Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What Does It Mean to be In Shape?

I think that for most people, that means being in the shape they’d like to be in -- which is self-evidently looking to be in fantastic condition -- and not simply having low cholesterol, excellent aerobic capacity, while weighing 1,000 pounds. That’s the obvious one -- but less obvious are those at ideal weight and heart rate function, whose bodies are not in the shape they want it to be in. And the secret is that the existent muscle one presently has, can be trained to put one into the shape one wants to be in.

That difference is illustrated best by those who train in gyms to be strong or just to look strong; the advantage of the latter is that if one looks strong, that is a deterrent to others to find out if one actually is strong. If a person is strong but doesn’t look like it, the chances of being picked on and having to prove that strength each time to every newcomer, can be a great drain of energy.

Fortunately in nature and reality, what looks strong generally is strong -- and so those looking for easy prey move on. Most criminals and other opportunists operate in that manner -- looking for the easiest prey, and passing on those who seem to have a greater possibility of having an advantage. That’s why a lot of people like to pick on children -- and even many teachers choose that occupation so they can be the smartest person in the room, and maybe the strongest too. Bullying and intimidation are unfortunately great motivations for some people -- but if one proceeds too far down that path, one eventually runs into those who cannot be dominated in that way, which can crush one’s confidence.

Confidence is a large part of the shape one wants to be in. Before the popularity of exercise in the 1950s, that actually was the major component for “conditioning” exercises -- to give one that look of confidence and poise. So ingénues walked with books on their heads to develop grace, balance, ease of movement. The unfortunate advice of the ‘70s, was to make every movement as difficult as possible -- that somehow, the surest road to anything, was to produce its opposite, in the misunderstanding that action produced a reaction. A lot of drugs were even designed along that premise -- producing immunities and antibodies, or in the case of the NSAIDs discussed previously, to create a sense of urgency and agitation, that can wear on the body over time, causing it to lose that response.

That is a very common psychological ploy -- that is not a very far-sighted one, and that is to create a false emergency to motivate another, or even oneself. After a while, one loses his credibility with others -- as well as himself. A lot of the conditioning programs are this kind of false emergencies -- that may work initially by fooling oneself into thinking a response is necessary, but eventually leads one to ignoring all the signals entirely.

Conditioning by fooling the body in this manner, eventually leads to ignoring all the signals from the body -- because there is no longer credibility and integrity in that body. But if one conditions himself to be keenly aware -- then his responses will be acute, precise, appropriate, and convey that level of functioning. The optimization of (well)-being, has to begin with the obvious and self-evident to anyone, and not just the secret knowledge of the experts who claim to know better.

One should begin with the obvious, self-evident, clearly visible -- instead of being conditioned to ignore those factors in favor of theories and explanations on what health is, and what one is trying to accomplish. The unfortunate consequence of competing against oneself, is that one simply adopts self-defeating behaviors and attitudes.


At May 11, 2006 2:14 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Being in-shape is mostly learned behavior, the body language of feeling well and confident. People look bad because it’s a submissive posture --of not challenging the more robust dominants. Instead, they tuck their tail between their legs. It has less to do with body composition and ultimate functioning than it is an expression of their inner state of uncertainty and lack of confidence.

Ultimately, fitness is what one does with what they already have -- and not some ideal condition they expect to be in a year from now and until then, there is nothing they can do but get in shape for that eventual possibility. That train of thought is very damaging, and creates the dysfunction of futility, hopelessness and despair -- that CAUSES one to depend on others, rather than their own faculties, which can be crippling or at least, disempowering.

I think that is the most damaging aspect of the contemporary reliance on “other people’s thinking” aka experts, instead of first resorting to one’s own, and lacking those capabilities, discovering and strengthening them -- as one’s primary response and resource. Because one has that capability -- and the tools now. The first start is to do some research -- not limited to directives to see the self-designated professionals -- but also to learn of the non vested interest viewpoints of the consumer/citizens discussing such matters that would otherwise be suppressed by the vested interest.

A person doesn’t need to consult with their doctor to make themselves better. He doesn’t need to obtain the services of an attorney to solve every difficulty with another. He doesn’t need to pay tuition and enroll at Harvard to learn anything he wants to. He doesn’t need to consult with a personal trainer before attempting any movement. One doesn’t need to write a letter to the editor before expressing an opinion not seen in the local newspaper. Some politicians may even require that you first ask their permission to run against them for office. All that is not required to run one’s own life -- as best one can -- nor should it be a prohibition against obtaining any insight from anybody else -- and not just those who demand that you consult with nobody else!

That’s what fitness in a free society, a land of choices, allows -- one to live that best life one can imagine for themselves. The prohibitions against doing so are largely conditioned into people not to consider -- that they can change right then and right now. Instead, it is made a laborious and torturous path that requires all one’s resources to be transferred to one’s ”professional” guides to obtain -- even though they exhibit no signs that they have obtained that for themselves. But they are the self-certified experts.

There is a level of achievement beyond that which distinguishes the most knowledgeable and competent -- and that is the understanding not only of their specialty, but of all things at a fundamental, universal level of inquiry and attention that can best be called “authenticity.” Many people never (seldom) encounter it -- being exposed only to the countless con artists attracted to the vanities of ambitious people. But there are those who at every level of income, education and experience, can tell what is true -- as their saving grace in life. They are the children of God.

At May 11, 2006 2:39 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

I think the best name for this age of technocracy (rule by experts), is the Age of Authoritarianism.

Unfortunately, those who might teach such courses, write about it, are the authoritarian personalities in the schools, universities and media -- who don't want it to be known but are working tirelessly to suppress and deny that realization.

That is the Age of Authoritarianism. Free speech is only for them.

At May 12, 2006 12:03 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The Perfect Excuse: “I’ll get into shape after I get into shape.”

It’s the perfect tautology: “The reason I can’t get into shape is because I’m not in good shape. If I was, then I could get into good shape.”

It seems like a foolproof excuse for not doing anything -- which then becomes a lifestyle, and then a culture. Fortunately, there will be a few among us -- who will just get up and go -- so then they cannot compound their argument in noting, “everybody thinks the same way,” and so that must make it all right -- the expected, the norm, the ideal.

The minister of propaganda (the editorial voices) will then demand that the Legislature pass laws so that nobody can be in better shape than they themselves are, and in that fashion, they will be in “good” shape -- no matter what their condition is, because they are in better shape than everybody else is. And if they are, they can’t be -- by law! And so all those lawbreakers and defiers of convention and conventional wisdom, have to be marginalized, made to seem freakish, if not criminal.

It may even be implied that the reason they are on the Internet obtaining all the sources of information other than those handed down by the self-appointed authorities is solely for the purpose of unimaginable improper activities. “90% of the children allowed on the Internet,” they will dutifully report, “were solicited for sex researching topics for the upcoming science project/fair,” and so they must not be allowed any possibility of contact with unapproved and sanctioned sources of information, which they will personally approve, as the minister of information (propaganda).

Added to the Ten Commandments, was the recently discovered Eleventh, “Thou shalt not question and seek other information,” than the ones provided herewith. And education, rather than making known all the possibilities, henceforth restricts information only to that certified “correct” by themselves -- and those not thus approved, are to be banished, suppressed, imprisoned -- under the new regime. It is pointed out, the First Amendment, guarantees everybody’s right to THEIR opinion -- whether they want it or not. It is the law!

The news editors will be prime ministers -- and what they say, must be believed.

At May 12, 2006 1:23 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The great thing about meeting and hanging around some of the most proficient and creative minds in their respective fields, is their irreverence for those who claim to know all the answers -- when they haven’t even begun to suspect the right questions. These are people on the cutting edge of questioning everything -- which makes possible great discoveries, and revolutionize the thinking that makes the continuing improvement and evolution of the human race.

Those not familiar with real inquiries into the core of understanding how we know what we think we do, invariably think that knowledge and information is simply what some unchallengeable expert says is so. But the real pioneers of thought, welcome every challenge to what they know, feeling confident in their ability to counter every challenge -- or finding out the flaws in their own thinking. They are driven by the real quest for truth -- no matter what they may discover. Those are true scientists, seekers of wisdom.

That is the ultimate confidence of feeling one is grounded in the truth, reality -- and not simply in the opinions of others that one is infallible -- and therefore must play that role, as his major function and purpose, merely cultivating that image. Thus any threat to that foundation that is the basis of that status, must be protected at any cost -- until eventually, that is his only reason for being -- to defend the status quo, against all challenges of the new. When the new is multiplying at astonishing speed, the defense of the old is overwhelmed -- and they can no longer limit people’s awareness that there may be much more than they have been told.

That is the information revolution -- far beyond who should be in charge of it. That is the whole point -- that nobody should be in charge of it, collecting the toll on those who wish to own the gateways. It’s a difficult adjustment for many to make -- that information ought to be free rather than owned and provided only to the highest bidders. What information belongs to everyone -- and what can be claimed as exclusive, creative knowledge -- that presumably one developed without the influence and benefit of any other?

In the universities more than any other place, people value information by hoarding it, keeping it secret, for one’s exclusive benefit. However, that is not the only model of information that creates value. The new paradigm is that the more information is shared, the more valuable and useful it is -- for everybody, and not just one individual, who hopes to become a revered something or other -- because he doesn’t feel that essential humanity -- though he may claim that the motivating force in his life was because he loved mankind (but it was people he couldn’t stand getting in his way).

In the schools, the learning of anything has been made into a function of time (rather than of insight). That subject, will take one year to learn, and those who proceed too quickly, or too slowly, will be suitably punished and ostracized. So there is this distortion of what learning is -- that it can be instantaneous, rather than requiring years of attendance to boring lecturers and other pompous people. That is the difference between the authentic -- and that which only tries hard to seem so. To realize that difference, is the critical faculty of these times.

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