Scope Creep

Interesting. I’m examining what happens in my head when I think about going out to a movie with Grace and friends tonight, and the phenomenon of scope creep is readily apparent.

Yesterday was a typical day: I went to work in the morning, came home at night, and exercised. All my meals were scripted. I had a small handful of peanuts and raisins before leaving work, and I knew that my standard mini-meal would be there for me as soon as my exercises were complete. I had no visions of pizza or any other indulgences.

But just now, when I was envisioning going to meet Grace and her friends for a movie, I started salivating as I saw in my mind’s eye a slice of pizza being handed to me.

I am looking for an excuse.

There is a part of me that wants to gloss over all the ways of eating healthily while I’m out on the town. It wants to blur them so that, conveniently, all it can see is the satisfying option: “Oh, I’m going to a movie in Manhattan — I guess I’ll have to eat junk. Too bad!”

It is possible to see the fallacy of that blurring. It is possible for me to focus on the rational knowledge of what’s best for me. But it takes massive effort, and I’m not talking about raw strength. I’m talking about a power of concentration that’s lasting and finely-tuned.

Have you ever tried to hold onto a pumpkin seed that you just scooped out of the pumpkin? It’s possible to hold it between thumb and forefinger, but it requires constant attention and motor control. That’s what my knowledge of proper eating is like. If I let my attention wander for just a moment, it squirts out from between my fingers. Then my hand falls onto the next closest thing: that blurred image. My fingers close around the lie that it’s OK not to worry about it “for now”.

This is how scope creep happens. This is why every boundary I’ve set on my eating gets stretched by tiny degrees until it bears no resemblance to its original shape. This is why my resolve to indulge in pizza only on my weekly “eat anything I want day” has always melted in the heat of the moment into some rationalization for eating this pizza here in front of me right now.

The only way I can combat that scope creep is through constant vigilance. And that’s what this blog is about.

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