If you can't decipher it by now, I really love food. It got the best of me though. I was noticeably much heavier than I was in my early high school years and unhealthily so. If you calculated my BMI, it was up there though maybe not as dire as Mike Huckabee's situation back in the day. Perhaps that's what TGI Friday's will do to you? Disclaimer: I still love TGIF and couldn't resist at least one visit with a few friends in July for Endless Appetizers for only $10! Anyway, time was running out to reverse this image before college ends because oh yeah, there was only one more year of college left! So the summer of 2014 would become the self-imposed "Summer of Discipline" (#SummerofDiscipline). The discipline in aiming to lose weight though would extend further to include LSAT studying too since I am taking the LSAT on September 27 so I can maybe eventually become a civil rights attorney, constitutional law professor, Senator, and....well, you get the drift. As the summer nears its end, I can celebrate a record of real results (yes, that is the same exact tagline I crafted when I managed Phyllis Mundy's 2010 reelection campaign and I have no regrets about using it here). Since the spring, I am down 17 pounds, my LSAT score has improved, and, despite my thought that I had enough fun in my life, I still had a lot of fun this summer too. Here's what I learned along the way:
Coaches help - a lot. Be thankful for their presence.
Though the summer of discipline is ostensibly supposed to be about discipling yourself, it doesn't hurt to have the help of others. In fact, it is enormously beneficial because it gives you the motivation, the stamina, and the desire to impress, to work harder, and to keep up with an established, scheduled regimen. That's why I am grateful to my personal trainer, Emily Willhoft, and to my LSAT course instructor, Palmer Heenan. The impact personal training courses and LSAT prep classes have had in improving the summer of discipline is immense. These teachers help give you the willpower, the tools, and the resources to stay strong. If you are trying to lose weight or studying for the LSAT or doing both at the same time, and you can afford to do this, get a personal trainer and sign up for an LSAT class. There are exercises that I know how to do and have a real impact on weight loss and there are questions I know how to answer on LSAT practice tests because of my personal trainer and my LSAT class, respectively.
Summer is the best time to do this kind of thing.
For two simple reasons: 1) you spend more time outside and 2) frankly, you see so many good looking folks enjoying life in the summer, and clearly in full knowledge that they are indeed very good looking, that you think, you know what I got more work to do.
I'm pretty lucky to have plenty in resources but once you get going, it's easier than you think.
I want to emphasize: I was able to succeed in this effort so far in no small part because I am lucky and privileged enough to have the resources to do so, namely: a financially stable household, free (for me) access to two gyms, and caring and generous parents. Obviously, that is a massive help. However, it should also be noted that once you have the momentum instilled in you, you keep going and it is easier than you think. As my friend Jack Cartwright advised me, every single time I would look at food or drinks that looked appealing but was really not good for me, I would think to myself, what would I rather, that I eat this and ultimately gain weight or that I not eat this and ultimately lose weight. The answer was obvious each time. Further, once you get in a routine of exercising daily and eating right and studying at least an hour a day, there's no stopping for you, especially as there are constant reminders around you of what the product of success looks like.
News flash: Positive reinforcement > Shaming.
You guessed it: fat-shaming people who are overweight is -- spoiler alert -- not a great idea! Aside from being straight up bullying and mean and rude, it is also not effective at actually motivating people to lose weight. What I found was most helpful to me in terms of other people's interactions was that words of encouragement, support, and positive reinforcement were incredibly uplifting. When friends and family cheer you on, insist to you that you are capable of something despite your skepticism, and when they applaud you along the way for the progress you've made, it makes a real difference. Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that honesty is really the best policy and it is especially useful in this circumstance because it's the sober assessments of friends and family, who tell you when they think you've gone wrong or taken a step backwards, that can make you also jolt yourself back into the swing of things.
What's the secret formula? None! Sorry, Plankton.
No secret and no magic and nothing complex. Eat right (I basically, with some variation of course given vacations and 4th of July weekend): special K with skim milk for breakfast, turkey on whole wheat sandwich for lunch, and chicken with salad for dinner. As for LSAT: study...a lot. Practice makes perfect. Take as many practice tests as you can, do the homework of your prep course, and utilize any and all online resources you can -- and hope that you have a great fraternity brother like Ryan Jerome who leaves behind for you all of his LSAT prep books he doesn't need anymore because he is going to Fordham Law.
There are very few blog posts that I do without mentioning something political so, in my parting words here, can we all do a summer of discipline if we put our minds to it? YES WE CAN!