Not quite as scary as Jack Nicholson in “The Shining,” but scary to return after a week’s vacation. I’ll tell you what the scale did in a bit. After spending a week on Madeline Island in Wisconsin, not exercising, making new friends, and eating much, some routine I need. I’ll update some thoughts on vacation as the week rolls on. There are more pressing matters to discuss…
The Dark Knight. That’s right. The Batman. What does he have to do with how we eat? Quite a bit. Maybe its not the Batman in particular, but the promise of a thrilling escape draws you in and movie theaters are a battleground for eating environments, habits, and routines. So it was after a week of relaxation and laziness all around that I ventured to the theater with my brother-in-law on Saturday evening (ostensibly after the kids were in bed). A kind text from my partner stated “Children 1. Mom 0.” I was hoping that related to some weird bet on rhythmic gymnastics she had with the kids. Go Olympics!
On my drive to the theater I started a conversation with that little man that resides in my head. “No popcorn,” I said. “Fine by me,” little man replied, “you just ate a homemade, grilled pizza made by your partner. No room in here.” Whew. Glad we had that talk. Popcorn avoided.
A few miles later, doubt. “Are you sure?” little man asked as if to draw that doubt up from the unspoken. “It is a movie,” he kept on. Damn. Popcorn. At that moment the little man had me. I’d be buying popcorn even if I did continue with the discussion and make surely unfilled promises. It’s that easy for the little man in my head to divert me and my lofty goals. Given the right environment. Movie theaters. And hey, I was still on vacation. Kind of.
Think about it. What is the one thing you associate with movies in a theater? Popcorn. The habit is so engrained, if not in each of us, our culture. There it is, in the spotlight of the concession stand. You can get it in a variety of sizes: big, really big, and “are you kidding me” huge (“Make it a combo save 50 cents,” says the teenage server). At the theater on Saturday there was even a sign that read, “We’d be happy to add more butter once you’ve eaten half your bag.” Talk about customer service. Movie theaters are about the experience and for that they need the environment.
Social, relaxed, habit, escape, smells, sounds, lighting. All the food cues that I dread are present in that one location. My brother-in-law stood idly by while I announced that I was getting popcorn. That’s right, announced it to him. As if to say, “Please, stop me. Now.” Not only had the little man gotten me to buy popcorn, he made me fully aware of what I was doing and state it to the broader audience. That’s true power.
I went with the medium. That of the really big variety. Nearly gone by the time the previews were over. Take that.
All kidding aside, movie theaters are designed to do this to everyone. Prior to vacation I spent time on discussing habit identification and strategy development. I desperately need a strategy for movie theater popcorn. The popcorn rings in my head the moment that even the possibility of a movie is presented. I’m sure that I’ve wanted popcorn at one time or another and then found a movie to go to in order to get it. Makes it more acceptable. How about that for rationalization?
In a few minutes the workout will be done and I will face the scale. Vacation. Popcorn. Please be kind.
Post Workout Update: Up 4. Not kind, not evil. A good bucket of popcorn and a wonderful vacation had. Back to work.