Tag Archives: Weight Loss

Love The Plateau

The Juggler

I had this friend once that was really into juggling. He wasn’t that good, but for some reason he had always wanted to become a really good juggler. The kind of guy that would be able to pick up any three or four objects and juggle them for an amount of time without any problem. He’d bought several DVDs on how to juggle, and even took a workshop once at some juggling school. I hadn’t been aware that there even was juggling schools.

He studied for several weeks, and finally he was comfortable enough to start juggling in front of strangers. He usually got a pretty good reception, and for a while he even went downtown where they allowed various performers to do their thing on the street in hopes for a few spare coins. On some nights, he developed a pretty big crowd. But most of the time, there were only a few people that would stay and watch for more than a few minutes.

After a while he noticed the same people would pass by, make a comment like “oh, there’s that juggler, he’s pretty good,’ and then they’d keep walking. It got to the point where most of the people that went downtown on a regular basis got to know him, and acknowledged that he was a highly skilled juggler, but didn’t hang around to watch him. He thought about traveling to neighboring cities, where they hadn’t yet been exposed to his juggling skills, but then he began to question his whole reason for becoming a skilled juggler.

At first he just wanted to juggle, and he had some vague imagination of juggling in front of people. Then when he got a taste of how good it felt to actually do that, he wanted to juggle in front of bigger and bigger crowds. But when it go to the point where he was thinking of actively seeking out bigger and bigger crowds, rather than just spontaneously juggling wherever he happened to be, it became more of a chore, or a job, than fun hobby. Soon he went back to only juggling whenever he happened to think about it, instead of purposely setting out to juggle in front of weekend crowds.

It reminds me a little bit of the law of diminishing returns. When you first put in a little bit of effort, you get a lot of results. But as you start to put in more and more effort, you start to get less and less results. If you’ve ever gone on a diet you know what I’m talking about. It’s pretty easy to lose that first couple of pounds, but after that it just keeps getting harder and harder. Eventually you hit a plateau, and if you keep at it, your successes are really a serious of longer and longer plateaus, with intermittent jumps in success levels.

There’s even been books written about how the plateau is really where all your skills and abilities are forged. If you look at life a series of long plateaus, with intermittent jumps in skill level, it makes I easier to keep on moving forward when it often appears as though you aren’t making any progress.

This structure may have some kind of biological origin. Evolution is thought to be a series of plateaus, with intermittent jumps in mutations that over time significantly change a particular species. Even the evolution of language is thought to follow this same pattern. There are certain points in the growth of a language where it changes significantly in a relatively short amount of time, due to a variety of circumstances.

For example, English underwent a huge change around the 1400’s, known as the great tonal shift. The way English vowels are pronounced changed significantly in a couple generations. It is said that somebody speaking English after this tonal shift would not be able to communicate with someone speaking English before this tonal shift.

Even at the quantum level, the energy levels of electrons don’t change from gradually from one energy state to another. There is huge jump (the word “quantum” simply means “discrete”) from one energy level to the next. There is no in between.

It’s as if the whole basis of physical reality follows the model of plateaus in energy levels or states of matter punctuated by large intermittent changes in state. The reason behind all of this is of course a mystery, to even the smartest theoretical physicists. It just seems completely strange, and pretty cool, how whatever law that makes an electron follow the discreet energy level model lead to somebody being on a plateau punctuated by intermittent successes in weight loss.

They say that the universe is a hologram of itself. If you take any small piece of matter, and look at it, it will be of the same structure and makeup as the whole system. Electrons orbiting atomic nuclei behave the same way as planets orbiting a sun. Just like there are discreet energy levels of electrons in a hydrogen atom, there are discreet elliptical orbital paths of the planets in our solar system.

So next time you feel “stuck” on a plateau, know that you are in good company.


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Powerful Metaphysics

Powerful Metaphysics

Use The Right Angle for Lasting Results

The other day a friend of mine was complaining to me about this recent diet she was on. She has been struggling with weight for a better part of her adult life, and tried diet after diet after diet. She lost quite a bit of weight on the low carb diet, but whenever she started to really see results, she got an unbelievably strong craving for chocolate. Rollo’s to be specific. Personally I find rollo’s to be pretty tasty, but I’d be hard pressed to eat more than a couple.

She was telling me that she has a tremendous amount of willpower at the beginning, and she is able to maintain this willpower, but for some reason it begins to fade after a couple weeks. She says it’s like a contest in her mind between the positive idea of seeing herself in the mirror a little bit slimmer, and the intense physical cravings that start to grow out of control when she has gone a couple weeks of really sticking to her diet.

Diets are an amazing thing, when you think about it. If you walk into any major bookstore in the United States, you’ll a huge section of diet books. Low carb, low fat, the Hollywood diet, the popcorn diet. You name it, and somebody has written a book on how get thin when you try their diet. Most Doctors (and most people) realize the simple truth that if you limit your food intake, you will lose weight. Many have noticed that all these fad diets are merely a tricky way of limiting your intake.

One of the things I think they miss out on is how you should pace yourself, whenever you start a new lifestyle change, which any certified dietician will tell you that is exactly what a diet is, a lifestyle change. But the problem most people run into is they start off too quick. Like when you go to the gym, and you haven’t worked out in a long time. If you try really hard the first day, you are going to be sore. So naturally, most coaches, and fitness trainers will tell you that it is important to start slow.
People really want to get in shape, and that’s fantastic. If they use this desire to train too hard, too early, they will become sore, and stop training. So their strong desire can have the paradoxical effect of thwarting their progress. I was overhearing a personal trainer coaching a new client at a gym once, and I heard her say:

“You need to start slow. The most import thing is to do something, anything. Don’t make the mistake of going for too much, too soon. That is what people that get stuck in that yo yo effect do. If you start slow, and increase your activity slowly over time, you will build up an incredible amount of momentum that will slowly but surely become part of your lifestyle so much, that you will feel completely lost if you don’t do something physical every day.”

I could tell this girl was a fantastic trainer, because she was incredibly fit herself, and her new client was exclaiming how excited he was because the trainer had such a long waiting list. She must have discovered some secret someplace that kept her in so much demand.

I guess it’s kind of like when I was in high school physics, and I learned that to get the maximum distance from a projectile, you need to launch it at a forty five degree angle. If you throw it steep, it will go high, but won’t go very far. If you throw it too shallow, like a baseball pitch, you will get a lot of speed, but it will fall to the earth rather quickly, and you won’t get much distance either. The secret is to throw it at just the right angle, to maximize the distance. If you don’t take the right angle, you will put in too much effort at the beginning, and it will fizzle out too quickly, and not give you the distance that you need. Balance is key.

So I suggested to my friend that she set her sights a little bit lower, instead of trying to lose 10 pounds in two weeks. When I suggested that she lose ten pounds in six months, she looked at me as if I was crazy. When I asked her to imagine herself two years from now, and what her life was like after she’d made it a habit to live so losing ten pounds every six months was a piece of cake, she smiled.

“I’d be in pretty good shape, for life!”