December 24

30 days Of Discipline:  Life Lessons From Taking A Break From Indulgences  

Blog, Cooking, Featured, Fun, Recipes

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An Old-Fashioned overlooking the Kierland Golf course from my balcony!

The bartender Matt looked at me, awaiting my order.  “I’ll have a club soda with lime,” I said.  I was perched at the bar of a cozy European-style café on a Saturday evening in North Scottsdale. 


My date looked at me quizzically.  “You’re not drinking?” she said with a thick Italian accent.  


I shook my head.  “Not right now, not for 14 more days.”   


She looked confused, as she squinted with her deep brown eyes.   


“I’m doing a 30-day no alcohol challenge with a buddy.  It’s not that I drink a lot or anything like that.  I’m just taking a break for a bit.  I enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine, but it just seemed like with all of the events and conferences and friendly get-togethers and dinners….that there seemed to be more days of the week where I was drinking than not drinking.” 


I flashed a quick smile and said, “I don’t mind if you have a drink.  Go for it.”   


She ordered a prosecco.  A part of me craved to sip it. 


I lifted my glass to signal cheers in Italian   “Cien cien!”  


“No, you can’t cheers with water, it’s bad luck,” she said.  She was from Central Italy, and I knew from experience that Italians have a lot of superstitions about these types of things.     


“We can do this,” she said as she cupped her glass.  Instead of the glasses clinking, the back of our hands touched that held the drinks.    It was a tad romantic, in a way. 


“We can cheers with real drinks soon, just in a few days,” I said. 


“Ok” she said with a grin and we went back to mingling. 

How Discipline Can Change Your Life 


Today’s newsletter is a bit more tangential than my typical posts about healthy culinary workshops, teaching in-person lessons at schools, and how we can cook delicious food with kids without a kitchen. But I think you’ll enjoy it, as it circles back to the fundamentals of cooking, health, and pushing past limiting beliefs.   

I’m a people pleaser, and sometimes it’s hard to say no.   


But one thing overrides my people-pleasing nature:  Discipline Equals Freedom


The more disciplined I am, the better my life is.   

It’s a bit of a paradox:  The more restraints I voluntarily put around my life, the more organized I become and the more I can experience wealth, health, adventure, and ultimately: freedom.  Here are some real-world examples: 


The more disciplined I am about exercise, like my pretty-much-daily 3-mile jog, the more relaxed I am throughout the day and the better I sleep.   Plus it helps balance all the food I cook for Instagram, like these crispy potato latkes.


The more disciplined I am around sales calls to new schools to partner with (I aim for 1-2 hours of calls at least 2-3 times a week plus email followups), the more I can grow my business and eventually hire people to do tasks for me so I can focus on other business projects 


The more disciplined I am about staying on my diet, the more energy I have while still being able to indulge (occasionally) and not feel like I’m losing any progress on my health goals. 


The more disciplined I am about cooking my own food, the easier it is to consume the macronutrients and vitamins I need.   Plus I save time and money not going out all the time, and when I do, it’s a real treat. 


The more disciplined I am about working, often 6 days a week and several evenings, the more I can do more spontaneous things…like fly to South American to spend 2 weeks in Medellin, Colombia…which I am doing en route from Phoenix to Miami as I write this newsletter. 

Sedona And Using The “Buddy System” For Accountability  


On a hike in Sedona, I was talking with my buddy Munir about the past few weeks.  With the epic red rocks in the background, we reminisced about how maybe we had been indulging too much and how it had impacted our bodies.   We both work out regularly, but we both felt like we could do better.  A few months ago, I had been at my most lean and fit in my entire life.   


We were both in our mid to late 30s and were enjoying the Scottsdale nightlife…maybe a bit too much.  But it came at a cost, like staying out too late or eating fried, salty foods too close to bedtime, or just not feeling well the next day.   


That Saturday, I had an idea to make a commitment to take a break for 30 days from alcohol.  It wasn’t forever, just for a brief period of time, to see how it would impact my life.  Munir wasn’t as exciting to join, but he thought about it and later decided to do it for 75 days!  The challenge had begun and I gave myself a negative consequence: I would pay him $100 if I failed…and suffer the humiliation of defeat! 

A key part about getting through a restrictive challenge is to have SUPPORT along the way, like a friend you can text to check in with.  For me, accountability is key and kept me going.   

And guess what?  I had a GREAT month.  At first, it felt a little off to not drink because…red wine makes a good steak taste better!  A cocktail with friends makes an evening more engaging.  A glass of whiskey pairs very well with a cigar. 

Or so I thought. 

In that 30-day stretch, I enjoyed a great night out with friends at the W Hotel (check out this cool video of me dancing like a fool), connected with fellow entrepreneurs at EOA happy hours, never missed a workout, lost a few pounds, and even went on a few very sober first dates.   There were moments of peer pressure when someone urged me to drink, just to join them in that moment, but I didn’t want to disappoint myself or my accountability buddy. 

Now that it’s over (I timed it right before a big Entrepreneur Organization Accelerator Holiday Party), I don’t really need alcohol to have a good time.  I can have enjoyable nights out, make new friends, dance, and have fun while going to bed before midnight without a drop of alcohol. 

If people asked about not drinking, I’d often quote this hilarious sketch by Jim Gaffigan

The Discipline of Cooking 

I think one of the most important disciplines of my life is cooking the majority of the food I eat.  It’s a routine element of my week that yields tasty (and mostly healthy!) food that gives me the energy to get through the day.   

In our healthy culinary workshops, I think of how one lesson on how to make Pasta Primavera or Black Bean & Spinach Quesadilla with Pico De Gallo could dramatically impact a child’s life.   After a class, they can cook the meal at home and share the joy of cooking.  They might make that same dish for friends one day.   They might make that dish for their future spouse. 

That’s why the “life skill” of cooking seems to be one of the most parts of our program.  It’s about teaching kids NOW how to make food that they will enjoy the rest of their lives.  It’s about teaching them simple techniques, using whole ingredients so they get excited to cook. 

However, we all know there are days when we need something good to eat and cooking may not be the most fun thing we want to.  Instead of reaching for Pringles and chocolate, this is where the discipline of cooking comes into place.  To combat those moments, I rely on meal prep.    

My friend Ashley, who is a trained chef and fitness instructor, lives by her weekend meal prep.  She’s got a busy week, often waking up at 3:30 AM to train clients by 5:00 AM, and spending a few hours on a Sunday to make food is the key to staying on top of her personal nutrition.   

It’s the discipline of cooking each week and prepping good food that sets her up to success. 

It’s something I live by as well, even when I’m abroad!  Yes, I’ll indulge in plenty of local Colombian cuisine like Bandeja Paisa (a plate of beef, rice, beans, and plantains), but I will enjoy some homemade meals that keep me fueled.  

I’ll indulge here and there, and appreciate the moment when it happens.   

Sometimes it’s at a fancy holiday party with all my friends. 

Sometimes it’s just 1 to 1 on a comfy couch. 

With a cold glass of Pinot Grigio.   

But with a proper cheers. 

Where the glasses can clink together. 

“Cien Cien” 

If you work for a school and want your kids to learn the discipline of cooking amazing foods to build the “life skill” of culinary fundamentals, book a call with me and I can offer a free healthy culinary workshop to your students for up to 20 students! 

To book a FREE healthy culinary workshop for your school, district, or college access program CLICK Here

Read More: 

How We Teach Cooking Classes WITHOUT A Kitchen (5 techniques we use)

The Best Recipe We’ve Taught To Over 10,000 students (Pasta Primavera)

How We Partner With Charter, Public and Private Schools in 2022 


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Eric Horwitz

About LIFT

Eric founded LIFT Enrichment in 2010 because he wanted to help young kids develop their culinary skills so they could make healthy foods for friends and family for the rest of their lives.  He has worked with kids for over 15 years and enjoys their energy and enthusiasm for learning new things.  Eric studied abroad in Italy while at UCLA and discovered a passion for cooking.  

Eric Horwitz, Ceo of Lift

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