This blog post is brought to you by the fact that I’m about to start a quick juice cleanse.
That being said, I’ve recently been on this insane tirade about cleanses, fad diets, and the Whole30 obsessed culture we live in that is looking for a quick fix while trying to avoid a life of discipline and self-control.
Why does self-control seem so impossible?
When I was forced to give up sugar I had to ask myself this question daily. Now, years later and mostly still sugar-free, I am starting to realize the reasons I have been able to endure. Primarily, I’ve made it because not doing so would result in immediate pain, as well as long-term problems.
But I’ve realized that immediate pain is a much better motivator than the consequences we can’t see.
The hardest part of self-control was what I felt like I was missing out on in the moment. I was watching everyone else enjoy themselves in the moment and the pity I felt for myself was overwhelming. I wanted instant gratification. I wanted fulfillment because it wasn’t fair that everyone else was getting partake and I was having to sacrifice.
The root of the lack of discipline in our lives is often not this careless disregard or laziness that we think it is. It is often a very calculated decision surrounding what we have decided we want, deserve, or convince ourselves we can get away with in a moment of pain or weakness.
My lack of discipline often comes from the fact that I cannot see past the moment I’m standing in. This doesn’t just apply to my health, but to my relationships and to every other aspect of my life. The pain of not getting what I wanted in that moment took priority over the long-term consequences. I wanted a quick fix for that moment of pain. Then when I felt guilty, I wanted a quick fix to cleanse myself of that pain, too.
There are no quick fixes.
There is no simple solution. You cannot snap your fingers and be healthy. You also cannot instantly become a whole person. You will not wake up tomorrow and master the art of forgiveness. You will not suddenly decide to be a better spouse, a more reliable friend, a more confident person. There is no book, self-help calendar, quote on Pinterest that is going to fix the cycles you find yourself in.
Recognize the immediate pain you’re in from the cycles you’re bound to and let that be a motivator.
We learn to push down the pain from our lack of self-discipline and when it does come up, that’s when we grasp for a 30 day solution or a self-help book. We look for a quick fix because the idea of grinding through the agonizing reality of where we’ve let our hearts, bodies, and minds go to is absolutely terrifying.
But if you find yourself constantly looking for quick fixes or easy answers, you’re in pain.
A juice cleanse for me is not radical. The idea of going through most of my day with healthy food and no sugar does not scare me. Because I live most of my life that way. Granted, there are a few things I will have to do without, but it’s not a huge leap. Lifestyles of discipline produce the kind of health we will need to prepare us for the moments when we have to endure the cleanses and detox seasons that God and our hearts show us we often need.
And they are far less difficult to endure when we live in a way that is not constantly filled with things that, if and when we are deprived of them, will cause our bodies or hearts to have horrible reactions.
When we constantly look for a quick fix, a 30 day solution, we are putting an expiration date on our discipline. We are saying that we are only committed to helping ourselves for as long as we think is necessary, but then we want to live however we choose after that.
Discipline is not a book club, a membership, a degree that you eventually get and then hang on the wall. You don’t arrive at it, mark it off your calendar, and then post your accomplishment. If so, it accomplishes nothing that it intended to. It was a show, a facade, a moment when you pretended to be a person that you wish you could actually be, but are secretly admitting inside that you have calculated is not worth sacrificing other less worthy things to become.
This is not about criticism or condemnation.
This is about saying that there aren’t quick fixes to heal the pain, fix the problem, change the things you’re scrambling to solve.
Stop asking what things you can do and ask yourself what kind of person you want to be. I don’t want to be someone who does quick diets, reads self-help books, occasionally attends 21 day Bible Studies.
I want to be someone who is disciplined, reflective, empowered, knowledgable, deep, connected to God. The methods in which I do it may often come in the form of a cleanse, a study, or a book, but they are not my source. They are not my fix, my thing that I run to when I’m desperate to change the state I’m in.
These are tools, things to give us a boost of energy when we get weary or feel that we need to re-focus. These are not the things that are meant to carry all the weight of our physical, mental, or spiritual health. Your health cannot depend on a 30 day diet, a pastor’s sermon, or a weekend retreat.
Figure out what kind of person you want to be. What kind of life you want to live. Start slow, start with a prayer, start now. Let the immediate pain in your heart, the reality that you don’t like what you’re seeing, whatever it is that makes you reach for the quick fix: let that be the thing that motivates you to a decision that doesn’t have an expiration date.
“Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don’t squander your precious life.” Proverbs 8:32 (MSG)
5 thoughts on “There’s No Quick Fix for Your Health or Heart”
If I get the sugar right the blood pressure goes wonky or vice versa. Wonder if the two will ever make peace
Ashlin, this blog is so good and so spot on! There are so many pieces of it that are convicting and also pushing me! Discipline is something that I have been working on these last few months, so these words are encouraging and come at an awesome time. There are so many things I could say about your words! I especially loved this: “It was a show, a facade, a moment when you pretended to be a person that you wish you could actually be, but are secretly admitting inside that you have calculated is not worth sacrificing other less worthy things to become.” YES! I often find myself in cycles, and get tempted into promoting myself as a certain way, but deep down, I can only admit to myself what is true. So thank you for writing and sharing! Convicting, yet encouraging stuff!
Your writing is so well done! You’re very articulate and you write on a level understood by all. I agree with most of this post, but I wanted to share something about Whole30 that you may not know. It totally sounds like a 30 day fix but if you’ve read the book, it’s about changing your relationship with food. Many, including myself, struggle with food – either overindulge or restrict based on circumstances or emotions. Whole30 is not a weight loss program, though many have experienced that, but it’s a reset to change what we think about food and how we need to treat our bodies right to fuel them with food that is pure/clean. The founder, Melissa Hartwig, talks about “food freedom forever”, which introduces food back into your everyday diet, choosing to enjoy certain foods that were otherwise restricted on the Whole30, all because the relationship with it changed for the positive. I hope this gives you a better understanding, and I want you to know that this does not discount what I thought of the rest of the article. Thanks for receiving this feedback!
Mary, thanks for that! I do think the idea and heart behind Whole30 is solid. Unfortunately, most people don’t read the book…they just do the 30 day diet and hope that it takes the weight off. They treat it like a fad-diet, which would have been good to clarify. Thanks for sharing and for reading! Love hearing honest and positive feedback!
This is so important. Thank you!