April 16, 2011 · Comments (1)
It’s all about conditioning…
I used to work as a projectionist and usher in the Morristown Headquarters 10 cinemas. As you might have guessed, there were ten theaters in that complex. On any given Friday night, 10,000 people (or more) would easily pass through the doors. It was an interesting job to say the least. With that kind of foot traffic there was always something crazy going on. I worked there for a few years and then left town to go to college.
While in college I got hired at the Ritz Movie Theater in Philadelphia. There were five theaters at that complex and the largest of them was the size of the smallest one at Headquarters 10. I’ll never forget my first night.
The lead usher warned me that starting on a Friday might scare me away from the job. He said it was going to be busy and I should prepare myself for an onslaught of people. I readied myself but the people never came. In fact, it was a rather slow night. At the end of the evening the lead usher checked in with me.
“Man, tonight was crazy,” he said as he wiped his brow. He then asked if I was planning on coming back.
I was fine, a little bored even. What was considered a rush at that job was not what I had come to know as a rush. Why?
Conditioning can be defined as the circumstances affecting the way in which people live or work, especially with regard to their safety or well-being.
At Headquarters, I was used to thousands of people trying to sneak in, slip by, and generally take advantage of the inattentiveness of the theater staff. At the Ritz that wasn’t the case. Headquarters had conditioned me to expect massive amounts of hassle. My tolerance had been built up. I was conditioned to deal with the demands of the job.
The same thing goes for sugar.
When it comes to sugar, we’ve had a lifetime of positive conditioning. We eat sweets at birthday parties. We have sweets at fairs, carnivals, and camp outs. Whenever we’re having fun, sweets are not far away. Over time we’ve come to associate sweets with fun events. It eventually gets to the point where you can’t have fun without the sweets.
Ever notice how when you go to the movies you need some kind of snack? Can you go to a ball game or concert and not get a bunch of food from the concession stand? It’s pretty much impossible to walk a boardwalk at the beach or wander around a carnival without sampling some cotton candy or getting an ice cream cone. And heaven forbid you celebrate a birthday, graduation, or wedding without having some kind of sin food (or drink)! This kind of association is the result of conditioning.
How do you change your conditioning? By placing yourself in an unfamiliar setting and taking it step-by-step.
In order to associate sugar with negative stuff, you need to start reading about the effects of sugar on the body. You have to have binged on sugar one too many times so you know that—even though it’s fun while you’re eating the cake—you’re going to feel like crap afterwards. You have to stop watching the commercials and deprogram yourself from thinking that you’re missing out while everyone else is enjoying the delicious chocolate pudding your aunt made.
I was just about to say that I love sweets, but honestly I can’t say I love sweets anymore. I very much like the taste of chocolate. That I can say. And I like to enjoy myself. But as a result of conditioning I’ve come to find that sugar is less and less appealing.
Being unsweet is like weight lifting. You have to start small and go a little at a time. Through repetition and practice you and your body will change. The heavy lifting gets easier. Nobody walks up to a 500 lb. weight and lifts it on the first day of training. And that’s what you’re doing, you’re training! In order to train, you have to go to the gym or build one in your home. In other words, you have to seek it out because it won’t come to you.
I didn’t know it but working at the movie theater was training and conditioning me. By the time I made it to the smaller theater I was strong in terms of dealing with movie-going crowds. It was like having been used to lifting 50 lb. barbells and then dropping to 5 lb. dumbbells. Easy!
If you can train and condition yourself to not eat sugar when everyone else is eating it, you’re half way to sugar-free. The more times you fail and feel bad the more you’ll not want to do it again. So consider everything that happens along your path as part of your conditioning and don’t fret the small stuff. You’re on your way just by reading this. The trick is to keep putting yourself in situations where you have to excercise your unsweet muscle by saying no to sugar.
You’re doing it right now. Keep at it.