Our 'two selves' in conflict over healthy habits

Jul. 03, 2013 @ 03:44 PM

It seems that recent research has proven something I thought was happening all along.

You would think having healthy options in restaurants, like fast food chains, would be all good, and I still think it is good for the most part. But I must admit that I have been guilty of this myself; on occasion I will order an item off the healthy list, and then reward myself with a not so good item.

I love salads, with my favorite salad in the world being the strawberry poppy seed salad from Panera Bread and the mixed greens salad from Parker and Otis. But recently I ordered a nice salad and then “splurged’ on some yogurt, so-called in name only because it was more like ice cream.

I think a lot of us fight this battle of doing good and doing bad. Thomas Schelling, a well-known economist, puts it nicely: “People behave sometimes as if they had two selves, one who wants clean lungs and a long life and another who adores tobacco, or one who wants a lean body and another who wants dessert. The two are in continual contest for control.” 

Sound like you, perhaps? 

****

Hard to believe, but this is my 400th column for The Herald-Sun.  I have enjoyed writing this column very much, and will continue to as long as readers read me and The Herald-Sun has space for me. At times I am asked how I come up with topics to write about. I think I just “store information” throughout the week and it seems when I sit in front of my computer, I have ideas in mind.

Writing this column has its advantages, such as meeting and hearing from many people in the area. It has also gotten me on press row at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and in the air-conditioned press box at Wallace Wade Stadium on several hot September days in Durham. I am invited to speak to local organizations quite often, which often comes with a free meal or some other nice token of appreciation. It seems I have spoken at so many churches in Durham that I now kid with my wife as we pass one where I spoke. I’ll point to the church and tell her I once “gave a sermon” there -- my sermon being talking about fitness or sports, of course. 

It has been a joy to write about 100-year-old people and 20-year-olds. I’ve written about powerlifters and bodybuilders, and people out of shape but trying their best. I’ve written about fitness zealots and people who say they hate exercise.

I am a local, having spent most of my life in nearby Granville County, and now live in Durham. It is so nice to see how Durham has changed over the past years. Of course, I tend to notice the physical activity level of people in and around Durham. I see young mothers pushing their babies in strollers around parks and streets, people shoulder to shoulder picking up fresh vegetables at the Durham Farmers Market, scores of kids having the best of times at the skaters park downtown, having to turn the car a little to accommodate bikers on the roads, driving by the old DAP and seeing many a baseball game being played this spring and summer, and seeing boaters and fishermen enjoying our many lakes in the area. 

Durham is a good place to be, and I’m proud that my column is a small part of it, but part of it nonetheless. I hope to write much more.

Our 'two selves' in conflict over healthy habits   

It seems that recent research has proven something I thought was happening all along.

You would think having healthy options in restaurants, like fast food chains, would be all good, and I still think it is good for the most part. But I must admit that I have been guilty of this myself; on occasion I will order an item off the healthy list, and then reward myself with a not so good item.

I love salads, with my favorite salad in the world being the strawberry poppy seed salad from Panera Bread and the mixed greens salad from Parker and Otis. But recently I ordered a nice salad and then “splurged’ on some yogurt, so-called in name only because it was more like ice cream.

I think a lot of us fight this battle of doing good and doing bad. Thomas Schelling, a well-known economist, puts it nicely: “People behave sometimes as if they had two selves, one who wants clean lungs and a long life and another who adores tobacco, or one who wants a lean body and another who wants dessert. The two are in continual contest for control.” 

Sound like you, perhaps? 

****

Hard to believe, but this is my 400th column for The Herald-Sun.  I have enjoyed writing this column very much, and will continue to as long as readers read me and The Herald-Sun has space for me. At times I am asked how I come up with topics to write about. I think I just “store information” throughout the week and it seems when I sit in front of my computer, I have ideas in mind.

Writing this column has its advantages, such as meeting and hearing from many people in the area. It has also gotten me on press row at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and in the air-conditioned press box at Wallace Wade Stadium on several hot September days in Durham. I am invited to speak to local organizations quite often, which often comes with a free meal or some other nice token of appreciation. It seems I have spoken at so many churches in Durham that I now kid with my wife as we pass one where I spoke. I’ll point to the church and tell her I once “gave a sermon” there -- my sermon being talking about fitness or sports, of course. 

It has been a joy to write about 100-year-old people and 20-year-olds. I’ve written about powerlifters and bodybuilders, and people out of shape but trying their best. I’ve written about fitness zealots and people who say they hate exercise.

I am a local, having spent most of my life in nearby Granville County, and now live in Durham. It is so nice to see how Durham has changed over the past years. Of course, I tend to notice the physical activity level of people in and around Durham. I see young mothers pushing their babies in strollers around parks and streets, people shoulder to shoulder picking up fresh vegetables at the Durham Farmers Market, scores of kids having the best of times at the skaters park downtown, having to turn the car a little to accommodate bikers on the roads, driving by the old DAP and seeing many a baseball game being played this spring and summer, and seeing boaters and fishermen enjoying our many lakes in the area. 

Durham is a good place to be, and I’m proud that my column is a small part of it, but part of it nonetheless. I hope to write much more.

Lewis Bowling  teaches at N.C. Central University and Duke University. He is the author of several books on fitness and sports. His website is www.lewisbowling.com. He can be reached at 919-530-6224 and at Lewis_Bowling@yahoo.com.