January 7 – Is TV America’s WAISTland?

“[Television is] the triumph of machine over people.” – Fred Allen

As I mentioned yesterday, I am a creature of habits and routines. One of those habits is how I end my day. Generally speaking, during the day I don’t watch much television. On week days I am at work, and on weekends I keep fairly busy with other activities. There are two exceptions: when I first get home from work, and after dinner.

The reflection for today in Weight Watchers Success Every Day. 365 Meditations for Your Weight Loss Journey, mentions the idea that when watching television, your body’s metabolism slows down, and your brain starts emitting alpha waves, the way it does when you sleep. They don’t cite any sources (simply quoting nameless “researchers”) , so my naturally-skeptical mind wonders whether that phenomenon is unique to watching TV, or might also occur with other forms of screen time, or maybe even while sitting to read a book. To my mind, the “science”, or “pseudo science” isn’t important. What I do know is that when I am sitting to watch TV, I am shutting down, and usually it is very intentional

In the case of the time just after work, it is frequently because I am just exhausted. By the time I get home I have been on the go for 10 to 12 hours (or more), depending on whether I worked out, and whether my day ran long. When I hit the door I need down time. Many days I put on TV, look for a rerun of Law & Order, and make the conscious decision to shut my eyes for a few minutes. Most days that is less than a half hour, some days longer.

After dinner my wife and I like to spend time together in the family room. There are a routine of shows we like to watch together. Usually she is on her iPad, and I am on my phone, and the TV is a backdrop. That time is also usually peppered with conversation about our day, upcoming events and so on.

During this TV time is when I am most likely to snack. My go to snack is Skinny Pop popcorn with some Frank’s Red Hot Sauce sprinkled on it. A couple of cups of the popcorn is only 2 to 3 points, and it is a fun snack. Other than that, when I am on track a piece of fruit will do the trick for me.

But lately, my evening snacking has been nuts, and by that I don’t mean crazy, I mean actual nuts. I love nuts. My wife gets two large jars of nuts at Costco – one un-salted, the other lightly salted – and we mix them together. We usually do this only around holiday time. But, when they are in the house I eat them. Nuts in small quantities are a great way to snack, my problem is usually controlling myself around them. I also quite like pistachios, although I am usually better about limiting myself.

Today is Saturday, and the NFL playoffs are on later. I do plan to watch some of the game. The book suggests including other activities while watching TV, such as treadmill or stationary bike. Neither of those are in my family room. So, instead I will commit to myself to only eat zero-point snacks tonight. I am going to give some consideration to altering my TV time, especially right after work. During the winter, once the holidays subside, I love to sit in the living room with a good book. As I said above, I have no idea if that is, in and of itself, any better than TV, but I do know that it is enjoyable and expands my mind.

Bobby-c’s thought for the day…I am going to work on consuming less points during TV time, so that TV does not become Americas WAISTland for me!

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