6 Steps to Improve Your Fitness Discipline
Everyone wants to be that person that they see in the gym that goes every week and seemingly kills it. Like every week.
Some of you are feeling like a slug because a friend can say no to things you can’t even fathom saying no to. Like chocolate cake, in my case.
Related - Find a Workout Plan
How do they do it? What is their secret, and why don’t you have it?
First, let's define the word discipline.
Discipline is defined as, “A set of rules or methods, as those regulating self-control; to punish in order to gain control or enforce obedience.”
Sounds kinda harsh, doesn’t it? Well, if we really examine how it pertains to our health, let's look at some things that people want to be more disciplined at.
Improving Fitness Discipline
- Workouts - Most people want to shape their body and look hot.
- Diet - Control over what goes in their mouth.
- Teach their kids by example regarding their health.
- Stay out of the hospital by taking care of a disease process - i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.
Why are so many people not able to control their diabetes, are morbidly obese or aren’t where they should be as far as their body?
I know many in the health and fitness realm that believe that people who fail a fitness plan lack the ability to master discipline and are “lazy.” However, I have a very different take as I was considered “lazy” by well-meaning trainers that thought I absolutely loved being morbidly obese.
Oh, and I loved being made fun of and treated like crap at work, too. Good times...
These 6 steps are easy. I am not kidding. They are easy to follow, and easy to implement if you are vigilant in changing your perception of things.
1. Run away
So, let's say you are on a diet and everyone around you eats cake and cheeseburgers dripping with awesomeness. What do you do? Um, common sense says to stop hanging out with them.
This is like a no-brainer.
Don’t put yourself in situations that are going to be self-sabotaging and where you have to employ “willpower.” This sucks your energy, and if your energy is low, so is your perceived willpower.
Once you get into the groove of eating healthy, you feel great. You don’t want to go back to the bloating and feeling like crap.
It gets easier to be around cake or awesome cheeseburgers, because you have positive reinforcement with the habit of health that you have already started.
2. Stop burning the candle at both ends
Stress leads to poor choices. Think about it. You have insomnia and what do you do?
You eat a whole box of crackers staying up all night watching infomercials of the shake weight. There is this little thing called cortisol that is released from the adrenal glands when you are stressed. It makes you hungry and it makes you gain weight.
So sleeping well and going to bed on time makes saying no a little easier to goodies, and saying yes to that killer workout that you have been avoiding.
3. Be patient
Yes, not my strong suit, but nonetheless... Being patient and holding out.
Let's say you want a cookie. The impulse to have a cookie is so strong, you can taste the cookie. You get sweaty palms, you even dream about the cookie.
However, if you distract yourself from the cookie, it’s likely you will forget about it. The dopamine in your body isn’t surging, and you stop thinking about it so much.
Being patient is important in discipline, because you may have to look at the long-term benefit versus the short term reward. This can be hard at times, and doing it on a daily basis to strengthen your discipline actually makes you better at it.
4. Break your goals into manageable parts
Write crap down! I can’t say that enough.
If you have a goal and you want to get to it, you have to break it down into smaller parts. Goals can be overwhelming and being disciplined means that you go step by step to get to those goals.
You are methodical.
Dude, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right? This is no different.
Getting overwhelmed by your fitness goal is easy. Giving up is easy. Writing crap down and breaking it down into manageable goals is also easy. So why not do that instead of giving up?
5. Action, action, action!
In order to be effective as a leader of your own life and become self-disciplined, you have to follow through. This means that even when you are scared, don’t want to, are worried it won't pan out it doesn’t matter...
This is the course of action you feel would be to your benefit, so you have to follow through. Don’t wuss out. You have to suck it up, buttercup and get going.
Put that head down and just follow through on your goal. Disciplined people work their face off to be disciplined and to reach their goals, it just doesn’t happen for them.
Hard work, being patient, getting away from destructive habits that influence their life in bad ways and working hard is the basis of discipline.
6. Disciplined people take responsibility
They don’t whine about their situation, they either work through it, or change it. If you are whiny (that is me) then you have to have another way to rectify the situation that you don’t like.
Whining about a situation doesn’t fix the situation. If you are scared to change a situation, think about failing at it. That is the worst situation that can happen.
If you think about it that way, it kind of diffuses the fear and makes you more inclined to rectify a situation that you find unacceptable.
When I was fat, I talked about how my mom was mean to me, and that my coworkers held me down by bringing me food. I totally forgot that it's actually me that holds the fork.
When I took responsibility for my situation and started to change it, it was absolutely terrifying. However, little by little, it became less scary and I became more self-confident.
So with all that being said about discipline, you can only do it for so long. I say this because it can take a lot of mental energy to be “disciplined."
I find that once you do this for any length of time, habit takes over. Aristotle once said, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” He was kinda a smart guy and I am of the same mind. Habits formed really make it rote.
Again With Neuroplasticity
So you are now doing these six steps and are killing it in the gym and with your diet. Why is it easier?
I know this probably isn’t a burning question for you, as now you feel all disciplined, and stuff, but to others who want to emulate you, it is a burning question.
Let's talk a little about habits now and what they do to the brain. So, your brain can restructure from bad habits to good habits because it associates neurons that work together stay together and create a worn pathway.
If you had some bad habits, you had neurons that created a pathway together. Let's say you decided to get your crap together and you want to emulate your fav bodybuilder. You do all six of the above tips for discipline. It was super hard at first, but now it's easier.
Because neurons that fire together wire together. That pathway is now easily associated with what and who you are.
You are no longer doing your crap habit of eating pizza and laying around in a carb coma. That pathway has become weaker now that you created a different pathway.
Your brain doesn’t get if it’s a good habit or bad habit - it just responds with how you feel when you are doing it and it will keep doing it if you feel amazing eating pizza and laying around watching TV for 8 hours.
Discipline is basically a way to get control over your life. Discipline can be hard at first, but once done for a while can improve your life and also become a rote habit.
When someone has discipline, they have likely made deep habits that are ingrained in their brains and it gets easier over time to stay in that “disciplined” state. Whatever you want to be changed in your life, these six steps will be the first step to changing the way you think about yourself and change your self-image of yourself.