Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Posts tagged ‘philosophy’

Encouraging Words

I found another great podcast, that has two men getting philosophical about their lives and workouts. Just to tease for a moment, the idea that men are able to get philosophical and introspective is refreshing and surpising. The podcast is called “fitcast“. One of the guys lost 100 lbs, and the other is his trainer. This isn’t one of those- “here is the research on one of these topics” kind of show, it is more musings and thoughts of working out and all of life. Chuck, the man who had lost the weight, made several points I want to touch on here. First, though, I’d like to pass along to those who are not into the gym culture. Gone are the days of the gym being filled with “meatheads” picking up heavy things and dropping them. At it’s heart, resistance training is still picking up heavy things and putting them back down, but the people doing so are much more self aware and articulate about it. Some of the things we do in the gym apply so easily and well to the rest of your life. Set goals, make them small, incremental, measurable and achievable. Keep a log. Do things that fit your goals, but also interest you. Don’t waste time. Stay focused. Refocus every so often. Rest. Review what you are doing every so often to see if it still fits your goals. These lessons learned in the gym can apply to gaining discipline in any area of your life.

Chuck was talking about living an active life in one episode. Not the idea of getting more exercise, but the idea of taking control of your life and being an active participant, rather than a passive one. He said that it started with the idea of logging food-“I can’t do that, it’s too hard, it’s not me, I eat what I eat…”, then he started, it got easier, then it became part of who he was. Then it was sleep, he had trouble with that. He started with the same excuses, and made the same journey. He then summed it up with his current battle with stress. The reason this has me so interested is that I don’t see any aspect of your life in isolation. Nothing you do happens in a vacuum, and everything you do affects everything you do. The lessons you learn in one area of your life apply to others.

I spoke about this in an earlier blog, but the whole concept of fitness can be a parable or metaphor for the less tangible parts of your life. You can grasp the discipline it takes to control your eating easier than the discipline to control your thoughts. You can see how taking charge of your body brings visible results, leading you to realize the same can be true of your emotions, finances and interpersonal connections. It is easy to see how even the first baby steps in the right direction lead to positive feelings and results when it comes to eating and exercise and this can give you the confidence to try the same techniques on the rest of your life.

I forget who said it but I remember a quote that said “If you could truly know a leaf, you could understand the universe”. I agree with that idea, since the more I learn about the things, the more interconnected everything is. There are 4 chemicals in your DNA, there are 4 harnesses on my loom. Ok, that last one was a joke. But, that thought popped into my head, since only 4 chemicals make up the unimaginable diversity of life, and the 4 harnesses can make an infinite number of patterns on the loom. Most things are pretty simple at their heart, and only seem complicated from the outside.  If any of you know  the story of the Gordian knot, a king tied this elaborate knot that appeared to have no ends and said if anyone could unravel it he’d get a great prize.  No one could do it. Alexander the Great comes along and slices it off with his sword.  I’m using this as an example of the excuses we put up against change. “If you had the problems I do” “It would be easy if I had your life/body/money/spouse” “I have children/grandchildren/a needy spouse.” Cut through all those and try something against that problem. Set one goal, make a specific, measurable plan to achieve it, write it down, then track your progress. I hate counting. I’m not good at it, my mind loves to wander. However, most everything I love now requires counting. So, I count, and surprise! I’m much better at it than I used to be. If I had said, I’m lousy at counting and there’s nothing I can do about it, then I wouldn’t be able to knit, warp a loom or teach an aerobics class. In fact, anyone who knows me knows the idea of me teaching an aerobics class is hilarious. I don’t have a good sense of rhythm, I’m not musically inclined and there’s that whole counting thing. But here I am. I’m not going to say I’m the greatest at it. I do believe I’m constantly improving. That’s the point. Along the way I lay to rest old bugaboos, prejudices and fears and have a great time while doing so.

 

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No Turtles Here

tortoise

How slow can you go?

All right, this might come across as bashing other people, and maybe it is. If so, I apologize in advance. However, I can’t help feeling like I want to give the human race a collective shake. It seems to me there are two types of people in the world. The curious, active, ambitious, interested and interesting ones, and then there are the others. I have been running into the others a lot lately. They are the ones who don’t want to know. Anything. They aren’t curious. They don’t ask why. Their main goal in life appears to be to do as little as possible. They are happy to just be, like a turtle basking in the sun. While I don’t have anything against turtles, there ought to be some difference between them and us.

Now I suppose that some Eastern religions would say they have the right of it, I would think, since nirvana is supposed to be the cessation of all desire. Personally, I think it is having those desires and satisfying them is what creates happiness. I would consider a lack of desire to be depression. I have been there, I know.

Isn’t it our desires and drives that what give us a better world? Would we have electricity, indoor plumbing and central heat if someone didn’t have the drive to seek out the solutions to those things? I am glad that someone was driven to find out what causes diseases and how vaccinations could prevent them. My drives aren’t that productive, but I have beautiful fiber crafts, good social relations, interesting work to do, and a myriad of skills because of my drives.

Speaking of which, I believe everyone, I mean everyone, should join at least one organization. Now, I know what you are saying, “I hate meetings and fund raisers.” Well, I do too. But organizations are a large part of what makes our society work and they create so much social benefit. We are watching our governments implode, and they won’t be able to provide public activities using tax payer money for long. It is up to us to provide the public good for ourselves. Plus, they provide social opportunity and support. Everyone needs that. But these volunteer organizations do so much for society in general. Do you like any activities like hiking, horseback riding, cross country skiing or snowmobiling? There is a club out there maintaining those trails. Rails to trails? Mostly volunteer and community support. Do you enjoy art? Acting? Tennis? Hockey? Trains? Airplanes? Race cars? You name it, and there is a club or organization putting effort into bringing that activity to people everywhere and using their enjoyment of it to provide benefit to others. I won’t even go into all the good works done by churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations. They do tremendous work. The great thing about joining an organization is that you do what you can. It is the group effort that multiplies everyone’s modest contribution into a greater product. Here’s my caveat to all the driven people out there; you don’t have to join everything, and it is ok to say no after a certain point. You can only do so much, and there is no point in making yourself crazy.

So many do so much for us all, but there seems to be so many that just paddle through life, content to do nothing till they die. I don’t understand it, and frankly, I don’t approve. The trouble is, anyone who would take the time to read my blog is probably already one of the drivers in society, not the passenger, so I’m preaching to the choir. At least I got it off my chest.

Driven, motivated, passive, reactive, organizations, fund raisers, social, society

In Defense of Moderation

Yahoo just feeds me stuff. I had another article in mind, but when I came across “In Defense of the Daily Doughnut“, I couldn’t resist. My initial reaction is that there is no good reason to eat a doughnut. Same with hot dogs. After reading the article, I remember what it was like to crave something like that and they make a very valid point.  If you create a cycle of refrain, binge, remorse and refrain, you get little or no benefit and plenty of pain. If you find there is a certain food, or class of foods that are irresistible, find a way to incorporate them into your diet. The one point they made, but I don’t think they emphasized enough is portion control. If you are in maintenance, meaning you are not trying to lose weight, a daily doughnut could be incorporated. If you are trying to lose weight, I would have to say no more than 2-3 a week.

There are two concepts I would like to add to theirs. The first I just read about last night in a book my son gave me, “The Smashing Book”. In it, the first author mentions the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen-the focus on continuous improvement through small, gradual steps. I think that is a perfect philosophy for eating. I say eating, not dieting. I am not on a diet. I maintain my weight by eating. “Dieting” is always the idea of eating differently for now, to achieve a goal, then returning to the pre-diet eating pattern. Nothing could be more self defeating. If you clean up your eating, step by step, the rest will take care of itself. That does include goodies. I eat cookies, cake, ice cream and chocolate, every day. (Not all in the same day!) I do however, keep the portions small. A half a cup of ice cream is a serving.

The second concept is honesty. If you are going to be honest and straight forward with allowing yourself treats, be honest about the rest of your diet. I had a friend who said her husband shouldn’t be heavy, and gave the example that he had half a sandwich for lunch. It became apparent, she meant half a sub. There is a huge difference in calories between half a bread sandwich and half a sub. Any food can be made more calorie rich, by adding amounts, or condiments, or fudging serving sizes. What is the point of playing games with yourself? It’s like cheating at solitaire. If it is a case of ignorance, then take the time to read the serving size, and measure your food, until you can see what half a cup of something looks like.

The article didn’t even mention the concept of “refeed” days in dieting. That is the idea that you take one day a week or so and eat whatever you want. The fact that it is scheduled in, gets you out of the “all or nothing”mentality. It also makes it easier to stick to a calorie deficit over the long haul. There is even some evidence that it helps to stop the plateaus people reach in weight loss, although there are different thoughts as to why.

The last point I want to make is that weight loss is hard. The longer you let it go, the harder it is. It is mentally and physically difficult. If incorporating treats makes it easier, then by all means do it. Just be honest as to how much can fit into your plan, and still allow you to reach your goals.

Happy Easter

Having said that, we aren’t doing anything to celebrate Easter, other than going to church. Which, it could be argued, is the best way to celebrate it.  Now that the kids are gone, we don’t do holidays, and I don’t mind a bit. I was trying to figure out this morning  how I could have gone from enjoying holiday festivities to being grateful to avoid them.

I think it is because of how I react to things. If every day is like Christmas morning, then Christmas morning is overkill. When I was a kid, holidays were the exciting punctuation to an otherwise drab life. Even as an adult, anticipation seemed to revolve around the preparation for some event or another. I don’t want to go all Pollyanna on you, but now it seems that everyday events are loaded with anticipation and satisfaction.

Let me give you an example. Yesterday I was trying to get my GPS working with my computer. It took several hours, and when I finally got done, I was doing the happy dance. Both the struggle and the success were so entrancing I enjoyed every minute. I feel as if I have achieved the goal of living every minute, and it is a great feeling.

I’ll get a little philosophical here, I was thinking this morning that the God who made the mountaintop and the sunset, made mud and slime. All are necessary for life. If you can learn to appreciate the value of slime, how much more will you enjoy the sunset?

Anyway, have a happy Easter, however you celebrate it, and enjoy every minute of whatever you are doing.

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