I've been a member of the same health club for over 15 years, so I've observed lots of regulars and how their bodies change. One thing I rarely see is people losing weight, no matter how often they go to the gym. Personally, I've never heard of anyone losing significant weight by eating the same as they always did and exercising more. But I know plenty of people who have lost weight by eating less, regardless of how much they exercised.
Today's question: Did you already know that exercise is nearly useless for weight loss? And if not, what kept you from noticing the obvious?
(Note: Experts still agree that exercise is vital for good health, but not because of weight loss.)
This might be a partial explanation for why affirmations appear to work for some people. Perhaps using language to tell yourself that you are a different person (happier, more successful, etc.) causes you to become more like the words.
We know that the brain is bidirectional. If it's happy, it can make you smile. But if you force yourself to smile when you are not happy, it can make you happier.
When I was in college, which was my first social experience outside the tiny town where I grew up, I noticed that a lot of people were asking me the same question: How are you? So I decided that my answer to that question, regardless of the truth, would be always be something along the lines of great, spectacular, excellent or sensational. It's the one situation in which there is no social penalty for saying out loud that you are incredible.
How are you?
My reasoning was that over time I might program myself through repetition to become better than I was. I have no idea if it works, but I know I enjoy telling people I'm fabulous.
It would be easy to test this sort of thing. Just take a random group of kids and teach them to say good things to themselves, or even aloud, about their intelligence, on a regular basis. Then compare their test scores with a control group.
If this method improved test scores, do you think schools would be allowed to teach it? I'm guessing no, because it would seem like witchcraft to the fundamentalists.
For example, one of my themes is that most of my technology is defective. Here's a sample just from today:
Fax machine receives but doesn't send
DVD drive on computer doesn't recognize discs
DVD player puts white spots on movies
DVR freezes and locks on every recording
Movie editing software I just purchased is too slow to use
Fedex website is unfathomable
TV has a bad color wheel
Postal meter needs a battery
Computer backup (new) slows my system to a crawl all day
Wireless router doesn't work
Computer keeps locking up
Can't get rid of an ad that keeps popping up on new laptop
Old laptop stopped working months ago
Blackberry won't sync with my Outlook address book
Car has a warning light on the dashboard that the dealer can't turn off
This blog software doesn't let me do numbered lists
It has always been this way for me. It's a theme. And speaking of themes, check out the Dilbert themes for igoogle
Look how I cleverly worked that in. Anyway, my point today is that you can often predict the future from themes. If you had done a poll two months ago and asked people to predict how Michael Jackson would die, I think many of you would have nailed it.
If a young Kennedy someday runs for president again, I think we all know how that will end too. The only mystery is whether it will happen by gunfire or in some sort of flying, floating, or roadway mishap. And I will go out on a limb and predict there would be rumors of infidelity.
Another theme is financial bubbles. While there are no obvious bubble candidates on the horizon, I predict there will be another one soon. That's simply a theme.
You can try this at home. Pick a theme and make a prediction of the future. I will add another prediction that some of you will complain about the crass commercialism in this post.
The author's thesis, backed by a mountain of data, is that the only safe level of animal based food is zero. No milk or cheese either. Moderation simply doesn't work when it comes to eating meat. That's the data talking, not me, according to this expert. I haven't seen any data that contradicts that notion. Provide a link if you have.
As a practical matter, it would be impossible to ban meat from the diets of average Americans. But when you are talking about insurance of any sort, whether it is health or auto or hurricane, we accept the principle that risk factors can be considered in pricing. So all we need to do is charge meat eaters four times as much as vegetarians for health insurance. Over time it will create more vegetarians, for economic reasons alone, and healthcare costs will plummet.
You might say it is unfair for the insurance company to charge a higher premium for earthquake insurance to people who actually live on a fault line. But I say that's just good business.
Insurance companies shouldn't charge more to people who have preexisting or genetic problems of course, as these are things which can't be controlled. But people can certainly control their diets if they want to save money. As it stands now, vegetarians are subsidizing your cheeseburgers by paying more for health insurance than they should. (Insert counterpoint involving the non-existence of free will here.)
I want to stress that I'm not the sort of vegetarian who cares if you live or die, so long as you're enjoying yourself along the way. You can eat rusty tin cans and medical needles for all I care, so long as I don't have to subsidize it.