Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reinheitsgebot, Ego Depletion and Cycling

Last night after a ride in Rock Creek, I come in, still in my kit, grab a Penn Weizen, a little German brew made according to the standards of Reinheitsgebot from the beer of the month package the Hulk blessed me with and I'm carrying a plate of tacos--tacos with anchos, queso fresco, pico de gallo I'd chopped myself, damnit--all ready to devour, and my thumb slips on the guacamole and spills the tacos all over the floor.

Even worse, Oprah's interview with Octamom is on the TV.

Uncle Pappy can be a grumpy man. But strangely, despite it all, he was not that bothered.

I attribute my unusually chipper mood to having gotten in about 3 hours of serious exercise. That and the fact that I hadn't spilled the beer also.

Why is it that exercise often makes us feel better, helps us endure the little stuff? And what is it that puts us in funks?

There's a theory that says we get in funks because we are subject to "ego depletion." I'll let Jonah Lehrer explain it:

"...the basic idea behind ego depletion is that self-control and willpower are limited cognitive resources. As a result, when we overexert ourselves in one domain – say, when we’re on a strict diet, or focused on a difficult task for hours at work – we have fewer resources left over to exert self-control in other domains. This helps explain why, after a long day at the office, we’re more likely to indulge in a pint of ice cream, or eat one too many slices of pizza. A tired brain, preoccupied with its problems, is going to struggle to resist what it wants, even when what it wants isn’t what we need."

Does cycling deplete or fill up your mental gas tank?

For me, and I don't think I'm alone in this, riding a bike fills up my tank. But maybe that's because cycling is what I want to do most of the time, but especially in Spring when the weather's nice and the trees are in bloom, and the freds are ripe for the slaying.

1 comment:

Too Slow said...

Interesting theory, and I'm with you on cycling's generally positive emotional polarization, but I tend to attribute those pleasant aftereffects to dopamine and other physio-chemistry type stuff. Butwhoknows.