Scott Stoll logo world traveler. A bicycle wheel and the globe symbolizes Scott's journey around the world on a bicycle.
Calvin's final resting spot under a tree in the backyard.
Calvin was too old to chase birds and squirrels but he still loved to listen and watch from underneath this tree in the backyard. It's now his final resting spot.
Calvin's final resting spot under a tree in the backyard.
Calvin was too old to chase birds and squirrels but he still loved to listen and watch from underneath this tree in the backyard. It's now his final resting spot.

Sacrificing physical health for mental health

An update on my Do-Nothing Diet

Time for an update on my progress of losing weight while literally doing nothing. I should warn you this one gets a little sad, but sometimes that’s life. 

If you didn’t read Do-Nothing Diet, this is my experiment to lose weight by changing how I eat, not what I eat. As I mentioned, staying healthy isn’t rocket science. We all know that we need to eat right and keep moving — diet and exercise. But, if you are like me, the grim truth is that you just don’t want to. Exercise is painful, and eating is fun. And, if you are like me, you are looking for a shortcut. So, I’m experimenting with some simple rules to become more mindful of what I eat. In other words, this isn’t a diet. I am still allowing myself to eat whatever I want, and however much I want, I just need to do it consciously and enjoy my food guilt-free. That being said, I generally don’t eat junk food.

Sh*t happens

Another pile of diet and fitness books and a dumbbell.
It doesn’t matter how much you know if you aren’t motivated to change. Probably any one of these would change my life if I implemented all the advice.

So, what has happened since I began my Do-Nothing diet? I actually did quite well. My biggest challenge was to remember to follow my own rules. I lost about 5 pounds, and I didn’t change my diet or exercise. Though, I do think that being hyperaware of how I was eating gave me pause to rethink whether I wanted to eat another potato chip. 

So, I was on target to get back down to my bicycling weight. (If you ever rode a bike long distances, you know how a few extra pounds can really strain the knees and also put you off balance.) Then my cat died. Even though he lived a long and great life, even though it was his time, I was not prepared for how much of a gut-wrenching hole there would be in my life. I wrote a story about this but — trust me — it’s too sad to read. 

As you can guess, I lost hope, and my health suffered. But the death of Calvin was full of life lessons. For starters, I learned that no matter how strong and healthy you start, no matter how happy you are, no matter how much you love or are loved, and no matter how much medical care you receive, eventually, your body will fail. It is the Buddha’s First Noble Truth: Life is filled with unavoidable suffering. 

As I contemplated and tried to accept the unavoidable suffering of life, I simultaneously watched myself knowingly sacrifice my long-term physical health for a short-term benefit to my mental health. Eating and drinking are nice distractions. And, yes, those eating binges and resultant food comas do temporarily make me feel better — temporarily being the keyword. It was strange: on the one hand, I knew better than to sacrifice my health, but on the other, I didn’t care. 

In the last article, I said: “I think the hard part will be making all this stuff a habit.” And now it seems rather prophetic because when Calvin died, my rules were not running on automatic, and I was not strong enough to implement them. But to my credit, I continued to observe my thought process: “My cat died… This beer is for Calving. What difference does one more make?… I should enjoy myself while I can… I deserve a pizza… I’m too tired to exercise… I’m too tired to do think… I’ll do better tomorrow… I just want to feel better now….” And mostly, I asked myself, “Was it worth it? Do I actually feel better? Is my life any better?”

This went on for over a month. Quickly, I bankrupted the small gains I had made and began to feel ashamed of myself. I was committed to being a better person, but where was the silver lining in my black cloud? I have a friend whose cat died, and they took it so poorly they vowed to never own a cat again. I didn’t want this to be my life lesson. And, so I continued to abuse my body.

One lesson was right in front of me the whole time. I learned to appreciate my life a little bit more. Too many moments slip past while working on or worrying about things that just won’t matter. That sounds obvious, I know. But there is a big difference between logically knowing something and experiencing something. And now that Calvin was gone, I wished I had appreciated a few more moments. And, to be honest, that cat could be a real asshole. Now, I regretted losing my patience. We are all assholes sometimes and deserve some respect nonetheless. His behavior was no reason for me to lose my composure. Besides, we all have our bad days.

Another lesson I learned over my six weeks of mourning is knowing that I wanted to stay healthy and postpone my inevitable suffering and death as long as possible. I realized that I wanted to be healthy so that I could maximize my enjoyment of life even if it is cut short.

So, in honor of Calvin, I am going to transmute this grief into getting healthy.  

I feel motivated again. It makes me wonder if motivation is an emotion because logic definitely was not working. We all know, logically, that we should be healthy, yet most people aren’t. A quick search of the internet suggests that only 3-12% of Americans are metabolically healthy. That means that logic fails 88-97% of us. 

Summary

It seems to be motivation (emotions), not logic, that is my biggest hurdle to getting healthy. Will my motivation carry through the next few months? I’ll check back and let you know how it goes. 

Update 2022-09: Well, I didn’t do great again. I had multiple injuries and got COVID. But, I learned a lot and remain motivated. See the update to my Do-Nothing Diet.

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