, you don't go to bars or keggers or cocktail parties. You don't hang out with the same people you drank with, because they're probably going to go on drinking or hanging out Baskin Robbins or going by Sees Candy for that free sample.

But I know from my own experience that changing your environment can mean a lot more than that. It can mean getting out of a dysfunctional or abusive relationship. I had to. It can mean changing careers. I did that too. It can mean moving to a new location where you've never been drunk. That helped me. And now I'm seeing that there's more.

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