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Why discipline doesn’t really exist

I promised to write something about discipline this month. But I’m not going to write about discipline, or at least I am not going to write about how you can increase your discipline, or how you should apply discipline to force yourself to stick to your weight loss or get fit plans. Why? Because I don’t really believe in discipline. This quote from strength coach Charles Poliquin sums it up – “There is no such thing as discipline. There is only love”.

That sounds a bit new-agey, but it’s not. What he’s saying is that we will always gravitate towards what we love. So it might be possible to force ourselves to eat fruit instead of chocolate for a while, but if we love chocolate more than we love fruit we’ll eventually switch back to chocolate. If we love sitting on the sofa more than we love going out for a run in the rain eventually the sofa will win.

Sound depressing? I don’t think it is. Acknowledge this and you can stop beating yourself up for having no discipline. Accept that there are some things you love and some things you don’t.

Then find something you love which will serve your goals. I believe that there is a form of exercise to suit everyone. You just have to find yours. Getting fit is not just a toss-up between joining a gym or going running. Find something you love – Zumba, wall climbing, hiking, ballroom dancing, open water swimming, anything. There will be something.

For weight loss, it’s still about love – love for yourself. I’ve written about this a lot. If you are dieting or trying to eat healthier because you hate yourself you won’t get very far. Eat well because you love yourself and because you value your own wellbeing and it will make a lot more sense. It will feel like a positive thing rather than punishment. Nurture and nourish your body because you value it and and because you want it to look and feel its best.

If you can make this mental switch you’ll find that you’ll be drawn towards nourishing foods – why eat a doughnut which is devoid of nourishment and which will make you crave more sugar an hour later when you can eat nuts, fruit, seeds or whatever you enjoy which will increase your energy and make you look and feel great?

It’s not a mental switch you can make overnight, but when faced with a decision about what to eat, if you start to ask “if I love myself what would be the most caring thing to eat?” you can start changing your attitude to food.

And finally here’s another thought from Charles Poliquin – willpower goes through a lot of energy. It’s “like a fast-twitch muscle, great for short bursts, yet… no staying power”. So however much you try to flex that discipline muscle, it won’t last. And it’s not your fault. So make your eating and exercise regime something you do through love, and let go of the punishing idea of discipline.

 

If you want to read more from Charles Poliquin, you can find articles here: http://www.strengthsensei.com/the-myth-of-discipline/
http://www.strengthsensei.com/more-on-the-myth-of-discipline-five-frequently-asked-questions-answered-3/