Saturday, 26 April 2014
Pain or pleasure what's your poison?
Before you read anything look at this picture which one is pain and which is pleasure?
Depending on your upbringing and reference points the answer is obvious isn't it?
I went to an independent grammar school that had recently ceased being a catholic girl's school. My teachers were an odd combination of residual nuns and militant left-wing feminists.
All pleasure was sin, and redemption could only be found in....
2. the sports field
3. application to the point of obsession
Pleasure was the devil, the route of all ills and the wastrel's route to a meaningless life.
Pain was an angel that brought success be it hours of running on the sports fields or all day and all night revision sessions to achieve the elusive top grades that would open the door to Oxbridge and a future that would embrace constant challenge and mental vigour.
It is this,above all else, that drives my search for balance in everything. The above delivers success, but it definitely does not bring happiness. Since by default any feelings of contentment and well-being are suspiciously close to pleasure, which is the road to dereliction.
I've always actively sought out the company of those who see this picture the other way round. Those for whom pain is the devil and pleasure their angel. Long before L'Oreal told them they were worth it, whilst students, they were thousands of pounds overdrawn due to bulging wardrobes and fresh-cut flower deliveries every week. At work they nipped out for facials in the morning, enjoyed long lunches and often didn't quite make it back into the office.
But they were always full of charm and laughter and were such a joy to be around that they rose to the top with out any backstabbing and politics.
Everyone know someone like this, they dance through life in a haze of guilt-free happiness and well-being with an utter conviction that is spell-binding.
This blog was meant to be about weight loss and exercise, and the pain and pleasure principle is one of the keys of finding balance and health through emotional equilibrium.
Have you ever opened a packet of biscuits/crisps/ chocolates/ loaf of bread/bottle of wine and started by thinking, 'I don't really need to eat this, but it is perfectly normal to have a biscuit with my tea'? The first leads to a second (all very normal) the second leads to half the pack, now we are moving away from normal into knowingly eating too much and at this stage, rather than do the obvious thing and just stop, we reach for the rest of the packet, forcing them down by means of some kind of 'punishment' for having gone too far.
I wonder if it this is the Northern European/North American protestant work ethic gone mad. Deep down we expect to have to pay for pleasure and so we punish ourselves by our own hand.
This week I have been following the Thermic Plan (4 meals of 500 calories, all protein, vegetable and complex carb based) A typical day would be;
8am breakfast 3 eggs, apple and flat white coffee x2
midday Whole grain and seed roll, packet of ham, bag of mixed veg (broccoli, carrots, beans), mini pack of hummus.
mid afternoon packet of Almonds and cup of tea
Dinner Chicken, brown rice, salad, decaff coffee small bar of dark chocolate
It's boringly easy to follow since you are never hungry so you never think about food. After two days my slightly snug clothes were already feeling better and I was well on my way to getting ready for bikinis in the South of France.
But then I got a package in the post which included a free Chocolixir from Godiva. For anyone who hasn't tried one, it may be best never to know. Imagine a perfect dark chocolate turned into a milkshake topped with whipped cream and dark chocolate sauce...
I knew this would be my nemesis as it is pure shameless pleasure and something the nuns would find particularly sinful (chocolate spread was an earned reward awarded at tea times on Fridays only). It was an irresistible temptation that would wholly remove me from the straight and narrow.
But resistance was futile, this was something special and it was free.
Pain, pleasure and guilt kicking in again, I'm not good at taking 'free' things, when this goodwill is thrown my way I feel obliged to repay the favour, so of course I bought a bar of Godiva chocolate whilst picking up my freebie.
By 4pm that day I had polished off both the milkshake and the family sized bar, halfway through the bar I was past pleasure and into penance.
Because I have rationalised the process, I just went for a run with the dogs this morning and am back on my Thermic yellow brick road. But back in the old days when the scales wavered between 14 and 15 stone, this once incident could have been enough to tip me over the edge to a Summer of secret hordes of food and tent dresses.
Does this behaviour ring bells with anyone? Are there areas of your life where this applies outside just food? I'd love to hear, especially if you have found ways of dealing with it.