Posted by: Sara S. | November 18, 2009

Too big to fail

There’s a secret no one tells you about dieting. And it’s the difference between those who succeed and those who fail. It explains why some of us spring out of bed at 7am when the alarm sounds,  while others snooze until it’s too late to get to the gym. Why it’s easy for people to climb on, and then abruptly off, the diet bandwagon, postponing their weight-loss plans indefinitely. And why you can name all the people in your life—employees, friends, family members, Jennifer Garner—whom everyone recognizes as “the gym goers.”

That secret is discipline.

Bad metabolisms, health conditions, busy lifestyles, inadequate cash flow: there are all kinds of roadblocks people use to convince themselves it’s okay to put off diet and exercise just one more day, one more week. For the past year, all I could think while downing my burger and fries was that someday sometime in the future I would lay down the law and rein in the indulgent lifestyle I’d been leading for months. My Future Self would set rules and be strict; but my Current Self didn’t have to worry about that. [And, just so Current Self knows: Future Self is sending a big F YOU your way right about now.] How naive I was to think that some magic fairy would appear one day and give me a solution to my cravings, my love of lo mein, my knee-jerk reaction to “You want to Supersize that?” No one, no thing, no fairy can make the decision for you. You will have to get up one morning and say to yourself “Self, this is quite enough.” And that’s what I did. I had had enough. I felt fat, tired, bloated, icky all the time. If aliens beamed down and rounded up all the Manhattanites they could catch, my sluggishness would land me ass-down on that ship.

And so, it had to end.

Since I’m only on Day 3 here, it would be grossly unfair of me to declare victory. Rome wasn’t built in a day; but it didn’t fall in a day either. I still have all the time in the world to fail. In fact, it would be expected and unsurprising for me to pack up and go home a week from now—heck, four months from now. I am already dreading those mornings in February when it’s cold and dark and the last thing I want to do is spend an hour running nowhere on the treadmill. And how will I possibly prevent my brain from taking over and steering me toward the nearest Duane Reade when I am in the throes of a sugar cravings spiral?

I need discipline. I’m asking for it for Christmas. Put it in my stocking, shove it under the tree, mix it in my low-fat eggnog. Each of us must pull our strength and passion and dedication from somewhere. If you don’t have that drive to commit, figure out where to get it. Because if experience has taught me anything, it’s this: Discipline is not an endangered species; if you are truly adamant about reducing the size of your ever-expanding American buttox, then you will find discipline. Just don’t expect it to come and find you.


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