I am in my 50s and I am a geek.I have always been a geek. I was a geek before the term was invented, I was, and I have always been overweight too for the love of books.
It is as socially and physically hard to being geeky as it is mentally satisfying. I have been trying to bridge that gap all my life with various degrees of success by going to gyms and dieting and now that I am in my 50s I would like to share my latest findings with my peers. I will not even try to attempt to give advice to a younger crowd, they must give this fight by themselves, the chasm is too big.
Well then my fellow middle aged geeks,first of all Harq’ al Ada! Break the habit! This is the first step and it is pure psychology. We all get comfortable inside our private misconceptions such as, I am old and fat and the world should accept it because I am smart. Well partner the world cannot see within the brilliance of your mind, just your musculature. And this is a good thing too because cardio vascular diseased behaves exactly like that. Like a snobbish work out instructor. If one does not fill the eye of the gymnast one gets sick, terminally.
Break the habit of feeling bad for yourself too. Demand that you feel present in all aspects of life. Humans’ history is mostly about hunting down and killing animals (and each other on many occasions but that is another blog post). There are certain parallels to hunting in the pursuit of sageness but only literate. Our physiology demands muscular work, painful muscular work. So to break the habit one must actively decide to change into a new mental set. ‘Decision‘ is the keyword here. Unless one fully commits to this decision one must not even try to start physical activity. It hurts!
And this leads me to the second and final step really: embrace the pain. Geeks should feel right at home here. All their life has been painful: pain to obtain knowledge and pain to update mental toolsets, pain to be driven away from social acceptance, pain. How can someone whose second nature is pain not be able to control physical pain? Once I understood the essence of pain in my life I also understood what makes us geeks: The inability to live complacently.
Dieting hurts, working out hurts, physicality is hurtful, so is all life, so what? Hunger is painful and it is such a basic instinctual response that most of us geeks simply assuage it so that it does not interfere with our cogitation. Wrong! Embrace hunger, study it, feel it, use the Bene Geserit admonition against fear to control your hunger. You will be amazed how much of it is no more than bodily complacency. A geek is not complacent isn’t she / he ?
Now you have the toolkit to control hunger. Controlling hunger has also nice side effects: it makes one more assertive. One is no longer controlled by a base instinct but is in full knowledge of its handling. Using this same library of mental gears one can also control other social aspects such as abuse or manhandling, but this is an exercise left to the dieter.
A parallel thread running to dieting is physical exercise. Not the low impact kind but the kind that leaves you hurting for two days after you trained. I like weight lifting what non geeks call body building. ( I had a lot of body to build too: all 120Kg of it !. Work out people are right: unless you push yourself you get no results. Geeks know all about pushing themselves to get results, they have been doing this all their lives. Use this consciously now to get in shape. Shape your muscles, do not feel that it is base and unseemly for 21st Century people. Our physiology is that of plains’ apes and there is no shame to that.
There are mental benefits to muscle building too. When muscles start building up the heart gets stronger too. A strong heart drives more blood to the whole body. More blood means more oxygen to the brain too. So one actually gets smarter after pumping iron. Also during the work out, as the brain quiets down, new neurons get a chance to be built much like in runners’ heads (I need to verify this claim). So you are getting smarter during the work out too. Pain at this point is essential. Pain is the trigger factor to muscle building. Unless you hurt you are fooling yourself and have not broken the habits.
Use the pain and exhilaration of a good muscle bursting work out to float yourself above the pain. Observe like the geek you are how you change. You will observe not only the obvious physical changes, changes that all of lesser humanity aspires too, but also an easing of mental fatigue which in and by itself is well worth all the above trouble.
As us Greeks say “νοῦς ὑγιής ἐν σώματι ὑγιεῖ”