My gym is physically next to the area’s largest commercial and retail bakery.  It’s exhaust fans deliver a jolt of enticing smells direct to your post workout hunger pangs.  You can actually watch people leave the two different gym facilities that border it and flow into the deli section for their bagel with a shmear or a fried egg, cheese and bacon on a fresh bagel.  Those who walk out with a bag of freshly baked rolls and bagels can be seen eating one on the way to the car.

This morning the air was filled with freshly baked onion bagels as they flowed out of the oven.  Four Years and ten months of Low Carb eating and I had to restrain myself from entering the stream of Lemmings heading for the bakery door.  On the ride home, I remembered some of the lessons learned in my psych 101 course.

As Pavlov and others demonstrated with dogs, mice and a myriad of other creatures, including us, we are conditioned to behave in a certain way.  Rewards achieve their goal.  Comfort food is called Comfort food for a reason.  My salivary glands reacted as they did this morning because of a lifetime of conditioning.  Marketing people know this and play off it – Sell the Sizzle.  And we bite.

It is 4 years and 10 months, why the hell isn’t my behavior extinguished already?  Will I never be able to shake the behaviors that caused me to be 80 pounds overweight with high blood pressure and blood work bordering on bad?  I doubt it.

Back to my psych 201 behavior course and the experiments on extinguishing those conditioned behaviors – Yeah – it has been years since I took those courses – but the underlying lessons learned still hold true.

If you receive a reward every time you do a certain act, then when the reward stops, the behavior will eventually be extinguished.  The graph will be almost a straight line down to zero.

If you receive a reward only at odd and unpredictable intervals, then that behavior is harder to extinguish.  But even when you get that behavior to almost zero – and then give a reward – the behavior is revived – in spades.

Do I need to translate that lesson to our struggle with dieting and eating according to the plan and goals we have set for ourselves?  No.

Volek in his new book, talks about the impact of going off of low carb eating for a week or so on your metabolism and your body’s keto-adaptation.  That is the physical corollary to this rule of extinguishing conditioned behaviors.  There is an underlying physical issue.  It “ain’t” just all in your brain.  Contrary to popular belief – it is not just because we are weak sloths.

Just realize – you are not a dog or a mouse.  You can – to a certain degree – control your behavior.  It is not easy – but it is worth the effort.

To answer the original question – Are we conditioned to overeat? You Bet Your Sweet Bippy.

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