Discipline. When we hear the word Discipline, we think of Marines marching in formation in perfect cadence. We think of Shaolin monks, being able to do a horse stance or sitting in the lotus position in silence for hours on end. Do you think you have this kind of discipline?
The answer is an emphatic yes! We all have the ability to have discipline. When we see people that have what looks like a tremendous amount of discipline, a lot of people automatically think “I can’t ever do that”. Have you seen someone do something you thought was amazing and wished you could do it too?
Here is the thing: Discipline, like fitness, muscles, and brain, needs to be used on a regular basis to grow. The Marines that you see marching in precision timing do not start out that way. The second they arrive in Parris Island or San Diego, they have to start standing in formation, walking in formation, learning how to properly address their drill instructors and each other. It takes time and work, but they will eventually get it. When they do, they look like a fine-tuned machine.
The Shaolin monk is the same. The monk will start training at a very young age of about six or seven. By the time we see them do a performance, they will have at least 15 years of training. What we don’t see is the sweat, pain, tears, and sometimes injuries that they go through. We just see the end product.
Health and fitness is the same way. I know it seems easier for some people than it does for others. Some of this has to do with the individuals’ likes and dislikes. My wife isn’t a fan of doughnuts. So for her, not eating a doughnut is no big thing. I have a big sweet tooth. So for me, it does take some effort to stay away from anything sweet. I used to run long distances in high school. Today, I would rather do a 20 minute HIIT workout than do a long-distance run.
So how does one get and build their discipline? Just like when you started to walk as an infant. One step at a time. As a coach, I enjoy working with clients and helping them change their habits. If your goal was to lose 50 pounds, we would look at your current activity level and also at what you eat in a week’s time. We would determine what you need to change (diet, habits) to help you reach your goals. If you had a list of 10 habits you needed to change, we would start by focusing on just one at a time. After a week, we would check to see how you are doing with that. If you feel good, start working on another habit. If you don’t feel good, keep working on that one habit.
Some studies have been done to show that trying to change a lot at once is hard on the body, and most people are not able to make those changes last for very long. The goal should be to change a bad habit for a good habit that can be sustained for the long term. Getting fit and healthy takes time and effort.