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The Rick Santorum Diet

Rick Santorum - Photo by Gage Skidmore

"The notion that college education is a cost-effective way to help poor, low-skill, unmarried mothers with high school diplomas or GEDs move up the economic ladder is just wrong." - Rick Santorum

I’m not good with diets. There have been some that worked for me that involved strict adherence and hundreds of dollars in pre-packaged foods. There have been others that have been miserable failures. My restaurant tech startup ensures that I’m surrounded by food all the time which hasn’t made things any easier.

A couple weeks ago I decided to try a new diet. Actually it is an old diet with a new twist. And so far, it has worked fantastically. In fact, it has worked so well, I’ve managed to convince a couple other people to go on it and from what I hear, it is working well for them so I decided to share it.

The problem with diets traditionally is that there isn’t really any immediate downside to cheating. Sure you feel guilty, but a single doughnut isn’t going to show up on the scale. In my case, I use a single small cheat to justify binging. After all, if I broke my diet by eating a couple jelly beans, then today must be a free day and I should just eat what I want.

Donation envelope

What I needed was a psychological hack to make my diet stick. I had to create a strong disincentive to breaking my diet. Some horrible consequence that would make cheating on my diet unthinkable. The site sticKK does something like this where they’ll let you donate to a anti-charities if you break your goal, but I didn’t find any of them particularly bad and while donating money to say, the George W. Bush Library might make me feel guilty, I really didn’t think it would really affect me much.

I thought and thought. I needed the nuclear option. It had to be something so awful that not only did it go against my ethics, but it would harm me personally. I finally found it in Rick Santorum.

"President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob!” - Rick Santorum

So how does it work?

I decided that I would go on a diet for two weeks and if, during those two weeks, I broke my diet even once, I would donate $200 to Rick Santorum’s campaign. Because of campaign finance rules, my name and address would be recorded in public databases as having donated to Rick’s campaign for the rest of my life. Once this happened, I would no doubt receive all manner of solicitations from ultra-social conservatives begging for money for causes that I find abhorrent. For years. Not only that, but I will have helped fund the Presidential campaign for a man who I find personally nauseating.

I printed a copy of the donation form on Rick Santorum’s website, filled it out, put it in an envelope with a check, addressed it and handed it to my partner Lisa. Then, in order to ensure I kept my bargain, I told everyone I knew that I was doing this so that if any of them caught me eating or thinking of eating anything remotely bad for me, it would take one message to Lisa to trigger the donation.

"Science should get out of politics" - Rick Santorum

So far it has worked beautifully. I’ve lost about three pounds a week. I’ve been around sugar and sweets and haven’t given a second thought about cheating. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so confident about being able to stick to a diet. In fact, I’m so confident that I’m going to extend my diet for two months.

Anyone else willing to do the Santorum Diet with me?

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