Tag Archives: self-discipline

The One Thing You Must to Do to Lose Weight

Recently I reconnected with a friend from college. Amidst long days and nights at USC’s architecture school, we often did two free weight workouts a day. Having not seen each other for almost two decades, I was gratified by his remarking how good I looked. You see, when last we got together I tipped the scale at nearly 195 lbs., close to obese for my 5’-8” height. “How did you lose weight?” he asked.

The One Thing You Must to Do to Lose Weight

By Cha già José / CC-BY-SA-2.0

During most of my adult life, a typical dinner was half a dozen sourdough rolls (often with sweet cream butter), a small salad, a pint of Haagen-Dazs ice cream (coffee or vanilla fudge) washed down with a liter or so of caffeine-free Coke. Breakfast and lunch were no better. Would you like to know the sad thing? As I write this I'm salivating at the thought of such a meal.

Shortly after Melanie and I got married (still weighing in the low 190s) I realized it was time to lose weight.   I had a heart-to-heart talk with myself. It went something like this:

Responsible Kevin: Well, you have a wife now, and soon probably children.

Childish Kevin: Yeah, so what?

Responsible Kevin: Do you want to be around to celebrate your golden wedding anniversary and bounce grandkids on your knees?

Childish Kevin: Isn’t that the point of getting married?

Responsible Kevin: Don’t be a smart-aleck. You think you’ll make it toting around an extra 30+ lbs?

Childish Kevin: I run three mornings a week!

Responsible Kevin: And you haven’t dropped an ounce.

Childish Kevin: Well, what do you suggest?

Responsible Kevin: How about restricting your caloric intake to an appropriate level?

Childish Kevin: And what would that be?

Responsible Kevin: 1500 calories a day.

Childish Kevin: You must be joking. A pint of Haagen-Dazs has got 1000 calories.

Responsible Kevin: Exactly. Are you getting on board or are you going to be obese for the rest of your life?

Childish Kevin: No need to nag. You’re right. I’ll get with the program, 1500 calories a day it is, except for the Sabbath.

Responsible Kevin: Deal!

And so for the next three months I ate a breakfast of two pieces of fruit and high-fiber cereal with skim milk. Lunch was usually cottage cheese, salsa, and chips. Dinner was a salad with oil and vinegar dressing. Such was my fare six days a week. Sabbath meals were elaborate and more caloric but not outrageous. Each day I gave myself a treat of some kind of chocolate, about 150 calories worth.

Nothing happened for the first week. Then, the pounds started to fall off, about two per week. Three months later I was down to the low 160s. At that point, I started an exercise program that eventually allowed me to up my daily caloric intake to 2400. That’s where it stands today. Meals still consist primarily of fruit, vegetables, high-fiber grain products, and low-calorie protein.

Maybe you

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can commit to losing weight for its own sake. I could not. It took my duty to my family to stir within me the self-discipline necessary to permanently change my eating habits.

What will motivate you to lose weight and keep it off?

Is it longevity, the image of the body you have pasted to your bathroom mirror, or desire to be there for your family? While you think about your answer to the first question ask yourself:

Am I Living to Eat or Eating to Live?

If the former, it is unlikely you will find sufficient motivation to change since food is too important a part of your identity. An attitude shift to the latter philosophy will undergird your motivation. You can still enjoy eating without making it central to your life.

So here is the thing you must do to lose weight:

Determine your proper caloric intake and don’t eat more.

Here's a website that will help you. You cannot exercise your way to weight loss. Exercising three to five times a week will give you less than a 30% caloric bump over what you can eat if you live a sedentary life.

Exercising is crucial for cardiac health and obtaining and maintaining strength and muscle tone. But trying to adopt both a better diet and exercise routine will overtask your self-discipline. You increase your chances of success if you tackle them one at a time.

Do not wait until after the holidays, START NOW! Telling yourself you will succumb to the temptations of the season undermines the self-control you intend to develop in a few weeks. Give yourself a bigger win by making a plan that allows a small indulgence as part of your new lifestyle of healthy eating.

What do you think is your biggest hurdle to a healthier diet

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Why You Are Attracted to Opposites

Common belief is that when a couple hates each other divorce is around the corner. But think a second time. When you loath someone how easy is it to get the person out of your mind? Try as you might your thoughts keep coming back to the object of hate. If only you could just divorce the person, at least from inside your head.

Why You Are Attracted to Opposites

While speaking with a sailor about his marital problems he stated he hated his wife. When I replied that was a good thing he was surprised. But then I pointed out that love and hate are not opposites. He was intrigued. Both entail intense emotions. They are closely related, two sides of the same coin. At their root both evidence a powerful connection between two people. Think about how much energy it takes to truly love and hate. Rather,

Once a couple has gotten to the point where one of them is unmoved by the other the marriage is in trouble. Dispassion destroys any incentive to work issues through. Like physical fatigue, it saps the strength needed to confront difficulties.  They fester to the point where the aggravation of their presence is greater than the turmoil of divorce.

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Similar to the love-indifference dichotomy, attraction and revulsion are not opposites. Again, both are strong responses to another person.

This is why people rubberneck at automobile accidents and other gruesome sights and delight at horror movies. Irresistibility and repulsion evoke often uncontrollable emotional and physical responses.

When developing self-discipline, mental acuity, and relationships an important key is being able to respond rather than react. Respond means your words and actions are in harmony with your values and the image of yourself you are creating. React communicates a lack of self-control and generally does more damage than good.

Knowing that the opposite of a strong emotional response is not a different strong emotional response means you can defuse a situation.  You'll stay on the love side of the love-hate coin. If your child or spouse screams hateful words you can view them as a temporary inability to express powerful, loving emotions since both grow from the same root. Admittedly this is easier with your child.

Ironically, the key to preventing love and attraction from becoming indifference and coolness is using the latter two to gently bring the other person back to the same, strong emotion you feel. Mastering this technique will help you live harmoniously, which in all likelihood is part of your plan for living intentionally.

Question – What is your view of the connection between love, hate, and indifference?

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6 Things You Can Do Now to Become an Entrepreneur

Frustrating as it is to be unable to pursue your dream, you can still be preparing yourself to become an entrepreneur. Any big goal needs to be broken down into incremental steps. When starting a business you can do these basic things, all of which cost little or no money to accomplish.

6 Things You Can Do Now to Become an Entrepreneur

One vestige of my misspent youth was not practicing my clarinet more diligently. Had I done so I would be able to play swing and big band tunes reasonably well. Now I have the desire to routinely practice. One of the greatest clarinetists of all time, Benny Goodman, says it takes at least an hour a day to gain proficiency. For two years I would get into a regimen and make progress only to have to give it up. When I started blogging and building a platform there was no margin in my schedule.

Yet I feel extremely strongly about learning to play the clarinet well. I decided I would find some way to work toward my goal that would not take more than five minutes a day. A bit of thought and research later, I found some hand exercises for clarinet players that improve dexterity. After several months I have definitely made progress..

Here are the things you can do now to prepare to start a business:

  1. Set the amount of time each day you will work on your business planning. Even if it is only 10 or 15 minutes, that is five to eight hours a month. If you focus even for such a small amount of time you can make progress. As a bonus, you will be building self-discipline.
  2. Decide what product or service you want your business to be about. Assess your skills, inventory your likes, read articles and blogs about likely industries, and talk to entrepreneurs.
  3. Name you business. No matter that you may change it, naming your business makes it more tangible. Play around with logo designs and design some business cards.
  4. Determine its start-up size. Are you going to have a microenterprise run from your home or a larger company? Will you need a workshop, office, or employees?
  5. Work out whether you can start your business while you still have a job. Can you scale what you are doing so that you can keep your “day” job and moonlight starting your business? If not, how much money will you need to set aside so you will not run out of cash during the start-up phase?
  6. Make a list of the things you will need to get going. What equipment will you need? What forms and records will you have to keep? Which skills you do not have can you get before you start-up or fill with an employee or virtual assistant?
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Note that none of these steps will cost you more than your time and perhaps a few dollars for printable business card blanks. And do not forget, you can always be learning more about the subject of your business. The Internet provides a wealth of free information and classes.

There is no reason to delay any longer. Start today, or no later than tonight, to plan for starting your company!

Question – What will be your first step in planning your business start-up?

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Want to Really Be Free?

Freedom. The entire history of the United States is wrapped up in this concept. Given its importance periodically we should take time to consider its nature.

Want to Really Be Free?

When I talk to young people about freedom usually they tell me it means being able to do whatever you want. Often they will qualify this by saying as long as it does not hurt anyone else. This is a good working definition as far as it goes. But as people mature perhaps their concept of freedom needs to develop.

All politics aside, in the United States we have agreed to be restricted from doing a great many things. For example, despite the First Amendment, we cannot call out fire in a crowded theater as a joke. It is considered contemptible to use bigoted epithets. While it is true that people retain the freedom to do these things, in the former they could be criminally prosecuted and in the latter fired from their job or shunned. The penalty for exercising such freedoms is very high.

Another aspect of freedom that I rarely hear addressed is whether people are truly free if they are dominated by the animalistic or addictive sides of their nature. Are incessant womanizers really free or are they captives of their baser instincts? Can non-recovering alcoholics or drug addicts actually act in freedom or are they slaves?

Pippin, in the eponymous show, identifies the dichotomy after realizing that pursuing his hedonistic instincts has led to a hollow life: “If I’m never tied to anything, I’ll never be free.” To be truly free you must be able to make decisions unimpeded by ignoble desires and uncontrolled passions. Put another way, you need to understand your values and be able to act in accordance with them. Running your life on autopilot is not freedom but captivity and dependence.

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Some might say that such an ideal is emotionally stunted, lacking in spontaneity, devoid of joie de vivre (joy of life – sounds better in French, no?) But freedom lies in between the sterile existence these criticisms imply and the decadence of a complete lack of control. To paraphrase an old expression: act in haste with lack of self-restraint, repent in leisure having done considerable self-harm.

This mature concept of freedom requires introspection and self-discipline. It is the essence of living intentionally. If your want to benefit from the fundamental rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, it is worth considering their order. The antecedent to liberty is life. What kind of life do you want to lead: one committed to doing anything you want (as long as it does not hurt anyone else) or one in which you are free to pursue that which you have consciously chosen and value?

Question – What does freedom mean to you?

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Why You Must Distinguish between Self-Discipline and Self-Denial

“From wine and hard drink he will separate . . .” (Bamidbar/Numbers 6:3). G-d tells the Israelites that a person who takes a Nazirite vow must not drink what we know as unfermented grape juice and wine. Why only these beverages and not any type of food?

Why You Must Distinguish between Self-Discipline and Self-Denial

This coming Sabbath we read Parshas Nasso.  In it, we learn about the census of Levites and the assignment of their responsibilities, the Sotah, the Nazir, the priestly blessing, and the offerings that the leaders of the Twelve Tribes brought to dedicate the Tabernacle.

A person who feels his spiritual level is on shaky ground can take a vow to abstain from grapes and grape products and to refrain from cutting his hair. But if improving one’s sense of holiness is the goal, would it not be more logical to shun all earthly pleasures?

Sforno points out that giving up drinking wine will not weaken a person’s health. We learn from this it is wrong to abstain from those things we need to sustain us physically thereby decreasing our capacity to do mitzvahs and improve our character. Activities, such as fasting for multiple days, impede rather than improve our ability to elevate our spirits.

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Noteworthy is that a Nazir brings a sin offering to complete his vow. Thus we see even a vow of limited abstinence is not meritorious but rather a last resort. While wine is not necessary to sustain life, the only beverage over which Kiddish, the prayer that begins the Friday night Sabbath meal, can be said is wine or grape juice. A Nazir gives up this crucial ritual.

Most important is to distinguish between self-discipline and self-denial. The former helps us be focused on the important goals in life. The latter weakens us, making it more difficult to fulfill the purpose for which G-d made us.

Question – How do you balance being disciplined while not being overly strict with yourself?

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