Diet and Exercise

Imagine you tell me: Hey Rich, I really want to lose some weight and get into better shape. And I reply: That’s great, what’s your plan of attack? Then you say: I’m gonna keep doing what I normally do, which is eat whatever I want and sit around most of the day. And I reply: Cool, let me know how that works for you.

No offense, but you’d sound like a goofball, right? You want change, yet you’d do NOTHING different from what you usually do. You have to tweak SOMETHING right? Doing ANYTHING different would at least put you on the path to improvement. Now what if you tell me: Hey Rich, I really want a better life. My question is the same as before: what’s your plan of attack?

If you want to lose weight and get into better shape, you already know the answer: diet and exercise. If you want a better life, the prescription is the same: diet and exercise. But the particular diet you require, is a negativity-free diet — and the exercise you need, is to practice positivity. Remember: if you want improvement in anything, you have to do something different than what you’re already doing.

Just think about it: if you fill your body with junk, your body gets grotesque. Whether it’s in the form of food or negativity: junk-in equals junk-out. Therefore, if you have a grotesque life, that means you’ve been filling your mind with junk. To have a better life, you need to stop filling your mind with junk AND do activities you enjoy.

So if you really mean it, and you truly want a better life, make THIS change. Put away the pessimism, abstain from annoyance, discard the disgust, cut-out complaining — stop wallowing in the slop of negativity. And from there, find something delightful to do with your time — exercise your under-developed positivity by engaging with something enjoyable.

Negativity Free

I recently started a negativity-free diet. What’s negativity? Negativity is whatever makes for a poor experience. The breeding ground for negativity begins with the thoughts I focus on. If allowed to grow unchecked, those negativity-weeds will flourish and infiltrate my everyday life. Therefore I must pluck them whenever found. To aid in the identification of such weeds, I’ve compiled a list of what to look-out for (negativity comes in many forms):

Pessimism, expecting the worst.
Ex: Whatever I’m about to experience is going to be horrible.

Skepticism, doubtfulness.
Ex: That awesome outcome you’re describing is impossible! Don’t waste your time! Give up now!

Complaining, criticism, disgust.
Ex: Ugh! What a horrible day! Ew, that’s nasty! Gah, this is gross!

Mockery, making fun of individuals or life itself.
Ex: Ha, you’re actually trying! Life is so lame, don’t bother!

Bad-mouthing others.
Ex: He is SO dumb! Did you SEE what she was wearing!? What’s with his weird face!?

Fear, worry, panic, hoplessness.
Ex: OMG! Something could go wrong at any moment! We’re all gonna die!

Anger, outrage, frustration, irritation, annoyance.
Ex: GAH! Screw you! This sucks! I hate everything! This doesn’t work! Hulk SMASH!

Resentment, offense, bitterness; feeling victimized, persecuted, or threatened.
Ex: I can’t believe what she did to me!! I’ll never forgive her! Why is everyone laughing at me!? Why is life out to get me!?

Lack & limitation.
Ex: I can’t have that. I’ll never be able to do that! Things will never improve.

Boredom.
Ex: Hmm, there’s nothing interesting to do. My life is SO boring!

Pain, captivated by ailments.
Ex: Ouch, my head hurts! (Proceeds to poke head) Yep! It still hurts! Ow, my elbow hurts! (Proceeds to bend elbow repeatedly) Ow!!

Existential dread, death fixation.
Ex: Nothing matters! I don’t matter! Whatever I do is futile! Life is meaningless! Oh no, I’m going die!

Problems of the world.
Ex: A global catastrophe is around the corner! The environment is collapsing! Economic crash! Pandemics! War!

Misunderstood, rejection, loneliness, unloved.
Ex: Psh, no one truly understands me. No one wants to be my friend. I am truly alone in this world.

Shyness, timidity, unworthiness.
Ex: Well, he’s probably busy and doesn’t have time for me. He probably wouldn’t want to talk to me anyway. I can just sit quietly and hope that I’m acknowledged eventually.

Distrust, suspicion.
Ex: That’s too good to be true! Oh, you’re gonna do something nice for me!? Yeah right!! I bet you will! Hm, what is that guy up to? NO WAY am I doing that! It’s a trap!

Comparison to others, covetousness, jealousy.
Ex: Psh, look at all that awesome stuff he has. If he’d only give me some! Ugh, he has intelligence, good-looks, and succeeds at EVERYTHING!

Embarrassed.
Ex: I messed up big-time! Now nobody’s gonna respect me. Why do I have to be so awkward!

Disappointed, dissatisfied, unappreciative.
Ex: Hm, could be better. Well THAT wasn’t what I expected! That was completely worthless!

Regret, second-guessing.
Ex: Why did I do THAT! I could’ve done better. I should’ve picked the other one! From that one wrong decision, EVERYTHING will go awry.

Gloominess, sadness, misery.
Ex: Dark forces are looming. I can sense bad things about to happen. Woe is me, for I was born in a dark and dreary world.

Powerless.
Ex: I can’t do anything within this giant world. I’m merely a bug on a rock waiting to get squashed.

Mechanical malfunction.
Ex: This thing doesn’t work anymore, it’s dead — it had a limited lifespan anyway, it was bound to break sooner or later. I guess the service is down, maybe it’ll return one day.

Know thy enemy, and thy enemy is negativity. This is not an exhaustive list but it should provide a decent indicator of what shouldn’t be allowed to take root in the garden of the mind.

I’ve also noticed that the entertainment I consume greatly influences my thoughts. Therefore, I must be selective and cut-out all forms of entertainment that derive their allure from negativity. This includes scary stuff, anything too intense, the news, anything political, legal, or medical related, stuff that portrays life as fundamentally flawed, anything that makes a mockery of life, and basically anything that leaves a bitter aftertaste.

A diet by its nature is about restricting yourself from certain things in order to get into a better state of being. In this case, I’m restricting myself from engaging with negativity in the hopes of improving my overall experience of existence.

Diet of 2020

I’m going on a negativity-free diet this year. That’s right, instead of cutting out carbs or corn-syrup, I’m cutting out negativity. It’s the junk-food of the mind. Negativity comes in many forms: there’s pessimism, skepticism, mockery, dissatisfaction, worry, fear, frustration, outrage, lack & limitation, and whatever else makes for a poor experience.

So whenever my mind serves up a plate of negativity-flavored thoughts, it’ll be a hard pass from me. Now that I’m several decades old, there are better ways to spend my time than knee-deep in negativity. And when I get bored from the lack of stimulation? Tough, I’ll simply sit there in silence with an empty mind. Something besides negativity is bound to enter eventually.

As part of this endeavor, I’ll have to cut out all forms of entertainment that derive their allure from negativity. Nothing scary or too intense, nothing political, legal, or medical, nothing that paints life as fundamentally flawed, nothing that mocks life, essentially nothing that leaves me with a bitter aftertaste. I’ve noticed too many times that the themes I consume as entertainment creep into my everyday life.

I’ll be monitoring what goes into my mind, what’s currently going on in my mind, and what comes out of my mind. At each point, I’ll be steering away from negativity while trying to offer-up positive alternatives OR I’ll simply insist on silence (i.e. If you can’t think anything nice, don’t think anything at all).

Another trick up my sleeve is this: physical punishment. But don’t worry, nothing severe, no flagellation required. This technique actually helped to get rid of my tendency to overreact when startled. I’d literally jump or yell or get upset whenever I was surprised. So whenever that happened, I simply exhaled as much as I could and held my breath until I couldn’t. It provided an annoying consequence for my automatic reaction, and I got startled less and less.

So whenever I notice negativity going in, negativity stewing on the inside, or negativity coming out — exhale and hold until uncomfortable. That’s it. And consider this: a traditional food-based diet coupled with physical exercise typically has denial and discomfort as an integral part of the regimen — so this type of reinforcement is nothing unusual.

Like the cravings of a traditional diet, I’ll likely miss those negative forms of entertainment because they’re the most exhilarating. By no longer allowing high-intensity (but low-quality) forms of enthrallment, my biggest challenge will be boredom. Like fasting, silence will have to fill in some of the gaps. I’m relying on my mind to eventually find wholesomely fun things to do.

So that’s it. The negativity-free diet started when I woke up this morning. I had a LOT less shows to choose from on Netflix though. Perhaps after the diet’s over, I can allow some “junk food” shows into the mix, in moderation — we’ll see. As a more wholesome way to spend my time today, I played the harmonica and went for a walk — both went well. As far as mind-monitoring went, I teased my friend a couple of times and atoned for it since mockery isn’t allowed (exhale and hold).

Health Standards

An excerpt from the fictional tales of Alien on Earth.

From generation to generation, culture to culture, what constitutes a healthy diet varies — yet all these groups lived normal relatively healthy lives. The common factor is not what they ate, not the actual ingredients, but only the belief in the nutritiousness of what they consumed. Therefore, healthfulness is a state maintained in the mind.

Even within my own lifetime, dietary fashion changed drastically. What I consumed as a child, I’d consider straight-up poisonous today. But who’s to say what I eat today won’t be considered unhealthy by the time I’m elderly. Exercise is another activity that follows trends, as types and vigorousness change with the times.

The point being, that we should not seek to mold ourselves to the latest “healthy” fashions, feeling inadequate when we can’t keep up — we should instead set the bar at a standard we can meet and believe ourself healthy when we do. There are cigarette smokers for instance, that believed it a curative substance, and you know what? They did just fine.

Persuade one of these smokers that what they’re doing is harmful? Boom, some will quit and die soon after, convinced they poisoned themselves. We do no service to anyone by convincing them they’re engaged in self-harm. We’re not helping by forcing a lifestyle that doesn’t fit. And we’re ignoring history to believe ourselves knowers of absolute truth.

Fantastical Reality

Why aren’t paths easily mapped and readily duplicated? Because intent alone determines success, not specifics. Scouring volumes speaking of success, there is one commonality, that intent paves the path.

Do you eat a treat thinking you’re a naughty little piggy, simply indulging your weakness for the delectable? Or do you eat enjoying each chew, thinking you’re attaining the necessary calories and nutrients your body craves? The “Intentional Diet” dictates that it’s not what you eat, but the intent underlying consumption, that determines overall healthfulness. With diets differing throughout eras and across cultures, people persist, not because of a magic formula of nutrients, but by a belief in the nourishing qualities of what they eat. The instant something is believed to be toxic, health wanes, the body crumbles.

The power of the placebo is well established. We know belief affects health. Germs and disease surround us all, yet only some succumb. Does a magical combination of hand-washing and vitamin ingestion determine susceptibility? Which explanation is more absurd: intent and the influence of belief, or an ever updating set of rituals and potions? Which sounds more primitive? It is no stretch to say our thoughts shape our interpretation of the world. If caught in the rain, is it a refreshing shower provided by Mother Nature, or is it a prescription for illness? Belief determines outcomes.

Anything invented began as belief. Through intent, fantasies come into being. Man is a creature of the mind, his physical capabilities lackluster. Do not underestimate the mind, the creator of worlds, the crafter of all we survey. Thoughts determine and foster our relationship to those we encounter, to the things we experience, ultimately defining our place in the world.

Healthy Intent

I studied exercise and nutrition in college. I was amazed at the lack of consensus in what constituted the best exercise regimens and the best eating practices. One professor said, just find something that works and do that. But haven’t people studied and tested these things, I’d wonder.

Researchers did perform studies but results didn’t always agree, or their methodologies and conclusions were questionable. Oftentimes there were just too many variables to determine anything conclusively or universally applicable.

But perhaps they were barking up the wrong tree. If the best-practices of diet and exercise can’t be pinned-down easily, perhaps it’s less about the actual physical practices, and more about the attitudes and beliefs we hold as we eat and exercise.

For example, perhaps it’s not what we eat, but our intentions that determine our diet’s effects. After all, diets do follow trends, changing all the time, what was healthy one decade is near-poison the next, yet people still remain generally healthy. The same goes for exercise, what’s perfectly healthy one decade is damaging and unacceptable the next, so again perhaps it’s our intention that determines our exercise’s effects, not the actual activity.

Healthy Mind

Haven’t you noticed that what’s considered “healthy” changes over time? Weird huh? Some would speculate that humans simply understand more throughout the ages. But if we laugh at the health practices of old, who’s to say future generations won’t laugh at our notion of “healthy”? And even among groups and cultures within the same era, what’s “healthy” varies — so there’s never a consensus on “healthy”. Strange stuff, no?

One would expect the prescription for health to be universal across all cultures and generations — but it’s not. One would also expect the prescription to be simple and obvious. Instead, it seems like a mystery to be solved, an exacting formula needing to be deciphered.

But perhaps the prescription for health really is simple and obvious. Through observation we can conclude that what’s “healthy” is not absolute, it changes and follows trends — what this suggests is that “healthy” is merely a belief, a state of mind. For instance, we can readily witness the remarkable effects of placebos — telling someone something will fix them, does.

What do you think happens when you tell someone something will harm them? Likely a reverse placebo, a nocebo effect. Imagine someone doing a particular thing for decades, then trends change, and suddenly it’s considered unhealthy, then they get sick and deteriorate. It’s likely that if we tell someone that what they’re consuming is killing them, then it probably will.

Whereas if we believe we’re doing something healthy, we’ll likely flourish. Of course nothing works 100% of the time, life never allows that. But from simple observation, it appears that our beliefs and state of mind have a significant impact on our health, more so than any other factor. This being the case, those seeking health should focus on their beliefs and the particular thoughts they entertain.