Be Disciplined: Food and Impulse Control

By Katie Corbett

Last night, I ate a dessert that had about 1500 calories. For the past 17 months, I’ve been trying to lose weight. You might think that the afore-mentioned dessert would not make me feel victorious, but it does. Here’s why.

In “Perfectly Yourself,” author Matthew Kelly explains that discipline, especially when it comes to appetite and impulse control, results in greater happiness. I’m inclined to agree, and what has worked for me during my weight-loss journey illustrates that point.

Lesson 1: Do something dramatic to kick-start your progress. I started with The Slow-Carb Diet, as presented in “The 4-Hour Body,” by Tim Ferriss. It involves consuming at least 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up, avoiding all sugars and white foods, drinking lots of water, and eating no fruit, for six days per week. The seventh day is Cheat Day, and you can eat anything you want on that day. I did this for three weeks. Afterward, I knew I could do anything.

Lesson 2: Track what matters. Each week since I started slow-carb, I’ve been measuring inches. This is more effective than weight because I can see where fat is on my body. (This is also in “The 4-Hour Body” if you want to look it up and learn how.)

Lesson 3: When you’re running out of steam, get help. After I went as far as I could with the Slow-Carb approach, I didn’t want to just gain all the weight right back. I found a product that assisted in appetite suppression and fat-burning, and used that for another six weeks or so. This kept my weight-loss going, and helped me get used to avoiding sweets without keeping a death-grip on my self-control. After I didn’t have sweets for a while, I just got used to not eating them, and they have become less appealing to me.

Lesson 4: Find a workout you love. Throughout this process, I have experimented with all kinds of exercises, and have tried working out both at the gym and at home. I’ve tried swimming, high-intensity interval training, sit-ups, and in the end, running. Running won out as my favorite way to exercise, since its practical, I feel like I’m accomplishing something and moving forward with each workout, and I have a Couch to 5-K plan I use to keep me on track. All I have to do is push play on the PodRunner podcast and do whatever I’m told.

Lesson 5: Keep incorporating little changes into your life to add up to big results. Each day, I leave at least 12 hours between dinner the night before and breakfast the next morning. I drink my tea without added sugar or honey. I try to eat sweets only one day per week. I take measurements on Saturdays to track my progress. Little things are easier to do, and I know I will keep moving forward.

So, as you can probably guess, that dessert I mentioned is a sign of victory because I fully intended to eat it. I knew what I was doing and didn’t mindlessly scarf it down. And I’ll tell you, it was one of the best pieces of chocolate cake I have had in a while.

In what area can you be more disciplined? What are some steps, small or big, that you can take to get there? How will you track progress? Where will you go for help? I’d love to know, so leave a comment. Remember that anything you do to get yourself closer to this self-mastery will help in all areas of your life. And if you decide, as I did many times, that something just isn’t for you, keep trying new things until you find what works.

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