Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Day 75, Sliding Scales

Human psychology is an endlessly baffling thing, especially the fact that no matter what happens, our egos never seem to be satisfied or at peace.

Case in point. Today, I caught myself mentally berating myself for overeating. I was doing some housework and everytime I passed the kitchen I would take a dried prune from the jar I have on my counter and eat one. Then, 5 minutes of cleaning, and another dried prune, and so on. I wasn't eating because I was hungry, just because the prunes tasted good and were there for the taking.

After an hour or so of this I felt full and starting giving myself a hard time. Was I so weak minded that I would just eat something because it was there? What kind of Peak Condition am I going to be in with that kind of mentality. A few minutes of this passed and I realized that I was sitting there giving myself a guilt trip over eating a dozen dried prunes.

Rewind the tape to three months ago and the same self-berating head conversation would have been happening, only that time about a tray of donuts or an entire tube of Pringles. Intellectually I know that the prunes are good for me and that I'm eating better than 99% of people in the world, but the ego doesn't pay any attention to facts like that, and just keeps up the mental hammering no matter what the situation.

I've found the same thing with my physique. Although almost near Peak Condition (my back needs a lot of work, more on that in future posts) I still get frustrated that I don't look more like my vision of what the final product should be, or that this muscle group isn't as toned as it looked last week. And this dissatisfaction has been in the back of my head the whole time, right from day 1. And it will continue into the future.

Be it fitness, wealth, or career, nobody ever seems to say to themselves, "Ok, I think I've done enough. This is good enough for me. I'm going to finally relax and enjoy my life now." The ego works on a sliding scale. When we get close to what we imagine will satisfy us the mind moves the bar a little further away. And why? Buddhist thinkers will tell you that the ego needs dissatisfaction to perpetuate itself. A truly happy person doesn't have anything for the ego to cling to and obsess about. This state is pretty much what I think of as enlightenment.

It's interesting to see the same ego mischief applies to fitness. Getting into awesome shape will not soothe the little voice inside your head, although it will quiet it down. Only a lot of meditation and awareness will really deal with the underlying issues.

And that's harder than any diet or exercise plan could ever be.


David said...

You are so right, man.

Last night I found myself a bit discouraged that I hadn't noticed any more changes in my physique; yet a day or two before that, I was so excited over the changes I had observed.

I've realized that since I've seen changes, I'm expecting them more and more, faster and faster. I just need to learn to remain calm and be patient.

Patrick said...

I do the same thing! Like, "three days ago my shoulders looked this much bigger, this week they should look three times bigger!

It's a very Brawndo way to think about things.