When people I haven’t seen in a while notice I have lost weight, the inevitable question I get asked is, “What’s your secret.” When I say, truthfully, “There is no secret; I gave up everything I craved and walk three to five miles a day,” I get skeptical looks. “But what is your secret?” they repeat, unable to believe that there is not a smoothie, a pill, garment, or a new exercise behind significant weight loss.
If I’m feeling brave, I’ll say, “Self discipline. Self control. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done so consistently.” That doesn’t work, either. “You have to treat yourself sometime, or you will quit,” they assure me. “It’s not good to have all that discipline.” I try to change the subject. I’m uncomfortable talking about discipline and success. It’s not the answer for everybody. But it has worked consistently for me–not just in changing my relationship with food, but for most things in life that I have relentlessly pursued.
It reminds me of how often I was told, after I landed a book contract, that I was “lucky.” Well, perhaps, but it also involved a lot of hard work and, ummm, discipline. I did research, I wrote the book proposal over again at least six times, I changed the idea of the book slightly when it wasn’t focused enough, spent hours doing research to find a publisher who specialized in the kind of book I wanted to write.
The need for “luck” and “secrets” comes because discipline and hard work are not fast and easy. And no one (except the Little Red Hen) wants to say, “I worked really hard for this and I made it work.” It sounds conceited and self-satisfied. But I don’t know anyone who has lost a lot of weight and kept it off who had an easy secret. Same goes for people who have accomplished something big in their lives. They seemed to have given up a lot and worked hard for a long time.
Thomas Edison had it right when he said, “The reason too many people miss opportunity is because is goes around dressed in overalls and looking like work.” Followed by another good quote from Thomas Jefferson, “The harder I work the more luck I seem to have.”
—Quinn McDonald is going to bed. It’s almost 1:30 a.m. and she has to get up to go teach in four hours. She is looking forward to being lazy when she gets back from class tomorrow. No, wait, she wants to do a book review and giveaway on the next blog.