sure you will not be terribly surprised to learn that the majority
of people struggle in the area of physical fitness. The bad news is
that the majority of people will never escape that struggle. The
good news is that it can be done; you donít have to be among the
struggling majority! Our sincere goal is to help you become and stay
physically fit for life. With that said, letís move directly to the heart of the matter.
Why do most people spend a lifetime struggling
to stay in shape? Is it because they donít have the time? No (although thatís
what most people think). Is it because they donít have the resources? Absolutely
not. Is it because they lack motivation? To some degree yes, but overall the
answer is no. There are two main reasons why most people that care about their
health struggle to improve it: 1. They lack the required level of discipline to
sustain an exercise routine. 2. They do not understand the importance of
changing their lifestyle. Can anyone correct both of these problems? Yes! Letís
start down that road to success with a discussion about discipline.
If you are motivated to do something, but lack
the discipline to follow through, welcome to the club! You fall into the
majority of people Iíve known over the years. Merriam-Webster defines discipline
as ďa prescribed conduct or pattern.Ē I often define discipline as ďThe
ability to do what you say you will doĒ. For example, if I make a decision
to get up every morning at 6:00am and spend 45 minutes jogging I will do it. I
will be successful because I have the discipline to do so. However, if I lacked
disciplined, I would not follow through, at least for any period of time. Can
anyone achieve this type of sustaining discipline? Absolutely - hereís what it
First you probably need to get reacquainted
with yourself. Do you really want to
be physically fit? Are you satisfied with never reaching your potential? Does it
bother you that you cannot sustain any type of fitness program, or any type of
disciplined routine? Have you given up because of failing so many times? I
encourage you to look deep inside and answer these questions honestly. Once
youíve done this you can either resign yourself to the fact that things arenít
so bad the way they are, or you can make a conscious effort to change. Make that
effort to change!
Set goals and write them down.
Living a well disciplined life means looking
ahead and setting realistic goals for yourself. It means analyzing your life and
developing a plan that will allow you to meet those goals. It means following
through with that plan until your goals have been reached. Sound simple? To some
extent it is. Start with writing down your goals. Iíd venture to say that most
people do not write down their goals. Those that do write them down
out a plan to reach them. And, of those that set goals and develop a plan, most
rarely have the self-discipline to follow through with the plan. Are you
depressed yet? I hope not, but I do hope I have drawn a clear picture of most
peopleís current state. Why did I paint this picture? Because knowledge is
power, and knowing these things will give you a better chance for success.
Strive to achieve self-discipline.
What is the greatest of all types of discipline? Self-discipline. With
self-discipline you are your biggest cheerleader and you are not relying on
another person to push you along. For years Iíve seen people start and stop
physical fitness routines within a very short time. Some had limited success as
long as their partner pushed them along, but as soon as their partner lost
interest; nearly 100% of the time both individuals stopped exercising. Those
that have maintained a steady workout over the years have done it solo.
These individuals did not rely on others for their success.
Determine the root cause of your lack of
discipline. The natural question now
is what do I need to do to increase my self-discipline? Your inability to do
those things you want to do (lack of discipline) could be caused by a number of
things. One of the most important things for you to do is determine the root
cause for your lack of discipline. Ask the question ďwhyĒ until the root cause
if revealed. Please examine the following example:
Why canít I keep my commitment to jog each
morning at 6:00am? Because when the clock goes off I am too tired.
Why? Because I only get five to six hours of
Why? Because I cannot get to bed until 12:00 or
Why? I have a four and seven year old that do
not go to bed until 10-11:00pmÖthe only time I have to do anything is when they
are in bed.
Why? The children do not have a set bedtime and
when they are up I am taking care of their needs.
In this simple example the root of the problem
is probably the childrenís bedtime, or lack thereof. Now to correct the problem,
this person should address the root cause. He or she should announce and enforce
a bedtime (letís say 8:30pm) for the children. Would this solve this problem?
Assuming this was the true root cause, you bet it would. Unfortunately, most
people would never discover the root cause and be resolved to the fact that they
are just too tired to get up in the morning. You must take the time to ask
yourself why until you discover your root causes. Once you determine the
root cause of why you canít do something youíd like to do, attack it vigorously
and move on to other root causes. It is likely youíll have to address several
areas of your life as you develop self-discipline.
One last minor point to address - do self-disciplined people still have fun? You may think that having discipline seems
so, I donít know Ė robot like. Yes, I assure you that self-disciplined people
have tons of fun (that is if they enjoyed having fun to begin with). Actually,
they probably have more fun because they are able to do many more of the things
they want to do! Now, letís talk about issue number two; lifestyle change.
You must change your lifestyle.
In order to sustain a physical fitness routine,
most people need to do a major shift in their thinking. The key to success here
is shifting your mindset from changing your schedule to changing your lifestyle.
A mindset change is usually difficult for people to understand; this is normal.
One major reason is because initially, a schedule change and a lifestyle change
look the same. A schedule change will set aside a specific time to exercise. A
lifestyle change will also involve setting aside some time to exercise. The big
difference is that a schedule change may last a few weeks or months. A
successful lifestyle change can last forever, or until you make a decision to
change it Ė that is for the better!
Make changes gradually.
How do I make a lifestyle change? Make gradual
changes to your lifestyle. For example, gradually replace potato chips with
carrot sticks, soda with water; decrease the size of your meal portions, etc.
The same goes with exercising. If you do not normally exercise set some time
aside three to five times a week, letís say an hour for each workout. If you
lift weights start light and then gradually increase the weight. If you are
working on your cardiovascular system start out slow and gradually increase your
speed. The overall point is to make lifestyle changes methodically, but
gradually. NOTE: We recommend you always seek the advice of a medical doctor
before starting any physical fitness activity.
Develop new habits.
What is a habit?
"I am your
constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I
will push you onward or drag
you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do you
might just as well turn over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and
I am easily
managed -- you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want
something done and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the
servant of all great men; and alas, of all failures, as well. Those who are
great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not
a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the
intelligence of a man. You may run me for a profit or run me for ruin -- it
makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place
the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am a
n.d.). This article is definitely appropriate for anyone wanting to change their
lifestyle! Now, a quick ďhabitĒ example Ė if you are in the habit of eating a
meal right before you go to bed, change that habit. If you have the habit of
eating more when you are stressed out, change that habit. Pay attention to your
unhealthy habits and replace them with healthy habits!
Take control of your daily routine.
Some things we do we have very little choice.
If we have a job we have to go to work. If we live in the United States, we have
to pay taxes. However, there are a lot of things we do that we donít have to do.
If you get home from work at 6:00 pm and go to bed at 11:00pm you have five
hours that belong to you! I realize you may have more of those ďcanít avoidĒ
things, but donít otherwise waste this time doing unimportant tasks. Develop a
schedule for weekly tasks and only do them during the time they are scheduled.
For example, set aside some time to pay your bills, do the laundry, mow the
yard, etc. By developing a schedule you can take advantage of your time and more
easily develop a less stressful, healthier daily routine.
Think long term.
Will my reason for wanting to exercise affect
my long term success? No. Your reason can be to lose weight, firm up muscles,
have more energy, etc. Regardless of your reason, you need to think lifestyle
change. I am sure there are exceptions, but generally speaking people that think
beyond the short term are more likely to engage in a lifestyle change versus a
schedule change. Thinking lifestyle change will help you lose weight and keep it
off. It will help you firm up your muscles and keep them firm. It will help you
have and keep a body that has more energy and so on. So what is the bottom line?
You need to think long termÖlifestyle change!
Okay I know this is a lot of information,
please allow me to summarize it for you.
Keys to Discipline (discipline: the ability to
do what you say you will do)
- Get reacquainted with yourself; is
becoming physically fit important to you?
- Set goals and write them down
- Eliminate the need of a workout partner for
motivational purposes Ė go solo
- Determine root causes for lack of discipline
- then vigorously attack them
Keys to Lifestyle Change
(not schedule change)
- Make changes gradually
- Develop new habits
- Take control of your daily routine
- Think long term
Now I encourage you to put these simple tips
into practice and live a healthier, more physically fit lifestyle for the rest
of your life!
Hirsch, E. (n.d.). The Power of
Habit and Commitment. Retrieved on August 15, 2002 from http://www.onlinemlm.com/articles/Detailed/58.html