You’re so well disciplined!
I’ve heard it for years, a number of times at least twice that of which I’ve been asked what I’m training for. (nothing - life? fun? fitness? I don’t know.) At least twelve times the number of years this blog has been around - happy fourth birthday to Hungry Haley! And for a couple years I held that statement as an insecure young woman would a compliment - it sounded like an achievement and a bragging right, and it parallels the restrictive nature of an eating disorder, which I was captured by at the time. As I’ve taken leaps forward (and a few steps back, at times), learning more about the damage I was doing to my body and beginning to understand and adopt the practice of Intuitive Eating, this “you’re so disciplined” compliment sits more like an entire bag of candy would in a hyperactive five-year-old’s stomach. Imagine that. I’ve had enough and I don’t need more. “Disciplined” just doesn’t fit in my vocabulary of self-descriptive terms.
Because discipline is based on will-power, and because will-power is limited, discipline can certainly only last so long, as it did for me. The discipline of daily hour-long workouts made it through my first year-and-a-half of college, until I discovered (on my journey to regaining my period), the mind-freeing peace of just walking, and of rejuvenating rest days. The discipline of a low-carb diet fueled me until I developed a passion for veganism, and along with that, a love for carbs. The discipline of reading the Bible each and every morning lasted until I found - like loose change in the bottom of a purse I haven’t used in months - some faith-paralyzing questions in my back pocket. Each of these real-life examples are based on some belief I held about exercise and my appearance, food and my body, faith and my future, and those beliefs provided a finite supply of willpower - the main ingredient in the recipe for discipline.
So, desire. Desire is the fuel that doesn’t run out. Desire is different from discipline, vastly different. It is what has kept this blog running for four years. It is what has motivated me to continue exercising and moving joyfully. It is what has maintained my burning love for food and encouraged me to pursue the ever-changing personalized idea of balance. Because desire is based on passion, and because passion is limitless, desire can certainly last… well, much, much longer than discipline. Desire - for writing, for fitness, for food (and balance therein) - has carried me through and through the last four years. The messy yet gorgeous, challenging yet strengthening, best four years of my life.
Say “discipline” out loud and listen to its ring - sharp, short, and forced. Now, say “desire” out loud and listen to its ring - smooth, thrilling, and honestly, I think it’s kind of sexy (sexy in the way chocolate cake is sexy, not sexy in the Zac-Efron way). I bring this contrast between two words up now because, reflecting on the last four years, I see that those two words represent my development and most significant lesson learned as I grew from a girl trapped by discipline into a young woman led fearlessly (or almost fearlessly) by desire.
It is not about discipline that “rewards” me with abs and toned muscles - it is about desire to move my body everyday in various ways that light me up (it also has a lot to do with genetics and metabolism and diet, but those are three other stories). It is not about discipline that forces me to choose greens and whole-grains - it is about desire to feel my best as much as possible in order to do my best as much as possible. It is not about discipline that schedules these blog posts - it is about desire to share my life, my struggles and my wins, and everything in between in hopes that it may - at the very least - interest you or - at the very most - captivate you and let you know that you are beautiful, bright, and beaming with purpose.