Realistically though, applying temperance not only to our “desires” in life, but also to food intake is a secret to longevity.
“Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
In a world where detox teas that make you poop twelve times a day, ab belts and shake weights are normal, where people try a new diet every few months, “avoiding extremes” is key.
If you can be the person to avoid the teatoxes.
The person to avoid cycling through a new diet every three weeks.
That rare individual who chooses a plan, sticks to it, avoids the extremes of restrictions, or bingeing, and then continues on your path… you will be the 1% who succeeds at getting their dream body.
“Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes, or habitation.”
Whereas one can interpret this literally to mean, well, take more showers, another approach is simple:
Treating the body like the temple it is.
Why treat the outside of the body well, get your clothes cleaned, and keep your house looking like a palace, and then trash the inside of the body?
You can’t fool yourself – garbage in equals garbage out.
“Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
The inner calm required to continue trying, after you’ve failed so many times before, rivals that of James Bond fused with a Zen monk.
How do you keep getting up when it seems like every time you try, you get knocked down?
Maintaining an inner state of tranquility is half the game. Getting on the scale and you spot that it went up five pounds? Okay, that’s fine.
Get on the scale the next day and you spot that it went down five pounds? Okay, that’s fine too.
The less you get attached to the outcome – which is always changing – and the more you get attached to the daily process of doing the work and cultivating habits, the more likely you are to win the game.
Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
Besides not being attached to the outcome, one of the best things a person can do to reach their fitness goals is commit to quitting.
Commit to doing whatever it takes, however long it takes, and getting up however many tries it will require in order to get to where you want to be. Goethe knew this magic all too well:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back — concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way…”
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
Everyone knows someone that, as soon as they begin a regular gym routine, begins posting every last workout on social media.
Unfortunately, research suggests that you might be less likely to reach your goals, the more you talk about them.
In a 2009 issue of Psychological Science, Peter Gollwitzer et al published some interesting findings.
One study was done where the participants were students interested in becoming psychologists. As part of the experiment, they were forced to list two activities that they would perform in the next week to help them achieve that goal.
Half of the people handed their answers to the experimenter, who read it over and essentially said, “Okay, I acknowledged reading what you just wrote.”
The other half of the people were told that the exercise of writing down their intention was actually given to them incorrectly. It was an error, and nobody would look at it.
The following week, all the people were contacted again, and they were asked to remember the goals they had written down the previous week. Then, they were asked to write down how much time they actually spent on those activities.
The people whose goals were read by the experimenter actually spent less time pursuing those activities than the people whose goals were not actually read. Think about that.
Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and if you speak, speak accordingly.
It is very tempting when we embark upon the long journey of getting fit to want to tell the world how much we intend to you.
The catch, though, is to try to share it, by doing first.
Don’t waste time with petty talk about how he or she gained weight.
Don’t waste time gossiping about celebrity diet plans.
And most of all, don’t waste time discussing intentions, but instead, let them see the proof – because the proof is in the pudding.
Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
It’s tempting when you decide to change your life to go all in. It’s easy to become the person whose life is absorbed by fitness. Whose social media feed reeks of progress pictures, meals prepared, diets undergone and books read.
But let fitness serve its place in your life.
It’s just a piece of an exceptional life. It shouldn’t be a primary life goal.
Don’t lose track of the greater purpose in your life.
Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
For some, this might mean making conscious choices – not only conscious food choices that are aligned with your goals, but even choices like being vegetarian or choosing lower impact food suppliers.
Is your fitness plan aligned with your higher values?
Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
Not everything is created equal when it comes to weight loss.
What are the most important things to focus on?
What we eat, and what physical exercise we do.
How can you cut out 90% of the filler?
Do you really need to be avoiding everything you like? Or are there 2-3 things that make up the bulk of the junk food you like?
Do you actually need to spend 2 hours a day in the gym, or is 45 minutes just as effective?
Does removing carbs 100% from your diet really get you the results you want, more than cycling carbs, and still keeping them in your diet?
How can you find the intersection of what’s effective, and what’s enjoyable? Ruthlessly cut down what is unnecessary and doesn’t work, and focus on what does.
Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e., Waste nothing.
Besides industry, keeping your actions aligned with the 80/20 rule of simplicity, how else can you be frugal?
Is that $50 a month protein powder really the most important factor in your getting fit?
Do you really need those multivitamins, the diet teas, the essential oils and the Epsom salts?
If you couldn’t have those things, and only food – what would you eat?
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
Who says sex can’t be a good workout?
Science might agree, especially for women
Is Sex Good For Your Health? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5052677/
And science might agree again, that sex may burn up to 35% of the calories of an aerobic workout.
Energy Expenditure During Sexual Activity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3812004/
Nothing is guaranteed in life.
There are hard working people who fail every day. Immigrants from third world countries who do backbreaking labor, single mothers working multiple jobs and still not making ends meet.
But at the end of the day, the one thing we can guarantee is our input – our work ethic, our commitment to doing what it takes. Working until… we get there.
Resolution here means having a fixed resolve – being someone who has the burning desire to get fit, healthy, and life a better life – who will not quit, no matter what.
Using The Benjamin Franklin Nightly, Virtue Review For a Fitter (and Better Life)
What about you?
What might your own list of personal virtues entail?
Header image: Declaration of Independence (1819), by John Trumbull