The other day Aaron and I were talking about doing something that, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t actually do very often (probably grabbing dinner out, because really – some nights you just have to). One of us said something about it just being ‘this time’ and that sparked an interesting conversation about exactly how often we were eating out.

In truth we would really like to say that we are cooking at home more often than not – because that’s the ideal that we hold in our minds, it’s what we want for ourselves and our family. The reality is that we are trying to keep so many balls in the air that we aren’t really always doing what we say we want to do.  So, the truth of ‘just this once’ is that it happens more than once a week – each and every week. That’s not a deviation from the norm – that’s a habit!

How many times have you given yourself permission to break the (read your) rules ‘just this once’ only to find that, over time ‘just this once’ somehow stretches into something that’s completely out of your control?

You had cake and drinks at the wedding and that leads to snacks at the next office party  and then treat day and then family game night and before you know it you’re having snacks because it’s Tuesday and the weekend is SO FAR AWAY or for stress relief or because the sky’s awfully blue this afternoon – or (and this is the true issue isn’t it?) because the new habit you’ve created is giving yourself permission to do whatever you want to do in the moment.

Even in the midst of the scenario above, I might insist that I am always a very healthy eater; asserting that I eat LOTS of fruits and veggies, only drink water, and never have sweets – but if someone were to actually TRACK what I eat over the course of the week what would they really see?

I will never forget the day this insight hit me after a visit with my doctor where we had been discussing my fitness regime. I had assured her that I exercise every morning – and while I sat there on the table I was sure that what I said was the absolute truth. But as I walked to my car after the visit I realized that I hadn’t worked out that morning, or any morning in the past week. Had it been a month? More like six months. I didn’t even realize that I wasn’t living my ideal because I believed that I was doing what I wanted to be doing.

Have you ever found yourself saying that you’re doing something and then realized that you really aren’t? While I’m not an advocate for living a meager existence, and I completely think we should enjoy life to the fullest (and have a piece of wedding cake for goodness sake) I do believe that if we want to improve our lives we must learn to exercise self-control and live in integrity with ourselves.