Tuesday, November 15, 2011

More like exercise, less like diets

I’ve been writing a quite a bit lately about my somewhat existential crisis and the multiple offshoots of indecision and questions it has planted in my mind.

And I came to realization yesterday that I need to find ways to make this problem more like exercise and less like dieting.

Let me explain. They say that one of the reasons dieting is much harder than exercise is because it is a negative action, a deprivation so to speak – and a constant one at that. One must constantly be exerting willpower in order to resist the temptation to eat whatever foods one is trying to avoid. Studies of willpower have shown that even basic problem solving, like doing a series of math questions, erodes willpower – so by the end of the day, most people will find their willpower depleted and be more likely to give into temptation.

Exercise, on the other hand, also requires willpower but in a positive sense. One must muster the will to partake in whatever exercise regime one has chosen – fitness class, gym workout, run, etc. However, once the task is completed there is no longer any need to bolster one’s willpower – and one has the added benefit of feeling satisfaction for a positive accomplishment (satisfaction less easily come by for negative/deprivation actions).

So how does this relate to my current problem? Well this is exactly what I need to figure out. I need to find a way to make my questions less like dieting and more like exercise.

What I realized is that the decision to be a writer is like dieting in this analogy – not so much in that it is a deprivation, but rather in that it requires a constant exertion of willpower, a continual re-affirmation of the choice (to write/to diet). Too many other personal decisions rolling around in my head are also the dietary type – ones which constantly require attention and effort.

But how does one turn diet regimes into exercise regimes? If I were to continue with this analogy, one would determine the end goal (i.e. to lose weight) and then determine positive actions which could be taken toward meeting that goal.

I’m finally feeling hopeful.

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