On Discipline and Better Things

On Discipline and Better Things
Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

Back in May, I began a journey of discipline. It started out as a dietary change – I gave up sugar and most carbs for the entire month, with a few cheats here and there. It was hard. I failed often, and my cravings got the better of me. Since I wasn’t wholeheartedly committed, since I wasn’t disciplined, I fell off the plan for June, July, and the early part of August.

When August came around, I committed to discipline again. I’d recently been prescribed medicine for my frequent migraines, and I didn’t like how it made my body feel. I began my journey of discipline again, except this time I plunged in. I gave up sugar. I restricted my carb intake to 20g net carbs or less a day. And, I began running.

That was 5 weeks ago. I have only cheated once – a few bites of wedding cake last week. I’m amazed at how good I feel. My body doesn’t ache. I have had zero migraines in 5 weeks. My energy is consistently high. I’ve gone from living sedentary to running 4+ miles multiple times a week. And, I’ve lost just under 20 pounds. It’s incredible.

This journey of discipline isn’t about weight loss, though that is nice. It’s about saying no to some things, and it’s about pursuing the better things. I was not unhealthy before – in fact I had a recent checkup with a doctor where I got a good report of healthy, if not a little overweight. But though I may have been healthy, I didn’t feel good. I had low energy most days. Getting out of bed was a struggle. My brain fog prevented me from focusing on tasks for too long. I wanted something better.

As I’ve gone through this transformation, I’ve given much thought to the idea of discipline and the pursuit of better things. It’s what the Christian life is about, really. We give up some things – they may be bad or good, depending on what it is – for the better things. By the transforming power of the gospel, we say no to sin and pursue holiness. We hold loosely to the temporal for the promise of the eternal. We give up the world to gain Jesus.

Paul says it this way,

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 

and

One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way…let us hold true to what we have attained.

Now, do I miss donuts? Sometimes. Yet, now that I’ve tasted the better things, I no longer have the appetite for the lesser things. The few bites of cake I had last week were a letdown, and a reminder that though they may be good, they do not satisfy. Just like the lesser things of this world. Money, sex, extravagance, pleasure, unholy relationships. They promise so much but deliver so little.

I’m reminded of C.S Lewis’ poignant thoughts on this subject:

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis

What are the lesser things you’re holding tightly to? What are the better things you should be pressing into?

2017 Goals – January Recap

2017-goals-january-update

Can you believe we are already one month into 2017? It feels like January just flew by, but I’m okay with it. The winter months always seem to drag on, and I think I get a little bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder by the end of them. Truthfully, once Christmas is over, I’m ready for all things spring!

If you’re a regular reader, you may remember that I gave up Facebook for the year and established some goals to pursue throughout 2017. Let me just say that so far I have NO REGRETS from that decision. Over the last month I have seen an improvement in my overall mood, and I don’t miss Facebook at all. And given that we are experiencing such a heated political climate right now, I am certain that leaving Facebook was probably my best decision ever.

Since we are one month into the year, I thought I’d do a quick check-in on my goals for 2017. These will just be short updates, as I plan to write some posts related to some of these goals later this month.

  1. Writing my book – I have been working on this goal in short bursts here and there. In particular, I’ve been developing a personal essay (that will later become a chapter of the book) for a local writing contest.
  2. Training for a half marathon – I’m sad to report that I didn’t do much running in January. One reason for this is that I need to invest in some higher end shoes – my current New Balance shoes are fine for the treadmill but leave me in pain when running outdoors, which is my preferred running location. I’m thinking of getting some Hoka One Ones, but I’m waiting until we have room in the budget for that investment.
  3. Blogging – I have definitely been blogging more! I successfully posted 2-3 times a week on the blog throughout the month of January – which is a huge improvement!
  4. Being present – Since I still have Twitter and Instagram, this is still a challenge at times, but I have seen a pretty big change here. Most notably, I find myself just forgetting where my phone is, or leaving it at home when we’re out at church or running errands. Stepping away from Facebook has definitely led to a decreased attachment to my phone, which is a plus.
  5. Reading more books – I read 4 books in January! Stay tuned for a review post soon.
  6. Saving money – I am so excited about this goal. For the first time EVER, we came in under budget in every budget category! We have some very specific goals for this year (which include buying our first home), so I’m really pleased with how well we managed our finances in January.

Overall, January was a good month for meeting goals, and I hope that consistency carries on into February as well. How are you doing on your 2017 goals?

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