There is no amount of exercise we can’t out-eat, just as there is no amount of income that cannot be overspent. It is the nature of greed to avoid satiation. There is no “enough” when it comes to our cravings. Discipline helps us avoid being victimized by greed. But, discipline alone is barren and unsustainable. Humans are emotional creatures. Regardless of how important something is, or how deep our sense of duty is, we will not consistently do things that we do not enjoy, except under some kind of threat.
For example, many of us go to jobs we hate. Every day. We do this for no reason other than to avoid having our lights turned off. We don’t want to live under a bridge. This kind of negative motivation is enough to get someone to work, but it is not enough to compel someone to do well at work, not unless they can find some way to enjoy and appreciate the work itself. When you walk into many establishments, it is obvious that the people employed there are miserable. Their gifts and talents are not being used. They, perhaps, are not being treated with respect. They probably have not found a way to make peace with their circumstances until they find a job or business that is a better fit.
Similarly, with proper diet, discipline alone is not enough. Even if you have a strong desire to be slim and healthy, in the heat of the moment, being fat or “unhealthy” doesn’t seem all that bad. Who cares? The sweet smell of something fried, or the creamy appearance of a sugar-crack laden desert, is sexy and tempting. For a while, we forget about fat or blood sugar levels, or the inevitable regret that is bound to follow.
So, discipline itself must be our slave. It cannot be the master. Discipline has to be softened with indulgence. Healthy eating has to be fun. Indulgence does not mean compromising our health, though. It means finding the healthiest option we can find that will make us feel we are living a balanced – rather than deprived – existence.
My personal choice is 70% cacao dark chocolate. It is so rich that I don’t even need a full serving. A square or two is enough to make me feel wonderful. It gives me something to look forward to after my salad. It is lower in carbs and calories than most regular chocolate, and it’s full of antioxidants. After I’m finished, I wash the taste of it out of my mouth with a nice glass of cool water so that the taste of it won’t compel me to have “just a little more.” I keep the chocolate out of sight, in a moderately inconvenient place so that I only eat it when I really want a little treat. I don’t mindlessly shovel it in while watching TV. Sometimes my treat will be a little bit of bread with olive oil, and soy sauce or salt. This is enough of an indulgence to give me a little bit of sunshine, but not enough to detract from my healthy lifestyle.
Remember, exercise only burns a few calories. One meal can totally wipe out whatever you’ve burned. Think of food as the fuel for the rest of your wonderful life. Food is not a worthy goal in and of itself. It is simply a requirement, a part of life that can be enjoyable like any other part of life.
Enjoy a wonderful weekend of “soft discipline.”
Peace and love,