Hi guys, I’m The Healthlete Coach, and In this post I want to talk to you about two principles of life. Motivation and Discipline, and more specifically how they relate to the achievement, (or lack thereof), of your fitness goals.
First, let’s talk about Motivation. Motivation is defined in the dictionary as “A reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.” Pretty simple right? Motivation is our WHY, our reason we want to get fit, lose weight, build muscle. Whatever our goal is, we have a reason we want to achieve it. You might want to lose weight to fit into that suit or dress for that special occasion. Maybe you want to get stronger or fitter to help you become more competitive in the sport you're passionate about. Or maybe you just want to build some muscle to look good on the beach this summer! It doesn’t matter. Whatever your goal is, it’s yours. You should be proud of it and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you otherwise… but I’ll save that rabbit hole for another time.
The way we view motivation when it comes to our goals however, is a little different. In this area of our lives. Motivation is our “get up and go”. Our “energy” we use to get us up off the couch and get to the gym, get to practice, or get to class, whatever it may be.
The feeling we associate with motivation is pretty potent isn’t it? If you’re anything like me, It’s almost always a sudden rush of feelings after watching an inspiring video on youtube of your favorite athlete crushing their goals. Or imagining ourselves feeling amazing after achieving what we set out to achieve. A feeling that compels you to get up, there and then, and do something. Something that will get you on your way to where you want to be. It gets you excited, pumped up for the future and the idea of achieving the vision of yourself that you’ve held in your mind for so long!
And that’s a great thing! Don’t get me wrong, make the most of those feelings, get up and do something whenever you can...
The trouble is though, as most of us will be painfully aware, this feeling, unfortunately, is fleeting.
That’s a shame isn’t it!? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could have that feeling every day? Turn it on like a switch? But therein lies the problem. We can’t. And that fact is exactly why so many people simply never achieve their goals.
So what can we do about it? How are we ever going to achieve our goals!?
Imagine, it’s 6 a.m and your alarm clock goes off. It’s cold, and there’s a voice in your head screaming at you to snooze your alarm, roll over and go back to sleep. You can probably fit in a workout after you get home tonight right?
That simple moment right there is where most of us fall down. Ok it might not be the 6am alarm clock, but it could be something similar, and it probably is. Use your imagination, it could be being “too tired” after you get home from work. It could be that your training partner can’t make it today and you don’t want to go alone. It could be that you’re feeling a bit fed up and simply “can’t be bothered with it”. It could be any one of these or something completely different. Everyone has their thing.
But what’s important is that you recognise that these things are excuses. All of them.
Ok, yes, there are going to be times where there is a legitimate reason you can’t make it to the gym or team practice. But be honest, how many times have you not made it and deep down, you know you could have gone! You could have got that workout in. And the crazy part is, it isn’t long after that that we regret it. We wish we’d have just gone! Because we know that we’re letting ourselves down. We’re cheating ourselves.
And it gets worse, if you’re anything like me, you then take that negative feeling into the next day. You know you missed out last night and now you’re feeling fed up, like you aren’t going to achieve your goals. And guess what? You miss training again because you “don’t feel like it”. And before you know it, you’re in this vicious cycle of negative emotion and not pursuing your goals.
I’ve been there more times than I care to mention, and if you’re reading this I’m sure you have too.
But there is hope!
That hope comes from discipline. And before i go any further i’ll tell you right now. It isn’t easy. But it does get easier with practice. You just have to give it a chance. You’re worth that right? Give yourself and discipline that chance to set you on the path to your goals.
Discipline is a habit. Just like brushing your teeth in the morning is a habit. And an important one that we must strive to build.
But how? Well, as I said, it isn’t easy. It takes time and practice. I’ve listed below a few key points that have helped a lot in building my own discipline, and the great thing is, building this discipline not only helps us achieve our fitness and health goals, but also helps us in all other aspects of our lives too! And before you know it, you’re in a positive feedback loop and it’s all coming together!
So here it is:
Know where you struggle
I cannot stress how important this one is. It’s why I've put it top of the list. You must be able to recognise where it is you struggle when it comes to discipline, remember what i spoke about earlier? Is it the 6am alarm? Is it being too tired after work? What is it? Be honest with yourself. If you can never be honest with yourself and recognise what it is you need to do better, how will you ever do better? So, admit to yourself where you let yourself down and do whatever it is you need to do to address that. I don't know what that thing is for you. That’s for you to decide and manage, but it starts with being honest with yourself and recognising it.
Identify and write down clear goals
This one is pretty self explanatory but may not be obvious to you. It’s important to identify and write down a clear goal you wish to achieve. Whether that's to lose 5 pounds of fat, gain 5 pounds of muscle, be able to run a 6 minute mile. Doesn't matter, whatever it is, write it down and put it somewhere visible. For example, your phone screensaver, your fridge door etc.
Visualize your outcome
Spend more time visualising in your mind what your goal looks like. How do you look in the mirror once you’ve achieved your goal? More importantly, how do you feel? I bet it’s pretty good right? Remember that feeling. And remember it often.
Don’t wait for it to feel right
This is a real common one for people and it certainly was a big one for me. Stop waiting for the “right time” to do something. You don’t need good weather to go for a run. You don't need the gym to be quiet to get a good workout in. You don't need to feel 100% that day for your workout to be worth it. It is always worth it. Recognise when you’re making excuses and get it done!
There is nothing wrong with starting small. There is absolutely no point in saying to yourself “I’m going to go to the gym every single day.” Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make a commitment yes. But start small. Commit to once per week. Already do that? Commit to twice. Twice a week going well? Good! Up it to 3 and throw in a sunday run! Take your time and build.
And that’s it! You’re on your way. There is of course much more we can do from there. But that’s a subject for another day…
Good luck guys, and thank you for reading.
The Healthlete Coach.