What is it about watching T.V. that is so bad, really?
Yeah what is so bad? It is a great way to escape and definitely can help shut down my brain. It can be a way to relax, watching a new series on Netflix, HBO or A&E. Hey look watching the Real Housewives Series and anything on Bravo definitely helps me shut down my brain.
This past weekend the snowstorm afforded me a couple of days inside. I have to admit I had the T.V. on while I did some work on the computer.
It brought back memories of my childhood, as a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. This was an era when we had T.V. trays and T.V. dinners it was the norm to have the T.V. on a lot. Eating on the T.V. trays in front of the T.V. not having to set the table or talk to the family was a total win
As I sat on my computer working, with the snow coming down in buckets outside, I started getting this overwhelming need to go to the kitchen and eat. But not just eat anything, I started feeling like I “needed” something salty, crunchy, or sweet.
It was a little disconcerting and distracting at times. I had work to do and it was annoying that I had this need to stop and totally dive into a bag of chips with dip or make a gooey chocolate y treats. As much as I was trying to focus on the task at hand, those thought kept jumping into my head, totally unnerving.
Finally I took a break and looked at the T.V. and low and behold commercial after commercial was about food; pizza, wings, fast food, donuts, coffee drinks, sodas and all kinds of desserts. And sprinkled in between were pills and plans to lose weight or ways to reduce the aging process.
When I actually watched these commercials they were drawing me in, so compelling, I could be like an NFL star and eat pizza, or I could make love to a gooey messy breakfast pastry like a 12 year old, or I could look like a model and pop chips in a crowded room getting all the men to watch.
As much as I thought, these commercials couldn’t get me, those advertisers get paid the big bucks for a reason. It was amazing, when I made the choice to turn off my brain and just watch, it was like this trance came over me, yes I need this, I have to have it and then my stomach and salivary glands followed suit. Growling stomach, mouth-watering and almost tasting the foods as they are shown on the T.V. screen.
Yikes!!! Oh my goodness, that is when I decided I need to get outside. I totally didn’t care, even if I had snow up to my neck I needed to clear out my head and get out of that trance the T.V. had me in.
The longer I would watch T.V. the harder it would be to fight the battle against the messages they were feeding me. And although, sure it is a great way to escape, or have noise in the background, the longer the T.V. was on, the less resistance my body would have against the triggers they were feeding me.
What was happening to me and why couldn’t I just resist and ignore the commercials?
It was all about mindlessness that is why T.V. can have such an influence on our behaviors especially our eating. The longer I sat and watched the T.V. I wasn’t engaging in any real brain activity other than watching what was on the screen.
The longer I sat there, it became so much easier for my brain to be influenced by the suggestive advertising. I was open to being influenced.
What was I thinking? At the time, trying to give my brain a break, absolutely nothing. Leaving tons of room for my brain to be influenced by those commercials.
This brought back memories of times when I was struggling with my health and weight, T.V. became my distraction. When I would shut off my brain I would eat and forget that I ate.
The trips to the kitchen to prepare the next snack before the show was back, were endless. Hence my mindless eating would commence and at the end of the T.V. marathon, I was still hungry. “What’s for dinner?” Pizza? Wings or both? What about dessert?
Now I am not going to say that I don’t watch T.V. today.
Yes I am totally guilty of mindlessly watching T.V. at times. Yet I do my best not to let old habits die hard by setting myself up for mindlessly eating as well.
Here are strategies I take when I catch myself spending some mindless hours watching T.V.
1. I take breaks, get up and walk the dogs for a ½ hour, or just take a walk, even if it is up and down the stairs or down the street.
2. Make sure I don’t set myself up for mindless eating, I don’t buy or have the snacks or “treats” in the house
3. I also give myself a time limit as the amount of time in front of the T.V. This helps me pay attention to the time, and not letting it fly by.
4. When I am done, I don’t feel guilty. I just take some time to read something positive or listen to something positive so I can re-frame and start using my brain again.
This helped me a lot over this weekend. As much as I wanted to go to the kitchen and chow down on a bag of chips or brownies this past weekend, I got up and went outside when this feeling came over me.
I got a bit of workout, shoveling snow, playing with the dogs and cleared my head all in one swoop. And taking those first few steps in fresh snow is really about experiencing Mother Nature at her best.
So it really wasn’t the act of watching T.V. that could have been my overall problem, what I realized was the fact that endless hours of it can drag me into a trance of mindlessness; eating and not feeling like doing anything else.
My final tip to you, if you are spending endless hours watching T.V. and you are feeling like your life is anything than what you want it to be; then try my strategies to start changing this habit of mindlessly letting your life go by.