Why Don’t I Do What I Know Is Good For Me?

by James Wallace Harris, Friday, July 12, 2019

From all the studies I’ve read, I’d be a much healthier person if I ate a plant-based diet, and regularly lifted weights and did aerobic exercises. So, why don’t I?

I’ve never been a very disciplined person even though I know from limited experience that being disciplined has its rewards. If I eat right and exercise I feel better than when I don’t. Now that I’m getting older, the importance of health is becoming much too obvious. Yet, I do less to help myself. Why?

Popular wisdom now nags us that inactivity is as bad as smoking. I was disciplined enough to not smoke, so why can’t I make myself stay active? I’ve been a rather inactive bookworm my whole life. It’s hard to believe that my Walter Mitty ways are killing me. Laying around daydreaming feels perfectly natural to me. But I must admit that my energy levels are dwindling as the years go by. Not only do want to do less as I get older, but my muscle strength and overall stamina are fading too. But isn’t that plain old getting old? Can diet and exercise equal rejuvenation?

I tell myself to exercise more. I do. And I feel pretty good. However, naps are more alluring than ever. My doctor says all my blood work numbers are good. She says trying using the exercise bike twenty minutes a day. I do. Maybe I feel a tiny bit better, but I still love naps and daydreaming, and I can’t lift furniture or untwist jar tops like I used to. Is that because I’m racing towards 70? Or because I’m not moving enough?

I wonder if lifting weights or going to the gym would give me back my strength and stamina?. But it’s so much nicer to just read. I ask myself if going to the gym is the solution, why isn’t every oldster not in tip-top shape?

I have my best luck sticking with physical therapy exercises, doing Miranda Esmonde-White exercises, and walking. I gave my exercycle to my wife. I got rid of my big Bowflex machine because it was just too damn big. And I’m thinking about giving away my little Bowflex machine because I’ve found the back pains it cures are also cured by the Miranda Esmonde-White exercises.

Since I hate going to the gym and I’m getting annoyed exercise equipment, I’ve been telling myself to embrace body-weight exercises. I’ve been collecting how-to articles, but I haven’t put them into practice yet. I know it would be good for me, but I can’t make myself start.

I’ve reached a state of equilibrium with my diet. I no longer pursue the plant-based diet that I did after I got my stent. I eat cheese, eggs, and yogurt. I eat some sweats, but not much. I’m still a vegetarian – I have been since 1969. This is my 50th anniversary. But I just can’t make myself go vegan even though I think I’d be healthier and live longer.

In other words, I’ll eat and exercise moderately, but I won’t make a big effort to become healthier. Why? I spend between 20-60 minutes a day exercising. If I spent another 30 minutes I might have more strength, stamina, and longevity, but I won’t go that distance. Why?

I know people who are physical fitness fanatics, spending hours each day exercising, and I know people who are epic couch potatoes, who never exercise or even try to eat right. I’m not sure if there’s any consistency in who is healthier. Both groups are more energetic than me, and both groups suffer from various random health crises.  I know exercise nuts who have gotten heart attacks, strokes, and cancer, and I know do-nothings living into their nineties still cramming down the junk food nightly.

I think the illusion is we want to control our fates. I hate that I’m losing my stamina, strength, and energy, but maybe that’s the fate of this particular body.

My new diet is to stop eating anything that makes me feel bad within 24-hours. I have a whole list of foods and drinks that my body doesn’t like. I also exercise just enough to avoid aches and pains. I can tell when my body needs some stretching or activity. After that, I can’t make myself do things on the assumption that I’ll live longer. There’s just no feedback.

Before I got the stent in my heart I couldn’t breathe. It felt like I was dying. That was a wonderful incentive to do something. But that was back in 2013. I now avoid fatty foods. If I eat too much fat I can feel a lack of oxygen. That inspires me. Feeling pain in my back or numbness in my legs inspires me. But the pleasantness of a nice nap while listening to music, or the contentment of sitting and reading doesn’t inspire me to move.

JWH

 

 

12 thoughts on “Why Don’t I Do What I Know Is Good For Me?”

  1. An ancient question. For the answer you might wish to refer to a book of ancient wisdom—as opposed to popular wisdom.

    Romans 7:15-20 New International Version (NIV). 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.

  2. There’s no one fit-all lifestyle. People make their own choices. We are bombarded with ever-changing lifestyle “trends” that feed different industries and do not necessarily better our lives or our health.
    I think intellectual activities such as reading count as an exercise. Avoiding pain can be the ultimate goal, why not? Why not just do the sports we enjoy? I think we should educate ourselves on food and nutrition and go back in history to understand why and how we eat the way we do today before buying the popular concepts of healthy diets.

  3. Hi James,

    The answer to your question is actually not very complicated. You are only asking the question because of the unique human capacity of self-awareness. The brain is acting and behaving in the only manner it can. That’s really all there is to it. Your brain is processing information through the senses as part of an unimaginably complex dense and sophisticated process, on a moment to moment basis. Not to worry, the brain will cause yourself to act in a manner to ensure your survival including the appropriate responses to threat and opportunities to reproduce.

    All of the contradictions and conflicts we experience in our lives are a function of the difference between what our brain responds to in our immediate environment including our interactions with others (the real world of causality that is our particular expanding universe) and what our imagination (self-awareness) perceives as all possible futures. In this case the idea that you could ‘do’ more of this or less of that is part of the illusion of the present fabricated by our self-awareness.

    It’s the illusion of the present fabricated by our self awareness that gives us the notion that we are agents of free will with the ability to ‘choose’ between all possible futures when in fact there is only the past which has already occurred and the future which hasn’t happened yet.

    So relax and enjoy your bonus time. You are already doing the best job you can 🙂

  4. You are doing heaps compared with most. If you don’t change your ways, don’t beat yourself up. As I understand it, there are only three ways we can make a lifestyle change : 1. have an epiphany ; 2. Change the environment; 3. Start a tiny habit. Tiny. I love following your thought processes. You know exactly what’s going on but you’re only human.

    1. Thanks, Rachel. A lot of my blogging is thinking out loud. I’m trying to figure things out for myself but I let other people watch. That way if I make some false assumptions people will let me know.

  5. We are micro cog….. and we can’t change…. maybe that’s why Society can’t change either for the better….. we point to society and say this should be better….and that should be better and we can’t do any better ourselves

    1. That’s a good point, Jim, how can we expect society to change when we can’t change ourselves? But I just thought of something. Society is also the method by which we control ourselves. We rebel against the oppression of laws and rules, but it does give things relatively orderly. Without police and national guards, cities would be nightmares.

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