If not happiness, then why?
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Yesterday I was thinking about the saying "weight loss doesn't make you happier." So why do it? Why maintain? I guess one right answer would be for health. The funny part is I'd written nearly a page before recalling a vision statement I composed last fall, which was the idea of my body as a temple. Another fine answer. But is it really why?
What occurred to me is that the reward of any enterprise needs to be sufficient to the obstacles we encounter. I talked about this a few weeks ago, about the Stanford study where they taught maintenance skills first. At the time I felt they were mistaken to look for conservation of motivation. To put an analogy to it, it's like my old approach of not wanting to work out more simply to eat more.
I don't work out to eat more, but I do workout to maintain my metabolism. And I guess it's true that a familiarity with what maintenance involves clarifies what motivation is required to succeed. Not knowing what maintenance might involve used to cause me anxiety. I would hear that it's harder than expected and wonder why. I'm operating on the theory that understanding as much as I can about maintenance equips me to know, in a sense, how much motivation I need. I think motivation is a capacity, like strength or endurance. Maybe it's a skill like cooking.
It's funny to look back and see my initial reaction to the 5% maintenance factoid. I listed the reasons I felt I would succeed, and they turn out to bear some similarity to the National Weight Control Registry predictors. And that may be part of what drove my search for more information, because it seemed too simple. The parts I was already looking for were simple. The parts that didn't fit my preconceived notions took some time. But I know enough now that I'm not anxious about it.