A Question of Discipline

April 13, 2008 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

One of the many meanings of “discipline”, as defined on Dictionary.com, is “behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control”.  I have been striving for ever more discipline in my diet because I know it’s so important to my physical and mental health.  And, yet, I so often fail to achieve the goals I set for myself.  I fail to remain disciplined.  This failure is a constant source of frustration.

I can’t understand why it’s so hard to do what I set out to do.  After immersing myself in this lifestyle change for so long – five and a half years! – I still, almost daily, fail to do what I write down in my journal are my goals.  The exception is exercising.  I nearly always achieve my exercise goals.  Yay!

But, I come up short on my food goals all the time.  Now, this is not a new situation for me.  I’ve dealt with it for years, and I’ve blogged about it a fair amount in this blog, which is still in its infancy.  I hate to repeat myself; it’s boring for you as readers, and more important, it’s boring for me to think about the same issue over and over and not seem to make progress on it.

My BF and I have been house-sitting, something I do for a few of my friends a few times a year.  It’s especially nice to do it for a couple of them because they pay me a small amount, a boon to my fiscal plan.    One of the weird perks I take from house-sitting, in addition to enjoying full cable and bonding with various adorable animals, is “raiding” the pantry.  I put “raiding” in quotes because it’s not like I wipe out their food cabinets.  I mean, I get to browse through all the forbidden stuff that I never allow in the house: peanut butter, dried fruit, non-Kashi cereal, crackers like Gold Fish, chocolate chips, frozen pizza.   I frequently eat those naughty items… not the pizza generally but definitely the peanut butter (love, love, love it!), the chocolate chips (heavenly!), and the cereal or crackers.

One the one hand, taking advantage of these forbidden treats could be seen as a good thing… a time when it’s acceptable to relish foods I restrict from my diet normally… a way to reward myself every now and then.  On the other hand, I’ve been working to be more strict about my calorie consumption and eating clean.  There’s nothing clean about any of those foods (unless the peanut butter is natural, organic pb, which it isn’t).  Since I struggle with moderation, calories become a problem, too.

Every morning, I start fresh with my food journal and write down my calorie goal, my exercise goal and my goal to eat clean that day.  It is simple, and it really should be easy to accomplish these goals.  They are not outrageous, and yet I can’t seem to do it.  I have all manner of excuses: I am overtired; I am overwhelmed; I am thrown off by staying at someone else’s place.  Foolish excuses.  It comes down to a matter of discipline.  As the Nike slogan goes, “just do it”.  That’s it; that’s all that’s required: just do it.  I know this, and I live this to a large degree.  And, yet, I don’t just do it when food is involved.

I try to look on the bright side.  I remind myself of all the good choices I make regularly.  The way I turned down the slices of frozen pizza my BF offered me when he cooked it up yesterday.  The way I opt for Mexican shrimp cocktail at the taco shop, rather than the cheesy burrito I really want.  The way I bring 1-cup servings of Kashi GOLEAN Original cereal with me on every motorcycle and off-roading trip advenutre we take.  The way I leave my dollar bills at home so I won’t have money at work to buy Chex Mix out of the vending machine.  On our motorcycle trip last weekend, in the course of each of the three days we were across state lines, I made at least seven positive choices to support my goals.  Yet, they weren’t enough because for each positive, right choice I make, I make at least three or four that are wrong, that defeat what I’m attempting to achieve.

Why?  Why am I not able to be more disciplined than I am?  What would it take to develop that strength, that willpower?  I know, from the article I read recently, that the more I work at it, the better I’ll get.  That’s what sustains me at the moment; I wake up every morning and remind myself that today’s a new day, that I am starting again, that this time I will get there, and that as long as I keep starting again I can’t really fail.

As I often say, it’ll have to do for now.  Maybe something miraculous will happen, and I’ll suddenly be able to easily achieve all the goals I set for myself.  That’d be cool, for sure, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

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Entry filed under: about me, clean eating, coping strategies. Tags: , .

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