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Patriot or Mercenary, Which are You?

Friday, August 09, 2013

What do soldiers have to do with us at Spark trying to form a healthier lifestyle? Think about this for a minute. . .

What's the difference between a patriot, and a mercenary? Both are fighting for the same cause. On the outside, they look identical. But there's a huge difference on the inside. The patriot is giving all of himself to fight for something he deems more important than his personal comfort. The mercenary is fighting in order to win some personal comfort. He's fighting for whatever the offered 'prize' is, and if the effort exceeds what he deems the prize is worth, he's out of there.

That's the situation we are in as 'dieters'. Ever notice that some of us just seem to take off like a shot at the starting gate, and never look back. You watch their SparkPage, and see consistent results until they meet their goal, and after. Others of us are in yo-yo mode. We do well for a while, and then slip back into our old patterns. What's the difference?

While there are a ton of variables, such as age, heredity, background illnesses, hormonal issues, ability to exercise, etc., the main difference seems to be in the mindset. Like the patriot, the successful dieter sees a goal of lifetime health that they view as worth the pain. They handle setbacks and disappointments as part of the process. They don't quit just because something went wrong. They are more determined than ever to stay the course, win the war.

Did you ever hear of a war when nothing went wrong? When a side won all the battles with no losses, no equipment failure, no illness, no setbacks? Of course not! That's not how life works. Instead, think of George Washington that dreadful winter at Valley Forge.

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia, upload.wikimedia.org/wik
ipedia/commons /thumb/5/55/Washington_and_Laf
and in the public domain.)

Only one in three soldiers had adequate shoes, it took until February until log huts could be made for the men. There was a chronic shortage of clean water and food, illness ran rampant through the camp. Some went home. But those that stayed grew more determined. Baron von Steuben trained the men tirelessly, until their battle techniques were honed. Those soldiers came out of this dark time ready to do their best. It was a difficult time, but coming through this hard spell just made them hunger more for victory. They wouldn't take defeat as an answer. That was their greatest weapon.

What about you? Why are you here? Are you here because you're aiming for a prize of some sort, like someone else's praise? Or are you here because nothing less than victory will do? You want to be as healthy as you can, it's your goal, your mantra, your passion. . .and you will succeed, despite setbacks.

I'm not saying that you'll never make a bad choice. Remember the army analogy earlier? No army goes to war without setbacks, it's part of life. The question is, when the setbacks happen, what will you do? Are you really determined, or just sort of dazzled by the prize?

What do you do when you're hungry for something you know you shouldn't eat? What do you do when you know you need adequate sleep for weight loss, but you like staying up at night on Facebook for 'me time'? What do you do when it's exercise time, and you 'don't wanna'? And what do you do when you fall down in your plans and make a bad choice?

The mercenary gives up as soon as the going gets tough, because they were only tempted by the prize. The patriot is in for the long haul. They are fighting for themselves, their family, their home. What about you? What are you fighting for? Are you willing to put up with disappointments, difficulties and lifestyle changes?

Have you figured out yet that this is a battle, a battle for your very life, and the lives of your family? You need to win this battle. Don't be dazzled by the enemy's tricks. Yes, that 500 calorie muffin does look good. And it will taste good for the first two bites. The rest is just habit. Try it yourself.

Pick a favorite treat. Eat the first bite. Savor the flavor. Ummmmm. Now the second bite. Still good, although not as good as the first. All the rest of the bites are just trying to recapture the rapture of the first bite. You could have limited yourself to just two bites, had the majority of the flavor, and saved hundreds of calories. Learning techniques like the two-bite treat help you on your way to victory.

You need to train, to learn new techniques that are going to stand you in good stead when the enemy's attacks come. You have to prepare a defense. This site is full of good advice, but you have to take it to heart. Use it, make it yours. The military training is designed to hone your skills until the proper action is your immediate reaction, without even thinking about it. That's what we need to do. Make our healthy living skills so practiced, that we do it without even thinking about it. That's when we win, big time.

We say we don't have time to track our food consumption, but then we sit down to television, or at the computer on Facebook or on a video game, and the time flies away. We had the time, we just didn't use it to our best benefit.

We say we don't have time to exercise, yet who can't take five minutes an hour to stretch and do some exercises. Even two minutes an hour would give you 30 minutes of exercise by the end of the day. You can do this!

We complain we don't have time to do any of the things Spark recommends, and then we complain when we fail. Do you see the cycle? In order to succeed, you have to want this. Really want this. Be willing to pay the price, do the work, get into practice living a healthy lifestyle. Put out veggies and fruits, skip buying or hide high the high-calorie snacks that others may be eating. Exercise more. Get enough sleep. You know what it takes.

What if your child came home from school with F's on his report card? Wouldn't some of your first questions be things like, "Didn't you read the book?", "Did you study?", "Did you do your homework?", "Did you do the projects you were assigned?" If the answer to these questions was "No," it's no wonder they failed.

Now, don't get caught up in the trap that you suddenly have to do everything all at once. Think about it. Do you give calculus lessons to a kindergartner? Of course not. You learn one skill at a time, master it, make it yours, and move on to the next skill. It's the same here, one skill at a time. Drink enough fluid until it's normal. Cut portion sizes by using smaller plates and bowls until it's normal. Choose healthier options, like whole grains instead of processed white flour, until it's normal. Put out fruits and veggies as snacks, until it's normal. Get enough sleep, until it's normal. One thing at a time, precept upon precept, like adding layers of blocks in a building. The bottom rows have to be sturdy foundations before you add the other layers, or the whole building will come tumbling down, and you'll have to start over.

What about you? Are you really doing what it takes to succeed, to reach your goal? Or are you just pretending? Are you in this for the long haul, or only until it's inconvenient? Come on, you're worth it, we're worth it. Let's help each other to the finish line, we can do this!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Missed your blogs. Been busy and slowly losing weight...really slow. Love your blog. emoticon Barb
    2904 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.