Weight Loss: The Key to Discipline

Recently, two co-workers of mine were discussing their weight loss efforts and part of that conversation stuck with me. One of them said, “It sure is a lot harder to lose weight than it is to gain it.” The other one answered, “Yeah, that’s because gaining weight is fun.” I laughed with them, because there is some truth to that statement.

Yes, it can be fun to eat with abandonment and not think about whether what you are eating is healthy or not; it is only the consequences that are painful. Examples of shorter term consequences are pain in your stomach, indigestion, and sluggishness. The longer term consequences are high blood pressure, heart disease, and shortness of breath. Seeing your appearance change for the worse is painful too. Focusing on these consequences is key to developing self-discipline.

Discipline is necessary to achieve your weight loss goals and any goal that you want to achieve in life. After all, you don’t have to employ discipline to do those things that you enjoy. For example, I wouldn’t have to discipline myself to eat chocolate bars because I enjoy them, however I do have to discipline myself to limit them in my life. How do I do it? Discipline requires two skills: Desire and diversion.

Desire means that you have to want the goal that your discipline will help you achieve more than anything. For example, I wanted to lose weight and get healthy more than I wanted the chocolate bars. Each time I desired the chocolate bar, I had to remind myself of the alternate goal and make it real and vivid. I had to see myself with that goal already achieved and experience the pleasure of it. I had to make that pleasure more intense than the pleasure I imagined I would receive from eating the chocolate bar.

The second skill is diversion, which is simply engaging in an activity that diverted my attention away from the undesirable activity. In the ‘chocolate bar’ example, I had to either give myself something that I would enjoy eating that was healthier for me or perform an alternate activity that would help me better meet my needs. For example, if I was angry, eating a chocolate bar would not help me, but taking a long walk to cool off likely would.

My co-worker was right: For many of us, losing weight is harder than gaining it. But we need to remind ourselves that, although it is harder to lose weight, it is not impossible. It is also worth the effort. Then we use our key of discipline to help us achieve what we want. It is the only way to get the body that we deserve.