Posted by: cmittermeier | August 18, 2015

Curve balls and Oreos

Something changes drastically, your compass starts spinning, what do you do? Reach for comfort foods!  Its an automatic response, and right now I’m trying hard to not deal with the curve ball by clearing out my son’s oreos.  Just writing that one sentence took a lot of the temptation away.  I’ll explain why in a few paragraphs.

The thing about curve balls, unlike other situations where you can plan for things, curve balls come fast and unpredictably.  You are left having to think fast, and if it engaged your fight or flight, your base system will be searching for any sense of comfort and respite.  The enemy prefers it that way, he’s already trained the auto-pilot to gluttony, all he’s got to do is engage it.

We all have a limited amount of brain power, that’s why our brain prefers routines, habits, etc., because they use less brain power.  Once in place, those neural pathways require a great deal less energy to maintain.  When life throws us a curve ball, our brain tries to engage as many reflexive pathways as possible because it needs that energy to deal with the stuff coming right at you.  Of course, the enemy will try and nudge you to bad pathways, that’s his job.

If you are reading this, chances are you did not lay down habits of healthy eating and exercising during crisis.  You need to know that 1) you are not a slave to those bad pathways, 2) you don’t do it totally on your own – but you do need to cooperate!

Temptations come in good times and in bad ones, we build up resistance to them exactly the same way you do any other muscle: by practice.  The pathways you build in good times will be there in the bad times, you just need to engage them.  This means if you learn how to eat healthy and avoid oreos in normal life, you will be able to eat healthy in a time of stress.  You are not a slave to those pathways!

But how do we engage healthy pathways when that little voice is telling us to go for the old one?  Isn’t that too much work?  Don’t we need that little bit of comfort?  <INSERT AUTOPILOT CUE HERE>  The nifty thing is that just like the best coach, God is there to help make it fruitful (or when you slip up, help you find your way back).  He’s already beaten this guy, now as we enter into the battle, listen for the coaches cues.  Here’s some stuff from a senior team member, Ignatius, he’s made the big leagues.  Search Ignatian Rules of Discernment, first week.  Not only do those rules help you understand just who is whispering, they offer some counsel on what to do with them.

  • Bring it out into the open, there is a reason temptations all follow with, “don’t tell!”, they scurry away when brought into the light. (taken from Rule 13)
  • Don’t change your game plan!  Never, ever, change your fitness plan or eating guides due to temptation.  (taken from Rule 5)
  • Remember, YOU CAN DO THIS! (taken from Rule 7)
  • Remind yourself – this won’t last forever, you just need to get through today (taken from Rule 8)
  • Be firm in your opposition, the more you dilly dally, the louder their false promises will be. (taken from Rule 12)
  • Call in the big guns, memorize the St. Michael prayer and USE IT! (taken from Rule 6)

This time, just by writing publicly the line about wanting to raid the oreos I found myself  back in control.  This time was easy, they are not always so.  But, with each one I grow stronger, as will you.  I have only minimally paraphrased Ignatius’ first week rules.  Spend some quality time to understand them and bring them into your daily life.  There are many books, blogs, even a Catholic television series (by Fr. Timothy Gallagher) to explain them.  They are a great tool!

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