Thursday, 25 September 2008

Tough Love - Reasons not to Quit You don't Normally Hear

You read a lot of advice on how to stick with a program, whether it be a healthy eating plan, fitness regime, or giving up a vice. Invariably the approach is one of encouragement, seeking to nurture a sense of positivity and achievement. Whilst I do believe this approach is important, I think it would be refreshing to tell it like it is for once, warts 'n' all.

So here is the alternative 5-step motivation plan for not quitting your program. Not a fan of tough love? Stop reading.
1. You’ll Hate Yourself
If you have taken the trouble to attempt this endeavour in the first place then the chances are you have a well-developed sense of self. Give up now and you’ll think less of yourself in the weeks that follow. Sure, initially you’ll enjoy the junk food or not having to go to the gym, but they will be hollow pleasures and slowly but surely the self-loathing will creep in.
2. You will Die Sooner and be Unwell for Longer
Life is like a game of golf. It doesn’t matter how well you play on the last few holes – if you screwed up earlier in the game there is a limit to how good your final score can be. Everything you do affects how long you will live and how well you will be when you are alive. If you go back to the sofa and Big Macs for 6 months, then later in life you might develop an illness a few weeks earlier or more severely and then die of that illness a few weeks sooner than you would have.
3. You will be a Failure
That’s right. Don’t believe the garbage you see on sentimental, feel-good TV shows about how taking part is what matters just as long as you made an effort. That’s just something they tell people who have failed so they feel better. Fact is, if you fail, you fail - and deep down, you will know it. Try and remember the last time you failed at something and how that felt. You don’t want to feel like that again.
4. Other People will Secretly be Glad
You shouldn’t care what people think, right? But who amongst us truly doesn’t care what others think? If you give up, people will think one of two things. Either ‘Ha! I knew he didn’t have what it takes,’ or ‘Good, now I feel better about my own failings’. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
5. You’ll be Here Again in Three Months
Try to remember how you felt just before you started your program. You were doubtless feeling overweight, unfit, unhealthy or any combination of these. Enough was enough - action was needed. Give up now and you’ll be back where you started in a few months. No one likes to feel like they’re getting nowhere but that’s how you’ll feel 3 months from now if you quit. So don’t.


My Year Without said...

That is some brutal honesty. Who goes there? You did! Love it, and from experience, your pretty right on.

Chris - Zen to Fitness said...

Cool post and some great points. The one that motivates me most is that other people will secretly be glad. Sometimes it takes long term determination to achieve something and show others what your capable of....

Methuselah said...

Year Without, Chris - thanks. You be yet more brutally honest, the Ha! I knew he didn’t have what it takes is these days something I am sometimes guilty of myself when other people fail. I think this is what the Germans call Schadenfreude!

Mini said...

I don't agree with your theory that if you eat big macs and sit on the sofa for six months an illness will arrive a few weeks earlier, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest this is true, or indeed false for that matter.
It's rather like the old saying that each cigarette takes 5 minutes off your life. This was just a way of saying. The average smoker dies 10 years younger than the non smoker and the average person smokes 20 cigarettes a day. therefore every day you smoke multiplied by 20 = x then divide this by 10 years. Presumably 5 minutes is the answer. Unfortunately its just a way of making something easier to understand for the general public. My Granny smoked like a trooper, ate loads of refined sugar, was overweight and she lived to 95, another guy I knew didn't drink or smoke and regularly went to the gym. He died at 37. Genes have a great deal to do with this, although I do accept environmental factors (such as diet, drinking and smoking) can make a big difference. But I think talking in terms of 6 months of big macs will knock 3 weeks off your life is flawed.

Methuselah said...

Mini - you are absolutely right, there is no evidence concerning Big Mac consumption on sofas and longevity or morbidity. My point is illustrative rather than literal, and you make it very well yourself when you say "environmental factors ... can make a big difference."

I did feel that using an exaggerated example like this was in keeping with the tone of the piece, given it was intended to take a deliberately harsh position on motivation rather than factually inform.

p.s. Imagine how long your granny would have lived if she'd been a regular gym-goer ;-)

Mini said...

Yes well your comment about Granny will be easy for me to see, I will just look at my mother. She has an allergy to potatoes, eats only a small amount of bread and doesn't like pasta. She eats steaks and salads a lot, as well as chicken and fish with lots of veg with plenty of fresh fruit. Kind of a permanent healthy Atkins diet if you will. I don't think she eats many products with refined sugar that’s for sure. She played for the county in 4 sports and was county squash champion for 6 years running. She still runs every morning. She's 72 now and you would think she was 52. I am absolutely convinced she'll be getting a telegram off the Queen! Longevity seems to run down the female line in my family and with those good genes and a good diet + a good fitness regime she's in for a good old age.

Trey said...

The thing about sofa and big macs for six months making you die sooner hit me. I always assumed if I got healthy I'd be able to fix it all. I'm 19 years old and I've been living with "sofa and big macs" my entire life, I've only taken an interest in health lately because I want to live a long time, but am I already screwed?

Methuselah said...

Trey - obviously I don't know your history and in any case I am not a doctor so I can only give you my opinion based on my experience and thoughts.

I would say that the younger you are, the less screwed you are and the bigger the difference you can make to your longevity by changing your lifestyle. First, because your body is regenerating at a greater rate so there is more potential to repair damage quickly than if you were older. Second because by definition you've had less time to mess things up - and now have longer to improve them!

So I would say you are in a great position - start stransitioning towards a more active, nutritionally appropriate lifestyle now and you'll make a world of difference.

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