Monday, November 12, 2007


A problem you can do something about

First, a prefatory comment, to what I hope will be a long series of posts on the maintenance game, particularly the mental/motivational angle:
I am no expert on anything directly relevant, such as psychology or nutrition. I am a mediocre sucess story myself. I have lost about 50 lbs, and more or less maintained most (at the moment 2/3) of that loss for 3 years. So what do I hope to bring to this subject? I answer in two ways. First, my main motivation for writing is to keep myself focused, so it doesn't really matter if I have anything original to say. Secondly (should others read this), I hope that by keeping the light of common sense and reason on the issue, but also maintaining an appreciation for the non-rational human experience, I might provide a balanced view that would be helpful for others on the same mission. A little bit of common-sense pep talk, mixed with a little bit of existentialism.

Today's topic is a pep talk of sorts.

There are many things in life that give us trouble, and for which there is little we can do to improve the situation. If you car is reaching the end of its useful life, you can do little things here and there to keep it going, but it's never going to fully recover. If you get back into the good habit of changing your oil every 3000 miles, it may delay the end, but it won't make your engine stop burning oil. Likewise, if the paint on your house is faded and peeling, its only going to get worse. Of course you can eventually buy a new car or repaint the house, but the current car and the current paint job are past hope.

If you're dealing with an overweight body, then, in comparison to the situations described above, you have a reason to be hopeful. You can do something to fix this situation. The means to improve the situation, better eating and more exercise, are available to everyone. Even better, if you do your part, your body will do a lot of healing on its own. A body damaged by poor habits is not a lost cause, which is good, because you can't buy a replacement.

Of course I'm oversimplifying. There's a huge difference between knowing what you need to do to lose weight, and actually having the willpower to do it. But I believe that attitude shifts can strengthen the will, and this kind of thinking can do a lot to improve your attitude.

Consider this thought experiment: Imagine being ill, and having no access to what will cure you. Then one day, whatever barrier was there has been removed. Wouldn't you rush to obtain that cure, even if it came at a high cost? We who are heavier than we'd like to be are to some sense ill, but the cure is there. We just need make taking that cure a priority.

I'm the other runnerdad ( and happened across your site about 20 weeks ago, shortly before I started training for the Houston marathon.

The Marathon- sub 4 is really impressive, well done. I'm trying for a 4:22 (10 min/mile) Jan. 13.

Existentialism- The sickness cure analogy is enlightening; it speaks of reaching out for help when it is available....that can be really hard for me sometimes. I like to think that the only real change is the one that happens between the left and right ear, but maybe that is the one that sets things in motion. I once told my sons to imagine they were picking up $100 bills when reluctant to clean up after our Labrador who tore all the cans from the recycle bag.

The Charles River- that's miles away from here. You're about 20 deg. colder than we are in Houston.

Plantar fascitis- Sometimes an over-the-counter orthotic for $40 at the specialty running store can help. You probably have access to a specialty running store if you are in the Boston area.

Keep warm, and good luck running.
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