Gain pleasure or avoid pain

Published 10:43 am Friday, January 13, 2012

It’s that time of year again. Time to celebrate a new year. Folks have practiced this for thousands of years. For the western world, it started back in Roman times.
In fact, the word January was actually derived from the word Janus. Janus was the Roman god of beginnings and endings. Every January, millions vow to finally lose weight and get in shape. Although this custom is nothing new, most people don’t succeed to the degree they would like, because they don’t have the proper plan.
As the old adage goes, “people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. I’m going to help you with that. The first thing to remember is that you can succeed. I’ve had clients lose 50, 65, 72, even 108 pounds. The thing is though, we can up that with the proper fitness/diet strategy.
When clients first come to me, I require they keep a food journal. Even before they start recording their eating habits, I tell them that in the front of their journal I want them to write an entire page of what it will cost them in the near and distant future in terms of health, money, relationships,  self esteem and anything else they can think of if they do not make the health changes they need to their body. I tell them this is the only time I want them to feel bad, but I really want them to get those feelings.
Next, I want them to get out of that bad emotional state and write an entire page of what they will gain in those same areas if they make the healthy changes they should. This is often referred to as “the carrot and the stick.”
Remember, everything we do in life, we do for only one of two reasons. To either gain pleasure or avoid pain. Here’s the thing though. Most people will do much more to avoid pain, than they’ll do to gain pleasure. In other words, when someone smokes, for example, they choose to focus on the pleasure they get from the cigarette.
If they focused on the pain that would come later, they would probably never smoke, so by writing these two pages, the person not only gets it clear in his or her mind what they need to do, but why they need to do it. Always remember, the why is even more important than the  how.
In this column I’ve described why it’s important to have clear strategies for getting fit, losing fat and making the changes you’ve really wanted and needed in your body. In my next column I’m going to show you how to make those changes.
Diet or fitness question? Email me at or visit David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and personal trainer for 25 years.
He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the SC state champion girls gymnastic team, USC-Spartanburg baseball team, Converse college equestrian team, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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