Self-Discipline

For a lot of my life, I’ve struggled to keep off the pounds.  It’s not easy.  I’m so tempted by so many things that fall under the heading “food.”  And I’m weak.  For over a year now, I’ve been able to exercise the discipline (exercise the mind yes, body, not so much) to watch what I eat and maintain a decent weight loss.  “Discipline” is the key.

I have a pattern of discipline for stretches of time and then slowly , I “sluff” off, inching back up the scale.  I refuse to look at the numbers and recognize the signs.  Finally, when my pants are too tight or my bra strap busts, I’m forced to face reality.  This has not happened yet but I can see how I could easily get there again.  I don’t want to.

It’s easy to be lazy, to procrastinate or justify.  A little slip here or there doesn’t matter.  I get 49 extra points a week.  I’ll just use a few now.  Tomorrow, I’ll be stronger.  Tomorrow comes and I have to wish on the next tomorrow.  That’s my slippery slope.

My son?  He has his own kind of slippery slope.  He will make progress toward a goal.  He will “master” a skill from a program in ABA.  Once it’s mastered, the tutors don’t require him to work the program every day.  Instead, they place it on maintenance and check it only every week or so.  (Similarly, once I reach my goal weight at Weight Watchers- I don’t have to weigh in every week – just once a month).  As a result, a lot of the time, the old behaviors re-emerge.  For example, the screaming in excitement when playing a game, and the siren noises he was imitating all waking hours, slowly creep their way back into the routine.

In the past, I’ve wondered if he is “regressing” or if the ABA team is “mastering” something out too early.  Thinking about it now, in comparison to my own weaknesses, I can see that it’s not as likely regression as it is falling back into old patterns and habits.  It’s much simpler – it’s behavior.

It’s hard for me to resist the cheesecake and the pizza.  It must be hard for him to resist the urge to scream at the top of his lungs when he clears a level on a Wii game.  Why do I think regression with my son but not with myself?  It’s okay for me, but a crisis when my son falls into the comfort of old behaviors?  Hypocritical?  Yes. Both of us have to exercise control over our behavior.

How to do this is another issue altogether.  First, we need to recognize when we fall into old behaviors.

For me :  no – that bite of cheesecake will make a difference!  It will lead to more “bad” choices.

For my son:  no- one scream on the Wii Need for Speed game will lead to another and another until the high pitch drives mom or dad over the edge.

To learn to exercise and strengthen self discipline, there are lots of websites that can help.  I have checked out some and they provide some interesting thoughts and ideas, though I endorse none because, well, as of yet, I have not implemented the ideas that form this post.

For a great list of questions about your own level of self-discipline, I recommend going here regardless of the fact I have not implemented it yet.   I got a good laugh seeing my own answers to these questions:

    •    Do you get up at the same time every morning? Including weekends?
      •    Are you overweight?
      •    Do you have any addictions (caffeine, nicotine, sugar, etc.) you’d like to break but haven’t?
      •    Is your email inbox empty right now?
      •    Is your office neat and well organized?
      •    Is your home neat and well organized?
      •    How much time do you waste in a typical day? On a weekend?
      •    If you make a promise to someone, what’s the percentage chance you’ll keep it?
      •    If you make a promise to yourself, what’s the percentage chance you’ll keep it?
      •    Could you fast for one day?
      •    How well organized is your computer’s hard drive?
      •    How often do you exercise?
      •    What’s the greatest physical challenge you’ve ever faced, and how long ago was it?
      •    How many hours of focused work do you complete in a typical workday?
      •    How many items on your to do list are older than 90 days?
      •    Do you have clear, written goals? Do you have written plans to achieve them?
      •    If you lost your job, how much time would you spend each day looking for a new one, and how long would you maintain that level of effort?
      •    How much TV do you currently watch? Could you give up TV for 30 days?
      •    How do you look right now? What does your appearance say about your level of discipline (clothes, grooming, etc)?
      •    Do you primarily select foods to eat based on health considerations or on taste/satiety?
      •    When was the last time you consciously adopted a positive new habit? Discontinued a bad habit?

There are more questions and links within that post to ways to build your own self-discipline.

Another site here informed me that by maintaining a steady blood glucose level, a person has greater control and self-discipline, and that self discipline, like a muscle must be exercised to be maintained.

For the kids, there are ideas here for how to teach the concept of self discipline.

Now, I’m going to go and try and implement some of these ideas…

Well, maybe tomorrow.

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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9 Responses to Self-Discipline

  1. Lisa says:

    This post is incredibly interesting and struck a cord with me. Wow…I need to read the links in more detail, but this post is something I could have written–I just didn’t know it. Thanks for helping to open my eyes…and for possibly getting me back on the right path!

    Changing my eating/exercise habits is behavior modification….if I frame it that way, I feel like, well, if Tate can do it, so can I!

    • solodialogue says:

      I’m so glad you get where I’m coming from on this. At least for me and Toots, we are a lot more alike than I thought and I can see that every day. I just hope I can maintain my own self discipline! 😉

  2. Karla (Mom2MissK) says:

    Hi there… Miss devil’s advocate here… So, let me just throw something out there.

    Self-discipline is important. It’s a characteristic that helps us in so many ways… But there is such a thing as too much self-discipline.

    I would argue that it’s all about balance. The reason that cheescake tastes sooooo good is because of self-disciple — but it’s also about the occasional indulgence. You just can’t have one without the other.

    So, while I totally agree with the argument for self-discipline, we need to remember to take in those little indulgences here and there too. Without those guilty pleasures here and there, life becomes pretty dull and meaningless. And what’s the point of being perfectly self-disciplined if you’re unhappy?

    It’s a lesson I often need to remind myself of — I make most type A personalities blush! And I hope it’s something you’ll keep in th eback of your head too, my friend.

    So, meet me at the cheesecake place in say, half an hour?

    • solodialogue says:

      You are so right about that! In Weight Watchers I hear – all the time that deprivation will lead to binges and I’ve found that about myself personally. But it’s those “little indulgences” that – for me require self discipline the most to keep them little!

      So balance to me is within and part of self discipline!

      The funny thing about your last comment is that I’m meeting a bloggy world friend in person for the first time this morning for tea – and we’re meeting outside the Cheesecake Factory! Give me strength!! Lol! (it’s Sam from Everyday Aspergers!) 🙂

  3. Kara says:

    Bad picture, Karen. Naughty bad. My muffin top expands just be ingesting calories visually. And, I’m pretty sure I got that dessert one luscious layer at a time. In all seriousness, I remember when you started on this journey – you have been rockin’ it! You were certainly one of my inspirations to get my move on.

    • solodialogue says:

      Sometimes I just cannot resist the Pinterest food photos!! Must.stop.food.category on Pinterest. I think I’d lose 3 pounds if I stopped looking! How I wish that was so!

      I cannot believe I could be an inspiration? But okay! And your moving is motivating too me too! 😛

  4. Great post. I like how you associated the two…your experience and your son’s. Couldn’t help but shake in agreement over the cheesecake…I didn’t have any at my party!!! Go me. I managed to not gain one pound during the trip….still would like to loose at least 5 more…discipline, indeed…Oh, and I sure need to clean my study!!!! Excellent post. 🙂 Sam

  5. Pinterest is the worst! I’ve had to stop looking at all the yummy food and keep on the fitness pins. I suppose you could say that self-discipline is currently a challenge for me to. I suppose everyone of us has our weaknesses (some more than others) and the key is finding sufficient motivation to deal with that. Maybe if I pinned a picture of my muffin top I’d be better at avoiding all those yummy food ideas!

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