Tuesday, March 29, 2016

being busy -- the enemy of "dieting"

All my life, i've needed to get away from people to recharge my batteries from time to time.  It's finally apparent to me why that is the case, from a physiological point of view as opposed to the esoteric one (which i STILL believe is true, but on a different level).

Not only does the human brain chew up a disproportionate amount of our energy compared to other tissues (including muscle!), but that prefrontal cortex of ours which is responsible for much of our advanced thinking really sops it up.  The busier we are, the more balls we're juggling at once, the more energy it burns -- we're using a LOT of executive brainpower!  And as J Stanton explains here, we MEASURABLY use lots of prefrontal energy when we exercise willpower -- this "expensive" area of the brain.

Dealing with people, communicating, coping with the world, does the same damned thing.

Suppose we're "enjoying" a holiday with our extended families -- we're exposed to children's squabbles, drunk-uncle irrational political rants, sympathizing with drunk-aunt complaints, trying to figure out what to have for breakfast tomorrow and whether or not we can get away with using erythritol instead of sugar in tonight's dessert, etc:  we end up having too many mimosas, and kick ourselves for it even though we know better....

Congratulations, "having a life" just destroyed your best-laid plans!  Same thing happens with vacations, workplace deadlines, or a mere over-packed schedule.

We HAVE to prioritize our well-being BEFORE we can hope to have any success with food-centered health tweaks.  Oh, the correction in our intake will help make the rest flow easier too, but we won't be able to stick with the program if our mental energy is being overused by modern-world worries.

Our poor taxed prefrontal cortexes!  We have to learn to give them a break!  Sleep is undeniably good for them, but if we're still trying to do too many things at once while we're awake, all the little things they do for us will suffer the consequences.  This is why we're admonished to not sweat the small stuff.

Delegate.  Make someone else do some of the deciding AND figure out how to make their decisions work -- it won't help for them to decide on a menu, if they're not doing the cooking!  When things get noisy, go for a bathroom break (whether you need it or not) and spend twenty minutes locked in a quiet little room by yourself.  You can always blame the excess time on something that was cooked by someone else.  ;-)

Read something refreshing while you're in there, though -- if you continue planning and brainstorming it ain't gonna help.  And no texting, either!


  1. I totally agree about needing, as Robert over at Living Stingy puts it, mental energy. I'm really thinking about taking a less strenuous job close to home so I'll have the mental energy to learn database software in my spare time. Back in Denver, I was so worn out from work and commuting that I'd come home, fall on the bed, watch Netflix and play video games. It took all my energy to make dinner and lunch and get ready for bed.

    1. ...and that just won't leave you with oomph enough to enjoy ANY kind of recreation! I wish the better gurus would acknowledge that mental application saps PHYSICAL energy -- everybody (except Stanton) makes it sound as though when you're weary from intellectual effort, the only thing you need is to get out and do some exercising! :-P