My Life on a Perpetual Diet…


dietingAs I reflect back on my life over the past 20 years, I realize that I have been on a perpetual diet for that same 20 years. And incredulously, as my goal of being 15 pounds lighter continues to linger on the horizon, I also recognize the insanity of trying to lose the same 15 pounds for 20 straight years. It would seem that with some discipline and force of will it shouldn’t take 20 years to lose 15 pounds. In fact, the task should likely take two to three months maximum. But, here I sit lamenting on the reality that I haven’t yet been able to figure it out. So, I had to ask myself why? Why would my body seek to regulate itself 15 pounds above that which I would desire. Is there something I am doing in my life that serves to thwart my purpose? Is a life of perpetual restriction the solution? Or, does a life of perpetual restriction work at cross purposes from the end I have in mind? And, assuming I’m not a swim suit model, does it really even matter? Is it really about dieting and obsessing and trying hard with no results or is there something else at play I might not yet have contemplated? I think it is fair to say that any issue that may have troubled you for the past twenty years begs for further inspection, whether it be feeling unhappy about your weight or not feeling good about any aspect of your life. Whatever it is that has served as a distraction in your life; that limits you from being your best; that functions as a source of constant angst and dissatisfaction, is worth digging into and finding a way to overcome. Have your past twenty years seen you trapped on a perpetual diet, in endless restriction and constraints, in modifying your behavior, in trying to get something and never actually being able to get it? If so, this blog is for us…

I guess the starting point in understanding is first being able to recognize the utter futility of trying to do something for twenty years but not actually arriving or seeing any lasting result. That alone should arrest our attention. Yes, it takes some time and some discipline to make needed changes in our lives, but for something to continue on for that many years is a clue that competing interests must be interfering with our goal. The straight line of effort should produce a result. No results or minimal results indicate the straight line of effort cannot be straight. Faithful persistence is the key. It doesn’t matter how hard you work at something, if you don’t do it faithfully, chances are you are not going to get there. By the time your effort to achieve hits the 20 year mark and you are still no closer to your goal, you have to look at yourself and ask the question why? Do you have some aspect of your life that when indulged works at cross purposes with your goal? Is there something you like more than the thing you say you want? Or, as time has passed, have you been convinced that you cannot reach your goal no matter what you do? Time, especially significant amounts of time, has an unusual way of encroaching on your belief system and limiting you that much further in your quest, as small failures add up and produce the larger failure; the ultimate failure being referred to as giving up. Often what feels like futility is really repeating the same circumstances over and over and expecting a different result. Nothing changes because you haven’t changed something or at least not long enough to form new habit patterns. The temporary nature of the diet promises that a short term sacrifice will suffice and then it is back to business as usual, adding in excesses to fill the gaps formed in deprivation. Short term fixes don’t fix anything and lead to 20 year fixes that don’t fix anything either. Before you can takes the steps to enjoy any success, you first have to get real honest with yourself about what you want and what you don’t want. Your reason why has to be bigger than all of the assailants that will come to thwart your goal. 

I have learned rather painfully that endless restriction turns you into a sort of crazy person. Although you haven’t stuck to your plans for any significant length of time in reality, your mind gets stuck there in an endless loop secretly upset with the endless deprivation. Low carb diets make you crazy about rice and bread. Extreme diets such as HcG require you to starve for 3 weeks and then eat like a crazy person for the next six. Fasting promises a fast fix, yet whoa unto the crazy eater when the fast is over. There is nothing wrong with time limited restriction and control as long as you stay the course and arrive at your destination. But sadly, the course also includes the weekends! Yet, deeper than dieting or any time driven period of greater control, is what is going on inside your head. You don’t feel like you can adequately control yourself for 3 months, yet end up spending 20 years rehearsing the same mantra. You have to get your mind involved and keep it involved. You have to decide what you are going to do and then keep deciding until you arrive. If you are like me, you may have taken on some habits over the years that don’t work so well with your goals. Chances are you have certain likes and enjoyments that you might like a little too much. All added enjoyments in life appear to have an end point or a place where the enjoyment ends. Yet on we press looking for more enjoyment when the enjoyment has run its course. Nothing tastes as good as the first bite, as the saying goes and nothing produces better effect than the sparkle of the first glass of wine. All unhealthy restrictions cannot help but lead to excess in some other place. The answer isn’t more and more restriction, the answer is in getting focused and staying there. 

To take things a step further, the real issue is found in your why. Why are you doing or not doing the things you want? What are you really after? Are you doing something you earnestly want to do or do you have another hidden motive in mind? Is the thing you are trying so hard to get to the real answer or is it masking something else you want to get to? It is so easy to get caught up into things in life and end up forgetting why you were doing them in the first place. I think often when it comes to the various life suckers, our reasoning behind doing what we do gets cloudy and vague to the point where we can no longer see something that we desperately need to see. We miss the real problem or else dismiss it as something unimportant when it obviously is. It is not normal to suffer defeat in a category of life for a significant length of time without opposing forces getting in there somewhere and causing the defeat. This applies of course to many, many aspects of life beyond a silly diet. All of us have beliefs and habits that at one time served us, but no longer serve us now. We have pictures of ourselves that we have long since outgrown. We are all on our own journey with lessons we must eventually learn. Yet God graciously continues to work with us right where we are. I think inside we know the changes we need to make, but are loathe to make them for fear of losing something we enjoy; something that supposedly defines us; something we may have always liked about ourselves. Yet, all growing and evolving creatures must learn to change as the situations and circumstances of life dictate. However, those changes are not always all or nothing, but rather adjustments we make along the way. Small adjustments, small modifications can go a long way in making needed changes. 

At the end of the day, you and I can achieve anything we want to achieve. The only limit is ourselves. We have to learn to approach the things of our life without fear and dare to chart a new course. We aren’t after a quick fix, we are after long term solutions. Some aspects of life we simply need to overcome or at minimum overcome their grip on our lives. “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any…” Figure out what it is you are really after in your life and then go and get it. Sure you are going to fail and falter along the way, but that doesn’t matter as long as you get where you want to get. Whether you have been trying to lose the same amount of weight for two decades or you are trying to rid yourself of any negative aspect of life, you can get there no matter how long it has gone on if you will just get honest with yourself and change what you already know you need to change. Whatever has succeeded in getting a grip over your life has an opposite side that will give you everything you ever wanted instead. Life is way too short to live without the things that are important to you. Don’t pray for more discipline, pray for understanding. God has an uncanny way of making things crystal clear. Having you been living your life on a perpetual diet? Have you not thus far been able to realize your dreams? Is there some aspect of life that has been defeating you? Get quiet, get honest and get God involved. Life is to be enjoyed in every aspect! Freedom awaits you.

Just some good thoughts…