The Missing Component In Your Fitness Program
Look, I’m not going to click-bait this and wait until the 3rd or 4th paragraph to get to the point. The missing element in many programs is discipline/perseverance/mental toughness training. There are many other synonyms one can come up with but let’s just settle on mental toughness. Too many people out there want to rely on motivation to carry them through their fitness journey. They read a book, see a movie or watch a TED talk and get a sudden rush of motivation. But the problem, as Jocko WIllink has said before, is that motivation is not sustainable in the long run. It comes and goes which is why you need to rely on DISCIPLINE which is built through metal toughness. Always remember that good habits, such as fitness, are formed on the days you’re NOT motivated. It’s easy to get a workout in when you’ve gotten a great night of sleep, your stress levels are low and you’ve been eating well. The habit is actually built on the days where you’re tired, stressed and/or otherwise unmotivated to put in the work. Forcing yourself to workout despite all the reasons you don’t want to is going to form the mental fortitude needed to efficiently create the habit for the long term.
No matter what modality of fitness you choose to pursue, keep in mind that at some point the novelty is going to wear off. Most people get an influx of motivation when they join a new gym or class but eventually you will hit a point where the newness of it has faded and you will need to rely on the habit you’ve built through mental fortitude. There’s a common saying in fitness, ‘punch the clock,’ which is really more of a mindset. Thinking of your health as a job rather than a hobby will help to keep your fitness journey in the proper perspective. For most people, fitness isn’t all that fun. It takes energy, discipline, and sacrifice. Now, I’m not saying that fitness can’t be ANY fun, but if you’re expecting every workout to be the best time of your life, you’re not setting yourself up for success. In most situations, if the reality doesn’t match the expectation, that’s where disappointment sets in and can eventually lead to the end of that endeavor.
So, what are some ways that you can increase your mental toughness? Well, to quote Jocko Willink one more time, “you know how you get more mentally tough? By being more mentally tough.” Don’t negotiate with yourself. If there’s something you know you should do but don’t want to, don’t think, just act. The more you think, the more your emotions and doubts will dictate what you do next. Like most things in life, you have to find what works for you so here are some suggestions to help you steel your mind: cold showers, get up early 2-3 days a week to workout or go for a run or even just go for a walk, take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator whenever possible, walk instead of drive, or just do it the harder way when the easier way is an option. These are just a few examples of ways to become more mentally disciplined.
Ultimately, it’s up to you. You know your comfort zone and you also know when you’re not pushing yourself outside of it. It’s always difficult at first, but like most things, it becomes easier the more practice you get. So, jump in a cold shower or get up for an early run, but let’s get moving!