Pay Now, Buy Much Later?

Working out is hard.  Dieting is hard.  Why?  Because I can’t see anything.  How do people stick with things that have no visible results?

I like to do things that I can actually see happening.  Write a short story?  I type word after word and watch the story build before my eyes.  Wash dirty dishes?  As each dish gets clean and goes in the dish drain, the stack of dirty dishes gets smaller and smaller.  Massive pile of degree plans to scan at work?  With each page that goes through the scanner, the pile shrinks.  Every row of grass I mow means a little more work done, a little less work left.  Each shelf dusted results in a cleaner house.

But what do I get from working out?


What do I get from not eating?

Uh… hungry?

I don’t see muscles building before my eyes.  I don’t see flab tightening up.  The number on the tape measure doesn’t get smaller.

I don’t get this “do all this stuff now, and you won’t see anything, but it will pay off later” thing.  It’s too much like some of that religious fluff, wherein they tell you “deny yourself now, don’t have any fun now, don’t allow yourself any pleasure now, and you’ll be grandly rewarded many years from now in a mysterious place called the afterlife that we can’t show you but you just have to believe exists”.  None of it makes any sense to me.  If I can’t see that my efforts are achieving something, why do it?

I have a set of 3-pound weights by my desk.  Sometimes my arms get stiff and sore from sitting here typing so much, and if I do a few reps of whatever the heck these exercises are called, my arms feel better.  Sometimes my leg muscles get stiff, and if I do a few stretches, they feel better, too.  Otherwise, I don’t think about exercising.

If I try to diet, I end up obsessed with food and determined that I have to eat.  Immediately.  If I eat tiny meals for one whole day, and no ‘bad’ snacks, I haven’t lost an ounce by bedtime, so why bother?  It works the other way, too – if I eat a candy bar or two, I don’t gain 20 pounds.  I don’t see any immediate effect.  So why shouldn’t I eat the candy bar?  It will satisfy my craving for chocolate.  Not eating it won’t make me a size smaller, and it will only make me want it all the more.

I see what’s here, what’s now, what’s right before me.  I want tangible proof that I’m accomplishing something.  Otherwise, my mind cannot stick with it.  Unless my brain changes, or science finds a way to give exercise and dieting at-least-pretty-nearly-instant results, I will remain as I am.  I’ll be sitting at my desk, typing, until and unless my muscles get sore and cry for some relief.  And I’ll eat what I want until and unless I eat gluten and end up with a big bad tummy ache, and swear off eating for a couple days till I feel better again.  Those results I can see, when my muscles aren’t cramped and my stomach doesn’t hurt.  Beyond that, I just can’t get into this “pay now, buy much later” mindset.

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