Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why We're Irrational About Our Health

We try to be rational creatures and use logic to form the basis of our decisions but sometimes logic and psychology don't see eye to eye.

One of the psychological tricks we play with ourselves is called COMPARTMENTALIZATION. We try to be logical in every aspect of our lives except for a few things we put in a little compartment where we will be knowingly as irrational and illogical as possible. People will put bad relationships in this box. It's why seemingly intelligent stay in bad relationships. We can put other things such as religion, political views, or even buying a home when there is no way you can afford it, but you're buying the American dream right?

But the thing I most often see people put into this box, from doctors to scientists, is our health. It's probably the most common. You can see it in action if you ever suggest to someone that running only is probably not the most efficient form of exercise, or that there is also health value in not being a (whatever your extreme form of eating is). Now you got a fight on your hands.

What I hear most often with this form of irrational logic is when I hear people ask me, "what should I eat to be healthy, or what should I do to lose weight?"

And I will give a few general tips. Nothing too hard. Without even listening to anything I've said, they will reply back with, "well if that's what I gotta do to live a long life, I'd rather eat whatever I want and die early."

Why even ask if you don't care? Because you are irrational.

I'm sure you've heard people say this as well, they think it's funny. Compartmentalization at its finest.
I've heard all kinds of people say this from people in their twenties to seniors. Here is where their logic is flawed. They think I will live a full life, and die abruptly. You are wrong. You will live as long as modern medicine can keep you alive. I know people who have said this in their late 20s, and they take their cholesterol medications now, their blood pressure medication, and for the unlucky, go into the emergency room. It is like someone who buys a house with an interest only loan, who tell their renter friends, their "rent" is now going into ownership. No it's not, all your money is only going into interest. And some day there will be a day of reckoning. Same with your health. And you will do whatever you can to keep your house, and you will do whatever you can, plead with whoever, ask for help from whomever to stay alive.

This doesn't sound like someone who wants to eat whatever they want and die early. The fact they initially ask about their health shows they do care, but then compartmentaliation kicks in because it sounds too hard. What they really wanted to hear me say was, do 20 sit ups a day for 30 days and take inches off your waist!

If someone put a gun to your head, and told you to eat healthy and exercise. You would do it. That's logic and survival instincts kicking in. That's why you will not allow yourself to die early if you can help it. You will pray for some nanotechnology or pill to be formed in the meantime to BAIL YOU OUT. Just like with the financial crisis I mentioned earlier.

So people take their meds, look for the easy answer, their body are trying to take them out early and they are refusing to go out peacefully. When I was in finance, I saw plenty of people live much longer than they thought they would and they outlived their money. I also saw a lot of them with full-time caretakers, wheelchairs, respirators, etc. And some weren't even that old... I asked them how they got to this health state, they said they ate bad, smoked, didn't exercise, and they thought they would be dead by now. It's one of the reasons I moved from financial advising/banking to personal training.

People who say they want to live however they want and die early, won't die early. They will live longer, maybe as long as their healthy friends. But their quality of life will be much different, and their death dragged out over surgeries, hospital visits, medicine, their body fighting against them, feeling pain, discomfort, swollen, bloated, bowels now failing, etc. There is also a financial cost to this decision to you and your family. There is also an emotional cost as well to everyone around you. You're easy solution is a pretty devastating one. It is why we're completely irrational about our health. It's why people keep asking questions about health, but for a lot of people its 100 questions for 0 action.

About the Author:

Coach Sam Y. is a Master Personal Trainer, Motivational Speaker, Coach, Certified Nutritionist, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Corrective Enhancement Specialist, Pilates and Yoga instructor, and holds multiple certifications. He is also an avid Martial Artist, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA. He is also the author of the popular fitness blog All Out Effort as well as the popular martial arts blog Inner BJJ. You can find him in the Los Angeles area personal training his clients, or at home annoying his wife, or on Facebook and Pinterests.
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