Chapter 1: Weight and Debt
The first chapter of my first book: Low Tech Lifestyle
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As I gazed at my reflection in the mirror, I was struck by a stark realization - I had gained 20 pounds since earning my Master's degree just a year prior. Once an avid gym-goer, I now found myself sedentary, frequently indulging in fast food like pizza and Funyuns while binge-watching Netflix. This transformation wasn't due to any deliberate choice, physical injury, dietary change, or depression. My lifestyle had simply shifted, and I had failed to keep pace with my body's evolving needs. Convenience had taken precedence over intention, and I found myself reaching for more Papa Johns pizzas than I'd like to admit. My attention had shifted from self-care to career advancement, causing me to overlook the gradual changes that were occurring in my day-to-day life. But I don't fault myself, for this is often how life unfolds - it races by, and changes materialize subtly. My once active routine of morning runs, attending classes, and socializing with friends had been replaced with long office hours, returning home exhausted, and seeking comfort in entertainment.
Though this book's primary focus is not on weight management, the story above underscores the importance of acknowledging the ever-changing nature of our lives and the need for continuous adjustment. Confronted with my dissatisfaction regarding my weight gain, I resolved to take action by adopting a detox program that aimed to reduce my caloric intake. This 30-day regimen involved consuming granola for breakfast, salads for lunch, and fruit for dinner. Despite the accolades this program received from many of its adherents, my initial attempt was unsuccessful. This experience served to emphasize a key point that will be reiterated throughout the book: detoxes, while they may appear advantageous, are not viable long-term solutions. Instead of fixating on deprivation, we must prioritize reconfiguring our habits to achieve lasting change. This approach resembles adopting a marathoner's mindset rather than relying on short bursts of effort to attain our objectives. Throughout the following pages, I'll aim to guide you in developing the attitudes and practices through stories and research for achieving sustainable success in various digital aspects of life.
My failed attempt at a detox in 2019 had nothing to do with salads being less tasty or nutritious than other foods. It was due to the fact that I tried to reintroduce salads to my diet while ignoring the reality that my body had grown accustomed to consuming margherita pizzas from Panera and spicy potato soft tacos from Taco Bell. Although I wanted to remove the junk food out of my life, my automatic behavior said otherwise. I craved the cheesy and greasy pizzas, and my body was used to the taste and texture. It was difficult to make the switch to salads without feeling deprived and unsatisfied. As Wendy Wood notes in her article Habit Formation and Change, "habits are stored in procedural memory relatively separate from goals and intentions, encountering the same context activates habitual responses, even when newly adopted intentions are strong."1 Despite my best intentions, I found myself reverting to my old habits because my environment and context remained the same.
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