How to become a PC?

post by DataPacRat · 2014-01-26T18:49:45.644Z · score: 15 (18 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 138 comments

"Cryonics has a 95% chance of failure, by my estimation; it would be downright /embarrassing/ to die on the day before real immortality is discovered. Thus, I want to improve my general health and longevity."

That thought has gotten me through three weeks of gradually increasing exercise and diet improvement (I'm eating an apple right now) - but my enthusiasm is starting to flag. So I'm looking for new thoughts that will help me keep going, and keep improving. A few possibilities that I've thought of:

Pride: "If I'm so smart, then I should be able to do /better/ than those other people who don't even know about Bayesian updates, let alone the existence of akrasia..."

Sloth: "If I stop now, it's going to be /so much/ harder and more painful to start up again, instead of just keeping on keeping on..."

Desire: "I already like hiking and camping - if I keep this up, I'll be able to carry enough weight to finally take that long trip I've occasionally considered..."

Curiosity: "I'm as geeky a nerd as you can find. I wonder how far I can hack my own body?"

Pride again: "I already keep a hiker's first-aid kit in my pocket, and make other preparations for events that happen rarely. How stupid do I have to be not to put at least that much effort into making my everyday life easier?"

 

Does anyone have any experience in such self-motivation? Does this set of mental tricks seem like a sufficiently viable approach? Are there any other approaches that seem worth a shot?

138 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2014-01-26T21:05:17.103Z · score: 24 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Timeless decision theory: If you choose not to improve now, you'll choose not to improve in all similar circumstances. You certainly don't want to be trying to make dietary and exercise changes at the age of 65 trying to undo decades of a sedentary lifestyle. Future you will always wish that they had started earlier.

comment by fortyeridania · 2014-01-27T04:20:53.503Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This is powerful, especially the final sentence. But what makes it powerful, it seems to me, is the vision of myself at age 65, woefully resigned to laziness and poor health. My being 65 in the picture makes a difference, because it makes it seem that much more pathetic, and that much more too late. Because of that, it seems that the situation at age 65 (given continued laziness from today until then) is not "similar" to the situation today.

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-27T05:16:40.012Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

To motivate yourself further, imagine yourself as the granpa of steel you're going to become if you do the right thing.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T05:13:56.835Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Future you will always wish that they had started earlier.

Present-me wishes that past-me had started earlier.

(But as the saying goes, the difference between 1 and 2 is much smaller than the difference between 0 and 1...)

comment by CellBioGuy · 2014-01-29T15:24:41.687Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When something similar to this works for me its more that I am dragging my future preferences into the present rather than pushing my present actions into the future. Everyone wants to exercise more later and not now. When I do it now I remember that this makes me more likely to do it in the future.

comment by DefectiveAlgorithm · 2014-01-30T16:26:44.659Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

While this might be a good motivator, it's not quite true. Specifically, your future states (ie 'the future you') are not 'you' in the precise sense that they would need to be in order for TDT to be directly applicable (that is, applicable in the same sense in that it's applicable to Newcomb-like problems). You could make a case for TDT being at least as applicable as it is in the case of acausal cooperation with entities similar to yourself, but I for one have always been somewhat skeptical of that logic.

comment by scientism · 2014-01-26T20:52:30.991Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I try to view problems as opportunities. If it's raining outside, that's training in the rain. Snowing? Awesome, snow running! Too hot? High-temperature training. Too cold? Low-temperature training. I'm too tired? Fatigue training. I also try to look at things from what I call a "mediative" point of view. So let's say I'm out running my regular route but it's cold, windy, raining, etc, and I feel miserable. I try to remember how I felt running the same route on a beautiful day and bring my mind back to that state. Or if I'm fatigued, I try to remember a day when what I was doing felt easy and set myself the challenge of trying to regain that mindset. Again, it's about turning problems into opportunities: fatigue is an opportunity for fatigue-mastery. It helps to take an interest in the mental element of training, sports, etc, so you can think of mastering mental adversity as part of your training.

comment by maia · 2014-01-27T20:09:07.069Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's also the option of trying to find a method of exercise that avoids as many of those willpower-draining hassles as possible. If you can, that is.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T05:07:24.298Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I remember once playing around with 'choosing to be happy', some years ago, but had completely forgotten about the trick until now. Certainly worth a shot.

comment by maia · 2014-01-26T21:31:46.490Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

If you can find someone else to exercise with, it could help a lot. For me having someone else counting on me to show up is an excellent motivator.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T14:32:13.468Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I did end up with a partner today... of a sort. My cat has been trying to figure out this strange game I've started playing, and today she just wanted to get involved. Toe-touches and squats were modified to 'reach down, pet cat, go back up', sit-ups to 'sit up, check the cat didn't just sit down behind me again, sit down', and push-ups to 'do a few push-ups, give the cat a funny look as she licks my arms, do a few more'...

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T05:12:35.364Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's an interesting idea, but infers an initial step having been taken: 'find someone else'. Outside of first-degree relatives, I don't think I'm on a first-name basis with anyone in my county. (If I didn't buy my own groceries, I could easily be categorized as a hikikomori; I'm reasonably sure that a p-doc could classify me as having schizoid personality disorder.)

comment by maia · 2014-01-27T19:39:17.731Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

... I don't suppose any of those first-degree relatives are also interested in becoming more fit and healthy?

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T22:41:00.466Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's a good thought, but I'm afraid not. :)

comment by VAuroch · 2014-01-28T08:03:46.510Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a compelling reason to remain in your county? (Was that meant to be country? I'm not certain.) If not, moving might have good effects for that and many other reasons. It turns out that humans tend to work better with occasional social interaction, even introverts.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-28T14:41:03.732Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(Yes, I meant county. :) )

I do have some reasons to stay around here - among others, I have a parent who needs near-daily assistance with various little things, whom I'm the best-positioned of the family to actually help.

comment by sketerpot · 2014-01-27T04:51:19.289Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Exercising with someone is also an great way to socialize if you're a quiet person, and ill-at-ease with small talk. Pauses in conversation are natural when people are breathing heavily, there's always at least one shared topic you can talk about, and the exertion tends to make people more cheerful.

comment by ThisSpaceAvailable · 2014-01-27T05:21:24.535Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

"people who don't even know about Bayesian updates, let alone the existence of akrasia..."

I think you're confusing the map and the territory. There are people who are unaware of the word akrasia, but I don't think there are many people who are unaware of akrasia itself. Same thing, to a lesser extent, with Bayesian updates;

comment by CAE_Jones · 2014-01-27T07:57:49.494Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think there are many people who are unaware of akrasia itself.

There totally are, assuming we're using the same or similar definitions of akrasia. Free Will / Bootstrapping are the dominant models of human behavior among everyone I've ever met, and akrasia and the possibility of limited willpower don't fit well into those models (not without a diagnosis of some disorder or another, at the minimum and not in all cases).

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-27T09:58:52.939Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's not "everyone", that's just Americans trained to affect a highly capitalistic worldview. I'm fairly sure if you look at their behavior you'll find that they manage their own motivations just like everyone else.

comment by Prismattic · 2014-01-27T01:24:58.798Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Much as immortality seems to be a popular goal around here, "I want to live a long time" and "I want to be immortal" are both abstract and distant goals, which complicates motivation. My brain (and I suspect other people's brains) responds better to goals that are more concrete and closer in time.

E.g.

"I want to improve my chances that the hot girl/guy that works in the next department over will say yes when I ask them out"

or

"I want to run that 5k next summer in less than 30 minutes"

are much more concrete and immediate goals, and therefore more likely to succeed as motivation.

comment by westward · 2014-01-27T23:29:09.809Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmmm...I'm not sure this is good advice. Goals per se aren't usually great motivators. And I'd say sex is a better motivator than an abstract numerical achievement. And "Next summer" is not immediate.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T05:36:29.027Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I see what you're saying; I'm just blanking a bit as I try to think of any reasonable mid-term goals.

comment by westward · 2014-01-27T23:30:45.819Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Don't have goals. Find something you like doing that also is exercise. Maybe it's a partnered sport like racquetball. Maybe it's juggling, walking in the woods. It can even just be something sedentary programming and you can make it exercise by doing it on a treadmill.

comment by Nornagest · 2014-01-27T23:46:33.711Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do have goals; don't try to meet them by willpower alone, unless they're very short-term. I'd instead think of your goals as giving you something to aim your habits at.

Habits are easier to establish if you find them enjoyable in themselves, but habit alone is pretty powerful once you've taken the hit of establishing it.

comment by Locaha · 2014-01-26T22:42:10.546Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

After a few weeks I started to enjoy the process of exercising itself. At that point it became it's own reward, no motivation required.

So here's a new motivation for you - keep doing it and you'll start to like it. :-)

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T05:28:43.893Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

... Worth a shot.

(I can hardly like it /less/, after all... :P )

comment by sketerpot · 2014-01-27T04:54:33.979Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not only does exercise become its own reward, but skipping exercise becomes its own penalty -- you feel physically crappy if you go too long without getting your fix. I see this as a good thing.

comment by PECOS-9 · 2014-01-26T19:17:43.191Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Lukeprog's How to Beat Procrastination is a good instructional for building any kind of habit. Personally none of it really stuck for me until I read Nick Winter's The Motivation Hacker though (it has basically the same information as Luke's post, it just stuck with me more).

Beeminder is also a good way to pre-commit (mentioned in both Luke's post and The Motivation Hacker) to things in order to combat impulsiveness. I recommend this approach to using beeminder in order to also increase expectancy. Impulsiveness and expectancy are two of the components in the "procrastination equation," which, as Luke says, "accounts for every major finding on procrastination, and draws upon our best current theories of motivation."

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-26T19:30:27.066Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It looks like my initial post was mainly about the 'meaning' part of Lukeprog's suggestions for 'Increasing Value' - so, at the least, it seems like I'm at least partly on the right track.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-26T23:57:54.932Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that you get a lot of motivation from surface thoughts like the one you listed.

What motivates you at the moment to do the thing you are doing? What are your greatest fears? Explore those questions and see how the answers relate to your agenda.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T05:27:50.914Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Some motivations: I'm negotiating to order a custom hiking stick, and I want to be able to actually use the thing properly without ending up dragging it behind me after so many kilometers because it's too heavy. I want to be the sort of person who could be described as a PC instead of a mere NPC; someone who is at least vaguely capable in a wide variety of situations. (Eg, I'm trying to figure out if it's worth the effort to try to swing the tuition costs for St. John's Ambulance first-aid training.) I want to be able to pull my own weight - literally - if I have to.

Some fears: I don't trust my understanding of quantum theory and the MWI to rely on Everett Immortality keeping me alive; if I'm not ready to deal with whatever comes close to killing me next, then I could very well end up permanently dead, in all branches of the future leading from this point. There are few enough people who even think about x-risks; how can I consider myself competent to even start thinking about ways to avoid those if I'm not competent enough to do a few push-ups? If ancestor simulations turn out to be feasible, then if this is the original version of history, won't all my future copies be rather annoyed at me for leaving them as un-exercised weaklings (and won't the simulators laugh at them)?; and if this is a simulation, then if I can't do better than my original, then what's the point of me?

(... Okay, so not all of those are actual /fears/ per se, but if an extremely hypothetical stick is enough of one to kick me in the rear to keep going, I'm willing to work with it.)

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-27T12:16:13.300Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't trust my understanding of quantum theory and the MWI to rely on Everett Immortality keeping me alive; if I'm not ready to deal with whatever comes close to killing me next, then I could very well end up permanently dead, in all branches of the future leading from this point.

Fear of death is a strong one. You could go associate that fear more and use it to push you to take action. Where do you feel that fear in your body?

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2014-01-30T10:02:08.743Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You could go associate that fear more and use it to push you to take action.

Fear can also "freeze" people.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-30T12:44:53.928Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Deassociated fear freezes people. Associating emotions generally produces action. Alternatively people can also find a way to deassociate them to escape them.

The kind of fear that can't be felt as movement in some part of the body is deassociated that why I ask where he can feel it in his body.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T14:27:44.829Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Where do you feel that fear in your body?

Er... Nowhere, at least that I notice?

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-27T15:51:43.697Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Er... Nowhere, at least that I notice?

That's suggest the feeling is either disassociated or you just try to construct something intellectually that isn't there. In that form it won't help much with motivation.

While I think about it, trying to get strangers on the internet that I don't really know to associate a strong fear of death to motivate themselves might be an infohazard.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-27T09:48:23.037Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that you get a lot of motivation from surface thoughts like the one you listed.

Yeah, really.

Besides, exercise is fun. You get a nice high off exercising. I start feeling awful whenever I skip it, these days. The improved health and the nice thought that I'm officially Fixing My Life are just bonuses.

To fix your life, fix your emotions, at a deep level. You need to train your lizard brain to prefer what your ape brain prefers, and train your ape brain to prefer what your conscious human brain prefers.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T14:29:41.678Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You get a nice high off exercising

Correction; /you/ get a nice high off exercising. /I/ have yet to get a runner's high, or anything of the sort. (Imagine trying to keep up an exercise program if you /didn't/ get that nice high; how would you motivate yourself?)

To fix your life, fix your emotions, at a deep level. You need to train your lizard brain to prefer what your ape brain prefers, and train your ape brain to prefer what your conscious human brain prefers.

I'm willing to give it a shot. Got any specific suggestions on the how?

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-27T16:46:11.665Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Correction; /you/ get a nice high off exercising. /I/ have yet to get a runner's high, or anything of the sort. (Imagine trying to keep up an exercise program if you /didn't/ get that nice high; how would you motivate yourself?)

Hmm... I get general, overall improvements to mood and focus from exercising, as much from weight-lifting as from cardio. Have you tried weight-lifting? Running on an elliptical machine or biking as opposed to just going out and hitting the pavement?

I know people say it's very athletic and cool to just go out and run, but that always clobbered the hell out of my knees -- especially because I was out of shape in the first place. It took me months of elliptical training (which is softer on the knees, which means you can go longer without utterly exhausting yourself even at a high heart rate) before I could enjoy just running.

My mind kinda processes exercise this way.

I'm willing to give it a shot. Got any specific suggestions on the how?

What mostly works for me is blatant rationalization, and training the damn thing like a dog. Reward it when it's good and punish it when it's bad. Manage its diet. Blah blah blah.

It is a much larger problem than I gave credit for when I posed it, though.

EDIT: Also, I motivate myself during exercise by strapping on some headphones and listening to all my favorite music. Currently: the Kill la Kill and Gatchaman soundtracks, with some Shingeki no Kyojin thrown in. (I'm a nerd, deal with it.)

Also, since I notice you are apparently motivated to improve your health by wanting to gain eternal life, I would figure that eternal life would be enough of a motivation. Are you really failing to find immortality emotionally moving? I can see why one would, but you claimed that was your conscious motivation. Need something else, perhaps?

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T17:01:18.064Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Have you tried weight-lifting? Running on an elliptical machine or biking as opposed to just going out and hitting the pavement?

I've started this whole thing within the past month, and as of yet, have bought no equipment (and due to wintery weather, have barely managed my daily hikes, let alone increasing the pace to jogging or running). I am planning on picking up a bicycle come the spring, though.

My mind kinda processes exercise this way.

I tend to prefer GURPS, myself, but the thread's title should point out I'm thinking at least roughly on the same lines. :)

blatant rationalization

Hrm. For some time now, I've been picking a deliberately flimsy excuse as my reason to go out for the daily walk/hike, such as "I'll go check the price of basil at distant store X", to the point of it now being a running joke, so that part seems easy enough. And I do recall theorizing about the 'mahout theory of consciousness', where most of the brain is just this clumsy elephant that wants to trundle along in its own way, and needs some sharp whacks for the consciousness-mahout to get it going in the right direction... I'm going to have to see if I can dig up my notes on how well that worked out at the time.

What sort of rewards and punishments seem to work for you?

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T17:32:16.577Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Also, since I notice you are apparently motivated to improve your health by wanting to gain eternal life, I would figure that eternal life would be enough of a motivation. Are you really failing to find immortality emotionally moving? I can see why one would, but you claimed that was your conscious motivation. Need something else, perhaps?

There's a somewhat involved chain of causality between 'increasing the odds of immortality' and 'do another one of this painful thing', said chain involving all sorts of probabilities and estimations and outright guesses. Sometimes, that chain alone is enough to keep me keeping on. Sometimes, the odds that the effort will result in the reward seem low enough that it doesn't seem worth the cost. Thus, I'm quite open to whatever other motivations could help get over the hump.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-27T21:56:09.188Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Healthy exercise is easily one of the most effective everyday measures you can take to decrease your chances of mortality.

Yes, you could get killed by a mutated pandemic, an asteroid strike, a car crash, a mugger, or a UFAI. But really, probabilistically speaking, what will probably kill you is either cancer or heart disease. Exercise prevents and fights heart disease, thus decreasing the largest single preventable mortality factor.

Eternal life is gained one year at a time! You want to make it as far as trying to tile the Solar System in copies of yourself and end up in an epic war with my army of mecha? Survive long enough for the technology to exist!

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T22:56:38.816Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It may please you to hear that I read your post shortly before arriving at the stores that were the theoretical destination for my walk today... and after some consideration, I bought a set of adjustable wrist/ankle weights to help improve the effectiveness of my exercising.

(Even if I were to entirely drop the actually-painful parts of my routine - the push-ups and planks - I seem to be doing well with the gradual increase of the other exercises, and such weights seem reasonably likely to improve those exercises' effectiveness.)

PS: I only want to tile the Solar System with myself to the degree necessary to mine He-3, or whatever other fuel source is most viable to start launching myself elsewhere. As long as you don't want to hoard so many resources for your mecha that you keep me from sporing, I'm sure we can get along, and that our epic wars will involve boffer nukes. ;)

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-27T23:44:38.616Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For just a few minutes, I've earned the privilege of wearing Kamina-sama's flag as a cape. Thank you.

So, you're just aiming for a bit of lonely star sailing, eh? No need to tile, then. We'll have plenty of infrastructure to give you a lift. Seems a pity, going out into the black all alone, though. You should take a friend.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-28T22:37:09.828Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Seems a pity, going out into the black all alone, though. You should take a friend.

If anyone else wants to come with, I don't particularly mind. I also don't mind going it alone. (I've seriously looked into whether or not I'd be qualified as a lighthouse keeper or fire-tower lookout.) But at least at the moment, the number of people who are willing to even agree that "yeah, that sounds like it'd be fun", let alone seriously consider it as a future possibility... are quite small, eclectic, and tend to be downright weirdos.

I wonder how many folk would be willing to accept handing over root access for the duration of the voyage, to ensure any interpersonal conflicts don't get so out of hand that survival starts getting threatened? What sort of trust would that require? ... What sort of person should I have already started being by now, in order to help gain that level of trust?

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-28T23:02:22.097Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But at least at the moment, the number of people who are willing to even agree that "yeah, that sounds like it'd be fun", let alone seriously consider it as a future possibility... are quite small, eclectic, and tend to be downright weirdos.

Excuse me, sorry, which website are we on? Oh, right, the quite small website full of eclectic downright weirdos, many of whom actually think emming is a good idea (mind, admittedly, if you're already living in a world where that sort of thing is safe, secure, and commonly available, it's certainly one valid way to live among many).

I don't have anything planned for after turning 120 other than "being dead". Why not? I should talk to my fiancee about moving out of the Solar System one of these days.

On the other hand, even the nearest star at very high speed is generation-ship territory (for non-ems). Are you just planning to sleep the whole way there, or will there be party games?

I wonder how many folk would be willing to accept handing over root access for the duration of the voyage, to ensure any interpersonal conflicts don't get so out of hand that survival starts getting threatened?

Why are you having the piloting done by a person rather than by software? I figure once you've got the hardware for a spaceship, it's really mostly the same sort of software task done by self-driving cars. Some well-made narrow AI ought to take care of it.

Also, root access? Unix? Bro, do you even cryptographically-signed capability security?

What sort of trust would that require?

Quite a lot, if you're really proposing Unix-level root access.

... What sort of person should I have already started being by now, in order to help gain that level of trust?

Well, obviously: a trustworthy one, who makes good on his obligations and his words almost all the time. Also, a likeable one, since you're proposing to spend quite possibly hundreds of years at a time with someone. Are you married, or seeing someone, perhaps?

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-28T23:15:26.637Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you just planning to sleep the whole way there, or will there be party games?

Depends on the power generation compared to power requirements per em. A really low-cost trip, such as to spam spores to every star in reach, is one option; something more along the lines of an STL version of a Culture GSV is another.

Why are you having the piloting done by a person rather than by software?

Because plans can change mid-voyage.

Also, root access? Unix? Bro, do you even cryptographically-signed capability security?

... Not yet? (I haven't even started lifting, yet...)

hundreds of years at a time with someone.

Who said it would be just some/one/?

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-29T00:05:08.508Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Who said it would be just some/one/?

Because you have noticeable loner tendencies in this thread. You don't seem like the "many" type.

Because plans can change mid-voyage.

Ah. But if you have to run a person, you should let the software run the ship, and let the person enjoy themselves.

I mean, it could be more complicated than a self-driving car in a way that requires real cognitive work to handle, but I can't imagine you swerve to avoid debris on a minute-by-minute basis in interstellar space.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-30T14:27:08.092Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Because you have noticeable loner tendencies in this thread. You don't seem like the "many" type.

Maybe not - but even with a straight brain-to-emulated-brain conversion, living in VR means that if I want, I could spend a decade in a cabin in an enormous forest without a single other emulated-brain entering that VR, while still keeping up with email. So it would still be possible for me to enjoy my preferred hermiting lifestyle even in a starship containing a great many emulated minds. :)

you should let the software run the ship

The point I was trying to focus on - who /tells/ the software that runs the ship that the ship should change course? Who has the authority? If the ship's emulations get into a conflict and start trying to throw virii at each other, who has the power to limit the violent minds' access to dangerous software, or even to the processing power needed to run at full speed, in order to prevent those software weapons from posing a risk to the ship's low-level software?

Even if the OS is formally mathematically verified, there are still going to be opportunities for unexpected side-channel attacks...

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-30T15:00:51.607Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe not - but even with a straight brain-to-emulated-brain conversion, living in VR means that if I want, I could spend a decade in a cabin in an enormous forest without a single other emulated-brain entering that VR, while still keeping up with email. So it would still be possible for me to enjoy my preferred hermiting lifestyle even in a starship containing a great many emulated minds. :)

As to the matter of finding yourself a crew, you could try answering my PM on that other website! There's a whole forum full of interesting freaks and geeks over there who would hop on your em-ship in an instant.

The point I was trying to focus on - who /tells/ the software that runs the ship that the ship should change course? Who has the authority? If the ship's emulations get into a conflict and start trying to throw virii at each other, who has the power to limit the violent minds' access to dangerous software, or even to the processing power needed to run at full speed, in order to prevent those software weapons from posing a risk to the ship's low-level software?

This problem is called politics. It remains unsolved. The general problem is that in order to keep peace among intelligent agents who have a rather utility-idiotic tendency to break out fighting over petty spats... you would generally need an intelligent agent who wants to keep peace, or some very unbreakable fences to separate the humans from each-other.

Our current nation-state system is one of very-difficult-to-break fences, with layers of mutually-beneficial-and-necessary cooperation built on top, all designed to prevent major wars from occurring. And currently failing, due largely to the too-closeness of some borders, due to trade and financial policies that take away the incentives against war by ruining economies, etc.

So if you want to do better than that, you need to either think of something better, or get someone to do your thinking for you. Since we're talking software, having the ship's core systems run by an AI sounds convenient, but of course we're on LessWrong so we all know how easy it is to get that just plain wrong. Of course, if you're at this level of technology already, perhaps we already have Friendly AIs that can easily manufacture Highly Intelligent Utility AIs with Narrow Domains to do this sort of thing.

Or maybe people will just have to get along for once, which is really the simplest but most difficult solution, knowing people.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-30T17:28:45.032Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

that other website!

I didn't realize that was you - the user-names are rather different.

This problem is called politics. It remains unsolved.

In the general case, yes; but certain extremely limited subsets do seem amenable to game theory. For example - say that future-me builds and/or buys a bunch of spacefaring spores, capable of carrying my emmed consciousness to other stars (and, upon arrival, can build the infrastructure to build more of them, etc, etc). I'd suggest that 'personal property' is a reasonably solved problem, in that few people would argue that the spores' computers are mine, and I have the right to choose what software runs on them. (There may be some quibbling about what 'I' actually means once I start splitting into multiple copies, but I'm already working on how to handle that issue. :) )

If any other ems want to come along, then would it really be such a big issue if I make it clear ahead of time that the spores will remain under my control, and that if the passengers behave in such a way that I deem them a threat to the voyage, I reserve the right to limit their various privileges and accesses to each other, up to and including putting them on 'pause' for the remainder of the trip? Or, put another way - that I'm claiming the traditional rights of both owner-aboard and captain of a vessel?

(... And might we gain a few more people contributing to this conversational thread if we started a new topic?)

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-30T18:07:56.693Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If any other ems want to come along, then would it really be such a big issue if I make it clear ahead of time that the spores will remain under my control, and that if the passengers behave in such a way that I deem them a threat to the voyage, I reserve the right to limit their various privileges and accesses to each other, up to and including putting them on 'pause' for the remainder of the trip? Or, put another way - that I'm claiming the traditional rights of both owner-aboard and captain of a vessel?

I'm sure you would still find people who agree to that.

(... And might we gain a few more people contributing to this conversational thread if we started a new topic?)

You really take this that seriously? I dunno.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-30T18:47:07.024Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You really take this that seriously? I dunno.

Hey, I've taken ems copying themselves seriously enough to try to figure out a workable system for them to divvy up their property and debts - and dropped a few details of those into the Orion's Arm SF setting.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2014-01-27T16:57:10.633Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, I found ellipticals much harder to use than treadmills when I was first starting out. Don't know why.

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-28T00:12:46.536Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I get the high only from strenuous exercise that lasts about an hour or more, like soccer for example. Half hour runs or weight lifting do not have such an effect, and I don't find the reward worth the pain in those activities which means I do them in a more reasonable pace.

This suggests you might have to reach a certain level of fitness to be able to strain yourself enough to get the high and this level varies between activities and people. There are activities like swimming that don't give me the high at all no matter how hard I try, but oddly enough swimming is my favorite form of exercise.

comment by noitanigami · 2014-01-26T19:14:41.242Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Attractiveness: Health and fitness are effective at getting the attention of others.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-26T19:31:54.220Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm afraid I can't think of how to apply that one - I'm reasonably close to being an urban hermit.

comment by drethelin · 2014-01-26T21:40:17.096Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience even when I don't get out a huge amount the time when I do are more fun when people give me compliments on appearance or seem interested in me, and this happened a lot more after I lost 40 pounds.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-02-01T16:38:27.791Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In case anyone's interested - today's magic number was 30, and I just completed the exercise set. Which means that I've accomplished my first self-improvement goal in, well, essentially ever.

Sure, 30 toe-touches/sit-ups/etc a day isn't all that impressive compared to what a lot of people are capable of - but it's 30 a day more than I was doing a month ago. And starting tomorrow, I have a new plan: burpees. Again, few to start off with, but more every day, until either something breaks, or I decide to do something more interesting.

comment by Brillyant · 2014-01-27T15:01:13.312Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I used to be an avid strength trainer and enjoyed working out. Recently I was injured, and now my workouts for the forseeable future include the treadmill and only the treadmill, which I deplore. I've also had to alter my diet quite a bit to consume fewer calories to account for my change in workout routine. As a result of all this, I'm having perhaps my most difficult battle with the sort of situation you are talking about -- I'm having to do stuff I hate consistently in order to stay healthy and fit (though I don't care about cryonics...).

Here are some things that work for me:

  • Build a strong plan in order to make execution mindless. I fill out a 30-day whiteboard calendar with my workouts for a given month. Then I cross them out only after I complete the workouts. Then I do the workouts. My diet is of a similar strict, pre-planned nature in an effort the make day-to-day execution mindless. I have prohibited foods (fast food, alcohol, soda, dessert) & required foods (raw vegetables, raw fruits, 2 liters water, multivitamin) & a daily framework for my meal schedule. I find it help to separate the planning phase of diet and exercise from the doing phase.

  • Have medium-term requirement that relies on daily requirements. I add 1-minute of treadmill work per workout x 20 workouts per month. I am only allowed to add 1 minute after each completed workout, and I must get to the forecasted requirement for the next month. Day 1, Month 1 starting requirement was 20 minutes. Day 1, Month 2 requirement was 41 minutes. Day 1, Month 3 requirement is 61 minutes, though I'll likely max out at 60 minutes. This, in effect, is a 60-day ramp-up-phase that is (a) manageable & reasonable, and (b) forms a useful habit.

  • Pay limited attention to medium-term results; pay no attention in the short-term. Learn some good fundamentals on weight loss and fitness, build a strong plan you can follow, then just do it for 90 or 180 days, weighing in monthly. Weighing in (or comparing other fitness benchmarks to your starting condition) more often can be useful only if (a) you recognize how much this stuff tends to flucuate daily and (b) how much cumulative effort is needed to see significant improvement. In most cases, people weigh themselves obsessively early in a diet, lose 5 lbs after starving themlselves for a week, gain 2 lbs back after two weeks and then give up because they are hungry and discouraged 'cuz 3 net lbs wasn't worth that two weeks of hungry, cranky hell. Instead, build the good, strong plan, mindlessly and blindly execute for 90 days, then check and (perhaps) adjust accordingly.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T15:16:44.218Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've already started doing a few of those things on a haphazard basis, but you've definitely filled in some gaps.

  • I made a 30-day exercise plan, ever-so-gradually increasing each exercise, simply to see if I was physically capable of accomplishing the 30-day exercises by day 30 - and after having made the plan, have been doing the workouts. I've added and subtracted some foods, but I haven't written down a pre-planned meal schedule yet... it's not an approach I'd have thought of anytime soon, and it's one I'm going to have to seriously consider.

  • I'm still on my first short-term plan, and when I made it, I honestly didn't know whether I'd be able to complete it. If no other plans occur to me, I could simply extend my initially-planned 30-day ramp-up into a 60-day one, then a 90-day one, if I still can.

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-28T00:39:52.936Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Wow. That's some heroic effort you're going through.

Can't you use that treadmill time to read, watch or listen to something? Or meditate, you referred to buddhism in our other discussion.

If you haven't done so already, you could automate things further via a smartphone or a computer. There's software for almost any purpose. For example, my smartphone does my exercise plans for me and keeps track of progress and adjusts the plans accordingly, reminds me when to exercise and when to eat, reminds me to weigh myself in the morning and draws a prediction graph of my weight based on the last 7 day measurements and calculates how many extra calories have gone in or out based on the progress.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-28T22:44:17.910Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you mind if I ask which app(s) you're using?

comment by Brillyant · 2014-01-28T02:05:37.618Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I watch TV on the treadmill to try and pass time as quickly as possible. Or audiobook. I have a hard time reading and running/walking.

I'm low tech and should do a much better job of automating. The app you describe sounds awesome.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T22:59:01.554Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On another note, you seem to have a better grasp of current-day exercise ideas than I do; do you know of any online communities that focus on such matters, and are reasonably friendly to people who are just starting out?

comment by Brillyant · 2014-01-28T02:49:02.732Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't, though Google will.

Generally, I'd advise adding strength training as a significant component of your workout if you've not already. Cardio and fat-burning stuff is cool, but I've found increased lean muscle mass is helpful in staying fit consistently, as it contributes to improved BMR.

comment by ephion · 2014-01-27T17:25:20.632Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What did you injure that requires such a minimal training routine? I can't help but think you might be missing out on some other options

comment by Brillyant · 2014-01-27T17:47:17.878Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Herniated cervical disc causing nerve root compression. My pushing strength (bench press, etc.) on the right side of my body is down ~75%, and my pectoral, tricep and various shoulder/upper back muscles have atrophied and wasted significantly.

My hope is that I will be able to strength train vigorously again within the next 3-9 months. Right now I'm just trying to not to gain too much fat, keep cardio fitness, maintain active habits, etc. I do some stretching and light weight resistance stuff, but, from my understanding, that isn't particularly useful or effective until the nerve is decompressed and the disc issue is resolved.

So, likely surgery + recovery time = treadmill/eliptical & lean diet to stay in decent shape sans weights.

I guess the silver lining is the akrasia-busting, willpower-boosting tactics I've been able to practice to stay physically active without my main hobbies of powerlifting (I HATE running) and eating (I was eating 3500+ calories a day and now I eat 1500...ugh).

comment by chaosmage · 2014-01-26T21:56:02.109Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I read on Neil Gaiman's blog (wish I had a better source) that one hour of exercise (up to 30/week) gives about two hours of extra life expectancy. That's a very useful thought, because my akrasia likes to make excise feel like a waste of time. That feeling is absurd (i.e. easily shaken off) when I know what I'm doing actually gives me a net time gain.

Also, those two hours are going to h be in the future, making them more awesome, with flying cars and stuff. Right?

comment by fortyeridania · 2014-01-27T04:25:19.842Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

one hour of exercise (up to 30/week) gives about two hours of extra life expectancy

I too wish you had a better source. That is an extraordinary claim.

It's probably also worth keeping in mind that although those two hours will be in the future, which will (one hopes) be much awesomer than the present, they'll also be when you're old, which will (one frets) be less awesome.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2014-01-27T14:41:34.871Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's probably also worth keeping in mind that although those two hours will be in the future, which will (one hopes) be much awesomer than the present, they'll also be when you're old, which will (one frets) be less awesome.

If exercise postpones the breakdown of age, those two hours are right now. It's not like the date of decrepitude is fixed, while the date of death is postponed, like Swift's Struldbrugs.

comment by fortyeridania · 2014-01-27T17:09:51.133Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I see what you're saying, and that could be true. But it might not; an hour of exercise might push death away by two hours, but only delay decrepitude by one (or less).

Or worse, exercise might bring on some early decrepitude, by wearing down joints. (The added life could come from improved cardiovascular health.)

comment by ephion · 2014-01-27T17:27:10.456Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Joints are built up by (edit: sensible) exercise more than they're worn down. People involved in heavy labor or athletics have stronger joints than sedentary people.

EDIT: I need to note that excessive, high impact, stressful exercise in individuals not trained for it will of course harm the body. The body is a complex system that, when damaged, repairs itself to be just a little bit stronger than before. Exercise is a means of 'damaging' the body to cause that strengthening response. Too much or too intense exercise will cause more damage than the body can repair from adequately.

For example, my last deadlift workout was 325lbs for 10 reps. This would be impossible for a beginner, and would be too easy to be worth doing for someone stronger than me.

comment by kalium · 2014-01-28T06:39:46.306Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Whenever I'm enrolled in a PE course that involves anything that resembles running (dance, fencing, badminton) my knees feel swollen and unwilling to bend and start aching spontaneously many times a day. A few weeks after the course is over they go back to normal. Totally unconvinced that exercise is beneficial or even neutral at least for my particular joints.

Maybe the causality goes the other way and people with crappy joints avoid heavy labor and athletics.

comment by ephion · 2014-01-28T14:20:53.514Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

All the sports you mention are high-impact and high-stress for the knees. If you're not trained or adapted for these, then yes, you'll be hurt from it.

If you increased your knee joint strength in a sensible and progressive manner (ie doing full squats with very light weight for three sets of five repetitions, and slowly increasing the weight) then your knees would become stronger, and those activities would be less stressful.

comment by Lumifer · 2014-01-27T17:48:25.404Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Joints are built up by exercise more than they're worn down. People involved in heavy labor or athletics have stronger joints than sedentary people.

Any links? We're not talking about how strong joints are, we're talking about how worn out they are (in terms of cartilage thickness, I presume). And while exercise hasn't been shown to contribute to osteoarthritis, for example, it hasn't been shown to prevent it either.

comment by fortyeridania · 2014-01-27T17:41:13.647Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Joints are built up by exercise more than they're worn down.

Oh. Well, that shows how much I know. For some reason I thought over the long term, strenuous activity would lead to damage and general "wearing out."

comment by TheOtherDave · 2014-01-26T22:30:31.922Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

my akrasia likes to make excise feel like a waste of time

This is my favorite typo ever.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2014-01-27T00:48:24.810Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was more amused by chaosmage's anthropomorphization of akrasia. An underutilized anti-akrasia tactic?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2014-01-27T03:42:20.935Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(nods) I totally endorse that, and often anthropomize depression that way. It really hates when I point at its penis and laugh.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2014-01-27T08:43:05.707Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The returns are actually more like 5:1 for the first few units (this is complicated not all exercise is equal).

comment by RowanE · 2014-01-27T12:49:00.147Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you have more accurate information, does this mean you have access to a good source for it?

comment by RomeoStevens · 2014-01-27T21:29:05.194Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you trying to say ? http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/40/5/1382.long

comment by RowanE · 2014-01-29T21:06:19.321Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One of the other replies to the original comment was one asking for a source, I was trying to echo that sentiment without actually saying myself because I didn't find the claim extraordinary.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2014-01-28T15:51:59.056Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ask yourself, "What would Missy do?"

And then skip the part where she loses control of her spy agency and gives herself brain damage.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-28T22:49:49.817Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

:)

For fictional inspiration, I've been occasionally asking myself, "What would I have to do to get Quirrelmort to consider me at least potentially useful?", or something along those lines.

comment by knb · 2014-01-30T01:38:38.787Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Reference?

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-30T06:11:39.948Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For about four months, I ran a writing experiment, to see if I could type out and post about 2,000 words a day of a coherent story. Missy was the main character therein, and the whole shebang can be found at http://www.fimfiction.net/story/33512/myouve-gotta-be-kidding-me , if you're really interested.

comment by shminux · 2014-01-27T20:31:32.672Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience, there is only so far one can go on sheer willpower (i.e. by overriding System 1 with System 2). A more reliable approach would be to hack (train) your System 1 to like apples and to crave exercise.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T23:02:42.383Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Up until today's change in routine, the more reliable approach you describe would have had to involve me turning myself into a literal masochist, which carries certain issues of its own. Fortunately, memoridem's suggestion seems to have greatly reduced the amount of pain involved.

comment by kalium · 2014-01-28T06:30:08.782Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I basically did turn myself into a masochist (not for this reason) and I still can't enjoy the pain of exercise. It's qualitatively different and distinctly worse than things like eating hot peppers or being flogged.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-28T14:26:27.324Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I can't remark about flogging, but I can agree that pre-modification of my routine, I'd have been happy to eat some of the hotter peppers I recall if that was the price of skipping that day's push-ups and planks.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2014-01-27T16:11:43.423Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Incidentally - that initial thought - do you actually believe it?

You don't need to in order to think that it's worth taking care of yourself. After all, it would also be embarrassing to be signed up for cryo and then have a heart attack and die away from a hospital such that they can't freeze you. Or any number of ways of failing to get the cryo done right, that would be helped by being healthier.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T16:40:34.218Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Incidentally - that initial thought - do you actually believe it?

Well, I /believe/ that I believe it, at least...

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2014-01-28T17:03:49.220Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good enough for me.

comment by Tenoke · 2014-01-27T14:21:12.482Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean by PC? I am not convinced you are using the term properly (I thought the thread will be about something else entirely).

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-01-27T14:31:57.825Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From reading this thread, I'm thinking PC is used here as "person who does things". This seems to be a broader use of the term than I've seen previously, where it meant "person who does things that influence the world in a significant way"".

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T14:44:56.969Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, before I can get to the latter, first I have to get to the former. :)

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-01-27T15:39:07.796Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"PC" stands for Player Character. This is a term that originated in tabletop roleplaying games, but is now mostly used in videogames. A Player Character is a character the player controls directly. These sort of characters drive the plot and do stuff in the world that changes the world. PCs are contrasted by NPCs (Non-Player Characters). NPCs are only there to give the PCs something to do and generally have a limited amount of actions they can do. A shopkeeper NPC, for example, only serves to sell stuff to the players and won't help you slay the dragon in any meaningful way.

In HPMOR, Harry uses PC and NPC as a way to distinguish between people who are willing to deviate from their role and people who aren't.

I hope that clears things up a bit.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-27T17:15:31.222Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So what would be the term for those of us who never fitted into a role in the first place?

comment by MathiasZaman · 2014-01-27T20:17:03.699Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Without additional information, I'd say that they'd gravitate toward being PCs.

Of course, there's also the role of not fitting into a role.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T14:41:14.149Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The main meaning I meant to imply was 'Player Character', as opposed to 'Non-Player Character', the pen-and-paper role-playing-game lingo to differentiate between 'main characters' and 'supporting cast'.

I was also trying to imply a secondary pun, using 'PC' as in 'Personal Computer', as in trying to stay healthy enough to stay alive long enough to be around when mind uploading gets invented.

comment by Dahlen · 2014-01-28T19:30:04.539Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for explaining. I understood it in the second way only and went "huh?" when I saw that all the comments talked about how to defeat akrasia when it comes to exercising.

comment by Tenoke · 2014-01-27T14:49:59.292Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, PC as 'Player Character' is normally used like MathiasZaman said to mean "person who does things that influence the world in a significant way" or 'the person around whom things are revolving".

The way you are using the term seems way, way too broad to me.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T14:55:14.091Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Welp, few PCs have their stories start before they're born, so everybody who ends up as one has gotta start somewhere. I'm already a one-in-a-million person, due to being a cryonicist; all I need is a few more orders-of-magnitude of competence, and I very well could end up as someone who influences the world in a significant way. (Possibly by becoming the first mind-upload, and using my first-mover advantage to become the most populous being in the solar system...) But given my state of being as of the end of last year, it's going to take some time and effort to get there, and any trick that can help keep my motivation high is worth asking for. So - here we are.

comment by Carinthium · 2014-01-27T09:34:44.175Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Can somebody who actually knows this area give some probabilities on when immortality will actually be achieved? I genuinely am not qualified to do this, but surely somebody on this site may know enough to at least enlighten the rest of us somewhat on the matter.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T14:33:54.605Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Welp, the error bars are /extremely/ high, but if you want a figure to start working with, the table on page 16 of http://hanson.gmu.edu/longgrow.pdf implies that brain uploads might be achieved circa 2040... though I'm reasonably sure that's not /quite/ what the authour actually meant. :)

comment by Wes_W · 2014-01-27T06:45:28.714Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This may not be especially helpful at the 3-week mark, but it can be good motivation to look back on your progress periodically. If body composition is part of your goal, take pictures periodically, and do "before and now" comparisons (you don't have to show anyone else; this is strictly for your own benefit). Do something that used to test your limits and notice that it feels easy now. Keep a log of little aches and pains, and review it to see how they've quietly fixed themselves.

Fitness can feel Sisyphean at times. Zooming out a little not only lets you feel more accomplished, it can get you excited for the future.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure this technique generalizes well to non-fitness endeavors.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2014-01-27T08:43:49.207Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There's nothing quite like feeling you've made no progress only to look at a previous progress photo and barely recognize the person as you.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2014-01-27T05:05:09.323Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The recent thread about Willpower as a Resource identified the fundamental issue.

There are tasks we ought to do, and tasks we want to do, and the latter don't suffer from limitations. Find tasks that server your purpose that you want to do. Then do your best to remind yourself that you want the end, and therefore you want the means. Attitude is everything.

comment by James_Miller · 2014-01-26T19:52:28.158Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To keep motivating myself to stay healthy I keep researching and trying new things such as a paleo diet, cold thermogenesis, various supplements, intermittent fasting, neurofeedback, and most recently a sleep induction mat. This all helps overcome boredom.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-26T20:00:24.833Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've already started using melatonin microdose to adjust my sleep schedule, have started daily fish oil, and am looking into possible nootropics that fit within my (extremely limited) budget; so it's not a bad overall thought.

However, the ad copy on that sleep mat includes 'acupressure' and 'meridians', which immediately sets off my skeptic's alarm bells. I suspect I'd do better to finally find a decent zafu pillow to sit on when I meditate.

comment by nbouscal · 2014-01-26T19:40:12.993Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How about simple enjoyment? I don't know what kind of exercise you're doing, but e.g. for running most people who get through the initial pain end up really enjoying it. I'm sure there are parallels for other forms of exercise.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-26T19:47:07.439Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm nowhere near the point where I can enjoy exercise. I'm mainly concentrating on bodyweight exercises right now, and even just 20 push-ups in a row is painful, and I'm not yet able to push much farther than that at a stretch. (There are /reasons/ why I've started exercising...)

(On the other hand, I'm quite fond of walking and hiking - but I've been doing that all along anyway.)

comment by gothgirl420666 · 2014-01-27T23:18:31.496Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I find that human beings are motivated more by social benefits than rational self-interest. If it is possible given your age/gender/current size, focus on getting a sexy body and on how cool and attractive it will make you to the people around you. If you can successfully obtain that goal, which is slightly adjacent to the goal of being healthy, you will already have experience maintaining the habits of exercise and watching what you eat, and you'll be well equipped to continue to do as such for as long as you desire.

This has worked for me pretty well for six months. I'm addicted to working out.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-01-27T19:21:14.123Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've found that you can do a fair amount of weight loss by making eating trivially inconvenient. This allows procrastination to work for you and helps discourage eating when you're not all that hungry.

Examples:

Record everything you eat and how much of it you eat, unless it is something very healthy like raw fruits/vegetables or a calorie free item. This helps turn healthy foods into a lazy option.

Take a small serving of food rather than taking one big portion, and then put the container back, which makes not having a second helping into a lazy option.

As a more meta example, allow yourself to have a demotivated day periodically while not changing the overall habit of you being dieting. If you've eaten healthy for the past 3 weeks, and you cheat tomorrow, but then you go back and eat healthy for another 3 weeks, and then cheat again, the amount you're eating healthy as a percentage is frankly still great enough that your health will be much better for it. You want thinking of yourself as "not dieting" to take a concerted effort on your part to break the habit, so that you can instead be lazy and continue to keep your habitual dieting, as opposed to thinking of dieting as a broken habit from only a brief lapse.

(Note: I was able to get this kind of thinking to work for weight loss, so I'm a lot thinner now, about a hundred pounds below my high weight and now at a healthy BMI range, but I'm still not that athletic or physically fit, so if being a good hiker is very important to you, this may not be sufficient even if it works for you just like it worked for me.)

comment by ephion · 2014-01-27T17:44:58.600Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a pretty fit guy. I don't consider myself to be that fit, but most of my social groups have attributed that to me. Here's what I do:

  • Lifting weights. Specifically, training for powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting. Developing maximal strength is the best way to develop a strong body, and a strong body is significantly harder to kill. Cardio is easy when you're strong.

  • Train for specific, concrete, realistic goals in short, medium, and long term. For the short term, my current goal is fat loss, as measured by either defined abs or 180lbs (whichever comes first). After that, my short term goal will be to squat 400lbs. My medium term goal is to compete in a powerlifting meet this year, where I'll total 500kg, and a weightlifting meet, where I'll total 200kg. My long term goal is to be strong and healthy so as to prolong my life expectancy.

  • Develop habits and behavior patterns that accomplish your goals. For me, this is lifting consistently and adhering to my diet. I do not think about these things -- I just do them. They're as much a habit as brushing my teeth or taking a shower, and as such, require almost no willpower.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T23:05:17.829Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If I might ask, do you know of any related online fora that are reasonably friendly to people who are just starting out with the whole 'exercising' thing?

Partly due to your post, I've just bought some adjustable wrist-weights to make toe-touches and similar exercises more productive, but I'm operating with a very small relevant knowledge-base.

comment by fortyeridania · 2014-01-27T04:47:02.033Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

First, I concur with /u/maia's suggestion: Find a partner. (Categorize that under "Shame," because you will be ashamed to quit when someone else is looking. Or file it under "Fun," because it can be a lot of fun to exercise with others.)

Second, you may also want to pay attention to the unspoken, automatic thoughts you have when you are losing motivation. Try to articulate them in sentence form so they can be interrogated. (For example, one might be something like "I'm never going to make any real progress" or "I'll always be a quitter.") Having identified a few, think up a good response sentence (e.g., "I won't make immediate progress, but I never expected to. If I keep working at it every day, including today, I will almost certainly be pleased with the results" or "Just because I've quit a lot in the past is no proof that I must always quit" or "Only the final attempt at habit-forming is ever successful, so it's natural that the losses outnumber the wins. No need to get down because of them, but I still want this attempt to be the winner, so I'll work at it again today.") Write down the response sentences on index cards, memorize them, and repeat them to yourself often (and especially when you sense your motivation slipping.) See if that's helpful, and do report back.

(These come from my understanding of cognitive behavioral therapy.)

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T05:05:22.250Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

you may also want to pay attention to the unspoken, automatic thoughts you have when you are losing motivation. Try to articulate them in sentence form so they can be interrogated.

As best as I can recall, they're roughly along the lines of "This is gonna hurt" or "Ow" or "Yep, that was painful". (Mostly during push-ups and planks.)

(Though at one point, I wondered if I could make a Super-Happy's head explode by presenting them with the idea that I was deliberately and voluntarily choosing to engage in an activity that caused me pain...)

There doesn't seem to be much there to respond to, other than whatever motivations I can convince my brain to believe that the eventual rewards are worth the present-day pain.

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-27T05:31:53.744Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If it hurts consider that you might be doing something wrong. If it's just the burning sensation, although this sensation is usually followed by a rewarding endorphin rush, consider that you might not have to strain yourself that much to get the most important benefits from the exercise. I exercise regularly, make progress, and it almost never hurts. If you do bodyweight exercises for example, you don't have to exercise to the point of failure to make progress, in fact that might even slow your recovery.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T05:49:39.302Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not having any problems with jumping jacks, toe-touches, squats, or sit-ups, and if that sort of thing was all I was doing, I think I'd have few-to-no problems with keeping myself on the routine of doing them.

The first day I started this 'get up and go' thing, I did one push-up; the next day, two; the next day, three; and so on. I'm currently in the twenties. I'm reasonably sure that what I'm experiencing is the 'burning sensation' you mention, though I'm not getting any sort of endorphin rush from it. And on the plus side, I actually /can/ do twenty-odd push-ups now, which I wouldn't have been able to when I started. (I know what that says about my physical state when I started.)

I've skimmed what free manuals and guides I can find, watched a few Youtube videos, and so on; short of buying a gym membership for professional advice, I think I'm doing things as closely to 'right' as I can manage. It just hurts, each day that I do n+1 push-ups compared to the previous day's n. (And, similarly, for holding the plank position for a couple seconds longer.)

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-27T05:59:08.972Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Have you you tried doing shorter sets like 5x10 push ups with a minute of rest in between for example? You'll get much more push ups done this way, will progress faster and experience less burn. Try adding 1-2 push ups to those five sets every time you do push ups. If you reach failure point at any time, you're doing too many of them. Doing them every day might get counterproductive at some point, your muscles need rest to grow stronger. If you're already in pain when you're starting, you haven't recovered from the previous exercise.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T14:38:47.075Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Today's magic number was 25. (I started a few days after New Year's.) 5x10 push ups seems rather out of my range just yet - but 5x5 was a massive improvement, pain-wise, over 1x25. My main thought at the end of those: "Oh, if /that's/ all it's going to hurt from now on, this is going to be /easy/..."

So even if no other suggestion helps much - this one particular comment could make the difference. I'd up-vote it more than once, if I could. :)

comment by memoridem · 2014-01-28T01:15:04.607Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Glad to hear I could be of help.

There's no reason why you shouldn't apply this to your other exercises too if you want to progress faster and less painfully. You might want to experiment with the number of sets to see what works best for you or vary the figure simply to make things a bit less monotonic. It's still nice to have "challenge days" every once in a while to see how awesomely many repetitions you can do at once.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-28T14:45:31.871Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm going from many years of no physically-demanding exercise at all to getting close to 30 of many of the basic exercises - so far, /every/ day is a 'challenge' day for me. But I'm getting better. :)

I'm feeling quite cheery today - today's routine was as non-excruciating as yesterday's, so it seems the modification's a definite success. Which means the choice between 'avoid eventual decrepitude' and 'avoid immediate pain' has tilted decisively in favor of the former. ;)

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T06:18:40.392Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm just about to crash for the night; but I can answer that no, I've simply been increasing the number of push-ups, with at most a few seconds break between some of them so that I can keep going. I'm not in any pain when I start each day. (And any further replies will have to wait for the morn.)

comment by fortyeridania · 2014-01-27T17:19:14.940Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

they're roughly along the lines of "This is gonna hurt" or "Ow" or "Yep, that was painful"

I'm not a therapist or an expert, but I think you need to dig deeper. Why are those thoughts coming up, of all the (true) thoughts you could be thinking? I would guess that there are supplementary thoughts to those, ones that magnify or exaggerate them, like "This is going to be too painful" or "That was unbearable."

What sets those latter two thoughts apart is that they imply that the pain is somehow excessive, which (if true) would justify stopping. But whether the pain is "excessive" is kind of fudgeable by whichever side of your mind wants to quit. (Of course there is such a thing as excessive pain, and pain could be a legit sign of a problem, as /u/memoridem has pointed out.) If thoughts like these are underlying and giving strength to your urge to stop, try to figure out what exactly you mean by "too much" and see if the "too much" claim is really true. Then if it's not true, formulate a response to memorize.

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-27T17:47:47.442Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why are those thoughts coming up, of all the (true) thoughts you could be thinking?

At a guess, it could simply be because pain /hurts/, and I live a comfortable enough life that before I started this exercising thing, I haven't had to worry about anything worse than a headache or cat-scratch or the like for years. The other day, when I was doing 24 push-ups in a row instead of 5 groups of 5ish, by the time I hit the last one, I'd call the pain level at least on the order of magnitude of the migraines I used to get or the time I got a nice hospital-visit-requiring scalding, but fortunately fading away a lot quicker. I simply wasn't looking forward to inflicting that upon myself each day, every day, for the rest of my life as I maintained my health. (Or, put another way, to stick my hand into the gom jabbar daily without even a knife being held to my throat.) If that was what it was going to take, then I was willing to try, even if it involved applying some of the Dark Arts to my own mind to make it seem worthwhile...

... But if tomorrow's modified exercise routine goes as well as today's did, then I might not need to go to such extreme motivational measures. In which case my having started this thread will turn out to be more than worthwhile, at least to me, even if the response that did the trick didn't actually have anything to do with LW-style rationality itself. :)

comment by private_messaging · 2014-01-28T18:44:57.552Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, if you do any exercise from a relatively untrained state, some muscles are going to cramp up which hurts like hell but after doing exercises for a bit of time that problem goes away. I think it's only the increases in the exercise level that are painful, in the long term you'd feel as much pain from regular exercise as you would otherwise from just moving around as usual.

comment by fortyeridania · 2014-01-27T18:19:06.979Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I hope it does go as well, or better.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-11-09T11:48:31.473Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Arguably the most well... discussion post title I have ever read. Thank you for the hearty chuckle :)

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2014-01-31T05:54:39.418Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Regarding exercise in particular, maybe take caffeine to give you energy to exercise? I think maybe I remember reading that caffeine is good for your health for other reasons as well but I'm not sure.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2014-01-28T13:38:07.244Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sloth: "If I stop now, it's going to be /so much/ harder and more painful to start up again, instead of just keeping on keeping on..."

I had taken "painful" to be intended metaphorically, and meaning only "I don't want to", but some of the comments below are suggesting otherwise. So can I check what you are actually saying: is exercise literally painful for you, in the same sense as a stubbed toe or a bad tooth are painful?

comment by DataPacRat · 2014-01-28T14:36:55.352Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I meant literally painful.

Before a rather helpful suggestion in this forum, my original plan for a routine was to start with 1 each of a selected set of exercises: jumping jacks, toe-touches, push-ups, etc; then add 1 to each every day, with a goal of 30. (After doing some further reading, I added left-, right-, and front-planks.) Push-ups were my major obstacle - by the time I was doing twenty-odd, the first ten were easy, the next five or six slightly painful, and by the last few my arms were shaking and the muscles /quite/ painful.

Today's magic number was 26 - and instead of doing them all in a row, I did the push-ups in groups of 6,5,5,5,5, with enough of a break in between to let the ache go down to easily-manageable levels. Since this confirms yesterday's first trial that this change makes things mind-bogglingly less hurty, I'm going to try breaking out my new wrist-weights tomorrow, even though I'm not yet at my initially-set goal of 30.

(Yes, I started this thread hoping to learn ways to simply keep myself motivated to accept the pain instead of trying to reduce it. I really am only an /aspiring/ rationalist, it seems, but I'm willing to work with all the lessons involved. :) )

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-01-28T23:21:39.796Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I started this thread hoping to learn ways to simply keep myself motivated to accept the pain instead of trying to reduce it.

The funny thing about that sentence is that pain generally becomes stronger when you "try to reduce it" and weaker when you accept it being there.

Before a rather helpful suggestion in this forum, my original plan for a routine was to start with 1 each of a selected set of exercises: jumping jacks, toe-touches, push-ups, etc; then add 1 to each every day, with a goal of 30.

That sound like a goal that might fit into the beeminder format. I don't know if the chance of losing money motivates you, but it is at least a possibility.