To those who say "You only live once!"

It’s interesting. Once in a while when I talk with a person who doesn’t appear to be healthy and fit, they’ll say something like: “You know, I only live once. And we’re all going to die anyway so what’s the point of my weight loss efforts?”

There is a reason they are saying this, and it’s not as obvious as you might think. I’ll go into that next week.

Instead, let’s tackle head on the point of us only living once so what’s the point of our weight loss efforts.

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I write a lot about our short term/irrational mind versus our long term/rational mind. Our long term/rational mind is where our true dreams and desires are. Our short term/irrational mind doesn’t care about the future. It wants pleasure…and it wants it NOW!

Our short term mind is constantly sabotaging us in the form of thoughts like, “You deserve this cookie, go for it. You only live once!” “Why bother exercising?” “Don’t you want to be happy now?” “You work so hard!”

Here’s the challenge we all wrestle with: Balancing living for tomorrow with living for today.

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The reason why I’ve been able to stick with MBT since February of 2007 is because I truly believe in what we’re doing, and I know what I offer works, and my belief only gets stronger every day based on the results we’re getting for our clients.

Persistence isn’t about doing the same things over and over. It’s about wanting the same thing over and over. (I believe our short term/irrational mind is constantly trying to chip away at what we really want because it’s easier to maintain the status quo.)

And something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember – and something I’ll always want (I think) – is to live the happiest life I can, and to help others do the same.

One fact remains constant and it’s what drives me:  When I eat healthfully and exercise, I feel better. In other words, happier, than when I don’t.

BELIEVE ME! I love cookies. I love ice cream. I love pizza. It’s a battle. And I indulge. But, I try to only indulge for the right reasons.

Even when I do indulge, I still don’t feel as good as when I eat healthfully.

Which brings me to the question we often ask our selves, “Why am I not enjoying now?”

“We’re all going to die anyway!” some people say. YOLO! (You Only Live Once!)

Which circles us back to the…

NOW versus later debate.

“Screw Adam, screw MBT, screw the Daily Feedback! I want to enjoy life now!”

That’s the devil on our shoulder talking to the Body Tutor. That’s our irrational, short term mind yelling at our rational, long term mind.

So try this thought on for size:

Why not enjoy life now, even if it means you might hate how you look (and feel) later on? Even if it means more health issues later on?

Really.

Go for that cookie, pizza or ice cream whenever you want. (US MBT-ers know this isn’t about never indulging. It’s about picking and choosing what, where and when is truly worthwhile.)

However, if you truly felt that you should be ‘enjoying now’ all the time, you’d quit your job, live at your favorite restaurant, do drugs, and do only what felt best every minute of your life.

Why not enjoy a good high now? Who cares what happens later?

Interestingly, all of us have always thought about later on, and not now.

Think about the first 20 or so years of our life. Everything we did in school was to set ourselves up for a better future.

The one downside of planning ahead, and living for tomorrow vs today, is that we may enjoy today a little less as we’ll experience less pleasure.  (Though we know pleasure is very fleeting. Satisfaction isn’t.) The upside is that our future might be a bit better. Maybe, a lot better.

I don’t think it’s fair to call the “you only live once” approach to life any kind of way to live unless you’re doing all the things I mentioned above all the time.

We seek pleasure and avoid discomfort as much as possible.

We humans have an amazing ability to rationalize and that’s all the “YOLO!” approach is. It’s a rationalization that makes us feel better in the moment. It makes it easier on ourselves to say, “Sure, why not?” It removes any cognitive dissonance we have.

Now there’s always a twist:

1. It turns out, we actually enjoy today MORE when we eat and exercise for the future. We’ve all had days when do nothing but eat and watch TV – at least I have. I always feel better when I’m eating right and exercising. Always! I know you do too.

2. I’ve never done drugs. Had/have no desire. I’m not saying you should. It was just to make a point. Actually, as a public service announcement I’ll write it: don’t do drugs!

3. It turns out that when we live and plan for the future it’ll also make us happier TODAY! When we do good, we feel good.

Why not make it a happier week?

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P.S. I’ve thought and written a lot about the subject of happiness because I think that’s our goal. You can read all of my posts on happiness on my other blog here.

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