Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Life is Worthy of Effort (6.12.07)

effort: The use of physical or mental energy to do something; exertion;
A difficult exertion of the strength or will; A usually earnest attempt

It is no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary. Winston Churchill

As a society we are spoiled rotten. We want life served to us on a silver platter. We want results without effort, we want success without paying our dues. We want enjoyment without challenge. We don't want to exert ourselves... we migrate toward flashing signs that say EASY, FAST, SIMPLE, EFFORTLESS. "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." Sam

uel Johnson

It's amazing how a seemingly innocuous comment someone made can send my mind steamrolling. No offense intended, just my mind flying off on a tangent! The comment was regarding exercise and someone needing to enjoy things, needing to like things, needing not to get bored in order to stick with it. I could be wrong (but I don't think I am), but that will usually get you the bare minimum of results. Bare minimum results lead to disappointment, disappointment leads to abandonment of a program, abandonment leads to failure.

When did we, as a society, evolve this attitude that we need to like things in order to apply ourselves to them? I feel this attitude is largely responsible for the epidemic of credit card debt and obesity in this country. Think debt and obesity have nothing in common? You see it, you like it, you want it, you get it or eat it ... no thought to the effects on your health or your economic condition. Why? Because you like it, because it provides temporary pleasure. The marketing machine has picked up on this and we are bombarded with temptations at every turn..and lack the discipline to resist them.

I always tell my kids (and myself) that some things must be done because they are right. Some things must be done because they are good for you. Some things must be done because they simply must be done. It's called discipline and we all need it.

discipline: Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement; Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control.

It always amazes me when I hear parents talking about what their kids will not eat. Will not? Wow. You eat what is set before you. Period. As a parent, one should be making mature food choices for their children's health, not catering to taste buds that scream for sugar and starch. If your kids start from the get-go knowing that there are no "ifs," "ands" or "buts," they'll eat the broccoli, they'll eat the whole wheat pasta. Maybe they won't like it, maybe they will learn to like it. Start teaching them that every meal is all about enjoyment and that food is entertainment, see what happens... (I loved the show on TLC, "Honey, We're Killing Our Kids" - too bad it's all too true for many families).

The spoiling goes on when we feel we have to gratify every little want and desire. Who hasn't heard the kids screaming in Wal-mart and the parents who placate them by giving them what they want? When my kids used to do this, we'd break out into song, "You can't always get what you want, no, you can't always get what you want... but you get what you need..." That shut them up fast. :) My kids are all turning out to be nice, practical, non-spoiled young ladies with level heads, praise God.

We need to ditch this pattern of thinking that says, "I'll follow this exercise program if I'm not bored, if it's not too hard, if I enjoy it." "I'll follow this diet if the recipes are good, if I can have substitutes that taste like ice cream and pudding." How many fad diets are out there that promise this and don't deliver? How many namby-pamby exercise programs that just don't deliver? We have to stop coddling ourselves and get realistic.

Regarding a healthy diet & exercise: You do it because it is good. You do it because it is right. You do it because it must be done. You do it because you only get ONE body, one life on this earth. You do it because that body should not be taken for granted, it is a prized possession to be treated with respect and love. Sure you have a choice, life is full of choices - live a quality existence in a body that is as healthy as possible, or grind to a feeble halt in a body that has been abused and fed the wrong fuels.

Effort isn't fun, it's work. The results, however, the results are worth that element of struggle. Nothing tastes better than the sense of accomplishment that comes when hard work pays off.

At the gym today, the guy who trains his friend had them over by the free weights doing barbell curls to muscle fatigue. He had that weight loaded on there and the pain was evident on his face. His arms were shaking, his face was in grimace and his buddy was saying, "Just one more, one more, one more..." He did it. Dropped the weight and groaned, "That sucks! That sucks so bad, it sucks." BUT...he was smiling. He was willing to suffer for the tennis ball sized peaks that he wants on his biceps. He was willing to expend effort doing something that he didn't like because that something would provide maximum results.

In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Discipline, effort, self-control... these things apply to every area of our lives. I don't think we ever "arrive" at a place of completeness, there is always work to be done, somewhere, on something.

Phil 3:12- 14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Stepping off my soap box. :)

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