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I’ll stop being a slob

I’ve got to stop being a slob who does little physical exercise on the grounds that he is too busy with family and work. Our PM John Howard does his morning exercise every day and he is also a family man who runs a country. My duties are zilch compared to his.

And my duties are much less than the seven, superfit, senior business executives interviewed in today’s Australian Financial Review (‘Well-preserved at the top of the ladder’) (subscription only) who eat well, have low cholesterol, exercise each day and who stresslessly run vast corporate empires beyond the scale of Harry Clarke Pty Ltd. Their healthy lifestyle allows them to deal with stress and perform at 100% capacity.

The thought of them all eating their muesli, sleeping peacefully for long periods, singing their Hare Krishna chants and jogging merrily through city blocks on their way to multi-million dollar salaries makes me want to throw up.

For example, Qantas CEO Geoff Dixon is 66 years old, weighs 69kgm, has brilliant blood pressure, gets up each morning at 5am to walk or run and to do exercises at the local beach and then heads off to negotiate Air Service Agreements with Lower Congo Bongoland. And this is no fad – Geoff has been doing this exercise program for 33 years. Geoff Dixon you make me sick.

Really sick. And the reason I feel sick is that I know I should emulate you but I don’t. Its a self-control issue. Perhaps successful businesspeople have a selfish streak of egoism that I lack – that’s a convenient thought. But, in any event, with respect to exercise, I make excuses or at best stick to short-term programs of intensive physical exertion. For the 14,600th time I resolve to change my ways. I will. No, I really will this time.

12 comments to I’ll stop being a slob

  • patrick not the lefty

    It’s easy enough. As you long as you like routine, it’s just a matter of getting addicted to the exercise, which happens fairly quickly, and then you can’t live without it.

    But it probably does have a lot to do with personality.

  • Tanya

    A charming post, Harry. Obviously, you are not a slob.

  • Bring Back EP at LP

    A FAT lot of good that wil do!

  • Anonymous

    It’s about having an obsessive, almost autistic streak which I do. I never so much as stepped into a gym until slightly over a year ago. And I avoided sports and exercise like the plague. But once I got in I was hooked.

    I’ve refined my weekly programme over time but used to do a lot more when I first started. Now I ‘only’ do
    1) 30-45 mins of weights 3 days a week
    2) run 4 km on the treadmill at 10.2 km/h twice a week
    3) run 3 km on the treadmill at 10.5 km/h 3 times a week
    4) I have an exercise mat in my living room so when I work from home I do pushups and ab crunches whenever I get bored

    (believe me, those running speeds and distances may seem arbitrary but they are a product of a year’s experimentation taking into account such things as what would not dismotivate me too much from running virtually everyday, stress on my knees and so forth)


  • hc

    I was into cross-country running (the Hash House Harriers) in Bangkok from 1979-1987. I ruined my knees (and probably my liver!) by doing this – one of my knees has since been operated on.

    Since 1987 I get into intermittant phases of mainly walking exercise. I find I get bored doing weights but I know they are good for you.

    Don’t like walking much on cold winter Melbourne nights.

    Anyway no wine tonight and I will do a 7.5 km walk. That was my routine last year and I’ll see (after Jason’s good example) if I can stick to it. I’ll report back.

  • FXH

    Sady it didn’t seem to help Ian Little from treasury who by all accounts was fit and excercised.

  • Jack

    The problem with you Harry is that you are a faddist. Today you exercise tomorrow you must eat right . I reckon, as you don’t get any payoff from exercising per se, you are, in reality, only concerned with vanity — how you look to others. Because you know that your unhealthy kilos are a result of insufficient exercise, or too much food for the amount of physical activity you do, you oscilate between the two solutions to your dilemma. But ultimately, you don’t care enough to go through the pain of exercise, which is harder for someone in their mid-50s (and it gets even harder later). And who can blame you. You would rather sit in front of your computer and pontificate on all manner of things on the blogosphere. I reckon you have already made a choice that the payoff is greater when they love you for your mind: women on the Net can’t really see the gory details of your body close up, or worse, peek into your choc-a-bloc-with-atheroma coronary vessels, but they can read your incisive feuilletons. So you sit in front of a fire eating a fragrant laksa watching Big Brother rather than running through the rain in some vicious frenzy of penitential self discipline to overcome the desire for sin. As a sensible realist, and a rational atheist, not for you the spiritually inspired mortification of the body as a result of identification with a suffering Christ or other some such bizzare crap.

    Similarly, you can afford a decent meal now and again so why live on a macrobiotic salad? You’ll have a shorter lifespan (just think of the terrific obit in The Age!) but it will have been worth it. You as an economist would relate to that. It’s simply a matter of choice.

    Some pundits suggest there is a third way, the French Way. The claim is that the Frogs do not watch what they eat, they just enjoy it in a guiltless way and this somehow makes them slim. Now here, surely, is a topic for a PhD.

    I reckon there is something to that. When you feel guilty, you are diverting your bile from doing its job, which is to break down the fats.

    So, give this a go. Savour your meals. Don’t think about exercise when you are tucking into your next osso buco. Suck the marrow from the bones with gusto. And don’t forget the gremolata. This requires delaying the gratification somewhat (and that is a separate issue for another time), Harry, but it’s worth it. Bon appetit.

  • hc

    Well Jack as I admit the self-control issue I agree am a faddist.

    As an economist I like your line. My gluttonous instincts and my enormous blog contributions (as well as my age) mean that the opportunity cost of trying to win beauty contests is high. Being a blogging slob is an equilibrium in that sense at least.

    BTW I rarely watch TV these days – pontificating on the blog has substituted for that waste of time.

    BTW (2) I never feel guilty eating or drinking booze. I feel much better in my everyday life being about 15 kgm lighter than I am at present – sleep better, happier, better able to deal with life….

    I am still waiting for your promised posts? How about one on the Ferrets? How are they doing?

  • jack

    You raise a very interesting point H. Let us objectify you for a moment. Are you worth more to the world as a blogger, blogging, or as a father, husband, colleague, academic, local-shop customer, pub patron, and so on? If your continued blogging is at the cost of exercise and this shortens your life, then we have to write an equation which values your blogging output against those other things as a citizen and denizen.

    There are complicating factors. I note, with interest, that you have been posting blogs when you should have been professing; hence we have to subtract the blogging time from your worth as an academic (is this quibbling?) and then ask — which is more worthwhile for humanity and posterity: your work as a Hayekian or as a blogger?

    My view is that your blogs are, as Tanya rightly pointed out, very charming. What is more, you annotate the time you live in with the impish delight of a latter-day Samuel Pepys. Hence, someone looking at your blogging output 300 years on, would find your chronicling immensely valuable. Whereas your economic theorising, well, as you have admitted yourself, you are a faddist.

    I remember distinctly when you were a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Fidel Castro and were even planning a trip to Cuba to help out in the sugar-cane harvest, or to roll tobacco leaves for cigars, or whatever. Well, of course, even allowing for the US blockade, Fidel’s strong point is not economic management, even if one were a fan of command economies.

    You were then, for a time, a Keynesian (Mrs Fricker will bear me out on this one). And who knows what since and in what order and whether you had some sort of epiphany, or conversion.

    You have shifted your ground from Marx to Spencer to Kenichi Ohmae.

    But I am straying from the point, which is that your work as an economist (and some would say work of any economist) is quite ephemeral and ultimately not worth the paper it is written on.

    I am not familiar with your worth as father, husband and pub patron, so I am not going to comment on that. Perhaps your missus could blog in at this point.

    But in my opinion you should continue to eschew exercise in favour of blogging, that’s obvious.

  • hc

    Jack, Its all a matter of tradeoffs and optimising time and effort at the margin. Faddishness and even impulsiveness need not be a bad thing as I have suggested before here. One of the reasons I like to blog is that my activities as an economist occasionally bore me. I like to discuss other things and to express my views on them.

    My main political view changes occurred thirty years ago and I would say that since then I have been a fairly consistent economic liberal who, nevertheless, does not believe markets work well in many important parts of the economy. That’s not exotic – most economists accept this.

    Perhaps my academic productivity does suffer with blogging but not much. Blogging is a form of conversation and that’s important for academic work and for enjoying life.

    As for exercise I don’t see the need for a boundary solution – a little less blogging and a bit more exercise. Again, making adjustments at the margin.

    BTW with your very evident literary talents are you allocating enough time to blogging?

  • civitas

    “Blogging is a form of conversation and that’s important for academic work and for enjoying life.”

    Harry, I agree. And I wish other bloggers, many of whom seem just to want to pick fights, would understand this. Some bloggers, even some you mention on your blog, are there just to insult people who disagree with them. Or cannot accept that there are people who disagree with them and that they may actually not be right about everything.

    You, however, are able to disagree and yet still value the other guy as a person, that’s unfortunately a very rare quality in the blogging world. So keep up the good work. You attract a crowd that isn’t in it for the rude behavior.

  • civitas

    On the exercise issue, I find that I sleep so much better if I do get some exercise every day. I have trouble with sleep these days, I think many women my age do (No, I will not tell you my age, but I’m nearing 40 – YIKES!)

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