Enjoyment or Punishment?

“Let not the enjoyment of pleasures now within your grasp, be carried to such excess as to incapacitate you from future repetition”  ~ Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid 1st century AD)

That’s what happens, isn’t it.  The over-enjoyment of things that we like has a habit of turning less than pleasurable.  Our society has an “if a little is good, then a lot is better” mind-set.  I know I do. 

Think about it.  Over-indulgence of food makes us put on weight and feel crappy.  Not pleasurable.  Over-indulgence in spending makes us broke.  Not pleasurable.  Over-indulgence in exercise, if not properly prepared, makes us sore.  Not pleasurable.  Over-indulgence in sunshine gives us a sunburn and heat stroke.  Not pleasurable.  So why the excess?  Why are we not able to take maximum enjoyment out of a reasonable amount of our pleasures and then stop and look forward to the next time?

I am all about the instant gratification; I do not like to wait.  But I’ve started teaching myself to put some thought into things first, rather than make mindless choices based solely on desire.  Those mindless choices are the ones that have gotten me into trouble in the past.  Not only food-wise.  Words that come out of my mouth, actions I take, emails I send, things I buy.  Mostly all are done out of immediate desire.  But I’ve found that if I stop and put some thought into it first, I will enjoy the moment more because I actually do want/need it.  And if I decide I don’t, I have pride in my decision to weigh the good against the bad and choose away from whatever it is.

There are so many cliches out there that drive me nuts, but if you really stop and dismantle the words, they have meaning:

Don’t put the cart before the horse

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

A stitch in time saves nine

You CAN put the cart wherever you want, but things require a flow and if they are out of normal order they don’t work properly.  This applies to food also.  If you are spending all your time eating crap and junk food and sweets and baked goods, eventually, because the flow and balance isn’t right, bad things will start to happen.  Even if you aren’t a weight-gainer, your body can’t sustain that kind of thing forever.  And for those of us that are weight-afflicted and used to indulging ourselves constantly, do you notice that it takes more and more and more of the ‘treat’ to try and satisfy you?  That you aren’t getting the comfort and enjoyment out of the ‘treat’ anymore?  Like a drug habit, no doubt.  Interesting.  It’s because the balance isn’t there.  Treats aren’t treats anymore when you are eating them all the time.  Once you start to put treats back where they belong, as an occasional pleasure, they will rather quickly regain their comfort and enjoyment values.

And the second and third cliches.  Think about them.  I mean really THINK about them.  How much effort would it have been each time to just not have the second or third helping.  To stop at one cookie rather than the whole batch.  To make your mashed potatoes with chicken broth instead of butter and cream.  It would have been little easy choices that require almost no effort.  And now where are we?  We are working our butts off, expending tonnes of effort physically and mentally and emotionally to get those pounds of.  We are trying to find ourselves after spending an unconscionable amount of time under an armor of fat.  We are going to battle each and every day because we didn’t just walk away from the enemy in the first place. So as hard as it is some days to make the right choice, just think how much harder it will be down the road to correct it. One step (stitch) away now saves nine steps (stitches) later. 

It’s not all bad.  I maintain that if we learn something this time it all makes sense.  Don’t just diet mindlessly to get the weight off.  Learn something from your past mistakes and your current triumphs.  Learning from the past is the only way to prevent the same mistakes in the future.  If you don’t know what went wrong, how will you know what to watch out for in the future?  

Do you have any cliches that have finally started to mean something?  Have you started to see what mistakes you made in the past?  Have you put treats back where they belong?



  1. Bev said,

    September 29, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Very interesting comment about instant gratification. I remember our criminology instructor talking about this in relationship to criminals…that they were never taught this as children. Which of course got me to thinking about how I raised my children….I am very good about putting off things (purchases, vacation plans, etc) until I’ve had time to think about them and am able to make an informed and hopefully wise decision….and wondered why that lesson didn’t stick. Maybe it’s not something that can be taught, maybe it’s a personality trait that can be changed by the owner when they recognize it. Doesn’t say much for prisons doing rehab.

  2. desperatewriter said,

    September 29, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Great post, Lady Shanny! I can identify with it. As usual. 🙂

  3. Tarable said,

    September 29, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Here here!

  4. marueze said,

    September 30, 2007 at 7:46 am

    Great Post.
    Many times I try to think of food as fuel for by body and the better quality will lead to higher performance of my engine. The snag is that although the higher quality fuel does taste good, the lesser quality also tastes yummy.

  5. September 30, 2007 at 11:42 am

    […] Me too, me too! It’s so HARD to retrain my brain, Lady Shanny! […]

  6. hueyea said,

    October 2, 2007 at 11:35 am

    I totally agree with you. One of the main reasons I chose to do Core vs. Points is to make the “treat” a “treat” again and not mindlessly use points.

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