Yesterday at Pulpit Magazine, *John MacArthur posted several very good starter tips to help anyone begin the process of self-discipline. If you're anything like me, and pretty much stink at self-discipline, you can (and should) read that post.
As I read through the short list, #1, #4 and #6 without question apply to my life. I'm a neat freak (although you wouldn't know it by the general appearance of my home - that is the result of going through years and years of phases of kids - none of which are neat freaks like me!) and I'm a list maker/keeper/doer, and I'm so into self-denial that when I fold laundry I often think "wow, I NEED to buy some new stuff some day". You sort of have to be a self-denier in certain areas, when you have as many kids as I do.
The thing about practicing self-discipline is, it spills over into every area of your life. When you begin a discipline in one place, your way of thinking is such that you'll want to be like that in other areas as well - and in the critically important areas such as prayer, bible reading, bible study, and those areas of your character that you know need work (temper, taming the tongue, easily provoked into jealousy, etc.).
Truth is, while I actually do practice diligent self-discipline in some areas, I'm really awful at it, in others. I know I need to do it, I know I want to do it, and I know the benefits of it will be a blessing, and yet it eludes me.
One area of this that really stands out for me is losing weight. Ten years ago I was at my ideal weight for my height and build, but then within 4 years I had 3 more children and the last 20 pounds just never came off. It's not that I eat like a horse (anyone who knows me, knows I barely eat at all, even though I joke about pie and goodies and stuff like that all the time), and it's not that I'm morbidly obese or have weight-related health problems. It's just that after almost five years of having my last kid, I'm still carrying around excess weight, and it all in the "pregnant" spots for women, and I hate it. Nothing fits the way it is designed to fit, and I generally have to wear clothes that are too big in every other area so that they cover the bigger areas. This explains why I live in big t-shirts and comfy pants - even though I don't really want to.
I know exactly what I need to do to get rid of this weight, and for the life of me I just can't do it. I can't do aerobics, I can't do sit ups, I can't find the time to ride my bike, and I can't go join a gym. It's not that I'm physically incapable of exercise (although doing a sit up might be rather comical, after having 7 kids and abs that are now made for soft spots for kids to sit), I just detest the idea of setting 20 or 30 minutes aside each day and "working out". I've tried it many times and I never stick with it. Ever.
I've bought work out dvds, I've tried to set aside time to ride my bike (yeah, the one in the garage covered in spiderwebs that hasn't seen the light of day for 2 summers now) and I even have a stationary bike sitting right behind me that my friend gave me a while back. I had every intention of riding it for a few minutes a day, and yet there it sits, stationary. Gack.
So, I decided to post this today with the hope that mentioning it might go a little way toward helping to keep me accountable. It is my plan (how many of those have I had?) to start a small exercise plan each day. In the same way that I wash the dishes, wipe down the surfaces, sweep & mop the kitchen floor, start a load of laundry then clean the bathroom every morning, I want to add to that morning routine some type of exercise. Even if it's just hiding in the laundry room and attempting some crunches for 10 minutes. Even if it's just something small to get me started.
I thought about posting a little snippet in the sidebar to show my current weight and weekly progress, but I'm not entirely comfortable with that just now. It's not that I care about folks knowing what I weigh (I'm 5'8" and weigh 165 pounds), it's just that I'm battling the idea of having to post my progress and admit each week that I'm still at 165. Insert another 'gack' there.
Okay, that's it and that's that, and I'm off to the morning routine. I guess we'll see how this works out. No pun intended.
*I'm not sure if that's actually pastor MacArthur posting, or if it's one of his staff posting his material. Either way, it's always good stuff.