Archive for the ‘ health ’ Category

Self-Discipline

A friend recently sent me an article on why self-disciplined people are happier than and not as deprived as some people think.

Psychologically speaking, the immediacy of a short-term (small) reinforcement is infinitely more powerful and reinforcing than a long-term (enormous) negative consequence.  Hence the reason why smokers don’t quit smoking, at least not very easily: the immediacy of the (relatively small) “fix” from the cigarette is much more powerful than the (enormous) long-term negative consequence of poor health, lung cancer, etc.

“Discipline,” the way I have always defined it, is being able to place higher value on the long-term reinforcement (e.g. living a long, healthy life with clear lungs) and lower value on the “pain” of forgoing the immediate reinforcement.  I am thankful that I am “disciplined,” as it were, because like the article said, I think in the long run I am happier and healthier and avoid certain problems.  I feel like this is just the way God wired me, it isn’t something I make an effort to do, per se.  That’s why it is a bit strange when people tell me that I am disciplined as if it is a compliment, because to me, it’s just the way I am wired and it comes naturally to me.

In contrast, while there is debate as to whether there is truly an “addictive personality,” in my mind, the characteristically defining feature of an addictive personality is the inability or at least the extreme difficulty of weighing the future consequence into the equation at all.  The power of the immediate reinforcement is even greater than for the average person, and the long-term negative consequence just doesn’t exist.  I have read that an addict has a different concept of time than the average person, that for the addict, nearly all thinking is about the present or very near future.  Delays and the distant future have no place in an addict’s mind.  There is a great misunderstanding about addiction: addiction has little to do with substance abuse (the behavior) and nearly everything to do with thinking and psychology.  Thus, someone can be clean from drug use but still an addict, because of his/her pattern of thinking.

Some people say I am disciplined because I eat very healthy and I exercise every day.  In part, it is because I place a higher value on the long-term positive benefits, but there are also short-term and more immediate benefits, as well.  If there weren’t, I don’t think I would stick with it.  For instance, it’s just simpler to eat the same thing every day, it’s less of a hassle.  I enjoy the feeling of having my endorphins kicking around in my body when I exercise, I like being able to sleep more soundly and restfully, I like the feeling of being physically active after a long day in front of my computer.

Incidentally, I have heard it said, and now I truly believe that there is such a thing as a sugar addiction.  For a few months, my husband brought home a lot of sweets (apple pie, brownies), and I started eating some of those sweets in the evenings.  I’m not even sure why I ate them, just because they were there, I guess.  He finally said he wanted to cut back, so he stopped bringing home these types of sweets.  For a week or two, I experienced a sugar craving each evening.  Eventually, the craving subsided, but it was weird because I don’t even like sweets all that much, but I saw how I became addicted to the sugar.

Working Out

I am my own personal experiment. A friend of mine thought that fact was weird and that I should keep it to myself, so of course I am doing the exact opposite and writing it for all to see. But Jean Piaget, the famous developmental psychologist and constructivist philosopher, basically came up with his brilliant ideas by studying and experimenting with his own children. What’s good enough for Piaget is good enough for me, but since I do not have any offspring, I just study myself.

I am constantly making small changes to my workouts and my diet, and it is interesting to see the results. I made some strength gains over the past 3-4 months, and I have noticed some increased muscular definition over the past few weeks. This is very encouraging to me.

I have written previously about how I make myself attractive and about wellness, if you are curious to read more. Here, I want to list what I have been doing recently.

1. The same friend who thought I was weird (admittedly, I am weird, so I don’t hold it against him for his observation) gave me great advice on my abdominal workouts. I have been doing abs 3-4 times a week, and I have started doing a much greater variety of exercises from day to day. I have noticed that my abs are getting more shredded just by constantly confusing my abdominal muscles.  No, those are not my abs in the picture.  I would never post a picture of my abs online. 

2. I have been incorporating more supersets and drop sets in my workouts, which keeps my heart rate up. I am still also hitting heavier sets, as well.

3. I have cut back on cardio. I now do 5 minutes of cardio warm up (down from 10 minutes), about an hour of weight training (mostly free weights), and 30 minutes of cardio (down from 40-45 minutes). Incidentally, I work out 6-7 days a week (I really have to force myself to take a rest day, and it really helps, but it is hard for me to rest, I’ll rest when I die), and I have 6 muscle groups that I rotate throughout the week, one per day: chest, legs, back, shoulders, triceps, and biceps. This part is no different than usual, but if you are curious, there you have it.

4. Since I gained in strength and am lifting heavier weights over the past couple of months, I noticed that I felt much more fatigued and hungry as I started to do cardio. So, I started eating a Power Bar on the way to the gym, and this helps my energy level tremendously. I try to steer clear of pre-workout drinks/powders because of the high level of caffeine they contain.

5. I have been diligently drinking two protein shakes a day, each containing about 35 grams of protein.

6. I take a high quality multivitamin (GNC Women’s Ultra Mega vitamin) and a probiotic daily. One day last week I forgot to take them in the morning, and I was dragging all day.

7. New music makes me feel so energetic during my workouts.

8. If I stay up late, I cannot seem to sleep in. My body simply will not allow it. And it takes me 24-48 hours to recover when I stay up too late. Adequate sleep is a necessity for me.

9. I have been eating a lot of high-fiber cereal (All Bran), and I eat very little other carbohydrate from refined bread/grain sources.  I do consume a lot of carbs, which is necessary to maintain good health and energy.

By the way, TR, if you are reading this, thank you so much for your comments. The things you write are very encouraging and useful.

How to Be Attractive

Ninety percent of what I do takes place in my head. The remaining ten percent comprises the execution stage. I examine many possibilities, take in information, conduct research, weigh the alternatives, decide on the most effective and efficient solution or course of action, and then I execute.

I have mentioned to a few people that my physical attractiveness is a result of this very process. I am fascinated by all topics related to psychology, and the psychology of physical beauty in our culture is no exception. I wanted to know what makes a person attractive in the eyes of others, and what the benefits of attractiveness are (of which there are many, but that is a post for another day).

I read many books on attractiveness, nutrition, fitness, and self-care, including these favorites to which I still refer on a regular basis:
1. Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty by Nancy Etcoff – Etcoff discusses what features contribute to attractiveness and the survival value of beauty.
2. Makeup Makeovers by Robert Jones – Jones presents a how-to guide on makeup application with amazing photo illustrations.
3. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman – Freedman discusses the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
4. Strength Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier – Delavier lists essential free weight exercises for each muscle group in a detailed illustrated guide.
5. Sports Nutrition by Anita Bean – Bean covers the basics of how nutrition contributes to and works together with exercise.

Some basic essentials of female attractiveness include the following:
1. Maintain your ideal weight with a body mass index of 21 and a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7. This is achieved with diet, exercise, youth, and a not having children.
2. Work to have clear, dewy skin that is free of acne and wrinkles by using gentle soap, exfoliate regularly, use eye cream and moisturizer every day, and use good quality makeup that matches your skin tone.
3. Eyes should be large, clear, and sparkly. Avoid alcohol and drugs, get adequate amounts of sleep, use luminizing concealer and shadow, and use eye whitening drops if necessary.
4. Have long, glossy hair that looks feminine by taking your B vitamins and using conditioners and creams.
5. Get straight white teeth with braces, veneers, and/or bleaching strips, and remember to floss. Lips look best when full and hydrated. Dark lipstick can age you drastically, so aim to use lighter colors on your lips.
6. Develop curves in all the right places (back, waist, hips, buttocks, legs, and arms) with exercise, proper nutrition (NOT with dieting, but as a lifestyle), exercise, eating healthy, and exercise – especially weight training, which so many women neglect. I have never been as secure about my body image as when I concentrate on strength training and bodybuilding.
7. Strive for symmetrical facial features by using artful makeup techniques or plastic surgery.
8. Get self-confident by finding friends who are encouraging and can help you achieve your full potential.
9. Increase your energy levels by exercising regularly, eating plenty of slow-digesting carbs, fruits, and vegetables, and by taking a multivitamin.
10. Get that je ne sais quoi by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and constantly seeking to build your relationship with God.

Wellness

I have been pontificating on some ways I can take better care of myself. These are my wellness goals for the upcoming months.

1. Eat more fruit, even if some of it is in the form of fruit juice.
2. Consume more protein by drinking three protein shakes per day to supplement my vegetarian diet.
3. Mix glutamine powder with my post-workout protein shake to aid in recovery and healing.
4. Take iron supplements every day.
5. Supplement my diet with a probiotic every day.
6. Get to bed by 10:30 pm every night.
7. Spend time each day focusing on my identity as Christ’s beloved daughter.
8. Take a day off from the gym each week to rest.
9. Stay away from emotionally unhealthy people.
10. Practice assisted pull ups twice a week until I am able to reach my goal of 10 unassisted pull ups.

Ephesians 3:16-19
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.