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March 29th, 2019
For anyone who has ever figured out the basic workings of a yo-yo, it’s clear that getting the yo-yo to come back up has everything to do with how it went down.
Masters of this simple toy will launch their yo-yo as hard as possible in order to create as much rotational motion as possible, motion which will eventually be recaptured and harvested on the way back up. Youtube any of these masters of the toy and you’ll be met by yo-yos moving through all manner of acrobatics with the string fully unraveled. The entire time this is happening the yo-yo is still spinning, but that motion hasn’t been tripped into coiling the string and thus making it climb back up to the hand.
We have the same phenomenon with a bouncy ball. The harder we throw it at the ground, the higher it will go. Beyond the equal lengths that a yo-yo falls and rises, however, a bouncy ball can be launched at the ground with such force that the resulting height is many times the height it initially started at.
We can mine these images for an allegory about how to pivot hard and in a difficult direction.
How we start or maintain a diet might benefit from such images. Of course there is yo-yo dieting, the act of losing weight and then binging it all back on. This fits out image somewhat, at least with the yo-yo, but how might it translate into a ball hurled at the ground with such force that it goes high into the sky?
For the yo-yo dieter, we can look at the equal and opposite motivations that propel such behavior. The diet is undertaken for health, or reasons of body image. There’s some sort of well-intentioned reasoning going on here that understands that something must be given up in order to gain something of a different category. Tasty food for a more pleasant experience while looking in the mirror, or at pictures, or that subtle feeling of increased well-being during the day. The corresponding opposite motivation is that evolutionarily programmed desire to consume as many rich foods as possible.
These two forces compete with on another, and in the yo-yo dieter they might achieve something close to equal influence, ensuring that neither really win, and all that’s happening is one variety of unpleasantness followed by another, ad nauseam.
Here we might try to switch out our allegorical images and interpret what this would look like in practice. Instead of a yo-yo, what would the diet look in terms of a bouncy ball hurled at the ground as hard as possible?
What this might look like in practice is someone who is finally fed up (pun intended) with the yo-yo dieting and wants to take more drastic actions, but instead of just going on a longer, harsher diet, such a person predicates doing such with a gluttonous binge of epic proportions. Such a person might set a date a week away for an extended diet to begin, and then, spend the ensuing week eating all manner of pleasurable and gluttonous food, and not simply enjoying, but force-feeding, in order to make one’s self somewhat sick. This might sound somewhat unpleasant and masochistic, and it is, but for potentially good reason. We could say that the person throwing the ball at the ground harder is crueler than a person who merely drops it, but if the ball can handle the force of transition that happens when hitting the ground, then the payoff is that much more. For the dieter, this might be akin to an internal monologue that is finally sick and tired of the nagging little voice that always wants the donut or the coffee cake or the mac’n cheese, and responding with: you want it? You got it, and feeding that little monster past it’s limits of enjoyment. For those who have not been in a healthy state for quite a long time, this might actually be dangerous, but for someone younger and more robust, this kind of experiment might be well worth the memories it creates. The gorging here is solely for the memory, of disgust it will create, so that when a healthier, difficult diet is undertaken, such feelings of sickness and disgust can be paired with temptations and thereby ameliorate their effect.
If such a categorical change in behavior can be maintained long enough for that behavior to form a structure of habit within the brain, then we can perhaps succeed in levelling-up our health and our life.
But such allegorical images might be useful in other realms. The real fruit of such images is to realize that success can sometimes be achieved by going in counter-intuitive directions.
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