Use It Or Lose It



You can use it or you can lose it

Whenever I hear the phrase, “Use it or lose it” I think about losing brain cells. That is, if you don’t use your brain, your cells will dry up and you will lose some of your brain power. This is why I am an advocate for learning and education and for kids graduating from high school. They need to keep those brain cells growing.

This same phrase may have a different meaning for you.


You already know that if don’t use your muscles, you will lose them. There are a lot of middle age and elderly men around who know all about that. They can be identified by a stomach that wants to escape from the body and is fast on its way by protruding over the fence or belt.

I would be the last one to make fun of anyone’s weight but the fact is that men have not done their fair share of sit-ups and this is why those muscles in the stomach have taken a vacation and got lost. It’s as if your body is saying, “Muscles, what muscles? I don’t see any muscles. I must have lost them.”


Within the past week, I have seen a number of cars that have lost their way and ended up in a ditch. Why? We have had a few bursts of snow and ice and those drivers just forgot what it is like to drive on slippery roads. They have lost their way because they have not used those driving on ice and snow skills since last winter. All of us have found our share of ditches over the years because we just lacked the practice.


Do you feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day to do the things you want to do? Do you wish you could put the clock on hold and just keep it stopped until you finished some things you wanted to do? I am trying to do more reading this year. I made it an unwritten resolution. There are so many books in my library and every time I walk past them, I get this feeling that they are calling out to me, “John, please read me. Please, read me.” I wake up in the middle of the night with my old high school librarian, Miss Bishop, standing at the foot of my bed with an angry look. You never wanted to cross Miss Bishop so I am using more time to read. I haven’t seen Miss Bishop now for several weeks.

If there are projects you really want to get done, take time to do them today. If you don’t use the time, you will lose the time and as we know, you can’t ever get it back. It’s lost forever.

Commitments and Promises

I have been fasting for about ten weeks. Well, not exactly. I fast only on Wednesdays. I go the entire day without eating. Around mid afternoon my brain begins to tell me, “Your hungry, go get some cheese curds.” Boy, do I want to but I know if I do, that will be it. My commitment to myself will be broken, lost. When you make a commitment to yourself or a promise to someone else and then you break it, it’s over. You have lost the opportunity to gain someone’s trust and it damages your self respect. Once you lose someone’s trust, it’s hard to get it back.  The lesson here is, make your commitments and promises to yourself and to others wisely. When you do make them, keep them.


I used to play the trumpet. I could play “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White”. That was the one song I could play. But I was more interested in scoring touchdowns than hitting high notes so I quit. Bad mistake. I lost my ability to play. If you play the piano, don’t stop. If you sing, don’t stop. If you dance, don’t stop. Why? You will lose those skills and you will regret it some day.

Sense of Humor

I believe we are all born to laugh. Kids laugh hundreds of times a day. Adults laugh far, far less. What happened to our sense of humor? I guess we lost it along the way when we didn’t use it. With all of the issues and stress we face, maybe it’s just too tough to maintain. I enjoy writing humorous things it’s not easy to be a comic writer. Kids, on the other hand, don’t have a problem with writing humorous things even though they don’t make any sense. Here’s the secret. Tell someone a joke at least three times a week. Use your sense of humor; don’t lose it. Your joke for today is,  “What is the difference between a hippo and a Zippo?” Answer, “The Zippo is a little lighter.”


I was brought up with the notion that when you received new clothes, you were to save them for good. To this day when my wife asks me why I haven’t worn that new sweater she gave me for Christmas? I say, “Well, I am saving it for good.”  When and what is “good”? I look at some of my clothes and I think I could provide a wardrobe for a 1980’s play. Then when I do wear it, my wife says, “Are you wearing that old thing. It’s way out of style.” She’s right. I have to use the clothes or lose them to a clothing drive.

Use it or lose it doesn’t always hold true. Sometimes you can use something and still lose it. For example, I purchased two Power Ball tickets for the billion-dollar lottery thinking that my chances were pretty good of winning even though the odds were one in two hundred and fifty million.  I used my lottery tickets but I still lost. I must have done something wrong.

The idea for this column came from a loyal reader. I thought I better quickly use the idea before I would lose it.

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57 thoughts on “Use It Or Lose It”

  1. Avatar

    The concept of using or losing applies to so many things in our daily lives. Much of the skills that we learn fall under that category. If we go for a certain extent of time without applying the newly found skills, our minds lose the ability to recall the complex things behind them, let alone all the basic stuff. In public speaking, this concept definitely applies. If we work super hard in this class to master public speaking or simply improve ourselves, that’s great! But, if we do not continue to work at it, then all the work we will do to complete this class will be redundant. I think the main idea is to always continue working at public speaking, no matter how good you think you are or how good you actually are. Using your skills is what stops you from losing them completely.

    1. Avatar

      I think that your blog had a lot to do with public speaking! Especially after watching your video on the grapefruit and the brain. When you’re doing a speech, you say to use some humor, get the crowd laughing. Well how can you manage to do that if you’ve lost your sense of humor? You just couldn’t do it. All these classes for public speaking will be for nothing, if you don’t use them. If you don’t speak at all, you will lose your abilities to do it good. So what I think this has to do with public speaking, is that if you don’t practice speaking, you’ll lose it!

  2. Avatar
    Megan Berberich

    I think that this blog has a lot to do with Public Speaking. I think that “Use it or lose it” in terms of public speaking means that once you start speaking in public you need to keep doing it because you will improve and get better at it, but if you stop you will lose that skill and all the work would be for nothing. I think the main point of this article was saying that everyone has the skill to do anything they can believe they can do and once you achieve it you need to keep with it or you will lose what you worked for.

  3. Avatar

    Use it or Lose it, this is a very good read and I strongly agree on everything you state. How I relate this with public speaking is if you don’t continuously public speak ever so often, you will eventually lose your “touch” when publicly speaking like you explain for other activities.

  4. Avatar
    Mariah Derosier

    This blog is related to public speaking because if you do not practice or use the skills to speak in front of everyone your eventually going to lose those skills. It takes practice to become good at speaking. If you worked so hard to obtain the skills, keep speaking so you do not lose them.

  5. Avatar

    This blog deals with public speaking, because as we are learning about public speaking and developing these skills, we have to use them frequently. Talking in front of a crowd and getting used to it will help benefit us not only in the class, but later in life. However, if we stop using the skills after this class is over, we will lose the ability to speak in public and taking this class would have been a waste of time.

  6. Avatar

    Many of those areas resonated with me! In the past year I lost 80 pounds, I have been busier than ever (work 3 jobs, applying to PA school, taking 2 classes, gym, meal prep, live closer to friends/family, weddings, first plane trip ever, etc), have been bombarded with snow lately which makes the driving more difficult, and have made several promises to myself that I would like to accomplish yet this year. I agree, that the less you use these qualities and abilities, the more insignificant and rusty they will become. Similar to this idea, the less you speak in public, the worse you will become. In highschool and college I gave many speeches, maybe hundreds, but it has probably been a year or two since I have had to speak publicly in any way. Although I believe I have become much more educated as of recent, I am willing to bet my speech skills have suffered as I have not utilized them as much. Similar to this idea is my fluency in Spanish. I worry all the time that I am becoming less and less fluent in Spanish as I do not use it nearly as much as I used to in college. I find myself forgetting simple everyday words that I once knew, just because I do not get to use it on a regular basis. When we get a patient in the clinic who speaks Spanish, I always make sure I utilize my Spanish when talking to them not only to make them more comfortable but to also practice the skills that I have. Sometimes I feel like speaking Spanish is similar to giving a public speech, as my sole concentration is on the conversation and what I am trying to present, instead of in an ordinary, relaxed conversation in English.

  7. Avatar

    I thought this column was quite interesting. I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about things that way. It is very true though. Just like public speaking, if you don’ use it, you will lose it! By speaking often, you will keep your “vibe” going. Take every opportunity to speak publicly so you do not lose it.

  8. Avatar

    I really enjoyed reading this blog! I think this has been my favorite reading so far for the Online Public Speaking class. I found everything in this blog very relevant, especially about the driving in the winter time… This is only my 4th winter driving and it has been hard to get used to driving in the snow or ice… luckily I have stayed out of the ditch… for now. I also really related to the part about time, I have a bad habit of wasting my time, so I definitely going to try and remember to Use It or Lose It and spend my time more productively.
    I think this blog can relate with my Public Speaking class in a few different ways. I think that the “Time” section has to do with the fact that its good to use my time to get my homework done and to not wait until its too late. Also we must practice our skills as we learn them in this class so we don’t lose them as we go. And lastly after the class is over I think its important to remember to use our public speaking skills in our everyday life so we don’t lose the skills over time.

  9. Avatar
    Spencer Billings

    This applies to speaking in public, because if we don’t use it in a while we potentially forget how to do it. We forget our routine of how we would prepare to speak and ending up having to practice more to remember how to do it. Its like anything the more practice we have with it the better we get at it, but we have to continue using it so we won’t lose it.

  10. Avatar
    Beatrice Jaszczak

    This applies to public speaking because when you have a talent of speaking in public, whether natural or learned, in order to keep that talent you must keep on using it. That was the theme of this entire post, use it or lose it. Also another reason it applies is in the way you had a goal to read more often but did not, you lost that desire and goal to read more often. If I make it my goal to speak in public more often but do not work at that goal I am going to lose that goal.

  11. Avatar

    Hi John, I think that “lose it or use it” applies to public speaking in a number of ways. The first one I think is that if you start going out a lot less and talking to people you’ll probably become more socially awkward. The second thing that was from your article, the loss of the sense of humor. If someone starts being too serious you’ll definitely be able to see it with the way they speak; I think that humor can really make someone’s speeches seem more relaxed. I also see how commitments can relate to public speaking in the most obvious form: doing your assignments. If you don’t do your assignments a couple of times and you start to notice that your grades are dropping you can ultimately lose interest and want to drop the class if you become to overwhelmed or just sick of it.

  12. Avatar

    The same could be said of public speaking. Once we gain the skills we need to speak effectively, we should practice them any chance we get. If we lose them, fear will take over and we would immediately shut down. Public speaking is a valuable skill in any occupation. So Use it or Lose it!

  13. Avatar

    When you begin exercising a skill you become good at that skill. On the contrary like how you will lose muscle if you stop working on it you lose it. So in public speaking if you speak all the time and get good then just stop you will lose those skills. So therefore we should consistently use our public speaking skills so we don’t lose them over time!

  14. Avatar

    Without constantly practicing a skill, you will eventually lose that skill. Public speaking is this way. If you don’t constantly work at it and practice, you will eventually not be a very good public speaker. Practicing public speaking will make you a better speaker, not practicing will cause you to forget all of the techniques needed to give a good speech.

  15. Avatar

    This relates to public speaking in that if you learn how to public speak, you should use your abilities and keep up with them. If you don’t use them, you will end up losing them. You will forget how to speak in public and lose your abilities.

  16. Avatar

    I thought this article was quite interesting! This relates to public speaking because just like these examples you gave that we lose if we don’t use, that goes for speaking too! If you don’t speak publicly you won’t be “fresh.” We will loose our “cool” to speak in publicly if we don’t use it.

  17. Avatar
    Kendra Gilsdorf

    I believe this blog relates to public speaking because if you don’t keep practicing your public speaking skills you will eventually start to lose them. If you want to be a successful public speaker you need to do it often.

  18. Avatar

    This relates to public speaking because if you do not speak publicly regularly you can lose your touch. If you continue you do this often it will seem like nothing to do and you will be able to get up and do it when ever.

  19. Avatar
    Kylie Gerbracht

    Just like with public speaking! Even if you reach a point where you become a great public speaker, if you don’t continue practicing you will get rusty!

  20. Avatar

    I completely agree with what you said, with whatever skills you have you need to use them or else you will lose them. It goes along with the saying practice makes perfect. The more you practice a skill the better you will get at whatever skill that is! Public speaking is a skill you need to constantly use or else whatever talent you built up will be lost. If we just use public speaking for one semester and then don’t continue using that skill we will eventually lose it. We need to continue on taking whatever chances we have to speak to be able to keep up our skill of public speaking.

  21. Avatar
    Leina Maldonado

    I must say I thought “Use it Or lost it” was a very interesting story, I ususally do not like to read anything unless it’s interesting me. Which is really sad. I should definately have my head in a book more often then I do. This blog says alot about our every day lifes and what we encounter and deal with on a daily, just as well as Public Speaking I use to take care of residents and I would speak to them and ask how they were doing , now I work in a deli with an hotcase and sandwhiches alot different then one on one resident in the privacy of their room. I now speak loud and clear to customers, by asking ” how can I help you?” if we speak everyday the easier it will become natural to us instead of a fear in us! which is what your story is explaning the more we do it a task, the better we will be at it.

  22. Avatar
    Alexandra Jones

    The term use it or lose it can be related to public speaking because if you do not do it like anything you will end up losing at least part of what you have learned. Like the things we are learning in class right now are things that need to be used in order to lose that fear and gain confidence in speaking in front of people. It is like riding a bike the more you speak in front of people then less scary it seems, and soon you’ll be popping speech wheelies. If you stop doing it you will lose it, so once you start don’t stop.

  23. Avatar

    This blog relates to public speaking by saying that if you don’t public speak often, you will lose the skill to do it. Use it or lose is true for any skill as you said in your blog. The more often you use your public speaking skills the better you will be at it and less likely to lose it.

  24. Avatar

    Using it or losing it also applies to public speaking. We need to practice and practice some more. Just like dancing, singing, playing and instrument, etc. if we stop practicing or performing public speaking, we will lose our ability and have to start back to the beginning.

  25. Avatar
    Lindsey Duresky

    This is like public speaking because if you don’t continue to use the skills you learn in this class, you will forget them. If you stop speaking in public it would be very easy to go back to not liking to talk in front of people.

  26. Avatar

    If you do not keep practicing speaking skills you will forget them. Once we gain the skills it is important to keep up with them and continue to use them. So, you can either use the skills you learned or lose them.

  27. Avatar

    I think in terms of “use it or lose it” for public speaking is you have to keep speaking in front of the public and you’ll get better. If you stop you could lose the ability to speak greatly in front of a crowd of people and lose that confidence in yourself.

  28. Avatar

    This blog on “Use It Or Lose It” relates to public speaking in the way that if you don’t continue to use your public speaking skill throughout your life, you are going to lose them. Just like most of every other talent or task we have you either do it and you always have it or you don’t do it often or ever and you lose it, the same goes for public speaking.

  29. Avatar

    I think that this is a great article, I think it has to do with public speaking because if you don’t do something, you won’t hone your skill. If you don’t practice, it’ll never have the opportunity to become perfect. If you never use it, you won’t have it!

  30. Avatar

    This relates back to public speaking because if we stop or slowly discontinue to speak publicly we will start to lose all of our skills that we use or used to have. We need to continue to take every chance we get to speak publicly once this class ends so our skills don’t become rusty.

  31. Avatar

    I really liked reading this blog! I never really thought of public speaking this way. I think that this blog relates to public speaking because it says that it you stop public speaking or you don’t use your public speaking skills enough then you will eventually lose them.

  32. Avatar
    Madison Anderson

    The phrase “use it or lose it” relates a lot to public speaking. Using your speaking skill regularly will help you better those skills. However, if you don’t use the skills as often as you did before, you potentially could lose the skill. Once you get good at something, you shouldn’t just drop it. Keep up with it. Don’t “lose it”.

  33. Avatar

    Public speaking is a lot like this in the way that if you don’t use what you have learned you will eventually forget how to speak to an audience. Once you get good at something like music perhaps, you shouldn’t just drop it like most people do once they have learned it. Personally I have learned how to play a wide variety of brass instruments and just this year I haven’t had the time to play them. Just last week I tried to play the trumpet again and my lip strength is not what it used to be and I couldn’t play for that long. You have to keep up with doing something so that you don’t lose it; this concept applies to public speaking as well!

  34. Avatar
    Christina Grundmeier

    I think that the “Use It or Lose It” blog relates well to public speaking. It relates a lot to the title, “Use It or Lose It,” it does because if you don’t use your public speaking skills over time you will lose them. After you lose the skills it will become harder to get back to being comfortable speaking publicly.

  35. Avatar
    Ashley Egerdahl

    I can relate to every one of the topics here! If I would have believed the old use it or lose it saying when I graduated high school I would be so much better at volleyball, math, art, writing, etc. I was never good at speaking in public; that came later as I was in college and had to speak in front of classes for projects, then for a job that I really wanted and a little more recently in front of a large room of strangers for a scholarship I received. Starting college I feared public speaking more than anything, well other than failing college but getting through that fear was not easy (or pretty- literally I turn as red as tomato in the blink of an eye) and it still lingers there. It’s true that the more you do it the easier it gets. It would be a bad time for me to stop taking opportunities to speak in public because I think I would lose a lot of what I have gained already. Use it or lose it!

  36. Avatar

    I can definitely see the parallels between “Using it or losing it” and public speaking. Like music, public speaking is an art we learn, and can perfect with time, but it is up to us in whether or not we want to. While it’s beneficial, it’s also like music with how, if other obligations take shape over it, you’ll lose it.
    I enjoy public speaking, but it doesn’t feel like I do enough sometimes, and it shows when I do speeches or presentations after a break in not doing them. Those things come out in an unconscious matter and I think with doing more public speaking, those things start to go away. That’s one thing that I hope this public speaking class will help me with

  37. Avatar
    Heidi Skramstad

    I think that this applies to Public Speaking due to the practice and regular use of speech, if you don’t keep uses the skills you have learned you will eventually lose them.

  38. Avatar

    Just like the examples in your bog, public speaking is a use it or loose it item as well. Public speaking is a skill set, that is acquired by practice. When we fall out of practice we loose the skills.

  39. Avatar

    I accidentally replied to someone else’s reply, so here’s my opinion.. I think that your blog had a lot to do with public speaking! Especially after watching your video on the grapefruit and the brain. When you’re doing a speech, you say to use some humor, get the crowd laughing. Well how can you manage to do that if you’ve lost your sense of humor? You just couldn’t do it. All these classes for public speaking will be for nothing, if you don’t use them. If you don’t speak at all, you will lose your abilities to do it good. So what I think this has to do with public speaking, is that if you don’t practice speaking, you’ll lose it!

  40. Avatar
    Marissa Kallock

    This blog relates to public speaking because you should be practicing your skills to get better. Also once you learn the skill to be good at speaking you should never stop doing speeches otherwise you will lose the skill you have spent lots of time practicing on.

  41. Avatar
    Justine Helgren

    This definitely relates to public speaking. Like everything else listed on here you can either use your public speaking skills or lose them. You need to practice all your skills, even public speaking. Because if you go a long time without publicly speaking it be obvious to your audience because you won’t be comfortable with your words.

  42. Avatar

    I enjoyed reading this; it was entertaining and motivational.

    “Use it or Lose it” applies to public speaking in the same manner it applied to all the examples given in this blog: If you do not use your skill, you will lose it. It takes practice to become a good public speaker. If you do not keep up your practice, you will surely lose that skill.

  43. Avatar

    “Use it or lose it'” is an excellent phrase that proves valid in every part of our lives. It especially applies to public speaking, however. Using your public speaking skills allows you to get comfortable with the idea and concept of speaking in front of people. While not using those skills, you may lose the ability to feel the audience’s mood and interest.

  44. Avatar

    I believe “Use it or Lose it” relates to public speaking very clearly. Use your voice to say what you want or don’t and lose your confidence in yourself to speak in front of people. If you have skills in public speaking, you can very easily forget about those skills when you don’ t use them.

  45. Avatar
    Austin Habedank

    “Use it or Lose it” relates to public speaking in the way that it talked about in the other things in the article. If you don’t use the skills you learn from/in public speaking, you will eventually lose them.

  46. Avatar

    “use it or lose it” relates to many things throughout our lives. At some point in our lives we become good at many things, but if we go away from doing those activities that we are good at, our skills will diminish. The same with public speaking, we can ace this class but if we don’t keep working on it after this class. we’ll be right back where we started.

  47. Avatar

    Your blog, “Using it or losing it,” definitely relates to public speaking in many ways. We must be prepared to practice our speeches multiple times before giving our speeches. Public speaking is acquired by practice. We need to be willing to give speeches regularly to maintain the skills.

  48. Avatar
    Elizabeth Hargreaves

    Use it or lose it applies to a multitude of skills, but especially that of public speaking which makes it so relevant to this class. As one learns about the brain, it is scientifically proven that there are skills that one must practice to maintain them. Public speaking should be practiced so one will not lose it, but continue to be successful in it.

  49. Avatar

    This was a great article to read. I like the little bits of humor you have added into this. Public speaking relates to this as a skill you can lose if you don’t use it often. If you lose these skills it will be hard to get them back. You also have to go through the scary stage of getting used to talking in front of people again. I think that is true with a lot of things!

  50. Avatar

    Your blog post applies to public speaking in a way that we have to keep practicing our speaking skills or they will fade away. While skills can be re obtained it is far easier to simply maintain them.

  51. Avatar
    Reyna Gonzalez-Rivera

    The blog does apply to public speaking and it was a great read. Really enjoyed the humor and it helps you gain the skills to be able to talk with others and to voice yourself. This article also applies to many other skills. This was very entertaining and motivational.

  52. Avatar
    Chelsea Zubke

    This is a great blog post. I think it has to do with public speaking because you need to practice the skills we are learning for public speaking. If we do not practice public speaking on a regular basis we will loose the skills we have learned. If the skills have been lost it may be harder to regain them.

  53. Avatar

    The phrase “use it or lose it” could be applied to public speaking. If we don’t continue to speak in public, then we will lose our public speaking skills. If we lose our skills, then it is likely that we would have to start from the bottom and relearn them. I like how you used humor, and made most of it relate able to your target audience.

  54. Avatar
    Jacob Peabody

    I think the phrase “Use It or Lose It” is a very true and wise statement. Always take the most advantage of what you got. I think it could be applied to public speaking through a simple manner of losing your ability to be outgoing and talking in front of anyone. I’ve even seen these types of things happen. Many young kids are very outgoing and will babble on about anything to anyone, but as they grow they start to stop and slowly become shy. I think being a good public speaker is a very good quality in a person, because it shows a strong sense of confidence. I really liked some of your points in here.

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