Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Problem with Unitarian Universalism

Unitarian Universalism is about the least objectionable religion imaginable. They don't go door to door trying to convert people. They don't try to prevent gays from marrying. They don't try to get creationism taught in schools. They don't say that if you don't believe as they do then you'll burn in hell.

But there's one major problem with UU that I find objectionable. They're too open and accepting.

The thing is, the existence of god and other religious questions are objective facts. Either god exists, or god doesn't exist. God can't exist for you, and not exist for me. If one person believes in god, and another doesn't then one of them is wrong and ought to change their mind, because truth is important.

Now, I don't think that someone with wrong beliefs should be censored or converted at swordpoint or anything like that. The only way to separate the true beliefs from the false is to constantly examine and challenge all beliefs.

But if a congregation is truly interested in getting at the truth, they shouldn't be content with "Well, some of us believe in god X and some of us believe in god Y and some of us don't believe in god at all.". They should instead examine the evidence and try to determine which, if any, beliefs are true and believe in those. Eventually, as they share information and arguments, they should start to agree on major points.

UUists tend to like the parable of the blind men and the elephant. They use it as an example of how different people can experience the same reality differently. But the parable shouldn't end with one man feeling a rope, and one man feeling a wall and one man feeling a pillar. Rather the blind men should examine the elephant further, switch places and find parts they hadn't before, and hopefully find a unified elephant.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Weight Loss Experience

I don't have anything new to add to this particular topic (not that this is the first time), but I figured I'd add one more anecdote on the pile.

Around Christmastime last year, I weighed nearly 200 pounds. Now, I weigh 160. How did I do that? Short answer: Eat less, move more.

Easier said than done, of course. But there are some tricks I used to make it easier. I think one of the most important things I did is to work on reducing my appetite and learn to stop eating when satisfied instead of full.  This is based on the idea that how much you eat now affects how much you want to eat tomorrow. The more you eat now, the more it will take to fill you up later on and vice versa. I used to be able to eat an entire frozen pizza (over 1400 Calories!) in one sitting. Frozen pizzas are convenient because they're the same size each time, so it's easy to gauge how much you're eating compared to before. So, one of the first things I did was decide that I was only going to eat half of a pizza in one sitting. At first, that left me still wanting more. Eventually, it became difficult for me to eat even that much.

That ties into the other part, stopping when satisfied, instead of full. If you feel like "Well, I could eat more", stop, you're satisfied. You won't feel full, but that's ok. Eventually satisfied feels much more satisfying. And an instrumental part of that is to pause while eating. It takes some time for that feeling to sink in, so pause for a couple minutes and consider how you feel now. If you're still hungry, eat some more. If you're satisfied, stop.

And related to that, use smaller dishes, and keep the remaining food farther away from you. This is helpful for giving you that time to pause and think. I still have a hard time not finishing what's left on the plate.

While eating less was important, eating healthier also helped. Instead of frozen pizza, I had rice. Instead of processed macaroni and cheese, I had spaghetti. Instead of beef, I had beans. I still don't have any much in the way of fruits and vegetables as I should, but it's better than before. And this also had an pleasant side-effect of costing less too.

And then there's the moving part. Not too much to say about this except stick with it. I was stuck in a plateau between 170 and 172 pounds for most of the month of May. It took me a while to figure out why, since the effect was delayed about a week after the cause, but it turned out to be because I wasn't exercising. At the beginning of May, I got a cold, and stopped going to the gym while I had it. After that, I had a hard time going back for nearly a month. But about a week after I started exercising again, I started losing weight again.