Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No Fond Return of Love

Feature Entry: "No Fond Return of Love!"

Gretchen Rubin in her Happiness Project blog ask a relevant question for those of us that walk in order to avoid gaining weight. Her question, “Are you a moderator or an abstainer?” Think chocolate chip cookies. She provides a simple test:

You’re a moderator if you…
-- find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure – and strengthens your resolve
-- get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something

You’re an abstainer if you…
-- have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
-- aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits

The MoneyWalker is a moderator. Offer him a plate of chocolate chip cookies and he can easily eat only one. One of his best friends is an abstainer. If he has vowed off of sweets, he can say no to the chocolate chip cookies. But if he eats one, he will not stop until the plate is finished.

For me, I need a little something sweet after each meal. Gretchen believes that people losing weight or maintaining weight loss should be attuned to their own moderator/abstainer style. She quotes Dr. Samuel Johnson: “Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.” Johnson is an abstainer.

Rubin’s point is directed toward the person that is trying to give up some specific item—ice cream for example. She encourages us to be true to our personality type and not be drawn into someone else’s. If you know your style to be an abstainer and know that eating just one bite will lead to the devouring of the entire container—just abstain from ice cream. But if you know that you are a moderator and fear that you will be miserable without an occasional taste, then follow that style.

Either way, remember the big five secrets to weight loss/maintenance—weigh ever day, eat breakfast, exercise, journal your food, and practice portion control. If you are trying to lose weight, Barbara Pym is a prophet: neither ice cream or chocolate chip cookies will return you love.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Torpor Walking

Feature Entry: Torpor Walking

First a comment about torpor and its companion word sloth. Sloth and torpor are forces in the mind that drain vitality and limit effort. Synonyms include laziness, idleness, sluggishness, inactivity, indolence, apathy, and inertia. An antonym is liveliness. Sloth and torpor resembles mental and physical fatigue. The symptoms of each include discouragement, frustration, boredom, indifference, giving up hopelessness, and resistance for taking responsibility. What is different, sloth and torpor arise from a psychological attitude rather than physical or mental fatigue.

Torpor walking is an antidote for a torpor frame of mind. If you are listlessness and feel fatigued, you should practice torpor walking. If you feel sluggish and apathetic, a good brisk walk can assist you in breaking out of your sloth and torpor quandary. Seasoned walkers know that even when we are tired there is wisdom in pushing forward with the walk. That "pushing forward" even when you do not feel mentally or physically up to a walk is torpor walking. Experienced walkers know that a good brisk walk can help eliminate the effects of sloth and torpor mindfulness.

Ms MoneyWalker and I just returned from a 12 day vacation which included a seven day cruise. The vacation was preceded by several days of intense mental activity but little or no walking or exercising. The cruise featured formal dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with food choices that made portion control and calorie vigilance essentially impossible. As a result both of us returned to our home physically and psychologically exhausted and somewhat over weight.

Vacations and travel result in acute excitement and tension which is often expressed through the muscles. As a result, the traveler upon returning feels exhausted. Because the excitement masks the weariness, travelers are not aware of their weariness until they get home. For the MoneyWalker, the first morning involved a crisis encounter. Do I get up, put on the walking attire, and hit the streets; or, do I rationalize and declare a recovery period? The problem with resting involves habit strength. I feared the habit of inactivity.

The MoneyWalker returned to walking the first day. The muscles were stiff, there was no zoom in the stride, and the mind was it total rebellion. Those first two walks left me feeling anything but refurbished and rejuvenated. But after three days, the joys of the morning walk started to return. The walking was assisting me to renew a healthy state of energy and alertness. These first few walks were torpor walks—walks to restore vitality. The crisis was averted, the walking habit was reestablished.

As for the fatigue that comes from psychological sources such as discouragement, self-pity, complacency, and ideas of futility, the MoneyWalker is not immune. In fact, just before the vacation, the Moneywalkers lost a valued family member to diabetes. But when he experiences negative feelings, the antidote is the same; maintain a brisk walking regiment. From experience he knows that a torpor walk will help him to rediscover the wonderful sensation of liveliness.