Dear Past Self:
If someone offered you $1,000,000 to accurately predict one book that’d be on shelves 100 years from now, what book would you pick?A book that’s been on the shelf for only one day. A book that’s already been on the shelf for 100 years.
If someone offered you $1,000,000 to accurately predict one human that’d be alive 100 years from now, what person would you pick?A baby that’s been alive for only one day. An elder that’s already been alive for 100 years.
In your right hand, there are perishable things. Things that go bad. Things that die. Things with a true lifespan. Food. Humans. Animals.
In your left hand, there are non-perishable things. Things that never go bad. Things that pass through generations. Books. Beliefs. Technology.
The Lindy Effect says that, with every passing day:The perishable things in your right hand get closer to extinction. The non-perishables in your left hand get closer to immortality.
Predicting a book that’s going to be around 100 years from now? Choose a book that’s been around for 100 years already.
Predicting a human that’s going to be around 100 years from now? Choose a human that hasn’t yet seen 100 days.
What you’re eating . . . how long has it been around?
Your training methods . . . how long have they been around?
Supplements . . . ?
Books . . . ?
You’re always going to be drawn to the new. The sexy. The flashy. You might be able to end there, but that’s not where you want to start.
Food. The specific thing might be perishable, but the idea of eating that thing to sustain life is another story. So the stuff you eat, how long has it been around? Food doesn’t have ingredients; food is ingredients. Think about that. You won’t go wrong eating meats, eggs, and vegetables. It might not end there, but it certainly begins there.
Training. The ThighMaster isn’t exactly a big hitter anymore. That there hunk of iron? Eugen Sandow was hoisting that in 1900. Gymnastics rings? Pull-up bars? Parallel bars? It may not end there, but it certainly begins there.
Supplements. You think I’m going to give you all the answers? I’ll let you do some homework.
You’re going to be pulled all sorts of ways, kid. That electronic abdominal blaster gizmo will seem cool. You’ll buy one, don’t worry. Just like you’ll buy outrageous supplements. Just like you’ll try all sorts of training.
But you’ll learn.
And after you learn, you’ll wonder if the infected “fitness” world will ever get the point when there’s a new health bar supplement shake toning contraption born every week. (Day?)
But computers! they’ll say. The Internet changed the world! The Lindy Effect is stupid! New is good!
They’re right . . . the Lindy Effect isn’t perfect. Things passed down aren’t always Good or True. New things aren’t always doomed to fail.
This is why Lindy is a start, not an end. And even if it were an end, the odds are in Lindy’s favor.
Listen. Be open. You were once infected too, you know? But stay grounded in your choices by asking, “How much longer is this going to be around?”
I’m the prime suspect in an ongoing love handle obsession investigation. I’m eighteen years old, and I have a six-pack for the first time in my life. (See 2006.) I’m in the best form of my life. (But not in my final form, of course.)
But the love handles . . .
The love handles aren’t budging. And I stare in the mirror, wondering if the utters of blubber jutting from my sides will ever go away.
I stare for six months. I’m freaking out. I’m cramming fat loss mode for moons beyond the norm, and my physique reflects the level of distraught my mind endures.
My body withers away.
Live and learn, they say.
I sit here now with a note my eighteen year old love handle obsessed self needed.
You’re going to have love handles for a long time if you keep believing you have love handles.
The picture you scrolled past? That’s me. Current day, October 2014. Low body fat. Love handled.
. . . right?
Flip things to Miranda, a NPC Bikini Competitor. I don’t know Miranda, but I know she has an Instagram account — its_murdaaa22. (You’re welcome, by the way.) She’s a great example of the lean and “love handled” . . . because she has no love handles.
What some perceive to be “love handles” aren’t really love handles. Sometimes they’re not even body fat, as in Miranda’s case. She is the false love handle prototype.
The thing you see (what some see as love handles) is a muscle, more specifically the giant hip muscle(s). ‘Yaknow – junk in the trunk.
According to Miranda, her waist is twenty-four inches. Her hips? Thirty-seven inches. (Or, perhaps, these measurements were accurate [at some point], I should say. Information obtained via Instagram stalking is subject to reliability issues.) With a waist-hip spread like that, something’s gotta’ give — you have a narrow top that blossoms into a wide bottom. The body isn’t a disjointed mass. There has to be some connection between neighboring parts.
When you’re as lean as Miranda, you can see . . . oh crap, that’s just a giant hunk of muscle. But if you have body fat covering this area, you lose the hard sculpted delineations and are left with soft slopes. Doesn’t take much either. A thin film creates the curves — see another picture of Miranda below.
With certain body proportions, just a little bit of fat is enough to convince yourself that it’s all fat. And losing fat can make your “love handles” seem even bigger because you lose the fat around the waist, but the large hip muscles remain.
Now, I can tell you this, but will you believe it?
Maybe. Maybe not.
I probably wouldn’t have believed it. I’m stubborn like that. I would have went on and made the same mistakes only to learn, uhh, nine years later.
But this is something you have to answer.
Are you worrying about something that doesn’t exist?
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig talks about the divide between romantic understanding and classic understanding.
The romantic mode is primarily inspirational, imaginative, creative, intuitive. Feelings rather than facts predominate. “Art” when it is opposed to “Science” is often romantic. It does not proceed by reason or by laws. It proceeds by feeling, intuition and esthetic conscience. In the northern European cultures the romantic mode is usually associated with femininity, but this is certainly not a necessary association.
The classic mode, by contrast, proceeds by reason and by laws-which are themselves underlying forms of thought and behavior. In the European cultures it is primarily a masculine mode and the fields of science, law and medicine are unattractive to women largely for this reason. Although motorcycle riding is romantic, motorcycle maintenance is purely classic. The dirt, the grease, the mastery of underlying form required all give it such a negative romantic appeal that women never go near it.My interpretation goes… Romantic = feelings, meaning, art—an aesthetic mind. Classic = math, science, facts—a technical mind.
The body world is dominated by classic feedback. Counting calories. Weighing food. Number of sets. Number of reps. Total weight lifted. Percentages. Macros.
Where’s the romantic? How did the lift feel? Are you mentally locked into training? Are you actually appreciating and tasting your food, or are you eating while watching TV? Are you artfully crafting your dinner plate?
You can’t appreciate the body through a numerical lens. You’ll never see the mystical beauty of your pink, squishy, nasty guts and the magic fat loss, muscle building, and performance spells they cast.
And most people don’t have the appreciation.
We don’t understand how lucky we are to have a vessel filled with such vim at our fingertips.
Instead of trying to get people to see their body’s beauty both inside and out, we feed people the idea they’re just another number.
Eat this many calories. Do this many sets, this many reps. Numbers, numbers, numbers. Your Power Level is less than 9000…!!
So take a second and step back from your classically dominated life. What are you missing by seeing everything as just another game of numbers?
A blend is probably best.A mathematician that appreciates the beauty in numbers. An artist that appreciates precision in geometry. A philosopher that uses the pursuit of Good and True as a trampoline for new ideas.
But maybe valuing the aesthetics of things can solve problems…? Because, unless you come from a martial arts background, you’re probably up to your eyeballs in classic understanding.
Maybe the obesity problem is easier solved with romantic feedback? Maybe people would eat a 500 calorie meal over a 1000 calorie meal if the 500 calorie meal was presented better? Because people do value food presentation…a lot. Just like they value how expensive they perceive a food to be.
The list of these unconscious psychological food triggers is long, and I probably shouldn’t be using the word “people.” I’m not above the law. (If this stuff interests you, check out Mindless Eating.)
I dare you to spend a week in romantic land. Present your food on special plates with garnishes. Have someone load the plates on the barbell for you so that you don’t know how much you’re lifting.
Charlie Francis, Olympic sprint coach, used to say something along the lines of looks right, flies right. If something being done looks athletic, it’s probably going to make you athletic.
What are the aesthetics of food? With other types of training?
It’s worth considering.
And maybe, with that consideration, misery will turn into miracle.
Maybe the idea of getting fat will be praised instead of vilified. Because it’s a special ability. Humans have the unconscious smarts to say “This is important…but I don’t need it now. Later…I’ll save it for later.”
And we don’t even have to Level Up for this. It’s stock.
To be in charge of something that powerful?
And living in a time, place, and culture that allows you to think about these things in your free time?
Now that’s a gift.
What are you going to do with it?