MAHB: Health

The best per­sonal train­ers are the ghosts of fit­ness past, pre­sent and yet to come.

Esquire (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - MAHB / Health by wong yu jin wongyu­, health­ face­­jin @wongyu­jin

Most of us are fa­mil­iar with the clas­sic tale A Christ­mas Carol by Charles Dick­ens. Of­ten­times told to pro­mote a sense of gen­eros­ity and right­eous­ness to kids, the book re­volves around the life of Ebenezer Scrooge, who is vis­ited by the ghosts of Christ­mas past, pre­sent and fu­ture. He is so aghast at the vi­sions shown to him, es­pe­cially of the fu­ture, where no one cares to at­tend his funeral, he de­cides to turn over a new leaf and to cor­rect his miserly ways.

Most peo­ple would as­so­ciate the story with the joy of shar­ing. But I per­son­ally feel that its beauty lies in the les­son of fu­ture pain. You see, most peo­ple don’t take ac­tion un­til they feel some sort of pain as­so­ci­ated with their cur­rent be­hav­iour. For ex­am­ple, if you are a smoker and have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing chest pains or dif­fi­culty breath­ing, the symp­toms might prompt you to quit. If it hurts to squeeze your ass into a tiny Airasia seat for a 13-hour flight to Paris, you might ditch those late-night dou­ble Ramly Burg­ers for cel­ery sticks and hum­mus.

Such in­stances prompt you to take ac­tion be­cause you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the pain now. But many are happy to carry on with their cur­rent life­style of poor food choices, high stress and zero ex­er­cise, as long as there are no vis­i­ble signs of trou­ble. It’s a bit like play­ing with ni­tro­glyc­erin—you know it’s a liq­uid ex­plo­sive, but you think it’ll never blow up on you. And sud­denly, one day… BOOM!

How do you then force your­self to take ac­tion now, in­stead of wait­ing for the bomb to det­o­nate? One way is to ex­pe­ri­ence what I call the Scrooge Ef­fect. Com­pare your cur­rent health sta­tus/looks/ weight/fit­ness level with how you were 10 years ago. Now project that de­te­ri­o­ra­tion 10, 15 or even 20 years into the fu­ture, and as­sume that you will con­tinue to slide down the health lad­der. Imag­ine how much worse you will feel, from the slug­gish­ness to the dis­eases you might face. In other words, try to ex­pe­ri­ence it like Scrooge did. Feel your fu­ture pain now and make it as re­al­is­tic as pos­si­ble.

If you find it hard to look into the crys­tal ball and vi­su­alise your fu­ture pain, try another tac­tic that works won­ders for those who place a high pri­or­ity on van­ity. If you have put on a few ki­los and gained some inches around your waist, avoid buy­ing new clothes at all costs. Give the im­pres­sion your shirt might burst at the seams at any mo­ment and al­low your pants to grow so tight you can’t sit down. Soon, your col­leagues will no­tice, mum will com­ment, the girls will snig­ger, and your fel­low Esky men will throw dis­ap­prov­ing looks your way. Crit­i­cism is painful for many, es­pe­cially when it comes to weight is­sues.

Whether you read the book or watched the 2009 Dis­ney ver­sion, stop say­ing “Bah! Hum­bug!” and just do it. Your health might de­pend on it.

“Men’s cour­ses will fore­shadow cer­tain ends, to which, if per­se­vered in, they must lead,” scrooge said. “but if the cour­ses be de­parted from, the ends will change.” Try fit­ting that onto your next #fit­spo In­sta­gram post.

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