Exercise often comes down to discipline. Discipline is tricky because we know what we ought to be doing, but at the very time we know we ought to do something, that is the last thing we want to do. For example, the child who wants to play instead of go to school. The parent with life experience knows he ought to go to school to reap great benefits for the rest of his life, and so disciplines the child accordingly. The child, once rebellious, is however educated and reaps the benefits. By the time we're adults, we know what we ought to do, but with no one telling us to toe the line, discipline ends up in our own hands, is easily ignored, and the 'benefits' are lost.
Healthy eating. Exercise. Rest. These are all issues requiring self discipline and they have serious consequences if ignored. The 40 year old mother who routinely eats half a packet of biscuits a day develops diabetes with severe complications. The middle aged bank manager who never has time for exercise has a massive heart attack the week before he's due to retire. The high flying 30-something lawyer who never has a weekend free has a nervous breakdown and has to be admitted to hospital. Self discipline can save us from severe life-changing consequences, if only we knew how to employ it.
To employ self discipline we first need to know why we need it. The child needs to be motivated to go to school by being told the end results. Before we're disciplined to lace up our trainers, we need to know why on earth we're doing it!
Rather than dwell on negative consequences in this article, I would love to explore the rewards. I believe it is far better motivation to use positive images rather than shouldn'ts! The 40 year old mother stops buying supermarket biscuits, and starts baking flapjacks with her children, having fun developing a no sugar, no butter recipe. The middle aged bank manager re-adjusts his evening priorities, gives up pub night and starts jogging with his wife. The 30-something lawyer applies for a new job with a smaller pay packet and re-gains her weekends for rest and relaxation. They all live healthier happier lives because of an episode of self discipline.
Self discipline will look different for everyone. It might be a picture stuck on the fridge of you at a healthier weight with an exercise schedule below. Or a note book at your front door, logging your last exercise session and how you felt after. Some people need to just set their alarm clocks half an hour earlier to fit in that pre-breakfast jog (leave the alarm clock by your trainers by your bedroom door.) Others may find it helpful to write mini-motivations on the mirror. You may ask a friend to come with you to the supermarket to make sure your trolley is healthy. Self discipline will come if the motivations are pure. Ask yourself why, then set about finding the appropriate tools to make it happen!