Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shooting myself in the foot to spite my face

Sunday 29th August - Reflections before week 8 begins

Well we’re almost there. After tomorrow’s session there’s only be four more to go. I haven’t been re-weighed, but I suspect I haven’t changed (dodgy calibration aside). This is no surprise, as, let’s face it, I haven’t really tried.

As I said right at the start of this thing, losing weight takes two things: diet and exercise. I haven’t been dieting at all, and you can’t really call what I do exercise. It’s a weekly torture session, but it’s not exercise.

The reason for this is simply that I haven’t been able to drag myself back up there during the week. Here’s how my week works:

  • Monday: I do one horrible horrible “mandatory” class. What this does is make me tired and resentful all day. I can’t concentrate on my work, and it often hurts to move.
  • Tuesday: The stuff that I really worked the day before hurts even more.
  • Wednesday: The hurty bits have subsided to a dull, but quite noticeable ache.
  • Thursday and Friday: I’m generally OK, but have no enthusiasm for it, because of how I feel on Mondays and Tuesdays.

So after after the weekend, I’m back to where I was the previous week, and the cycle starts all over again. If I maintained a regular, but low impact, schedule of movement during the week, then it might actually have some benefit. But I don’t because I hate it so much. And I hate it so much because I don’t.

I still remember how I felt on the Sunday night after the first week. In that week I had been three times including the Monday session. All doing rather intense, trainer-led sessions. It was an all in approach that left me knackered and disenchanted with the whole thing. It also made me wary about going back. I think the next week I went once, on my own, and have hardly been up since other than the Monday sessions.

If I want this to make a difference I know I need to work harder at it. But I honestly don’t know if I want it to make a difference. I never went into this with any kind of solid goal. The challenge for me isn’t to lose weight, or even to “be healthier”. The challenge for me right now is just to finish it, and to make sure I don’t have to pay the money. It seemed like such a simple idea at the start of it all: if I did 12 weeks of gym, then I wouldn’t have to pay anything. And that’s got to be good for you right?

Turns out that no, it doesn’t. It just makes you inordinately grumpy for 12 weeks. (Well, seven so far).


  1. I think anyone whose ever been serious about losing weight or exercising could have guessed right at the start that you wouldn't succeed. Your reasons for doing this are completely shitty. "Because I think I should" or "So I don't lose money" are not motivating reasons. Exercise really doesn't help you lose weight, it's mostly about diet. Exercise has a lot of other benefits, but it's a big scam that going to the gym helps you lose weight. Most people end up putting on muscle and eating more, and end up gaining weight.

    To sound quite glib - maybe you should have a hard think about what actually matters to you in life, and see if there is a motivation there....

    For example - I exercise as I've seen excellent research tying lifetime exercise to mental acuity in old age, and I hate the thought of going senile. I diet so my wife doesn't get pissed off and leave me for Sven the triathlete. That's motivating (for me at least).

    Enough patronizing advice, I'm off to eat broccoli.

  2. Hello anonymous.

    Well like I said, my goal wasn't to lose weight. I need to lose weight, obviously, but I never expected going to the gym would do that, and I never stated that here.
    Losing weight is all about calories, and that takes both diet and exercise. You can't lose weight if you don't work in both those areas and, most importantly, do so consistently.

    I know this, because I have done it and it works. And it stops working when you stop being consistent. It takes a lot more willpower than I tend to have right now, though.

    In all truth I didn't know what to expect from this whole thing. I guess I kind of hoped that something magical would happen, but as you say, it was pretty clear from the start that that wasn't going to happen. So when I say "I don't know if I want it to make a difference" I think what I'm really saying is "I don't know what kind of a difference I want".

    And you say that money is a shitty motivator? Well yes and no.
    It means that I will only do the minimum I need to do to make sure I don't lose that money. But that minimum is buckets more than I have done in the past 3 years, so it's certainly some kind of motivator. People look at money as a bad motivator, but how many people would, in all honesty, turn up to their job if they didn't get paid? I really like my job. I like the company I work for and the people I work with. It means that working at that company is far preferable to working for any other company. But the reason that I turn up every day is because they pay me. If that stopped, I wouldn't go to work. So money is indeed a motivator for pretty much every single employed person.

    But I think the best thing I have been getting out of this experience has been the reflection in working out what does motivate me, though, and so as patronising and self righteous as your comment was, it does reflect a lot of what I have been thinking, and also, I thought, what I have been conveying here.

  3. This blog has been a fascinating read. To use wank-speak an interesting journey.

    I think that you started this because you had good intentions. Why else would you do it? Perhaps you thought that you could lead a healthier lifestyle and in turn become healthier since you obviously understand the benefits of health.

    The problem that you seem to be grappling with is that you seem to be someone that doesn't like to follow convention or what is expected, and can deliberately go out of your way to be 'anti' convention.

    Conventional wisdom says being healthy is good. The gym is one (flawed in my opinion)way of assisting a person get healthy. Yet because it is convention you balk from it.

    The "I hate exercise" theme that you make so evident in your posts pretty much to me is a justification why you shouldn't bother with the gym. Why go when you dislike it so much as well as it forces you to do something you hate. Although I completely understand why you continue, to ensure this horrid experience costs no cash, but what you need to question is your original intent. I do wonder about how it has effected you emotionally though. Frankly, for you, it sounded like a bad idea at the start. So why did you really do it?

    If you honestly want to be healthy, then you've proven that the gym isn't for you, but by your own admission you haven't tried to be healthy. I think that is just you rebelling against the gym and making sure it fails to have any impact. It's fair to say you've been negative all along about the whole experience. So it was never going to work.

    So work out what your real motivation was to do this whole thing. And then, find something that will help deliver the results of that motivation. If it was to lose weight or be 'healthy' you already found the holy grail on that, a balance of diet and exercise. The really hard bit for anyone is to actually do something with that knowledge.

  4. I may need to cover ground that I have already covered. (patricularly here.

    Before this whole thing started I thought "I need to lose weight and be healthier". And I realised that to do that I needed to do do things that were inordinately unappealing to me: restrict my eating and exercise. Consistently, and for a long time.
    That meant that ahead of me I had a very long road which contained the prospect of daily doing things that I hate. This scared me a lot. I don't like the idea of filling my life with things that I hate.
    I didn't reach any kind of conclusion about all that, though. But it was certainly occupying my brainspace before the gym thing was even advertised. Now I knew that I didn't want to go to the gym. But I also knew that I didn't want to do exercise. So that wasn't really a helpful kind of thought. This gym thing came along, it had the money motivator, and it was defined. After 12 weeks, I could find out how much I really hate it. After all, maybe I could get into it. I don't think I ever really thought that I would get into it, but I knew that, after 12 weeks, I would have an idea of how much I really hated it. And if I completed it, the very worst that would happen to me is that I would have done 12 weeks of gym.
    I think I hate it a lot.

    Fang is, of course, right. I think I have been sabotaging it a little (after all the name of this post is shooting myself in the foot). Did I really need to go to that pub for their excellent burger twice in one week? No. But was I thinking about the gym when I did it? I'd like to also say no, but the thing is, this gym shit has been occupying my thoughts so constantly, that maybe yes, I did.
    If it wasn't for the $180 I would probably stop now. I think I now have opinions of the gym, that are more grounded in experience rather than assumption. I no longer have to say "ew, I would never go to a gym cos they look so horrible and fake and stuff". I can now say "I won't go to a gym again, cos they are horrible and fake and stuff."
    It's the difference between not seeing Life of Brian and complaining about it being blasphemous, and seeing it and complaining about it being blasphemous.
    Also, it's given me an absolute zero of hatred towards exercise. I don't think I could put myself through anything more hateful that sitting on that bike and listening to that woman say woo. So anything non-gym related that I attempt after this will be, by comparison, not so bad.

    But I do have $180 on the line, so I will stick it out for the next 4 weeks. And after that, I may well go on a diet and go for a walk every day. Just to show em.

    But it really is a very nice burger.

  5. Fang's full of shit as usual but I really liked what anonymous wrote. Who was that masked poster?

    Anyway, if you're still doing this because you set yourself to complete it and you want to see it through then bravo. If it's because it's horrible and you can see the benefit of having horrible things in your life then double bravo. Keep going like that and you'll end up my headspace, (and if that doesn't put you off nothing will).

    However if this is just about putting your mind and body through pain and suffering for money ... ewwww. That's sounding a bit prostituty to me.

  6. complete it and you want to see it through - a bit. I know that even if cash wasn't on the line, I wouldn't totally be happy with myself if I just dropped out. Having said that, we've done these kinds of things at work before, where there wasn't cash on the line and I have indeed dropped out. (I also don't remember being hideously depressed about the fact that I dropped out. I'm certainly over it now if I was.)

    it's horrible and you can see the benefit of having horrible things in your life Absolutely not. I've never been a believer in the idea that you have to suffer to benefit from something. I can't imagine putting myself through something ONLY because it's bad.

    Other than this.


    putting your mind and body through pain and suffering for money - Well it didn't start out that way. And at the moment, to make it tolerable I'm not thinking of it exactly like that.
    I would say, though, that I am very much putting myself through something I would rather not do, in order to save myself money. (At the start it was putting myself through something I would rather not do in order to save money and see if there are any benefits.) I wouldn't call that prostitutey any more than I would call compensation for doing a shitty job prostitutey. I can't imagine cleaning toilets is something that people enjoy doing in their spare time, but being paid to do it doesn't make you a prostitute does it?

    This gets a bit back to what I was saying about money as a motivator. I think that people like to say that money is dirty, and that we shouldn't admit to being motivated by it. But the thing is, we live in a society where everything costs money, and where we, for the most part, like to have lots of stuff. So making yourself depressed about chasing money is an incredibly unhealthy attitude if, in reality, that's what you are doing, and that's how you are going to live.
    Getting back to me, $180 is a bit of money. It's not the end of the world or anything. But I think I can put up with this for a few more weeks for the sake of saving it, especially given that's not the only reason to do it. I am still exposing myself to things I wouldn't normally exposing myself to, and am trying to find things that might help me in the future. I don't think that, money aside, this has been at all an entirely fruitless venture. I was planning, at the end, to do a "what have I learned post". Maybe I need to do one sooner.

    We will see.

  7. Hmmm. The "start-it/complete-it" and "horrible can be good" topics are good ones, but I feel we've discussed these and I don't have anything new to add.

    The "Is Rob being a prostitute" notion is new though. I have spent a lot of time working as a cleaner and cleaning toilets was part of it. I wouldn't have done it for free, but I wouldn't say it really bothered me either. Certainly not to the extent these exercise sessions seem get to you. The only job I've ever had that I really despised was factory work, and I stuck at that after the bills had been paid just to see if I could. The main problem with that though was boredom.

    Now I remember you making the point, and I can't remember if this was in your blog or not, that people were dismissing your complaints to some degree. Not really taking "Wacky Rob" seriously. Perhaps I'm guiltly of opposite. The impression I get from your readings is that this undertaking is, for you, absolutely abhorrent. This applies not only during the activity but also for a considerable time afterwards. You feel perhaps as though your body has been violated.

    Maybe I need to sprinkle in just a touch of "Wacky" to my interpretation?

  8. I do lay it on very thick here. I wouldn't say I exaggerate, but I am showing (as any report about any thing ever) the bits of the story that are the bits I want to convey.

    But I think it's also that I don't see my body in that kind of "temple" light. I don't feel violated when I put my body through something rigorous. I just don't like it. A lot.

  9. Less insightful analysis and more gym culture bashing please.

  10. The patronizing comments were only anonymous because I couldn't be bothered signing up for a login.

    If I said I was completely tone-deaf would that help? I remember you saying once you were tracking hits on the blog from the US so I thought you'd figure out who it was.

    Money is a great motivator up to a point at which you've got enough to be comfortable. After that, I think it's pretty shitty.

    I tried to be non-patronizing but considering what I was trying to say was actually patronizing, it wasn't really possible so I just figured I'd live with it.

  11. Hello (now much less so, to me at least) anonymous.
    I would be lying if I said I didn't get at least a little grumpy after your first comment. Not 100% sure why, on reflection. As I said in my response, I pretty much agree with all of what you said. (Except for the bit about exercise. Exercise, as in physical movement, is important to losing weight. Gyms, however, are not.)

    So condescend away. Your comment sparked an interesting discussion here, and a whole bunch of self reflection, and when it all comes down to it, I reckon that's why I'm doing this.

    I'm pretty sure there's a way, like Brendan and BK above, to put a name on without having to sign up. I don't know, though, as I sold my soul to Google a long long time ago.