President Dwight Eisenhower first coined the phrase “domino effect” to apply to the spread of Communism in the 1950s. Although the stakes may not be as high, my international eating and television viewing habits seem to suffer based on the same domino theory that threatened the free world.
My week starts with a bite of Bavarian cheesecake. This small transgression tumbles into a German chocolate cake after I had already surrendered my defenses to French fries and Swedish meatballs. Before I know it, the dangerous spread of corpulence has invaded my entire continental self.
This same domino effect has influenced how I watch TV. It started as a pleasant investment of an hour per week with Mark Harmon and NCIS. Then, a brief reconnaissance mission informed me that NCIS reruns could be found on other channels every day of the week. Soon, my attention to less inspiring activities, such as house maintenance and personal grooming, gave way to this new, time-consuming opportunity. I eventually found a whole batch of new television dramas that combine humorous banter, dissection of corpses and deadly gunfights.
Fortunately, the same domino effect can work in reverse. For example, I started yesterday morning with a carrot stick, then a juicy orange at lunch. These led me to a fruit smoothie after work. My healthy decisions dominoed into a dinner of steamed broccoli over long-grain brown rice and a trip to the grocery store to purchase green vegetables I can’t even pronounce.
In the behavior change business, it is understood that a small, positive action can lead to multiple behaviors of a similar kind. All it takes is a gentle shift in one direction to start a chain reaction, leading to significant progress.
What a wonderful realization. So today, when I consider getting more exercise, I don’t need to sign a nine-year contract at Hardbodies Forever Fitness. All I need to do is lace up my tennis shoes and begin walking down Carson Street. My path will take me along those big aspen trees and right by…let me think…Donuts To Go.
Oh no, domino!