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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Making good choices for yourself--not just for God or others

I learned a valuable lesson back in 2006 when I lost around 50 pounds.  Choosing to do what's best for you has to be a personal choice in order for you to best implement or stick with it.  My personal choice happened by 'accident'.  I hadn't been happy with my weight for a long time and I tagged along with my daughter's mom when she hired a personal trainer at the gym.  The trainer was actually very cool and didn't mind me working out along side her.  Anyway, in the process, I'd started running again and I started losing weight.  Once I dipped below 200lbs, it was like a light bulb went off.  I realize that I could really lose a significant amount of weight with exercise and diet choices.  In other words, I'd personalized the steps necessary to lose the weight.  I'd been teased about putting on the weight and I'd been told by my physician that I could stand to lose some weight.  Heck I remembered that the Bible even exhorts us to remember that our "body are a temple", which can be interpreted to include keeping ourselves fit or in shape.


Yes, despite wishing I could weigh less, teasing, my doctor's encouragement, and even biblical reference to respecting my body, I could not be moved to do what I needed to.  It was only when I embraced the choice to lose weight and become more fit that I actually did it successfully.

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Part of the equation of losing weight was to realize that I couldn't just deny all 'bad foods'.  I realized doing so would just put me in a mindset that I was 'depriving' myself and in a weak moment that I would binge on junk food.  Once again, if I tried to avoid all 'junk food' at all cost because I was 'supposed to', I would fail.  I knew I could not embrace a total ban on junk food, so I did the next best thing, limit and replace--limit servings & proportions and replace with a 'less bad' choice when possible.  Once again, in order for me to be most successful in my weight loss, I had to embrace a wise choice.

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I've come to see in myself and others around who have struggled at times with making the best choices and/or addictive behavior, that only we will make the best choices only when we are ready to.  It can be frustrating or upsetting for those close to or who live with such a person.  But, they have to be aware that it is rarely about them, but instead about the one who is struggling.  The person struggling with bad and/or addictive choices often times doesn't always feel like they are in control.  Shaming the person might work for a little bit, invoking or pointing out their religious beliefs (Christianity) might work for a little bit and even getting someone else to intervene for a bit might help, but ultimately the person has to be ready.  

It doesn't matter how much an addict loves his family, friends, God, etc.,  If he or she tries to 'sober up' strictly for any of them, he or she will likely fail.  If he or she on the other hand wants to 'sober up' because they don't like that aspect of their life and they are ready, then they have the best chance to succeed.  As a secondary motivation love of family and friends and love and obedience to God are wonderful, but it has to start with the addict.

Perhaps the biggest revelation on the matter occurred regarding my faith.  As a Christian, I used to expect that I should be perfect and I would beat myself up for being flawed, making mistakes and falling short.  Eventually, after so many failures, I became discouraged that I couldn't be a 'good enough' person to call myself a Christian.  So, I gave up trying.  It is only in more recent years, that I learned that I will make the best choices if underneath it all, I want to.  I want to be obedient to my faith and Higher Power, but I ultimately, it has to be something that in my heart I strive and long for.  For example, it is important for me to be a good father for my daughter.  If I were only do the right things for her because I wanted to keep her mom off my case, eventually, I'd fail.  But, it is my goal in my heart to be the best dad for her.

I am sure if I opened this post to everyone I know or friends of friends, literally, we could write a book on the subject matter.  But, alas it is late and I have to get sleep.

In the meantime, from what I see: When desiring to make the best choices, always, always make sure the choices are yours first and foremost.  You should desire to make the best choices in your life for others involved too, but you risk failure if they are the sole reason for your choices.

Anyway, the twelve steps of AA, effectively communicate this message (focusing on step 1 and 6):

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


Hopefully, this post proves helpful to a person or two.

-- Rich