(dis)content

Heard a great lesson yesterday morning on contentment, something I struggle with. There is a fine line between wanting to better yourself and your circumstances and letting those desires consume you to the point of unhappiness.

Don’t we live life this way? Living for tomorrow? For next weekend? For the next holiday? For next semester? Life will be better, easier and with much more time… tomorrow. But today? I must do, do, do and not stop until bed time.

I find contentment especially difficult in the diet and fitness world because it is built around discontentment.

Let me explain.

Most effective advertising for diets and/or fitness programs show you what you will look like when the program is complete. Of course you see half naked people everywhere who have experienced marvelous success with xyz program.

This isn’t inherently wrong, but it plays with your emotions, your longings, your deepest desires because you really want those six pack abs and big biceps (since they are the real indicators of strength ๐Ÿ˜‰ *joke) or Madonna arms. You want to look like them so much that you purchase xyz program.

Then statistics say that you probably do not follow the program nor experience those results, so you are back where you started… discontent. Looking at other people’s bodies and wishing you had theirs instead of your own.

I’ve been there too.

I think the biggest problem with these programs is not the programs themselves, but our perception of a temporary solution to a permanent issue.

We want a diet that only lasts 30 days and solves all of our weight issues and an exercise program that requires minimal effort.

These are band-aids to our real issues that persist long after the diet/exercise program’s sparkle wears off… issues like no self-discipline, over-eating, sugar-addictions, complacency, laziness, refusal to get out of one’s comfort zone, poor sleep habits… things that slowly poison our bodies inside and out.

An addiction to sugar causes a faster loss of eyesight. Refusal to get out of your comfort zone causes stagnancy. A lack of self-discipline causes excuse-making. Over-eating just hurts.

Temporary solutions are just that… temporary. And they feed the discontentment so that it grows and swells into pure covetousness.

There is another way. It usually takes some catastrophic event to “wake” someone up – a death or near-death, heart attack, diabetes diagnosis, looking at the scale, looking in the mirror, etc. The event may manifest in one way or a combination, but the result is the same.

For whatever reason, you decide you no longer want your current circumstance of fatness, unhealthy living, the feeling of disgust after your third piece of cake or your tenth cookie. You’re ready. You’re motivated. You want better for yourself.

This may still be discontentment, but I think it is a healthy discontentment. It motivates you towards action, towards lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle changes are permanent solutions to permanent issues. They take work, dedication, sweat, and even tears. They are difficult because, as the name implies, they require changes in habits, in hangouts, perhaps even in friends. Everything is different.

Lifestyle changes may look like a diet-change, starting an exercise regime, sleeping more, getting up early, setting and following a schedule or budget, etc.

People ask if I still do the Paleo-thing. Of course, I answer. It’s doable. I feel better. I have more energy. It’s sustainable. I don’t fatten.

I love Paleo because it allows me to live contently with my eating. I don’t have to constantly weigh and measure food or wonder if I will balloon up because I ate a bowl of pasta, tiramisu, cake, and cereal. No counting calories or restricting them. I don’t know about you, but being at peace with my diet allows much more room for thinking in my head! Before, “dieting” took precedence in my mind. I thought about it constantly. Now, I only think about what’s for dinner!

My lifestyle change in exercise allows me to live contently with my “moving”. Through trial-and-error I’ve learned that lifting weights coupled with conditioning work yields the best results in the least amount of time. I don’t have to spend hours (literally hours) “working out” each day (with no results). I used to walk 5 miles per day plus go to spin class plus kickboxing class. This was stressful to schedule all by itself.

Instead, I have set training goals – like 10 pull-ups or 75 non-stop KB swings (44.1# KB) – that I can make steady progress towards and see physical changes with too. They are challenging and fun. It’s a game instead of something I HAVE TO DO to look better naked.

These lifestyle changes transformed my motivations from eating and exercising out of fear to eating and exercising for enjoyment. They can do the same for you too.

In summary, it’s easy to want what you think everyone else has and remain discontent with your circumstances. It’s even easier to purchase “band-aids” for a quick (and temporary) fix. I hope you will consider the impact of true lifestyle changes as opposed to these temporary band-aids. The problem of discontentment feeds the diet & exercise industry because it never truly expects (or wants) you to get real results. Covering up the problem for a month IS NOT the same as solving it. But do not confuse this unhealthy discontentment with a healthy discontentment. Healthy discontentment motivates you towards lifestyle changes that alter the course of your life in a positive direction. They are guaranteed to be difficult, but you will reap exponential rewards. Lifestyle changes, like Paleo and consistent exercise, allow you more time to ponder important things like the meaning of life and what’s for dinner. They can allow you contentment over an area that in most people’s lives is usually chaos.

 

3 Comments

  • Laura

    Reply Reply April 18, 2011

    Liked this! I love pondering the more important things such as, what’s for dinner, too! ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, I just happened across this post. Do I need to re-sign up for the emails?

    • admin

      Reply Reply April 18, 2011

      Thanks! I’ve been busy trying to get everything switched over and am working on that! Just hold off for right now. I’m going to attempt to sign everyone that is subscribed up myself. You’ll probably have to click a link to confirm but that is it! Look out for the link in your inbox! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Pam Yarbro

    Reply Reply April 19, 2011

    AMEN, SISTA!!

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