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“Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him.  No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one.  Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire.  Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.”

James 1:12-15

At a recent men’s group, I was asked to pick the bible verse to discuss. Coincidently, at one of the daily masses that week, this passage from James was read. I imagine we all struggle with some kind of temptation in our lives. A few years ago, through prayer (both my wife’s and mine) and God’s grace, I broke free from one that was damaging our marriage.  Because of this and our commitment to live an Ephesians 5 relationship, our marriage is stronger today. However, that was only one of my many temptations.

I have struggled with my weight since I was a teenager. Going up and down in weight (mostly up), trying all the fad diets out there. In 1999-2000, I lost a bunch of weight through Weight Watchers. However, when we moved to Texas, I discovered how much I loved Texas BBQ and Mexican food. The weight quickly returned.

The other primary temptation I had succumbed to was a 30-year love affair with Diet Coke. I averaged 6-8 cans a day most days and bought them by the case full at every sales opportunity.   At just six cans a day, that works out to be 91 cases a year. That does not include the bottles I would buy out of the vending machine for my drive home from work every day. That is a lot of pop/soda for one guy.

On October 31, 2013, I turned 48. Not normally one to care about my age, this one bugged me. Probably because 48 is awfully close to 50 (with apologies to my aged friends and family who have passed the 50 mark). Consequently, I decided that I wanted to gain better control of myself. Not just for health reasons, but because I no longer wanted “things” to control me. Food controlled me. Diet Coke controlled me. I was determined that I would gain discipline over my desires. If I could do that, 50 would not seem so bad (again, apologies to you seasoned citizens).

On November 5, 2013 I committed to lose and maintain a 50-pound weight loss by the time I turned 50. I called it my 50×50 plan. Holidays seem like a crazy time to start a weight loss program but I did not want to wait. I got back on Weight Watchers and followed it strictly every day. Nothing I ate went unrecorded. As I write this, I have lost 49.4 pounds and should reach that 50-pound milestone this week or next. I have gone from a 42 waist to a comfortable 38. A 50R suit coat to a 46R coat. I have spent a bunch of money on new suits and clothes but it has been the best money I have ever spent. Weight Watchers says I should lose another 20 pounds and I am going to try to do so. Mostly, though, now that the weather is finally better, I am going to get outside and get some exercise. Physical laziness will be the next temptation I will conquer.

Now, what about that Diet Coke addiction? On the Friday after Thanksgiving, I drank my last Diet Coke. I had a week of headaches and then another week of fatigue as the caffeine got out of my system. I haven’t touched it since and I feel great. I now drink water and Crystal Light exclusively at home and work. I do miss it at times, but controlling the temptation is building up my “discipline muscles.”

“Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation, for when he has proven he will received the crown of life that he promised to those who love him.” All things are possible with God, even beating food and Diet Coke addictions.

What tempts you each day? What can you do to conquer those temptations?