Author Topic: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?  (Read 2469 times)

Slowtraveler

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Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« on: June 08, 2018, 09:32:15 AM »
Is attempting to consciously decide goals possible or does all change occur in the feedback-loops arising in our daily experience?

If you've have any success in actually deciding, please share how.

Some examples of feedback-loop driven progress in my life are:

*Getting assaulted at middle school-learned fighting and got way too muscular for a teenager. After I realized I was finally safe at around 17, I lost all motivation to workout or fight competitively. I haven't worked out consistently for a straight month since despite multiple efforts.

*Quitting cannabis: I tried quitting many times and failed. Longest was around 6 months when trying my damn hardest, Then I moved to Asia, I stopped instantly. What the hell. I'd tried getting rid of all cannabis, paying someone every day I got high, counseling, support groups, even cutting the window of when I could get high every day until I would binge on pot for 1 hour a day then stop, only moving overseas worked. I went to Europe for a short trip and was right back to the daily habit. Back to Asia. Nothing. Tiny urges once in a while. Not enough to visit the hippy town a few hours (and 1 Euro) away once in 9 months.

*FIRE: I hated working, hated college, and wanted an automated business to fund a lavish lifestyle. I randomly found the FIRE community web-surfing one day and it felt my life changed that day. This stupidly simple solution solved so many things and a huge puzzle clicked instantly for me. It inspired me to quit college, focus more on my boring but very good job and move abroad to live my dream of seeing the world with remote work. I cut my expenses down to the bare minimum for a few years as I saved to move abroad.

FIRE is the only goal in the last 5 years where I have made consistent progress on a trailing twelve month basis.

Life aspires to minimize Adenosine-Triphosphate dephosphorylation and when a part of you realizes a goal won't change everything, it seems the natural laziness eventually drains all momentum from a goal.

My savings have shot up, I'm on the path to retire before I am 30. I never thought that was possible. I remember reading about 2-5% safe returns on financial instruments and laughing it off in my teens since I thought it was impossible for that to cover my expenses. 10 years later, I'm almost there.

In my gut, I feel the spark for creating a healthier body and more fulfilling romantic connections but I haven't managed to consistently fast if I don't have health problems from my weight or date until I find a dime inside and out if I'm cultivating intimate physical relationships with some emotional connection.

Am I doomed to being fat and jumping from relationship to relationship with a girl I find super hot but am psychologically misaligned with until I reach FIRE and the energy for shedding the fat then changing my dating habits naturally arises or is there a way to consciously direct this process?


FLBiker

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2018, 10:33:37 AM »
In reading your post, it seems like you're trying to fix your inside (ie how you feel) by changing your outside.  That's very familiar to me and, for me, it didn't work.

In terms of the specifics, I was also addicted to marijuana (and alcohol) and despite "deciding" to quit lots of times, it didn't actually take until I joined a 12-step program.  And, in my case, even moving to Asia didn't help.

For me, getting sober was a good first step to feeling better.  I've also found meditation to be extremely helpful.  And, for me, joining a local group has been incredibly helpful -- sporadically meditating by myself for years didn't really make a difference.

Good luck!

Slowtraveler

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2018, 10:51:22 AM »
There's truth to what you're saying. I feel like you went meta on me.

Meditating has helped but I don't do it much anymore.

For me, I also moved away from living with family and onto being on my own when I moved to Asia. Even sober, the same emotions I thought would go away come up. I have a beautiful girl, I have money. Same emotions still there. I imagine even if I get a girl who's also beautiful inside, that I trust, respect, and feel a magical connection to, that these emotions will still arise. Even if I have a 6 pack, a few million in assets, and the social/love/family life of my dreams, and a meaningful impact on society, these emotions will still arise.

But I can't decide to focus on improving my emotional health to the point of total inner peace and then follow through with it for the extended time period needed to achieve that state.

madgeylou

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2018, 11:04:37 AM »
But I can't decide to focus on improving my emotional health to the point of total inner peace and then follow through with it for the extended time period needed to achieve that state.

I don't think this is possible in a human life. I mean, even the Dalai Llama has days when he feels irritable, shitty, etc.

As to the question in your first post, I think that there's a combination of inner choice and outer circumstance that makes change possible. Sometimes you make the inner choice to defy all the odds and do something that's important to you. Other times your inner choice is simply moving to a place where it's harder to get weed, thereby helping change your outer circumstances to support your inner goals.

But the bottom line is that inner and outer are linked, deeply and intrinsically. Anything you do in one realm causes ripples in the other. So seeing them as independent forces is, at least to my way of thinking, a fallacy.

On a spiritual retreat that I went on a few years ago, the teacher said something that really resonated with me. He said that so often we want to WILL ourselves to grow, but if we look around at nature, the way growth happens is -- the environment has everything in it that's required for a being to grow, and so it just does. An acorn doesn't will itself to be a tree -- if the conditions are right that will just happen. Of course human beings aren't trees, but the message I took from this is that will is probably best applied to creating the external environment that will support the goals we want to achieve.

For instance, with finding a partner -- there's an element of being ready for love internally (feeling worthy, having habits that support you enough so that you can reach out to someone else, wanting to have a steady partner vs. exploring options) and there's also an element of finding a compatible person.

Sometimes the first happens, and not the second. Sometimes the second happens, and not the first. An element of chance is involved for sure. But if you're ready internally, you can take steps to change your external environment so that you're more likely to meet more potential partners. Or, if you meet a potential partner who blows your socks off, then sometimes internal readiness pops into being just like that.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2018, 11:07:15 AM by madgeylou »

FLBiker

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2018, 12:24:07 PM »
But I can't decide to focus on improving my emotional health to the point of total inner peace and then follow through with it for the extended time period needed to achieve that state.

I don't think this is possible in a human life. I mean, even the Dalai Llama has days when he feels irritable, shitty, etc.

Agree to disagree.  I can't speak for the Dalai Lama, but I absolutely believe that it is possible to transform unwholesome emotional states in a lasting way.  Over the years that I've been a daily meditator I have seen a dramatic reduction in my own anxiety / depression / feelings of low self worth.

In my experience, getting the motivation was a combination of the support / accountability of the group I joined, along with intellectually trying to correct my view of things (in terms of what does / does not bring happiness, how reality is, etc.).  Intellectual understanding (for me) isn't enough, but it works to spur me to practice.

madgeylou

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2018, 01:02:50 PM »
But I can't decide to focus on improving my emotional health to the point of total inner peace and then follow through with it for the extended time period needed to achieve that state.

I don't think this is possible in a human life. I mean, even the Dalai Llama has days when he feels irritable, shitty, etc.

Agree to disagree.  I can't speak for the Dalai Lama, but I absolutely believe that it is possible to transform unwholesome emotional states in a lasting way.  Over the years that I've been a daily meditator I have seen a dramatic reduction in my own anxiety / depression / feelings of low self worth.

I agree with you that icky feelings can be reduced in a bunch of ways. I just don't think that it's possible to get rid of them entirely (referring to the "total inner peace" phrase in SlowTraveler's post).

Mini-Mer

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2018, 11:06:48 AM »
From your examples, you seem like someone who has a hard time with goals that you don't truly believe are useful, necessary, and urgent.  To stay motivated towards a goal, you may need to find a way to create that urgency.

Personally, I am crap at long-term goals, but good at short-term projects.  I find it easier to work with that, so I'm the target audience for Couch to 5K, Project 333, 30-day declutter challenges, and so on. 

You might find Gretchen Rubin's books helpful - she writes about strategies for forming or breaking habits, and motivation styles, with a general emphasis on figuring out what works on an individual level.  (She likes categorizing people by different metrics, so if you like personality quizzes...)

Also: don't date people you don't respect and like, or who don't respect and like you.  That's one quick way to improve your environment.

koshtra

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2018, 06:21:19 PM »
You give several examples of consciously deciding goals, so you don't need any help from me there :-)

I think what you're actually finding problematic are goals that you set but that you stop pursuing, or that you can't even really get yourself started on pursuing.

The brain likes to imagine itself to be a single entity, a unified command, but actually it's kind of mess, and the cerebral cortex -- our conscious "I", more or less -- doesn't have nearly as much control over what we do as it likes to think it does. Most of our actions are habitual. We receive a cue, and we do whatever we usually do in response to it, and we get the usual reward, and the cortex is barely in on the game at all.

Overriding habits is really hard. You have to identify the cues, substitute the *new* action in response, and (usually) figure out some new reward. It takes a lot of doing, and the old habits are always there ready to reactivate.

I find that usually I can work on changing exactly one thing at a time, and that for the really ingrained habits it takes about a year. After that the new habits are pretty established and they start to run of their own accord: you don't have to monitor them so closely and expend so much energy on them. Then you can redeploy that energy on the next habit you want to change.

But basically, your life runs on habits: there's no escaping that. That's just how we work. And changing habits takes lots and lots of oomph (self-regulation, will power, whatever you like to call it.) I think the main reason people fail at changing habits is that they overestimate the amount of oomph they have available, and try to change too much at once. If you're trying to diet AND habitually exercise AND change your dating habits AND quit cannabis... yeah, you're probably going to fail at all of them. You'll run out of oomph, the usual cues will come along, the old circuits will activate, and there you'll be, doing the old habitual stuff.

You've already proven you can do really hard stuff -- changing spending habits is damn hard, serious physical training is hard, quitting a habitual drug is hard. So you have all the equipment for doing it. There's nothing wrong with your will power. You just need to deploy it skillfully, knock off these things one at a time, and replace them with fully functional alternative habits. If you really feel you've got the spending habits rewired, then -- pick the new thing you most want to change, and do that first. Totally doable. But really, it takes months, sometimes years, to really replace some of these habitual responses. So we're probably talking several years' effort for all the things you've mentioned, not a month or two.

Is attempting to consciously decide goals possible or does all change occur in the feedback-loops arising in our daily experience?

If you've have any success in actually deciding, please share how.

Some examples of feedback-loop driven progress in my life are:

*Getting assaulted at middle school-learned fighting and got way too muscular for a teenager. After I realized I was finally safe at around 17, I lost all motivation to workout or fight competitively. I haven't worked out consistently for a straight month since despite multiple efforts.

*Quitting cannabis: I tried quitting many times and failed. Longest was around 6 months when trying my damn hardest, Then I moved to Asia, I stopped instantly. What the hell. I'd tried getting rid of all cannabis, paying someone every day I got high, counseling, support groups, even cutting the window of when I could get high every day until I would binge on pot for 1 hour a day then stop, only moving overseas worked. I went to Europe for a short trip and was right back to the daily habit. Back to Asia. Nothing. Tiny urges once in a while. Not enough to visit the hippy town a few hours (and 1 Euro) away once in 9 months.

*FIRE: I hated working, hated college, and wanted an automated business to fund a lavish lifestyle. I randomly found the FIRE community web-surfing one day and it felt my life changed that day. This stupidly simple solution solved so many things and a huge puzzle clicked instantly for me. It inspired me to quit college, focus more on my boring but very good job and move abroad to live my dream of seeing the world with remote work. I cut my expenses down to the bare minimum for a few years as I saved to move abroad.

FIRE is the only goal in the last 5 years where I have made consistent progress on a trailing twelve month basis.

Life aspires to minimize Adenosine-Triphosphate dephosphorylation and when a part of you realizes a goal won't change everything, it seems the natural laziness eventually drains all momentum from a goal.

My savings have shot up, I'm on the path to retire before I am 30. I never thought that was possible. I remember reading about 2-5% safe returns on financial instruments and laughing it off in my teens since I thought it was impossible for that to cover my expenses. 10 years later, I'm almost there.

In my gut, I feel the spark for creating a healthier body and more fulfilling romantic connections but I haven't managed to consistently fast if I don't have health problems from my weight or date until I find a dime inside and out if I'm cultivating intimate physical relationships with some emotional connection.

Am I doomed to being fat and jumping from relationship to relationship with a girl I find super hot but am psychologically misaligned with until I reach FIRE and the energy for shedding the fat then changing my dating habits naturally arises or is there a way to consciously direct this process?
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 06:51:07 PM by koshtra »

Slowtraveler

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2018, 05:28:58 AM »
I wasn't expecting some of these responses to be so illuminating.

When I was into the training or now that I am into minimizing costs, I don't see it as hard but as exciting to improve. Sure, it takes some psychological effort but that effort doesn't feel hard to do. If I don't do it, I feel bad, I couldn't imagine just blowing $100 on a night without guilt at this point.

The years not months to change a habit is different from what I've heard of 30 days but it sounds more legit. I moved out less than a year ago and I feel I'm still improving my spending habits by a huge amount. I barely realized spending $200/month more to have a room with a kitchen really pays off after tracking my daily expenses to see food was over half my spending. A kitchen keeps food always around me though.

Trying to improve my love life at the same time as figuring out living on my own with a budget and to fast or eat in some way where I don't weigh 90kg... It does sound like too much.

FIRE is my current highest priority so I'll keep on improving my spending skills until I get there and have the psychological energy to focus on my diet and dating more.

FLBiker

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2018, 08:04:38 AM »
One other wrinkle that I've found in trying to change habits: In addition to it taking longer / requiring more oomph, one of the challenges for me has been that, on some level, I believe my bad habits are helpful.  For example, I believed that drinking / smoking pot "made me happy" or "made things more fun" for years after this had stopped being the case (if it ever really was).  I think the same sort of beliefs could be behind overeating, not exercising, playing too many videogames, overspending, etc.  These beliefs could be subconscious, but (in my experience) meditation can help make them conscious.

So, for me, a combination of intentionally trying to establish new habits (while being gentle yet firm with myself, understanding that it takes time) while also reflecting on both the motives behind my intention and the underlying beliefs behind my current habits has been helpful.

One recent example -- I realized a few years ago that I was over-fixated on getting a certain number in my retirement account.  In reflecting on that, I realized that this was coming from a mistaken belief that having a certain amount of money would keep me and my family "safe".  The reality is that life is uncertain and change is constant.  Of course, there's nothing wrong with saving for retirement (or retiring early) but by believing that I could hit some number that would bestow permanent safety, I was setting myself up for stress and frustration (as that goal -- lasting safety -- is unattainable).

GuitarStv

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2018, 09:23:59 AM »
People are creatures of habit.  Once you've established a pattern, you'll find that it becomes your unconscious choice to keep falling into it over and over again.  It's difficult to break a habit because until it's replaced with something else it requires constant mental effort to stay on the track you want to stay on.  To make this easier for you, you need to think long and hard about what triggers certain behaviour from you and how to trigger the right ones.

If you're overeating then figure out why.  Not some amorphous, 'I eat food because I'm fundamentally unhappy' . . . I mean nuts and bolts.  Are you cooking your own food or are you getting takeout most of the time?  Generally cooking your own stuff is healthier, but it can be a daunting/labour intensive task if you've never done much cooking.  Maybe you need to re-arrange some stuff in your life to make time for this.  Are you keeping stashes of junk food around the house and then eating them absentmindedly while watching TV, or before bed?  Don't keep crap food at hand and you won't be able to eat it in a moment of weakness.  Time your meals so that you eat the most food early in the day, rather than at night when it's simply going to turn to fat as you sleep.  Are you waiting until you're starving before a meal and then end up losing self control and simply eating too great a quantity of stuff?  Plan healthy snacks (nuts, fruit, berries, etc.) through the day so you never get to that point.  Eat food that's rich in fiber and good fats so that you stay full feeling for longer.

If you want to work out, then you need to find an activity that's enjoyable for you.  You tried martial arts, and were motivated to do it by fear.  Fear is never going to be as long lasting a motivator as enjoyment because (as you find out) people tend to overcome fear.  If you're doing something because you love it, you're going to keep coming back . . . even when you're sore, even when it's raining, even when you didn't get a good sleep the night before.  Keeping a journal/log of the slow incremental changes that you're going through can help to keep your motivation up too  (this can be weight lifted, distance cycled/jogged, speed to perform an event, even just a log of techniques learned in a martial art).

Changing your environment can break a habit because you're exposing yourself to new triggers and changing old stressors.  If you want to give up weed, and find that moving to Asia did it . . . ask yourself why.  What was different about the effect that living in the places had on you?  Was it the company you kept, the availability of the drug, proximity to the drug, other distractions/entertainment that took it's place, reduced stress, etc?  Once you know what your triggers are, you can figure out how to control and change them regardless of the physical location you find yourself in.

It's absolutely possible to change your body, your outlook on things, and your life.  It's a lot of hard work though, and requires sometimes uncomfortable introspection (you need to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses . . . something that most people have trouble with).  You also need to be smart about it.  Break each problem down into manageable chunks, develop solutions for the problem, and then every 6-10 months do a check up and see if your approach is working or needs to be tweaked.  Eventually this will become your new habit . . . and it's one that will help you determine and then achieve goals.

Slowtraveler

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2018, 07:15:49 AM »
This is interesting to me.

I've changed my spending habits already since moving abroad. The first couple of months, I was at around $100/day due to moving quickly, going to Now, I'm at around $40/day on a trailing 3 month basis.

It's been eating out at high end restaurants less (no sushi or ribs, little pizza), more at low cost local places and cooking at home. Living in month-long rentals.

I'm actually realizing paying $100/month with no kitchen and a more central location is cheaper than paying $300 with a kitchen in a further area (still walking distance to a food market).

My goal is to get to $30/day and then stay there while steadily increasing my qol.

drachma

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2018, 11:14:05 AM »
If you're overeating then figure out why.  Not some amorphous, 'I eat food because I'm fundamentally unhappy' . . . I mean nuts and bolts.  Are you cooking your own food or are you getting takeout most of the time?  Generally cooking your own stuff is healthier, but it can be a daunting/labour intensive task if you've never done much cooking.  Maybe you need to re-arrange some stuff in your life to make time for this.  Are you keeping stashes of junk food around the house and then eating them absentmindedly while watching TV, or before bed?  Don't keep crap food at hand and you won't be able to eat it in a moment of weakness. 

I generally keep my house empty of any junk food. The problem is I still get intense cravings for food and then whatever I have on hand becomes binge-able. Even "healthy" foods can derail your fitness/weight loss plans if you eat too much of them :(. I have been known to simply eat plain dry oats by the spoonful in the absence of anything else, and a lot of it. I buy peanut butter with the best of intentions but in one of these fits I can almost eat an entire jar before I feel satisfied and notice what a dent I've put in it.

If there's really NOTHING in the house I have eaten 2lbs of carrots at once. I usually keep some kind of dried fruit on hand for weekend hiking and I will even break my rule on that and eat it all just to satisfy some incredibly powerful urge for a sweet. It's something I really struggle with. It's ridiculously easy for me to knock back 1000-2000 calories in a "snack."

Quote
Time your meals so that you eat the most food early in the day, rather than at night when it's simply going to turn to fat as you sleep.

Just to dispel a common myth, that is simply not true. Your body doesn't just decide "oh I am sleeping now, guess all this food has to become fat instead of all the other things I was planning on making with it."

There has been some work showing that eating right before bed can slow digestion and potentially interrupt some sleep patterns, the latter of which is not optimal for resting and recovering from workouts. But your body is happy to let food hang out in your gut until it can resume full capacity digestion. And it doesn't just give up on repairing muscles and fueling the brain and replacing enzymes or whatever else it does with food just because you went to bed.

Anyways, sorry to derail your thread OP. I think you are partially correct in that your past experiences set up your future goals and influence your behaviors towards them, so in a sense we are not as "conscious" as we like to think. But I also think there is a part of us capable of deciding a goal and you have to use THAT part of your brain to set up your environment and build systems that will cue the unthinking part of your brain into doing what you want it to.

A few examples of such systems: I for one often make "bad" (read: lazy / easiest possible choice) decisions when faced with a choice. So I set up my home and my schedule in a way that I don't give myself very many choices. Work out or play video games? I never have that choice because I schedule workouts with friends or have decided on a rigid "training plan" which has workouts that are not to be missed or else it messes up the rest of the plan.

Pick something up or leave it as a mess? Don't really have a choice because I live in a very small space, plus I worked hard on an organizational system that makes it as EASY as possible to make the right choice; that is, minimizing the amount of work it takes to take things out and put them away. So commonly used items are easily accessed right in the spot where I frequently need them, no digging through drawers or closets etc.

It's a bit like automating finances. I direct-deposit all of my savings. Because I know that if I saw $5k in my checking account, even for a day, it would subconsciously encourage my decision to spend on something. When I see <$1k in there I always remember I have to use that for expenses and to more carefully consider spending decisions against having a dreaded overdraft, or, even worse, having to WITHDRAW from my STASH!

GuitarStv

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2018, 11:30:39 AM »
Quote
Time your meals so that you eat the most food early in the day, rather than at night when it's simply going to turn to fat as you sleep.

Just to dispel a common myth, that is simply not true. Your body doesn't just decide "oh I am sleeping now, guess all this food has to become fat instead of all the other things I was planning on making with it."

There has been some work showing that eating right before bed can slow digestion and potentially interrupt some sleep patterns, the latter of which is not optimal for resting and recovering from workouts. But your body is happy to let food hang out in your gut until it can resume full capacity digestion. And it doesn't just give up on repairing muscles and fueling the brain and replacing enzymes or whatever else it does with food just because you went to bed.

Of course your body doesn't magically turn into a fat machine after 5:00 pm.

When I eat a big meal late at night (especially before bed) I tend to not want to do stuff, so that energy gets converted to fat.  If I eat a big meal early in the morning I've got more energy for the rest of the day, and tend to do more stuff . . . therefore burning more calories.  My personal preference for, say, sweet/sugary things is always to eat them earlier on in the day and not as a typical post dinner dessert.   Surely this is not unique to me?

drachma

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2018, 11:37:47 AM »
Of course your body doesn't magically turn into a fat machine after 5:00 pm.

When I eat a big meal late at night (especially before bed) I tend to not want to do stuff, so that energy gets converted to fat.  If I eat a big meal early in the morning I've got more energy for the rest of the day, and tend to do more stuff . . . therefore burning more calories.  My personal preference for, say, sweet/sugary things is always to eat them earlier on in the day and not as a typical post dinner dessert.   Surely this is not unique to me?

What does your wanting to do things have to do with whether a given calorie is used to create a fat store or a muscle protein, or something else? Obviously if you eat a big meal you are not going to want to go for a run afterwards because you know you'll get cramps and feel bloated, but that has nothing to do with how your body metabolizes the meal you just ate. It takes 8-24 hours to even finish digesting that meal before it uses the nutrients for anything!

Your personal experience is valid but don't use them to make generalizations about human physiology and biochemistry.

There are plenty of people in the world who work just as well on vastly different meal timings and compositions. In fact many athletes lately are extolling the virtues of the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you are suggesting; they will eat no breakfast or even just one large meal at the end of the day. There is such a host of confounding factors that "this worked for me, therefore it is true of everyone" is just an absurd line of thinking. Not saying your way is wrong, it's a common experience. But it has nothing to do with what your body turns into fat and what it does not. The body is a very adaptable machine and what is "optimal" depends on a huge number of environmental and genetic variables that you may or may not have control over.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 11:40:45 AM by drachma »

GuitarStv

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2018, 12:24:23 PM »
Of course your body doesn't magically turn into a fat machine after 5:00 pm.

When I eat a big meal late at night (especially before bed) I tend to not want to do stuff, so that energy gets converted to fat.  If I eat a big meal early in the morning I've got more energy for the rest of the day, and tend to do more stuff . . . therefore burning more calories.  My personal preference for, say, sweet/sugary things is always to eat them earlier on in the day and not as a typical post dinner dessert.   Surely this is not unique to me?

What does your wanting to do things have to do with whether a given calorie is used to create a fat store or a muscle protein, or something else?

When I am full of energy, I tend to want to go out and move more than when I'm kinda hungry.  My knowledge of kinesiology isn't phenomenal, but I believe that moving more tends to burn more calories than moving less.


Obviously if you eat a big meal you are not going to want to go for a run afterwards because you know you'll get cramps and feel bloated, but that has nothing to do with how your body metabolizes the meal you just ate. It takes 8-24 hours to even finish digesting that meal before it uses the nutrients for anything!

I've never had the problem you're claiming occurs from eating and exercising.  In fact, I often go for a long bike ride or jog after a big meal.  For more than 10 years I would scarf down a full meal and then immediately go wrestle for two or three hours.  No stomach cramps, no bloated feeling.  (If you chug too much water you can feel it slurping around in your stomach, which is a bit unsettling though . . . best to sip that over a longer period.)

It doesn't matter when food is finished digesting.  You start getting energy from food as it's being digested.  That's why when you're doing a five or six hour bike ride you need to eat regularly to avoid getting light headed and dizzy.  If the food wasn't being digested for 8 hours, you wouldn't need to eat anything.

Looking at this study, it seems that 50% of the food you've eaten has passed through the small intestine after only 3 hours.  http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/basics/transit.html


Your personal experience is valid but don't use them to make generalizations about human physiology and biochemistry.

Like oh, I dunno, telling me that I will get cramps while exercising after eating?  :P


There are plenty of people in the world who work just as well on vastly different meal timings and compositions. In fact many athletes lately are extolling the virtues of the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you are suggesting; they will eat no breakfast or even just one large meal at the end of the day. There is such a host of confounding factors that "this worked for me, therefore it is true of everyone" is just an absurd line of thinking. Not saying your way is wrong, it's a common experience. But it has nothing to do with what your body turns into fat and what it does not. The body is a very adaptable machine and what is "optimal" depends on a huge number of environmental and genetic variables that you may or may not have control over.

Sure, fair enough.  My suggestions should have a 'YMMV - This is what worked for me' added.  I'm attempting to offer suggestions that might help based on my experience.  My assumption is that if the suggestions don't help, the person following them will stop.  Am I giving people too much credit???


If you're overeating then figure out why.  Not some amorphous, 'I eat food because I'm fundamentally unhappy' . . . I mean nuts and bolts.  Are you cooking your own food or are you getting takeout most of the time?  Generally cooking your own stuff is healthier, but it can be a daunting/labour intensive task if you've never done much cooking.  Maybe you need to re-arrange some stuff in your life to make time for this.  Are you keeping stashes of junk food around the house and then eating them absentmindedly while watching TV, or before bed?  Don't keep crap food at hand and you won't be able to eat it in a moment of weakness. 

I generally keep my house empty of any junk food. The problem is I still get intense cravings for food and then whatever I have on hand becomes binge-able. Even "healthy" foods can derail your fitness/weight loss plans if you eat too much of them :(. I have been known to simply eat plain dry oats by the spoonful in the absence of anything else, and a lot of it. I buy peanut butter with the best of intentions but in one of these fits I can almost eat an entire jar before I feel satisfied and notice what a dent I've put in it.

If there's really NOTHING in the house I have eaten 2lbs of carrots at once. I usually keep some kind of dried fruit on hand for weekend hiking and I will even break my rule on that and eat it all just to satisfy some incredibly powerful urge for a sweet. It's something I really struggle with. It's ridiculously easy for me to knock back 1000-2000 calories in a "snack."

FWIW - I've also eaten a whole 2lb bag of carrots in the house when we didn't have anything else around and I was hungry.  It filled me up.  Checking the nutritional information for carrots here: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2383/2 it's about 50 calories for 1/3 lb of carrots . . . which works out to about 300 calories for 2 lbs.  So, not only did it fill me up . . . but it was very low calorie for the level of fullness I ended up feeling!  Eating a whole kilogram of prepared oatmeal is only about 680 calories, and gonna be hella filling too.  There does come a point where the quantity of healthy food that must be eaten in order to get fat actually becomes a barrier.  (Most peanut butter is chock full of sugar, and isn't really something I'd argue is all that healthy - you should stay away from it if weight gain is a problem for you.)

(Eating dry oatmeal flakes by the spoonful is kinda fucked up though man.  I've never been that hungry.)

drachma

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2018, 01:38:00 PM »
I just came here to dispel the myth that going to bed on a full stomach has absolutely nothing to do with body composition from a physiological and biochemical perspective. Not looking to debate religion. You do you, but don't purport it to be science. You said yourself that you don't feel like moving after a big meal, I was taking a guess as to a common reason why. Your insistence on the last word is... impressive. Straying quite far from the original point to prove every individual sentence is wrong.

I don't eat peanut butter with sugar in it. That is an abomination of nature.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2018, 01:52:49 PM by drachma »

koshtra

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2018, 02:00:48 PM »
I'm not sure you're ready to change your eating yet, but when you are, here's my bits of advice. (I started a year ago in May: over 11 months I lost 70 lbs & hit my goal weight of 160 a couple months ago.)

1) Track. write down exactly what you eat in exactly what quantity. Weigh yourself every day, and take a weekly average: that weekly average will be the only number worth paying attention to. (Daily fluctuations will drive you nuts, if you try to make them mean anything). Do this for a couple weeks BEFORE you start trying to lose weight. Get a real baseline. I can pretty much guarantee that you're eating more than you think you are, and that cutting enough to run a deficit will be less painful than you think.

2) Don't fuss about *what* you eat. Keep eating your favorite stuff. Just eat a little less of it, enough to run a consistent calorie deficit. I aimed for a loss of a pound a week. It's a lot easier to eat less than to eat different. Eventually maybe you'll be sick of your favorite stuff and want to swap in the calorie-equivalents in healthier stuff. But whatever. It's all about the calorie deficit.

3) The fewer decisions you have to make, the fewer failure points you're exposing yourself to. Eating pretty much the same thing every day makes everything much easier. Have everything totally planned ahead. Know exactly what you're going to eat tomorrow.

4) When your weight loss levels off, which happens every month or two, you'll need to cut your intake a bit to keep it going. There's nothing mysterious about these "plateaus" -- it's just that you have less body mass to maintain. When you cut, cut the junkier calorie-dense stuff.

5) Pay no attention to the advice of people who have never been very overweight. They live in a totally different world than we do. Their appetites actually work, with a little tweaking. Ours are busted.

FLBiker

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2018, 01:53:16 PM »
I started a year ago in May: over 11 months I lost 70 lbs & hit my goal weight of 160 a couple months ago.

Just want to say congrats.  That is awesome!

Cwadda

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Re: Is Consciously Deciding Goals Possible?
« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2018, 02:46:17 PM »
I've had success by focusing on the present "here and now". Basically, breaking up big goals into smaller, more manageable chunks I can take care of each day. Echoing a bit what another poster said earlier. I'm not the most religious person, but there's a line from the Bible that I appreciate:

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Basically, the less I am anxious about long term goals, the more I can focus on goals for today. I end up getting a lot more done this way. It starts with getting out of bed at 7:00 AM and not sleeping in until 8:00. Boom, small goal accomplished. The next challenge is deciding whether it'll be a good day. Then going to the gym. And so on. If you start to optimize the little components, they tend to snowball and reverberate in your other aspects of life, especially over the long term.