Not only was I a fat kid, I was also a very weak kid. I could remember other kids being stronger and faster than me. Back in high school, one boy squeezed my hand so hard that I nearly cried "Uncle," and he left saying, "See, that shows that I'm stronger than you are."
Now, fast forward that to when I was a physical education teacher in my 30s. I did sit-ups with about 160 pounds of cinder blocks on my chest in front of high schoolers. I tried racing against a high school student with a 200-plus-pound boy on my back. And I had one middle-school kid who told his mom that he wanted a chest like "Mr. Jones."
I like being physically strong. It means that I could be more independent and do more things. When you're weak, you would always need someone else's help, and you can't move on until you get help. When you're physically strong, you could do almost anything by yourself and you won't feel helpless.
But there is something else I like more than physical strength: mental strength. Having mental strength is much more rewarding than physical strength, because when you make up your mind to do something, it will happen. It's mental strength that leads to physical strength, because you have to psych yourself to lift those weights on the days you feel lazy. When you have mental strength, you could pursue whatever it is you want in life. You could lose the weight, gain the muscles, learn the skills, and accomplish any goal that's on your heart. But if you're mentally weak, then the biggest thing you could accomplish is simply staying alive.
One thing I tell my CPR students is that performing CPR is quite easy. The hard part is DECIDING whether or not to do it. Deciding to take action is much harder than the action itself. A task could take you only 5 minutes to complete, but you have to spend 5 weeks thinking about it. Another task might only take you two seconds to complete, but it took you two hours to think about it. The physical task is never as intense as the mental task.
Losing weight is pretty easy -- and I could say that, because I've spent nearly 10 years helping people lose weight and get in shape. I have lost weight myself several times. The hardest part about losing weight is making the DECISION to lose weight. You have to make up your mind to start a weight-loss journey AND complete it. Most of us are good at starting the journey, but very few of us are good at actually completing the journey.
How many times have I seen people start their weight-loss or fitness plan just to fall off the wagon and drop off the face of the earth? Plenty! Why does this happen? Mental weakness. Eventually, we become so mentally weak that we cannot complete what we've started.
What makes mental strength so hard to obtain is that our minds are always fighting with our bodies. The mind wants to do one thing, but the body wants to do another. I think about something Jesus once said: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). Think about walking with one leg asleep. Have you ever done that before? It feels weird walking when one of your legs go numb. If the leg takes a while to "wake up," then you could only go so far. But if the leg is completely awake, then you could go anywhere. Our bodies are like legs that have fallen asleep, while our minds are hungry to chase after something.
Here's the thing about the body being weak: it will ALWAYS be weak! You won't ever have days where your body wants to do exactly what your mind determines to do. This is why mental strength is so important: without it, the body won't do anything. Breaking a bad habit or learning something new won't happen unless your mind MAKES the body do it. All the body is good for is surviving. Your mind is good for THRIVING. Ever heard the term "failure to thrive"? The thriving part is all mental. The body could survive just fine without the mind, but YOU cannot thrive without the will of the mind.
The more you strengthen the mind, the more you could do with yourself. I think about another scripture that says, "I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should" (1st. Corinthians 9:27). How do you make your body your slave? By making up your mind to do so, and realizing that your mind, not your body, is in control. You aren't forced to do anything. You determine what you do, whether or not your body agrees.
My kids are disciplined. Yes, they still act like kids at times, but when I give the word, they do what I say. During these times, a parent controlling their children seems to possess special powers. Wow, how could you get your kids to clean their rooms? Simple: I just tell them to do it. But that doesn't work in my house! Why? Aren't you the parent? Aren't you the boss? For me, I could simply snap my fingers and my kids know to listen. Why? Because I'm in charge. I'm the boss. What I say goes. I have this attitude as a parent and as a teacher at church. My word is gospel to these children. And whenever I have children who decide to test my authority, I'll put more energy into that child so he or she would know who is the law.
In the same way, you need to treat your body as if you're parenting a child. You are in charge, not your body. The more you realize that you are in full control of your actions, you could discipline your body to do whatever you want it to do. The key to change is all in the mind. It's all in realizing that once you make up your mind to do something, it will happen. But if you let your body overcome your mind, you'll be like a first-year school teacher who's simply trying to survive the school year -- and I could say that, because I was once a first-year school teacher.
Good news! You got the job! Yes, it's in another country that's 2,000 miles away, but you got it! They want you to start in two weeks. They promised to reimburse you for all of your moving expenses, and once you get to that state, they promise to pay for everything that you need to settle in your new home. You are so excited that you could pass out -- and you nearly did. This is the job that you've always wanted and it seems to be too good to be true.
Now, before you quit your current job and spend almost all that you have to relocate...how do you know that everything will turn out your way? How do you know that once you move to another state that you would actually have a job waiting for you? How do you know that once you start your new job that you won't lose it in 30 days? How do you know that you would actually enjoy the job? How could you be sure that this is the right move? And how do you know that they would actually reimburse you for your relocation cost and not pull the ol' you-ought-to-be-thankful-that-you-got-this-job?
Answer: you don't know. Yes, you could invest a lot of time and money for something that may not even happen. But you know what? Life is one big gamble. You could NEVER be 100 percent sure of anything. Most of what you do in life is all based on faith.
Don't believe that? Are you going to wake up tomorrow? If so, prove it. Is your car going to start up in the morning? Prove it. Is going to college going to guarantee that you are going to get a job? If so, prove it. Show me a vision of the future that reveals that what you said should happen will actually happen. If you can't do that, then all your assumptions are based on faith.
We don't like the idea that almost everything we do is based on faith. We like to believe that we could prove everything. Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. You cannot be completely certain of everything. In fact, the only thing you could be 100 percent certain about is that you are alive -- unless you live under the philosophy that you can't even be sure about that.
But you know what? While you can't be completely sure that things will go your way, you still need to proceed as if they will. You cannot live your life wanting to prove everything. You need to be willing to step out on faith and believe that whatever you hope for will happen.
How do you know that all of the good dieting and exercising will be of any benefit to YOU? Yes, you see how these things benefit other people, but will they also benefit YOU? If so, prove it. But you can't. So, you just have to proceed as if your diet choices and fitness activities will actually benefit you.
When you live by faith, anything is possible. You could achieve anything, be anything, go anywhere. But if you're waiting for "proof," then nothing will happen -- because you won't do anything until you see some proof.
Guys, can you imagine asking a woman to marry you, just to hear her say, "Prove to me that you won't cheat"? Ladies, could you imagine your husband not wanting a baby unless you prove to him that this baby would have ten fingers and ten toes? Mothers, could you imagine your 30-year-old son living in your basement not applying for any job until you prove to him that he will actually get a job? Fathers, what would your daughter think of you if you refuse to let her get her driving license until she proves that she won't ever get into an accident? Wouldn't she AND other people think you were being quite unreasonable? In the same way, we all are unreasonable if we wait for proof before doing anything.
This is why we cannot get caught up in results. We should just enjoy the process and see the results as rewards for our hard work. Rewards aren't promised, after all. You could do all that you could and get nothing in return. But if you at the very least enjoyed the process, then all isn't lost.
Anything you do may NEVER bring any results. In fact, you could invest much money and time and STILL have nothing to show for. Well, if you didn't enjoy the process, count it all as a lost and invest time and money into something else. Nothing in life is guaranteed. You gain some, you lose some. You could work hard and get nothing, but barely did any work and get great results. Life is a gamble. One choice doesn't offer more promises than another. Pick something to pursue and pursue it until something comes from it. But the one thing you SHOULD NOT do is to wait for proof before acting.
I cannot prove that you will lose weight on my program. I cannot prove that you will sleep better by taking this herb. I cannot prove that doing this, that, and the other will take you from Point A to Point B. But I can guarantee you with 99 percent (or more like 98.7 percent) certainty that if you do NOTHING, then NOTHING will happen.
Didn't apply for a job? Don't expect a job.
Didn't have a healthy diet? Don't expect good health.
Didn't exercise? Don't expect to get fit.
Didn't pursue your dreams? Don't expect those dreams to happen.
While you can't prove everything, you can ALWAYS have faith in anything. Faith, not proof, is what makes you move. Proof may never come, and the only proof that you could receive will happen AFTER you take that leap of faith.
Instead of looking for assurance, just do it and see what happens. There is something motivational about mystery. Will it happen? Will it fail? Who knows! But we won't ever know unless we take action. One of the worst feelings in the world is regret that comes from not taking action.
Stop looking for proof and start taking action. Even if everybody else says no, you could be the one person to prove that it actually can be done. But again, you won't ever know unless you do something TODAY.
Right now, you're trying to escape your situation -- whatever it is. You're tired of it. You can't stand it anymore. You're just done! It's time to move on, right? Well...not yet. Your "destiny" will come...but not when you want it to come. It may come tomorrow, or it may come in the next 10 years. When it comes, it comes BIG.
Now, I hate using the word "destiny," because it sounds like some kind of health and wealth gospel. But a destiny is simply an endpoint, a place where you eventually want to arrive. All of us have that one final destination ("destiny") that we want to be in. Keep in mind that this destiny may not have gold and jewels, but it will be the place that was meant specifically for you.
I think about a familiar story in the Bible concerning Joseph (remember that Broadway show that was made about him?). At 17 years old, his brothers sold him to slavery to a group of people called Ishmaelites, who then sold the boy to the Egyptians. Joseph's destiny was to ultimately save countless lives of people in several countries during a 7-year famine. However, Joseph didn't reach this destiny until he was in his 30s. He spent a long time in Egypt being a servant and being a prisoner until Pharoah promoted him to be second-in-command of the Egyptian nation.
Your current situation seems long and drawn-out, and it's like when you seem to get closer to this destiny, you get more set-backs. Keep traveling on this road and don't give up, because you don't know when that destiny would reach you. But you do know this: it's just not your time.
The best thing you could do while waiting for that ultimate destination is to focus on what you could do with what is currently presented to you. Going back to Joseph, he was a favored servant and a favored prisoner -- he was even awarded a high position in the prison system. During his whole stay in Egypt, all he could think about was his home back in Canaan, hoping that one day he could go back. But his destination wasn't to go back home: it was to save lives in Egypt and in the surrounding countries.
See, it's so tempting to think about "the good ol' days," and "if only I had" or "if only I could." But put this in your mind: you may NEVER go back to the good ol' days. You may NEVER get that one thing or accomplish that other thing. Why? Because those things don't lead you to your ultimate destiny. Those things are just distractions. Joseph's situation as a servant and then a prisoner led him to be a ruler of Egypt.
I believe all of us have life assignments, but many of us ignore those assignments for other pursuits. If we could just be patient and not rush our current situation to finish, we could finally see what we were meant to do in this life. Yes, I know that your current situation stinks. You hate it! You're done with it! But just wait. You will one day see where the road is leading you. Just wait. While you're waiting, use this time to thrive in the situation that you're in NOW, because this situation just might be preparing you for what you were ultimately meant to do.
Looking up a diagnosis for your problems online is like asking for someone's general opinions of you: you won't like the outcome! I, like a normal person, don't like criticism of any kind. However, I believe criticism is absolutely vital -- as long as it's the RIGHT kind of criticism.
I've written a post about constructive criticism vs. destructive criticism. When someone critiques your personal style, they are attacking your personality. This is destructive criticism and it serves no purpose. When someone, however, has critiques that could make you a better person or help you do something better, then that is the criticism you do want. That's constructive criticism.
Now, how could you get constructive criticism instead of destructive criticism? By asking specific questions. If you don't know what to ask, then you won't know what answers to look for. If you don't know where you're going, then you won't know which roads to take. If you don't know how to ask for criticism, then you'll get all sorts of criticism that would make you feel like a horrible person.
Moving forward in life happens when you know what to ask for. If you don't know what you're looking for in life, then you won't get it. When your vision is clear, then you know exactly what you need to work on.
I NEVER, EVER ask my fitness participants if they like my musical choices. It's a bonus if they do, but their musical preference is not my top concern. Why? Because musical preference does not add or take away from a work out -- and if you allow it to take away from a work out, that's on you, not me. However, I DO ask the things that would impact everybody's workout: can you follow my cues, was the exercise hard to you, do you feel like you got a good sweat in class, did the choreography seem to flow with the music? I NEVER ask a person, "Did you like the class?" Personally, I don't care. That's almost like asking, "Do you like me?" Again, not my concern. My main concern is how was your performance impacted in class.
I could make myself better and better as long as I look for the right things. Not every answer is a good answer. Not every road is a good road. Not every sign that I see is a "sign from God." Not every dream that I have is a message from the divine. If you don't know what to look for, you won't know what to do.
I think about an incident in the Bible about a servant who was looking for a wife for his boss. His boss, Abraham, wanted a wife for his son Issac. Abraham told this servant exactly WHERE to go to find a wife for Issac, and Abraham specifically told the servant to not settle for less. That is, if the servant finds the right woman in the right place BUT that woman refuses to come, then don't look for a woman anywhere else.
The servant then prayed to God to help him find the right woman, and his prayer was VERY specific. Before the servant even finished his prayer, he found the right woman for Issac named Rebekah. This girl was willing to travel back with this servant to marry Issac, and they had two boys: Jacob and Esau.
Want answers in your life? Be specific. Know EXACTLY what you want. We're not kids in high school anymore who have no idea if they want to be astronauts or dancers. We are adults, and as such, we need to start looking for specific answers. We need to know exactly what we need to work on. We need to know what road to take. In fact, we don't need to focus on all the wrong ways to go. We just need to know that one RIGHT way of getting what we want.
Looking for a house? You won't be vague about it, right? You're about to make a HEFTY investment and you can't afford to be vague about the kind of house you want. Looking for a spouse? You can't be vague about it. When I was looking for a spouse, I had only a few VERY SPECIFIC concerns that I wasn't willing to compromise on: her faith in God, if I could trust her, and if she could be my best friend. Everything else I was loose with. Nearly 15 years later, I still believe I made the right choice in marrying her.
Don't get vague about life. Pick something and roll with it. If you're vague about your symptoms when looking them up online, you'll almost guaranteed to be diagnosed with cancer. But if you're very specific (like LASER specific) about your problems, you could actually find a permanent solution for yourself.
You could have anything you want -- but you just can't have EVERYTHING. You could pay for anything, but you can't pay for everything. While anything is at your reach, you can't grab everything that you see.
In life, you could live any way you want to AS LONG AS you're willing to make a trade. For example, you could travel the world, live in exotic places, and eat lots of "ethnic" food. But, living that kind of life takes lots of money, and unless you're rich, you would need to cut back on some of your activities. If traveling the world means that much to you, then you'll have to make sacrifices in other areas of your life.
I'm able to see my wife and kids much more than the average working father. But it comes with a trade-off: I can't have a regular job that provides "security." I have no idea what I'll make every week, and if I want to make money, I have to hustle. I don't have the luxury to clock in, put in my time, clock out, and get a steady paid check every 1 or 2 weeks. I don't have the luxury of sending my car to the mechanic to fix an issue (I have to fix it myself). I don't have the luxury to get sloppy with my budget and blow through money. But guess what I get to do? I get to go on road trips whenever I want, see my kids grow up, and work pretty much any time I want to. I could also watch movies late at night and sleep in late. We're not struggling with money as we used to, so I'm pretty content with my life.
I remember a woman telling me and my wife a long time ago, "I believe anybody could have anything they want as long as they live within their means." Or in other words, if you're willing to sacrifice one thing for another, then you could really start living your dreams. But if you have to have EVERYTHING, then the only way to achieve that is by striking it rich -- and even then, there would be some trade-offs that you'll need to deal with.
Do you know someone who puts his hopes and dreams into...well...winning the lotto someday? It's like that person wakes up every morning hoping to "hit those numbers." The chances of him winning that lottery is so astronomical that it's nearly non-existent...but he plays those numbers religiously as if his soul salvation depended on it. To him, he thinks riches is the answer to his problems. The answer to his problems is not getting more money, but by making more trade-offs. Just recently, I was in a gas station witnessing a woman buying a lottery ticket and a pack of cigarettes, both being expensive yet wasteful purchases. If she continues buying lottery tickets and cigarettes, what do you think she would most likely accomplished? Getting sick, broke, and complaining how life isn't fair.
People who dream of riches fail to see that there is a quicker, more realistic way of getting what they want. You just need to be willing to make a trade. Want to live near downtown and pay that high rent? No problem! What are you willing to trade? Want to have 16 children? No problem! What do you have to trade? Want to visit Disney World every month? No problem! What are you willing to trade?
Riches are not guaranteed to anyone, no matter what you do. But everybody could make trade-offs RIGHT NOW to get what they really want.
Realistically, no matter how greedy we are, we don't truly want everything, do we? The only reason we want everything is because it's all available to us. How many of you would eat food if it was FREE and AVAILABLE? On my delivery gig on Saturdays, I have the opportunity to get FREE coffee in at least 6 different places. I would find myself drinking at least two free coffees simply because they were available, not because I really wanted them. I bet many of you have drank coffee or eaten food on the job simply because it was there, not because you really wanted it. In the same way, we don't really want everything, but since EVERYTHING is around us, we feel that we need them. In reality, there are only a FEW things that we truly want, and those things should be the only things we need to focus on.
Here's the good news: you CAN have those few things as long as you're willing to be without other things.
You CAN have a slimmer body as long as you're willing to sacrifice certain habits. You CAN live in a certain area if you're willing to cut back on other expenses. You CAN drive that gas-guzzling SUV and fill up that tank every week if you're willing to sacrifice a few expenses in your life. If something is highly important to you, then you CAN have it -- as long as you're willing to trade for it. But if you're unwilling to trade, then whatever you want is probably not that important.
So many people are sitting at home wishing they could have cable, or afford organic foods, or get out of "the projects" or the trailer home park. They think, "I can't get this" and "I can't have that." Of course you could have that stuff -- you just can't have that stuff with everything else in the world.
Life is about trade-offs. You can't have everything, nor should you want to. You should just focus your energies on what is truly important to you, and when you do, you'll find ways to get it quicker than you imagined. But if you're going to the gas station every other day to buy lottery tickets, or begging your employer for overtime, or trying to work five jobs, then you missed the mark. You're trying to buy the world when you should only want a small island.
Don't walk around thinking, "I can't have..." Instead, ask yourself, "What could I do without so that I can have..." One way of thinking makes you a victim. The other way of thinking makes you a problem solver.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.