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Motivation vs. Discipline

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?



Wrong!


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:


  1. 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.


  1. 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.



  1. 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.



  1. 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!



  1. Start small


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.



Supplements!

I’d like to talk to you about supplements.


Now before we go any further, the very first point I want to make, and I cannot stress the importance of this enough, is that supplements should never be used to replace anything you can and should get from food! Never. Ever.


The clue is in the name… supplements. They should be used to supplement your diet, where it would normally be difficult and/or expensive to get whatever it is from your diet. But again, if it is possible to get it from food, that is where you should be getting it from.


There is absolutely no point in spending a fortune on a fantastical array of fancy supplements and taking 20 different tablets every morning, when your diet is crap. You’re wasting your time, money, efforts and you’ll never achieve your goals with this approach.


Anyway, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about what kinds of supplements are out there. You don't need to spend a long time looking around online or in your local supplement shop to know that there is a vast range of different brands out there. Each offering you 20 different powders and pills, each promising you the world.


After an hour of trawling through the never ending pictures of men with ripped 6 packs and shiny packaging with words like “Gainz” (with a z), “Oxy-mega-crea-pump” and “Hydro-ultra-mass”, you’re fed up, have a headache and you still have no idea what you should and shouldn't be taking!


So to try and help you out, I’ve compiled a list of the only 5 supplements that i take on a daily basis, and I believe these supplements will suit the majority of people. Particularly those of you who are maybe new to training or have been training for a while, you're doing well with your diet and are looking to enhance your progress.


  1. Protein


I should start this again by saying that you should be getting most, if not all of your protein from food. However, as i’m sure you’ve probably experienced, it can be difficult and expensive to get adequate protein from your food. So a good quality protein powder is a great way to give an easy boost to your daily protein intake.


Don’t waste your money on fancy protein with fancy pseudo technical names. I won’t name them here, but i’m sure you’ve seen them. Keep it simple, and keep the quality high. Get yourself some simple whey concentrate. You could get isolate if you like, they generally taste and mix a little bit better, and the general consensus is that they’re slightly better absorbed by the body. But in my opinion it’s a bit over-hyped and isn't worth the extra cash you’ll pay for it


If you’re vegetarian or vegan and don’t want to take whey protein. The best alternative for you would be a good quality hemp protein powder. The amino acid profile of these proteins are the closest you will get to whey.


  1. Creatine


This one is probably the most important on this list. Creatine for me is an essential. It is the single most researched supplement out there and the evidence showing its benefits is clear cut. Creatine will help you train harder, for longer. It will help you recover, and there are also numerous studies that show it supports cognitive function. Male or female. Young or old. Beginner or athlete. They can all benefit from Creatine.


Again, keep it simple. You don't need the ones with fancy names. You don't need the ethyl-ester or the hydrochloride options. Get yourself some no frills Creatine Monohydrate. It’s cheap as chips and effective. 5g per day, and you’ll be golden.


That's it. They’re my essentials. It’s a short list.


Now that’s not to say that those are the only ones I take. There are a few others which i’ll tell you about shortly, but I didn't want to include them in the essentials because they’re more subjective. Depending on your diet and circumstances.


The other 3 supplements i take on a daily basis are


  1. Vitamin C + Zinc effervescent

  2. Omega 3

  3. Vitamin D


The vitamin C is pretty self explanatory. I think we all know how important vitamin C is to our dental and overall health. I take a 1000mg effervescent tablet everyday. This also includes 15mg of zinc. This isn't something I actively seek out, it just happens to be included in the tablet I take.


Omega 3’s. Another important one for me because I generally don't eat enough oily fish and seeds to get sufficient amounts from my diet consistently. It’s a cheap and highly available supplement so for me it makes sense to use it.


Vitamin D is another I take everyday. Now this one depends really on where you live. I live in the UK where the weather is terrible most of the year so i can benefit from supplementing with it. It’s relatively cheap, so if you live in the UK or a country generally lacking in regular sunshine, consider it. Also, the NHS says the following, “ If you have dark skin – for example you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background – you may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.”

Something to consider if that applies to you.


And that’s all I have for you today. Remember to keep it simple and that supplements are to supplement your diet. Not to replace it.


Good luck.


The Healthlete Coach.

Intermittent Fasting

I want to talk to you about a very popular method of dieting called Intermittent fasting or I.F.


What is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting, as the name suggests, involves taking your body through stages of being fasted, intermittently.


“But coach, isn't that what we do anyway? We fast when we’re asleep and we break that fast with breakfast?”.


You’re right!


Technically, yes, we already fast intermittently everyday! However what separates the specific practice of Intermittent fasting and what the “average” person does everyday by default, is the length of time we fast for.


True intermittent fasting involves fasting for a minimum of 16 hours every day. Which then gives us an eating window of 8 hours. So for example, you allocate an eating window of 12pm to 8pm. Which means you will not consume any calories between 8pm and 12pm the next day. Which is a fasted period of 16 hours. Make sense?


Now the example I've chosen of 12pm to 8pm is just that, an example. You could choose to make your window of eating 8am to 4pm. Or 3pm to 11pm. It doesn't matter, so long as you have a fasted period of around 16 hours or more, you are intermittent fasting.


So what’s the point of intermittent fasting?


Now, this is where things can get a little fuzzy shall we say…


There are generally two main schools of thought when it comes to intermittent fasting. First, there are those that will tell you that when you are fasting for extended periods, our body’s are forced to use fat as its primary fuel source. Also, the fact that you are fasted means your body will be releasing chemicals called “catecholamines”. (basically your body’s fight or flight chemicals; adrenaline, noradrenaline, epinephrine & norepinephrine) and these chemicals stimulate your body’s use of fat (lipolysis). As a result, they say, you will burn fat and lose weight.


On the other hand, there are those that will tell you that Intermittent fasting is simply a lifestyle choice which because of the limited period of being allowed to eat each day, we consume fewer calories by default and by extension, our adherence to the maintenance of a calorie deficit is improved.


I happen to lean towards the latter school of thinking, I believe Intermittent fasting is simply a powerful tool that we have at our disposal to help us adhere to the maintenance of a calorie deficit. Now, that isn't to say that those in the first school of thought are wrong, certainly not. I’m simply looking at it from my own perspective, being a user of intermittent fasting myself, and witnessing its effectiveness on my clients.


There are some compelling studies out there that show the benefits of fasting not only on weight management, but on longevity too, and I urge you to look around further into those if that interests you


Today though, we’re simply looking at it in terms of helping us lose fat. And in that regard, for myself, I find it to be extremely effective. This is mainly because I’m never really that hungry in the morning anyway, so I find it very easy to not consume any calories before 12pm / 1pm. Also, because I only have an eating window of 7 or 8 hours, I consume fewer calories by default, so long as I continue to make good choices during my eating window.


So, should you do intermittent fasting?


Well, that’s up to you to decide of course, but I’d certainly give it a shot if you haven’t already. It’s an extremely simple concept to apply to your life. Just adhere to the points I list below for a month or two and see how you feel and how it works for you.


  1. Specify an eating window of between 6 and 8 hours. I personally do around 7 hours. 12pm - 7pm

  2. Continue to make good food choices during your eating window.

  3. Eat enough protein.

  4. Plenty of leafy greens and vegetables.

  5. Drink plenty of water

  6. Don’t consume any calories during your fasting window (water, black coffee, green tea are fine. Technically diet soda is too, but don’t, it’s gross and bad for you in other ways).

  7. Use a tracking app like MyFitnessPal to help you track calories and make sure you’re in a calorie deficit.


Easy as that really. Try it out. Enjoy it, and take care of yourselves.


Thanks for reading.