Addiction Pt.2: Self Control and Self Worth

First things first, I just found this new theme and decided to throw together a sweet header for it. I am pretty freaking happy with the way it turned out. Anyways….

So while I was on vacation I wrote my last blog post about addiction and time. It is something that I went home and talked about even more with all sorts of people dealing with many different kinds of addiction. I was feeling justifiably good about this idea of mine, and was feeling even better that I was turning my advice inward and working towards progress in my different struggles. Everything was going great…until I stepped on a scale.

See, my weight has been a problem for me for a long time, a problem that, until a few months ago, I was happy to ignore. I went to the doctor a few months ago and was told that for my age and height my weight put me right at the brink of obesity. I was shocked. I had always known that I was a hefty guy, but never did I think I was obese. It was then that I vowed to lose the weight by eating better and exercising more. I did well for a time, and then sort of forgot about it. That is, until my prescription refills ran out and I had to return to my doctor. So, I went into overdrive mode and managed to be at least a few pounds below that weight I was at before. My doctor was so proud of my “accomplishments”. I was so happy that he was proud that my overdrive continued for longer than I would have expected. But, eventually it died out. I went through life believing that I was eating moderately and avoided the scale. It was in this state that I went on vacation. During my vacation I biked, climbed, and walked all over St. Louis. I ate humus and drank lots of water (and whiskey….). I felt so good about my active vacation I was sure that when I got home I could stand on the scale once again and feel good about seeing a number below 300 (my original weight when I went into the doctor).  I thought, this is going to be the thing that gets me back on track towards my goal of being at 250 by the time my son is born and eventually going all the way to 200. When I arrived back at home I was excited to see all the progress I had made on vacation. I excitedly stepped on my scale. Suddenly, my excitement was gone. Surely the scale must be broken, I thought to my self. For there was no way I actually weighed 306 pounds!

But, it was true. It was a truth that hit me, hard. It knocked me back to reality and made me realize, I was not balanced in my diet. There was no moderation in what I ate. Then and there I decided that I needed to change something, not just for a while, but for a lifetime. I could no longer drink gallons of soda a day (to all you people who drink soda with most meals, actually tab up how much you drink…it will shock you). I opened up my calorie count program on my phone and decided that until this truly becomes natural, I was going to watch (very literally) everything I ate.  It is three weeks later. I have been very diligent with watching what I eat and not filling up with empty calories. I try to exercise more, but am fully aware that exercise is an area I need much improvement on. I am currently 289.5 pounds. I have lost 16.5 pounds in 3 weeks. I am getting used to at most having one can of pop a day, and having more protein in my diet. And you know what did it? What helped me beat my addiction to food (I loved to eat, just to eat. Not because I am hungry)? It wasn’t a plan. No Weight Watchers or Adkins. No fancy pill that promises hot bods for all that partake in its magical wonderment. Just good, old-fashioned self-control.

Self control is powerful. When you really discipline yourself to do something, change can and will happen. Self control is not something you see very often in our culture. We tend to lean towards simple solutions and easy-way-out options. Self control is difficult, if you have never really done it. We have too many people believing that they can’t lose the weight, put down the drink, smoke their last cigarette. We have people believing that some doctor’s plan can do what they can not. That weight watchers can accomplish what the could never do. That by getting surgery they can miraculously stop smoking. That maybe if we pray hard enough, G-d will overcome our problem, because we are too weak to do anything. All of these occurrences happen because we don’t believe we have the self-control to get over our vices. Why don’t we believe we can gain this self-control?

We don’t believe in ourselves.

We don’t think that we are capable of accomplishing the task. So we put it in the hands of weight watchers. We put it in the hands of diet pills. We put it in the hands of G-d. This lack of self-control seems to stem from two things: A lack of self-worth and laziness. We don’t want to do the work that we don’t believe we can do. So, we find shortcuts. We find the easy way out. Its bad enough when our shortcut is a crazy diet or surgery. But, what is truly grieving to me is the countless people who sit in their vice, waiting hopelessly for G-d to be their easy way out. I know this might cause some controversy, but I believe that G-d believes in us. I believe that G-d wants us to conquer our vices, for it is then that we will find the deepest truth in our victory. I think that it is not something we can do on our own, but with the strength that G-d grants all of his creation. I think that sitting around waiting for some crazy miracle to deliver you from your problem is just like hoping that the anticarb doctor will save your from your obesity. But the thing is, when  you make the change internally, when you work hard, and overcome your addiction, the change is far more permanent. Patches will go away, you will forget your diet. But when you buckle down, gain some self-control, and do the hard work, that is something you will never lose. That is the truth I believe G-d wants us to find. There is a reason G-d doesn’t just say “this is how it is.” There is a reason the Bible is beautifully mystical and cryptic. Because truth is something G-d wants us to find, not something he just gives us. So why is it we think that with problems, G-d wants to just show us the answer, instead of giving us the strength to find the answer?

Go, and find your answer.

Post Script: I just want to make it clear that I am not saying I don’t believe G-d can deliver people from their addictions. I think there are dire situations that need divine intervention. I just believe that G-d would prefer, that it is G-d’s desire to see us use the strength he gives us to conquer our addictions, for it is there that we will find the deepest truths. I would also like to state that I believe that there are many tools that can be very helpful to the process of overcoming addiction. The difference between helpful tools like AA, Nutrition counters, and personal trainers is that these things are helping you to succeed, not providing an easier way to supposed success. The tools help you to make it through the difficult path, not redirect you to an easier one.