Tuesday, December 27, 2011

good luck, future self

To abstain from the enjoyment which is in our power, or to seek distant rather than immediate results, are among the most painful exertions of the human will.
~ NW Senior, 1836 ~

As I lay here on my couch, in my pyjamas at 3:30 pm, pondering this quote from a TED Talk I just viewed, a part of my brain is engaged in trying to remember which treats from Christmas remain in my fridge. A nice fat mint Nanaimo bar? A shortbread cookie maybe? 

I started a healing diet a week before Christmas to correct a few health issues I've been dealing with. After the first few days of detox (quitting sugar AND caffeine cold turkey was a shock to my system) I felt great. And, I had made an agreement with myself and my health professional that I'd take a break over Christmas and tack those few days on to the end of the 4 week program. At first I thought the break would last from when we arrived at my parents' house around mid-day on Christmas Eve until we left again Boxing Day morning. But as I packed the baking on the morning of Christmas Eve morning, I started pinching a treat or two here or there. 

On arriving home yesterday, so much food came back with me that I thought I'd at least do whole days - all day Christmas Eve to all day Boxing Day. But I woke up this morning and hadn't had a left-over turkey sandwich yet, so I had that ... and some shortbread cookies ... for breakfast. And on and on. My slide down this slippery slope is gaining speed. I'm having dinner with Mrs. Lady tonight, and she's adjourned her no-sugar plan until the 30th, so there's one more pebble in the balance on the side of 'it wouldn't kill me to take the whole week' scale. It probably won't kill me, but it also won't make me feel better ... like the clean eating so quickly did. So this is the last day ... and apparently I'm going to eat as much of the offending food in the house as I possibly can.  

This deferred gratification idea is a pretty constant theme around here lately, with food being just one of the issues. STG and I talked the other day about setting aside some time this week while we're both off work to plan our 2012 - and in particular to plan one domestic roadtrip and one beachy exotic trip and how we'll finance them. Any amount of time spent with my parents hearing stories of their travels will energize anyone's travel bug, and by the time we left them yesterday we were both bursting with images of hammocks and surf and 'real' Mexican food ... and I'm excited to put these plans into place. And also to develop plans to improve our fitness so our travels include physical adventures - biking, surfing, snorkeling, exploring land and see. And those slightly less fun plans to save so we aren't going into deeper debt to get there. And the best plans of all  - to build more shared memories together.

And yet, there's a part of me that thinks 'why bother?" - why give up coffee & sugar & re-lose the weight I've lost a dozen times. Why skip dinners out and movies and pile that money into a plane ticket? Why deny what I want right now and make plans for down the road and get my hopes up?

As Daniel Goldstein in the TED Talk says, "we might neglect our future self because of some failure of imagination or belief," moreover, the "future" self is weak - it is merely an imagining of what might happen, whereas the mint Nanaimo bar in my fridge is a very present reality. For some reason, imaginations and beliefs, in my experience, tend to be against fulfilling on my dreams. It's hard for me to have faith in the future - faith that a year from now STG and I will still be together and boarding a plane to some place beachy and warm. Faith that if I start taking care of my body I'll continue to do so once it feels good again. Faith that any current sacrifice is really an investment in an even better future. It seems like so many times, when I've relaxed and enjoyed the present moment the train has derailed.

But, as I said to STG about something the other day, 'the past is no prediction of the future.' It now occurs to me, however, that what may be a better predictor of the future is to take the steps necessary 

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