Have you seen that guy in the gym that never fails to work out with absolute determination and wondered how he is so disciplined?
Or how that lady runs kilometers and kilometers every single day?
Like you, I just couldn’t understand how they could disciplined themselves to withstand the pain, the burn, the lack of breath, the time wasted… in short: the suffering. Let alone the sacrifices regarding food, alcohol, parties, etc.
So the day that I had to face the fact that I needed to do something to get back to health I was full of doubts. In fact, the only thing I was certain about, was that I didn’t have what it takes, to be disciplined like them.
After years of abuse my body had given up on me. I was overweight, inflamed, unhealthy and in pain. The years of playing sports “just for fun” had caught up with me. I needed to head to the gym and do something about it.
What follows next is just a synthesis of the journey of how i went from “wanting” to be disciplined, to being disciplined and enjoying every second of it.
The long road to be disciplined starts with a reason
We all have a reason to exercise, whether is for fat loss, to get healthy or just to look good.
Whatever the reason, committing to doing something daily, forever, can be daunting.
So we try and fail and for the most part give up. We tried and we couldn’t.
I did just that.
Luckily for me – if you can call that luck -, the reason I had to exercise was pain; pure, unadulterated, excruciating pain. And no amount of painkillers was helping. So no matter how lazy I felt, or how many days I stopped exercising, I always had a reason to try again.
The fact that I wasn’t doing any fun, exciting stuff didn’t help. I was only doing my rehab program and not much else.
At that time, no one had explained anything to me about quality of movement. And probably even if they had, wouldn’t had changed things much. All I wanted was to get the reps and sets done so I could better things.
At some point I realized that even I was doing the absolute minimum required, I was still getting results. That definitely help me sticking to my program more and more.
When you no longer need to be disciplined
Weeks and months passed and without realizing it, the pain started to diminish. I was recovering some degree of functionality.
I stopped thinking of my rehab and exercising program as a burden to get out of the way as fast as I could. My motivation had changed. It wasn’t about getting rid of pain only. I was now enjoying my practice, not just its results.
Each movement, each rep, became pleasurable. I would close my eyes and engage my mind fully. Even to the point that I would go well beyond the intended number of reps just to achieve “maximum” quality on each movement.
My mind started enjoying a degree of relaxation I have never experienced, even while meditating. My physical practice was impacting my mind. My emotions became also more stable, I was more centered that ever before.
The better I got exercising and moving, the more I realized my limitations. I was only 30 years old, but my body was of that of a man 30 years older than me. I didn’t like that. I didn’t want to face my elder years with a broken, limited body.
When discipline helps you discover your passion
So I became more involved in what I was doing. Exercise I had realized by then, is only one of the many pillars a satisfying life finds its ground.
I read and implemented everything I could about nutrition, lifestyle, meditation, mindset, etc.,everything that could improve my practice and well being.
I became more honest with myself. I wasn’t cheating either in quality, nor in numbers. I wasn’t quitting a rep or two before completing each set. I wasn’t rushing through the movement. I wasn’t using stabilizing muscles to create movement.
I had fallen in love with my body and with my practice. At almost 40 years old, I had found my passion. I loved movement and I was going to dedicate a great amount of time and effort to understand it and practice it. You can learn about my movement method here.
Not going to a party became natural, because by then I was sensitive to the damage I was doing to my body with booze and late nights.
By that time, my priorities had changed, my awareness was different, and what was driving me, wasn’t neither fear, nor the promise of instant gratification, but the constant build up of inner peace and mastery of my practice.
From then on, I didn’t have to push myself to exercise. There were no more inner conversations about “having” to go to the gym, but not wanting. There were no more excuses created on the back of my mind.
Being disciplined allows you to detach from results
When you know you are doing everything you can, and with the highest degree of intention and attention, there is no room for self doubt.
You stop hoping and you start trusting the results will come. There is no more anguish when thinking about the future. Deep down you know there is nothing else you can do, other than what you are doing.
Welcome to peace of mind.
I can now listen to my body as a friend, not as its master. I know I am listening the truth of its state, rather than at my lazy mind. If I really need rest I take it, but I don’t “talk myself” into “having” to rest.
It is about taking action once you have decided your path without questioning. Doing without expecting. The more you engage in doing the less space you will have for doubt.
I know most people don’t want to become as “disciplined” or “engaged” in sports or exercise. You can always choose what is the right measure you want to achieve.
More important, what is written above can be applied to any endeavor in your life.
So, if you are having problems committing to your sport or practice remember some of the following points:
- Start now. Don’t delay things, this moment is as good as any other. There are not perfect times.
- Be easy on yourself. Be gradual, nothing can be achieved in a single day, but you can destroy plenty in a single second.
- You will fail. Don’t be disappointed it’s not about how many times you fail, but how many times you are back trying again, and again, and again.
- Identify your reason. What drives you? What do you want to achieve? Why? Find the deepest reason for action and pursue today. Your reason may change with time, so use it, but don’t get overly attached to it.
- Engage with your practice.The quality and attention you pay to what you do determine the quality and quantity of the results you get.
- Let go of your expectations. Do your best, and let the results come to its own accord.
- Inform yourself. Learn everything you can about what you are doing and how to improve it each and everyday.
- Forget about competing. Don’t compare yourself to others, don’t compare yourself to the past, just focus on what you are doing now.
- Try to enrich your practice from every angle. Improving your food choices, your water intake, your sleeping patterns, etc., will only enhance your practice.
- Don’t let your ego overtake your practice. It’s not about the amount of weight you lift, nor the number of kilometers you bike or run, those are ONLY tools to achieve your goal, they should never be the goal on themselves.
- Be honest. Do exactly what you have to do, with the utmost care and attention, don’t skip repetitions or sets, don’t lie to yourself.
- Never compromise on quality. Don’t rush through your exercises, take the time to enjoy each movement as if it was the last spoon of your favorite dessert. Develop body awareness.
- Understand that your attention will shift with time. Don’t cling to what you like now, let things flow, let go what doesn’t serve you anymore, consider new things when the time is right.
- Learn to listen to your body. Develop body awareness so you can listen to the state of your body, not your mind (the mind is the enemy).
- Work on your weaknesses. Your strengths are only ego boosters that will get you nowhere, your weaknesses are your best chances of improving yourself.
- Don’t invest your self worth on your sport or practice. Use it, get what you need out of it and drop it until the next time you are exercising. You don’t need to tell everyone how awesome you are.
I hope this thoughts help you to approach exercise when you decide is time to do something about your health.
As you may have noticed, most of these ideas can be applied in every other aspect of your life.
Please leave your comments in the box below.
Thanks for reading!