Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Desired change

Good morning, friends.  I was reading a devotional during my quiet time this morning, and it struck a chord with me.  At some point, each of us desires a change for the good for some part of our lives.  Common areas that we all need change in are:  our weight, level of exercise, work schedule, stress level, spending, and amount of sleep.  I'm sure you can all relate to one or more of these areas where you've really wanted change.

Last week, I posted my needed changes for 2018.  I'm sure many of you also decided on a New Year's resolution or two.  The gym, where I've been a member for years, was so packed this past Saturday, that I had to park in the boon-docks.  I don't remember that happening, since last January.  By February, parking probably won't be an issue, because people will get too busy, and exercise and weight loss will fall lower or off their priority list.  I'm guilty of it. 

I'm honestly tired of the cliches in my life, i.e., "life gets in the way," and "I'll start tomorrow." Then there are also the "if onlys" that tend to slow my progress:  "if only I worked fewer hours, if only there were more hours in the day, if only I could hit the gym in the mornings (but I can't because I don't get enough sleep), if only I could get at least seven hours of sleep at night, if only I made more money, if only I could lose weight easier, etc."

As a doctor, I hear so many complaints from patients who want things to be better in their lives, yet they seem unwilling to put in the effort to make those things happen.  A classic example is cigarette smokers.  Smoking is bad for you, and everyone knows it, even the smokers.  This is not news.  I get this question from patients all the time, "Doc, can you help me quit smoking?" I ask them how much they smoke a day, and the classic answer is always, "I'm trying to cut back."  So I ask, "What have you done so far to help you quit?"  The answer is usually something like this, "Well, I've tried cold turkey quitting, and that was awful. I felt terrible."  Then they might add, "I've tried nicotine patches, but those broke out my skin."  I ask, "Have you tried the nicotine gum?" The answer, "I don't like the way it makes my teeth feel."  I ask, "How about Chantix, a prescription medicine to help you?" The answer is usually, "My Internist gave me that, and I couldn't take it. It made me feel weird."  So I ask again, "Do you really want to quit smoking?"  Then the patient says, "Of course I do.  Why would I be asking you to help me?"

I had a friend recently want to try the keto supplement I take to help her lose weight.  The supplement is to be used in addition to a ketogenic diet.  That means that weight loss occurs if you can eat less than 100 carbohydrates daily and maintain a low level of exercise at least three times a week.  I specified that the drink alone will not help her lose weight.  Again, I emphasized that she would have to eat under 100 carbohydrates a day and exercise a little.  Within the first week, she complained of headaches, dizziness, and cold chills.  I told her to give it a little more time.  The next week was the week of Thanksgiving.  She texted me and asked, "What am I supposed to do over Thanksgiving?  I can't eat less than 100 carbs a day.  It's the holidays."  As you can guess, it didn't take long for her to decide that this supplement "was just not for her."  

We all want change, but we're not going to see it unless we are willing to put some effort in.  If I want to lose weight, I have to adhere to some sort of eating and exercise schedule.  There is no magic pill I can take while still eating ice cream, cookies, pasta, and potato chips, and still lose weight.  If I want to get my finances under control, I have to make a budget and stick to it.  If I want to quit smoking (I don't smoke), then I have to quit.  If I want to feel more energetic and be healthier, I have to exercise regularly.  There is no easy button.  Too many people (including myself, at times) want this easy button.  We don't want to put in the work required to see the results we want.

In my devotional this morning, the first paragraph says, "Some people want the fruit of change -- like a better marriage, freedom from debt or some other benefit -- but they don't want the discipline of change....The truth is that change requires something of us."  It goes on to say that change "doesn't happen if we don't replace our wrong thoughts with the right ones." (From: "Help Me! I need to change my life!" By Brian Houston, http://bible.com/r/2jK).

Change requires some work on our part.  It requires effort from me and then discipline to stay on schedule.  It also requires determination and perseverance.  Only then will I see the change that I so desire.  There is no magic pill, no magic spell, and it just doesn't happen out of the blue.  We have to change the way we think.  Our thoughts lead to our feelings, and if our thoughts are negative, they feed our negative feelings about ourselves.  It's a vicious cycle.  Here is an example of this (my own):

Yoga is on my schedule this morning.  Gosh, I'm tired.  I didn't sleep very well last night, and I'm postcall.  Class is at 10:30, oh, but look, now it's raining.  What a yucky day.  Do I really want to go out in that?  I could get some things done here at home before the kids get home.  I can skip exercise for a day.  It's not like I'm going to lose weight by going to one class.  I can miss one.  And then that train of thought continues for another two days until a week has passed, and I haven't exercised at all.  Then I look in the mirror and step on the scale, and the negative and discouraging thoughts flow.

If we want change, to lose weight, to be healthier, to get out of debt, to have a better 
marriage, to advance in our jobs, etc., it takes work.  There is no way around it.  There is no easy button.  The thing is, once we start changing our thought process (get rid of negative thoughts) and start sticking to our schedule (discipline), we find it easier to persevere.  We start seeing the change we want, and that change fuels our positive thoughts and determination.  So what I'm telling myself now is that I just have to get started and stick to a schedule for two weeks, then another week, and then another week.  Eventually, I'll look up and see the change I want, and I won't even notice the work anymore.  But the bottom line is that I have to put in the effort or nothing will change. Check out Hellomornings.org.

Have a great day!


  1. I love this! My whole day goes better when I start with reciting my I AM statement to get my thoughts/attitude positive and empowering. Even though I KNOW this, I am still tempted to skip it and rush out the door. I’m trying to change so it is as much of a habit as brushing my teeth!

  2. That’s awesome! It’s about living with conviction to make the needed changes. Thanks for sharing!


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