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Marginal Cost/Marginal Benefit

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I just finished an Economics class. Not by choice, mind you. Well, sort of. I chose to get the darned MBA. I suppose I could have guessed they would make me take econ…but I digress.

So, in econ we learned about analyzing marginal costs and marginal benefits; figuring out when the cost of producing one more is greater than the benefit you actually get from having that one more produced. This concept has been rolling around in my head lately, because I feel like every decision I make is a trade-off between the marginal cost and the marginal benefit.

There’s a marginal benefit every time I exercise. It comes in the form of health, a tremendous feeling of satisfaction, and (hopefully) weight loss and muscle gain. But there’s a cost, too. And finding the balance between the two is proving to be quite difficult.

In January I buckled down and got serious about my health. I made plans, set goals, started streaks, you name it. And I kept it up for the first half of the quarter; 6 weeks of daily workouts, planned snacks, and copious amounts of water. But then midterms hit, and I realized I was woefully unprepared.

So how did I handle this? First, I started dropping workouts, then I stopped weighing in, then I found myself eating the things I had so skillfully been avoiding, and finally I let my water consumption slip. WATER?!? Really?? That was the one thing I’ve always been good at; I ENJOY drinking water. But once everything else was gone, it just didn’t seem important to get up and refill the glass anymore either.

At first I told myself that I was simply dedicating too much time to getting healthy, and I had to give that time back to my schoolwork. I figured marginal cost and marginal benefit are measured in units of time, so every minute I give to exercise is a minute I take from studying, and therefore a little blow to my grade.

But now that it’s spring break and I’m thinking back over everything, that seems sort of silly. Eating right and drinking water really wasn’t taking hardly any time, and I was using what I’d call “lost” time (leaving work just a little early, getting up just a little early, etc.) to exercise, so I wasn’t giving up much real time at all. And when I stopped doing it, I didn’t necessarily give any of that time directly to studying.

But still, the marginal cost of the healthy lifestyle was outweighing the marginal benefits. Why? Quite frankly, I think it simply takes a mental toll. When I was focused on being healthy, I wasn’t focusing on school (or anything else), and when I stopped everything else came back. One thing I’ve noticed from reading others’ blogs here on Spark is that, for most people, exercising, eating right, getting healthy is a way of life. And it should be. But from the perspective of these blogs it seems to dominate their lives. It is the #1 most important thing; THE focus; the thing they consider before all other things.

I tried to emulate that, but it was too much for me. Focusing on it made me lose focus on everything else. And I wonder, how does everyone else do it? The blogs are of course focused on healthy lifestyles, so perhaps they are showing a skewed perspective of reality. I know you all have lives: families (including kids I don’t have), jobs, and everything else that goes with it. I am not unique in my situation. So what is it that you know that I haven’t figured out yet?

I think I need to find a way to make these things natural; routine; ordinary. A way to reduce the marginal cost so I can focus on my schoolwork, and work work, and most importantly my hubby. I really need some help here. How do you balance everything? How do you make your healthy lifestyle a normal part of our routine? Or am I naive to think that this is possible?
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