Keep The Change: An Exercise in Discipline

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I’m sure at least once in your life you had to work hard at something. Maybe it was as simple as learning a free throw, or how to study or even how to do a box jump.  But have you ever had to learn how to exercise discipline?  Learning discipline takes time, patience and hard work, more than most people today seem to have.  To some, it’s merely a foreign concept.  In today’s world of instant gratification, discipline comes across as something from the Middle Ages.  And yet, we all like to throw the word around as if it’s second nature.

Discipline can be entwined with any aspect of our life. Most often, discipline is affiliated with our own actions.  We might be disciplined to work out X number of times per week, or to take our vitamins daily, or to wake up at a certain time each day, and the list goes on.  And maybe we can execute discipline in certain areas of our lives, but not others.  This just happens to be my case.

One discipline (or lack thereof) that stands out for me is with . . . wait for it. . . .FOOD!  Yep.  I’m a cliche.  But think about it for a minute:  Temptation is everywhere, especially when a person’s grazing habits are “off the charts” bad.  So I’ve been working on this, and I have to say it’s been more challenging that I remember it ever being before.  That is, until I got a little D-I-S-C-I-P-L-I-N-E.

1dis·ci·pline

noun \ˈdi-sə-plən\: control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior:  a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders: behavior that is judged by how well it follows a set of rules or orders

This isn’t going to be a “how to” on becoming disciplined in a certain area.  If you want that, go read some books.  I’m sure there’s quite a few out there that can help you.  But once you figure out what you want to master, get your mind right (HUGE PART OF THE EQUATION), and begin exercising said discipline, your life will never be the same.  It’s very empowering to know that you’ve had this control all along.  The only difference is that now you REALIZE it, and you’re ready to use it.
Setbacks?  Sure.  You might have them repeatedly.  You might even go a long stretch without one, and then BAM!  “Hello, my name is setback.  Remember me?”  Just wave it away and keep moving in the right direction.  As a matter of fact, I just about had a setback yesterday.  I ended up fighting my way through it, and guess what?  I felt a million times stronger than I did before it happened.  Our will and determination is much stronger than we realize.
So here’s what happened:  I was driving home from my 9-5 job.  HUNGER strikes, and a panic sets in.  I started to believe I was starving and if I didn’t stop at the nearest fast food place I was going to waste away right then and there.  Okay, okay.  Laugh now (because I am too), but that’s how it really seemed, for about 2 minutes.
The hunger was real, but it was such a foreign feeling because normally I’d overeat, so I’d never feel the hunger pangs.  But now that I’ve changed my eating habits, the pangs are back.  Not always, and no, I’m not starving myself.  But learning the difference between feeling hungry and actually starving is, you know, kind of crucial!
So here I am in the car fishing around for any spare change I had in order to see what I could order off a drive-thru menu.  I couldn’t possibly use my debit card, because then there would be a record of my setback.  I had to hide it.  So I found $1.53, ALL IN COINS.  That was enough for some sort of deliciousness on a bun, right?  So, I had the change in my left hand, while I drove with my right.  “I’ll head to Fast Food Place #1.  It’s the closest and on the way home.”
The major intersection where I would turn was about two blocks away.  And wouldn’t you know, here comes my DISCIPLINE creeping into my head.  “Don’t do it, Julie.  You are stronger than this.  Just drive past the intersection.  You’ll be fine.”  Really?  I’ll be fine?  I won’t starve before I reach home?  “Nope.”  Okay.
So I didn’t turn.  I kept heading home in the direction that doesn’t have any fast food places to stop.  And the minute I passed through the intersection I felt a HUGE sense of accomplishment.  I didn’t give in!  And if I did it once, I can do it again.  I am in control.  I have DISCIPLINE!
I got home, still holding the change in my left hand, and emptied the change onto the kitchen counter.  I actually started to laugh because I couldn’t believe how silly I felt and yet empowered at the same time. Did I master it, no.  Not even close.  But I proved to myself I can do it.  And sometimes that’s all it takes.  So the next time a setback comes your way, just say, “KEEP THE CHANGE!”  You’ll feel better for it.

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No-Flab Zone

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