Is your mind working against you?

Jason Knapp
6 min readOct 31, 2019

In my effort over the last few years to improve my physical and mental health after a couple of middle-age warning signs, I have tried a lot of techniques and services. If you listen to the promotions, it’s easy to think that you just need to find the right one to suddenly unlock the key to being happy and thin.

I’ve also observed in myself the mind’s penchant for sabotaging such efforts as it does what it does best, being good at things we do regularly, and finding patterns in sparse data and short term trends. Start the latest fad diet and lose a few pounds (which always seems to happen at first, supposedly from water weight)? This diet is great! Then lose 1/2 a pound in the next few days (a healthy rate of weight loss)? Eh, this has slowed way down, and that pizza looks delicious. Start a New Year’s resolution to go to the gym? A couple of weeks later, I don’t look any more jacked, and next thing I miss a day, then a week, then it’s New Year’s yet again.

But this doesn’t only happen with straightforward things like exercising and diet. It also applies to ways of thinking that we don’t like. I can want to stop thinking anxious thoughts that I logically don’t think make sense. I can wish to be more assertive and kinder. I can even catch myself obsessing over something for no good reason and in doing so, dismiss it for the moment. I can start a conversation with someone intent on being assertive and hold it up for that conversation. But often these habitual ways of thinking just come back later (sometimes moments later).

I’ve heard it said that the trick is focusing on the process rather than the goal. While that sounds like it could be right, knowing it didn’t seem to help.

I finally got the gym habit going a few years ago by walking into my local 24 Hour Fitness and buying the largest personal training package they offered. I figured if I had an appointment and I had paid good money, I was likely to show up. And after a year or so, I found that I wanted to go to the gym even without personal training. (Don’t get me wrong; there are still bad days, but on the whole, it’s been a pretty regular daily thing for a few years now.) Because it was working, along the way I also hired Christine Burke, who did a fantastic job of helping me develop a varied cardio habit of outdoor running, interval training, and plyometrics. Then I mixed in paying a monthly fee for Fitwall to attend their fitness classes that combine various fitness modalities. Over time, I backed…

Jason Knapp—Entrepreneur @, angel syndicate lead, startup advisory, product/development services, husband to @knappleton, fascinated w the future