Word of the Day: Akrasia

A few weeks back I learned a new word: akrasia, thanks to this article on Mark’s Daily Apple.  Akrasia means to act against your own better judgement, something I’ve had a rather painful lesson about recently.  Last week, for the first time in 12 months, I decided to go for a mountain bike ride.

Now, I wasn’t expecting to just be able to jump back on my bike and ride around like I used to, but I was not prepared for how much I suffered on what was quite a short ride.  Apparently I’ve got quite unfit over the last year (and also, my MTB skills now suck even more than they did before…).  Well, I guess that was to be expected, I haven’t exactly been doing a lot of exercise and haven’t been riding off road at all.

The article on akrasia was still fresh in my mind, and I began to think of all the little things that I’d been doing that were hurting my health and fitness.  Let’s start with breakfast.  Normally we wouldn’t have bread in the house, but we’ve had some for toast for my wife.  Of course, being the enlightened person I am, I know that bread isn’t the best thing to be eating, breakfast or not, so of course, I’d stick to either a smoothie or bacon and eggs, wouldn’t I?  Of course not, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post.

There’s something about toast for breakfast that just calls to me.  Perhaps it’s just 30 years of brainwashing, but if there’s bread in the house, then without fail I’ll be having toast for breakfast.  And what’s worse, I won’t be topping it with scrambled eggs, no, I’ll slather it with jam that is jam-packed (sorry…) with sugar.  A breakfast like that is just setting myself up to fail.

I normally manage to do a bit better with lunch, and I normally have something healthy, but of course, with such a carb laden breakfast, by the time lunch rolls around, I’m getting cravings for carbs, and I have been succumbing to the temptation to indulge in some sort of sugary snack during the afternoon.  The same thing then happens around tea time, and results in me having some sort of snack during the night.  All of this snacking etc has been adding up, of course, and is why I’m in such poor shape now.

What I’m finding interesting is my reaction to this knowledge.  I’m aware that I’ve been making bad decisions, I’m painfully aware of the effect those decisions have been having on my life, and I have a better understanding of why I’ve been making those bad decisions.  I guess the question is whether or not this knowledge is gong to be of any help in changing my lifestyle.

The good thing is that since this minor revelation, I’ve been consciously trying to make better decisions about my food and exercise.  I’m not having toast for breakfast every day any more, I’m riding my bike places rather than driving.  Apparently this is having a positive effect, as when I weighed myself this week on a whim, I’d lost 3 kilos.  The challenge now is to keep this positive trend going, and not to crash in a big heap if something derails me along the way.