Playing basketball and dodging donuts

by Dr. Ellen Cullman, FLT Columnist

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”—Michael Jordan

It’s Monday and you are walking in the door to work. “Thank goodness for that familiar aroma of coffee,” you say to yourself. Now your morning will get better, once you get by the cadre of coworkers enjoying the usual banter with hot coffee and a big glistening-glazed donut in their hand. You wonder, “How can I enjoy the leg-pulling banter with just coffee? On Friday, your doctor surprised you with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Consequently, you have a new resolve to curb insulin-producing foods.

Many of you have successfully dealt with obstacles except when it comes to eating. Bewildered, you wonder how you can sip coffee while watching others eat donuts. Nothing is fun about that, but mindful eating skills can help you meet this type of challenge. Mindful eating takes time and practice, like learning a sport. Once learned, you’ll physically feel better and enjoy yourself even more.

How will you take on the donut-coffee team? Like coaches do. Make your game plan the night before using strategies that counter how you know the opposing team tends to play. Beginning with visualization, first, see yourself eating a satisfying breakfast. You don’t want to face the donut-coffee team without already feeling satisfied. Next, watch yourself arrive, walk past the donuts, pour your coffee and enter the court. Do you see yourself “working around” or “through” like Michael Jordan suggests in the quote above? It’s important to actively keep the ball in play.

Here are more “see-donut-don’t-eat-donut” plays to visualize.

1. Pay attention to what others are saying and pass around the conversation. This gets you off the bench and into the game.
2. Notice when you are doing a mental donut-drool instead of dribbling conversation. This keeps your eye on the ball.
3. Sip your coffee, decisively savoring each sip and noticing its flavor. This keeps you focused on how you carry out the game plan.
4. Diligently persevere just as you do when playing basketball or any sport. Diligence and perseverance give you practice and it is how you win.
5. Evaluate and tweak your game when you are done, deleting any negative self-talk and giving yourself a pat on the back for your great plays.
Mindful eating is a learning process and just like learning a sport, it takes time, practice and evaluation. Evaluate your plays after each game. Then visualize how you will tweak them the next time—both the night before and while driving to work. You are becoming your own mindful eating coach!

See more of Dr. Cullman’s columns at Email or call 419-494-7699 for information about how you can begin mindfully eating. Dr. Cullman is available for presentations, seminars, personalized retreats as well as individual sessions.