Tuesday, January 05, 2010
It's my belief that because I know I have no will power, all I can do is structure my life in such a way as to avoid temptation. Me and Oscar Wilde. If I buy potato chips or bake a lemon pie (yup, that was a big mistake: but delicious!!) then I've already decided to eat 'em. And I will.
So you can imagine that I was chuffed to read in the Toronto Globe today that a recent study in a reputable journal says I'm right: there is nothing noble in setting myself up to resist temptation, because temptation just makes it more likely I'll fail. The attitude to cultivate, apparently, is a humble awareness of human weakness!! Which takes the inevitability of submission to temptation very very seriously. And focuses on elimination of temptation rather than testing will power.
Here's the article, then:
Think you have self-control to keep resolutions? Then you won't
TORONTO — From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, Jan. 05, 2010 12:00AM EST
Did you confidently pledge to quit smoking when the New Year's ball dropped? Did you vow to keep your fingers out of the cookie jar? Or promise to refrain from binge drinking?
The key to sticking with that resolution is simple: Don't overestimate your own self-control.
A recent study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that those with an inflated sense of impulse control are more likely to expose themselves to their temptations and ultimately fall into the trap of giving in to those temptations. In other words, it's not a good idea to keep that pack of cigarettes in the house if your plan is to quit, or to leave those chocolates on the top shelf, supposedly out of reach, if your resolution is to lose weight.
"Basically we walk around believing that we have more control than we in fact have, and the consequence of that is we don't take sufficient precautions," said Loran Nordgren, co-author of the study and a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Illinois.
"The people who are most self-confident also, as a result, expose themselves to more temptation than others, which also makes them the most likely to fail."
The authors conducted four studies examining how beliefs on impulse control affected a person's ability to overcome temptation.
In one study, smokers were divided into two groups and told they either had superior self-control over their cravings or little impulse control. The overly confident group were more willing to keep a cigarette in their hands while they watched the 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes. As a result, they exposed themselves to more temptation than they could handle and were more likely to smoke the cigarette.
The authors also found that smokers who were trying to quit and who felt they had more self-control were less likely to have abstained four months later, because they were not diligent enough in avoiding temptation.
"What we found is that people have chronically underestimated the power of impulse," Prof. Nordgren said. "People think they have a greater capacity for self-control than they in fact have and that misperception, what I have been calling the restraint bias, leads them into temptation."
Prof. Nordgren said people need to appreciate the destructiveness of addictions and take a humble view. That requires avoiding temptations instead of having unrealistic perceptions of control.
He said that some addiction programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, have realized the danger of inflated impulse control beliefs. One of the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous is that an alcoholic should admit powerlessness over alcohol.
While the purpose of Prof. Nordgren's study is to improve on addiction programs, it is also easily applied to New Year's resolutions.
"My recommendation to people making health resolutions is to be very specific on what those goals are, and those goals should absolutely be focused on ways to avoid the temptation," he said.
So now that I know -- on good authority -- that I'm right, there is no excuse for self delusion. I HAVE no will power. So: I've gotta continue avoiding temptation!
Monday, January 04, 2010
Thanks to Rookie Running Group for providing the link to the Podrunner intervals programme to get me started on my return to running.
And: to JOPAPGH for recommending that I check out POSE and Chi running techniques!
Day one of week one is a 30 minute walk/jog interval routine -- and certainly not a strain for me from a cardio perspective -- but I was really concentrating on the form: erect posture, landing mid-foot, pulling up on the knees and keeping the stride short with bent arms close to the body. The podrunner programme (free download) signals the change from walk to jog so I don't have to time the intervals and can focus on the form; very very convenient! I am finding that I really need to think about it.
I'm going to work on this Mon/Wed/Fri plus weights and do alternative cardio at least 2 other days (elliptical, likely). Plus abs/stretch of course: the strong core is important to the POSE running technique too.
It's exciting after a 16 year gap from running to get back into it. Back then I was running 10 km pretty consistently 5 days a week -- too much -- and was probably 20-25 pounds heavier then -- and running with a heel-toe roll long stride which was kinda "state of the art". Quite a bit of splat splat splat: it was noisy running!!! And I was not keeping up the abs and weights either, just running with a bit of stretching afterwards. Eventually, my hips and knees rebelled. Now it's fun to check out POSE and chi to see how much running technique has changed -- a bit like the vast change in golf clubs with the giant drivers . . .
Love to run -- makes me feel quite euphoric -- particularly now that I've got my energy back. I'll do some of the podrunner programme on the treadmill and some on the track until it's possible to get back outside running in the spring: by then I'll be back to 5 km again for sure. I'm also looking at Spark Your Way and C25k materials, but for now while I'm really thinking about technique the podrunner is probably the most helpful . . .
My goal here is to take it slowly and AVOID INJURIES. I emphatically do not want to do myself a damage so that I can't exercise at all. Must say when I look at runners' blogs I do see quite a bit of indication that there are a lot of injuries out there.
Old attitude, when I was running before, was: with all of this exercise I don't have to worry about my weight, I can eat pretty much what I want. (I was wrong about that.)
New attitude this time around will be: I love to run so I'm going to stay as light as possible and focus on technique to avoid injury so that I CAN continue to run. And: I'm going to run moderately -- not every day, not 10 km every time, no matter how addictive it is. Because if I do experience injury I will back right off immediately, return to elliptical or swimming. This is about optimal fitness and fun -- especially fun.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
This is an outstanding blog by Xenamy
Everyone knows this -- and everyone should read this!!
Why is it that we don't discriminate against people on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation . . . but, OK to discriminate on the basis of "fatness"??
Because it's "their own fault"?? Well, current research (plus the personal experience of manyh of us) indicates maybe not so much!
Wonder what everyone knows about thin people??
Gonna have to think about that!!
Friday, January 01, 2010
MMX -- people of my vintage who had to learn cursive writing in school -- and how to tell time on clocks that actually used hands -- will remember that MMX is the Roman numeral notation for 2010.
And in 2010 I'm planning to fill in a few gaps in the MMX of my life. Here are my plans.
I: MMiX it up a bit more in the cardio department. Now that I've got my oomph back, I'm gonna experiment with some variations on that familiar elliptical theme!! Would a gradual return to running again (even occasionally) be a possibility?? And experimenting with different times of day for workouts ; intervals of higher and lower intensity? Sounds like fun, and exercise makes me feel so good that I've got to set about it with an attitude that celebrates all the great fun that it is.
II: MMaX it out on occasion: sometimes increase my weights to point of exhaustion, once a week push the boundaries on the cardio minutes, alternating shorter and longer cardio sessions? Because that's the way I can find out what I can do; by playing around, see what it's possible to achieve. It has to be fun to keep expanding my possibilities and find out how far I can push my potential.
III: MMinX around a little more: This it really the biggy. I will be more playful, more spontaneous, more joyous: and above all sillier!! Discipline is good, but discipline doesn't have to mean grimness, deprivation, or gloom. Life is to be enjoyed; seriously, if I learned anything in 2009, it was how important it is for to me to enjoy life as much as possible. So: I'm all for more fun in 2010! Which focus on fun will for me (paradoxically) demand utmost discipline. So this means that I will require myself to be more playful, more spontaneous, more joyous: and above all sillier!! In a good way.
MMinX. MMinX. MMinX. I'll goof it up more, minx it up more -- way more -- in MMX.
And so no, I didn't make like an ancient Roman and climb to the top of Mount Ellie or carve any of this in tablets of stone. Cause that would be completely contrary to the spirit of the whole thing.
If these MMX Roman numerals are putting me into an ancient Roman mode, then I'm thinking more along the lines of an unrolling scroll. Where i pay attention as the possibilities reveal themselves to me. In all of their luscious juiciness.
Change is good. Openness to the process of continuous change which is life: right now, this is the approach I crave.
Resilience, optimism, nimbleness, zest.
As The Spark tells me, maintenance isn't about stagnation, anxiously clutching on to weight loss in a death grip as if that were all that counted. It doesn't. It was never about a diet. It's always about transformation. Continuous transformation. And fun.
And so I will
Measure Maintenance as fluX
And have fun. Did I mention fun??
Thursday, December 31, 2009
I love to joke about my $50,000 body.
Because, of course, it's a 58 year old body. And although it's as good as I can make it at the moment . . . . that's a pretty big number.
Snickering? Eye rolls? OK, I get it. Haven't had any offers in that price range recently. And maybe not everyone would think it was worth that much.
But if I were to be working and billing all of the time that I spend at the gym -- that's a rough estimate of how much more (gross) I'd be earning.
Not that the $50,000 would be going into my pocket: not at all. I'd be paying hefty taxes on it. Big chunk would be going to overhead. And I'd be working less efficiently, with less sanity. All of that.
But IPA-RAY's terrific blog today called this truism to mind for me again: if you want to know what I value, check out how I spend my time and my money.
I value my health. It costs me money to be healthy: money for a gym membership, money for fresh fruits and vegetables, most of all money in foregone income.
And: it's worth it to me.
Being healthy makes me happy. I'm loving my $50,000 body!!
This year, 2009, was very Sidney Carton: the worst of times (serious health problems) AND the best of times (we got through it, both me and my sister: recovering very nicely thank you). Great family, friends, co-workers. Great medical care. But the experience of being ill and unable to work very much at all for quite a period of time (in the midst of a recession, no less!) reminded me again that poor health is costly. In every possible way.
The best of times too because: I found SparkPeople. Which helped me immeasurably, both physically and otherwise, in the recovery of my health. I peeled off the 20 pity party pounds while undergoing treatment. And since then, I've regained my energy and oomph.
So I'm spending quite a bit of time at SparkPeople. It keeps me motivated and grateful; and I try to give back some of what you've all given to me.
SparkPeople doesn't cost $50,000. But although SP is (amazingly) free it's also (just like they say) priceless. The trackers, the articles, the motivators and above all the community of people add incredible value.
So thank you.
And Happy New Year. Together we're going to make 2010 HEALTHY (which by definition means HAPPY) for all of us!!
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