More Discipline and Freedom

At my oldest daughter’s gymnastics meet yesterday it became really apparent to me how much this principle is really true. I don’t know of another sport that takes as much discipline at such a young age as gymnastics. She spends more than 20 hours a week in the gym, conditioning her body to be able to perform the skills she practices over and over. And it’s as much a mental sport as it is physical.

While I was watching her perform her routine on the uneven bars I found myself wishing I had the ability to swing and fly around like she does. It looks so fun, so freeing to be able to move so seemingly effortlessly like that. I knows she enjoys it too. She is a gymnast every minute of her life. She dreams she is doing her routines, shows us her teammates floor routines, cartwheels, flips, and dances everywhere she goes.

But these abilities aren’t something someone is born with or can pay to acquire (though we do have to do a lot of that). This freedom comes with the investment of discipline. She doesn’t always feel like going to gymnastics practice. Conditioning is rarely fun. But I couldn’t talk her into quitting; even when I ask if she wants to help pay for it. So the freedom she enjoys must be worth the cost of discipline to her.

I think society today is telling us that we should be able to have freedoms we haven’t paid the price for. When we run into problems with this, we have blame as an option to absolve us of responsibility. If we had choice in the proper chronology in the pro-life/pro-choice debate, I don’t think it would be a debate. In pregnancy and childbirth we teach that healthy lifestyle choices before and during pregnancy give us more freedom and choices during our birthing time. Pregnancies that are considered high-risk, due to health problems, have much less freedom to choose where to birth, who to have attend the birth, and many large and small choices and possible interventions.

It is easy to find friends and doctors who will tell us that our health problems have little or nothing to do with the choices we make, or foods we eat. It’s comforting to hear that we aren’t to blame for our problems; that our genetics, or fate, are the cause. But this also takes away our power. When we believe that we may end up with life-altering diseases whether or not we discipline ourselves to take care of our bodies, what motivation do we have to try? It takes a courageous doctor, who is willing to be criticized, and lose patients, to tell us the truth. Especially when we have contracted something that can be fatal. I think at that point most people don’t want to add insult to injury.

I don’t believe every person with health problems is to blame for their condition, nor do I believe that any condition is entirely the persons fault. I believe there is a lot of misinformation out there on the subject of nutrition and disease prevention. But I do believe that if people would quit seeing these subjects as their doctors responsibility, and take the responsibility to discipline themselves, they would have much more freedom and choice in the end.

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