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Health and Exercise – The Rewards

19 September 2016 No Comment

I’m the same as you. I go through episodes of healthy eating and exercise, and then I regress and end up taking a couple of steps backwards for every step forward. If we’re not careful, a self reinforcing feedback loop can arise and we all end up back where we started, if not worse off than before!

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However, around 10% of people readily have the perseverance to overcome this dilemma.

It is said that “WeightWatchers” (not that I’ve ever been there) thrives by providing repeat services to the 90% of people who lack the will to stick with a healthy regime. It’s odd that a major company should build it’s service model around a service that fails to deliver, but allegedly that’s how they do it!

Wait a minute? Maybe it’s not that odd? I’ve seen this before!

There once was a rented flat in my distant past that suffered from mice infestation. Not wanting to tackle the problem myself, I called in the experts, the pest control people. They came and did a diagnosis, and put down some poison which the mice positively enjoyed eating! That made no difference, except perhaps to encourage one or two of their friends to come over to my place and enjoy the nutritious poison which I had conveniently laid out for them at floor level.

The pest control people made three visits in all, always 7 days later as they had said, with me paying them each time, until the “poison” was eventually “increased in strength” so that it actually had an impact!

Some time much later, when renting another flat, I encountered mice again. This time I went out and bought some traditional mouse traps, a box of twenty for about £12. That was a lot cheaper than hiring the pest control people. And the man in the ironmongers kindly told me “don’t bait them with cheese, that’s a myth, use a very small dollop of crunchy peanut butter, they love it”. He was absolutely right! It took about ten strikes over four days and the mice were gone. I kept the other ten unused mouse traps until I left that flat, though I never needed them!

My point is that what was needed was a change in my mindset, coupled with some sensible advice from a guy who was not trying his best to empty my bank account into his!

Returning to the topic of health and fitness, the parallel is that there is a lot of sensible advice out there for free on the web, and there are experts like Professor Sattar who know so much more than the people at your local health club.

A few years ago, I gave up drinking coffee, as part of a health and fitness drive. Actually, it was “milk” that I gave up, and I discovered that while I can drink black tea, I cannot abide black coffee and so that’s why I effectively gave up on coffee. There have been the odd occasions since then when I have mistakenly picked up a mug of coffee and I cannot stand the stuff now, whether it has milk in it or not.

And that’s a point that Professor Sattar makes. You can re-programme your taste buds! He says “sometimes to re-programme your palate can take a couple of months, but people can achieve that change.” The result is that you can actually give something up, and maintain it.

My latest endeavour is to give up chocolate. I’ve managed twenty days so far, and I have to make it to at least two months (as Professor Sattar says) in order to have a chance of making that change permanent.

And for those of you who think that “cutting it down to a truly limited amount” is a better approach . . . I will leave you with these words from Saint Augustine:

“Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation!”

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