The Discipline High – Part One

Every now and then someone will say something that makes me laugh out loud, ask them if they actually said it, and then laugh at how profoundly important yet completely obvious the comment is.

“Discipline high” was one of those comments.

I had been talking to a friend and discussing the merits of the body building bulk that I was on. It was late winter and he was getting ready to start back to the gym to shed the extra winter weight he had gained. He does this almost every year and has become pretty good at it.

When the topic of diet came up, he mentioned that one year he ate nothing but organic food. He enjoyed the taste of the food a lot more and felt that meats were more dense. He said that he figured dollar for dollar it worked out to be close to the same price, maybe a little more for the organically grown food. But he said that during this particular year, he got more of a discipline high from eating good quality food.

I laughed, asked him if he said discipline high and then laughed again. It had never crossed my mind that someone could get a high feeling from NOT doing something. This is, of course, how it works with me. Whenever I exercise I am rewarded with a chemical high (the release of neuro transmitters and endorphins) that promote the feelings of well being along with a cerebral high that is accompanied by feelings of accomplishment. Whenever I’m eating better, there is a rapid elimination of the negative physical feelings associated with a poor diet and a similar cerebral high that comes from making better food choices. The discipline high comes from this cerebral feeling and it reflects the sense of accomplishment that following through on your desire to make a positive change in your life creates. Given my tendency to seek pleasure or avoid pain, I must be getting something out of the strict diet if I’m to follow it. I believe that the discipline high is the pleasure that allows me to continue the pain (not eating whatever I like).

I have thought a lot about the discipline high since we spoke about it and when I read JoLynn’s daily Motivation: Creating Healthy Eating Habits post it hit on me that not everyone will experience it from following a strict diet. Maybe it is a learned behavior and the lucky one’s learned how to experience it when they were younger.

It isn’t clear to me if I am gaining more than I am giving up when I will myself to eat appropriately. What is clear is that I get enough out of it to keep doing it and the longer I do it, the easier it is to find that reward in the experience.

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