Wellness Wednesday #32: Discipline

buttonMy original health and fitness journey began in earnest in 2011. I had drive and determination and a plan. I made specific goals in short term (daily/weekly) and long term and longer term. I studied and evaluated and generally threw myself into this health and fitness thing wholeheartedly, without allowing myself to go overboard and burn out. It worked well. From January to the end of September, I lost 45 lbs, could jog for an hour straight, had built tons of muscle through strength training, had much better nutrition/food habits, and felt good about my body and where I was going for the first time in forever.

The thing is, I never relied on motivation. Life had long taught me that motivation was a fleeting thing that burned out after a few weeks max. Instead, I relied on determination. I was not going to stop no matter what. I treated health and fitness as a full time job. When you don’t feel like showing up to your job, you do it anyway, because you can’t afford to get fired. You take days off for illness, but not for “I don’t wanna go to work today.”

Determination worked well for me. When severe insomnia hit me in October 2011 and slowed my weight loss to a crawl, I kept going. When it took another 18 months to lose the last 40 lbs, I kept going. When I had a stress fracture in my leg and wasn’t allowed to exercise for three months, I kept going. No matter what, I kept going. That, I thought, was determination, and it paid off. Eventually I hit my goal weight, and then maintained that weight for another 18 months. That’s when things began to slip.

Because here’s the thing: It wasn’t determination that was driving me. Determination had started me going, but in the end, it was discipline that kept me driving forward. Last week I read an article about discipline from Nia Shanks, and something clicked. When life fell down around my shoulders in 2013, I’d kept going, kept maintaining my weight, kept training, kept eating well. A year later, when life crashed even worse, I didn’t keep going. I started gaining weight, stopped training, started eating erratically. I tried to get myself back in line, but with my life in pieces, there was no determination to be found. Every ounce of energy I had went toward surviving. I had nothing to spare for anything else.

This is what clicked last week. The difference between that first life-crash and the second wasn’t just the severity. The second collapse came during a crucial change in my life: when we sold our house and moved across the country. All of a sudden, I was in a new house, a new situation, a new part of the country with drastically different weather patterns, a new schedule for the kids’ schools, a new schedule for Jason’s job, and so on. My former routines meant nothing any longer. Everything had to be changed. I had to build something new from scratch, and I didn’t have the energy to do that. By the time I got a tiny bit of energy back, we moved across the country again. Rinse. Repeat.

I’m starting all over again from scratch, three cross-country moves later. Not just losing regained weight and getting my fitness levels back to where they were, but building up the routines and schedules and discipline that were once second nature to me. I’ll be honest: I’m not even trying right now while I live in my in-laws’ house. Sure, I’m trying to eat as healthy as I can and I’m trying to head down to the community center gym when I can, but I’m not trying to build a routine or regimen. I’m saving that for when we move into our new house. (Four more days!!) I’ve already started sketching out potential plans and schedules for myself. I’m itching to really get started again. Hopefully, that’s a good sign. I need motivation or determination or whatever to get me going long enough to build a practice that will morph into long term discipline again. Maybe DISCIPLINE will be my word for 2017.

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
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6 Responses to Wellness Wednesday #32: Discipline

  1. Kristen M says:

    After a couple of pretty painful injuries that required physical therapy (neck and hip), I quit going to the gym and basically have slowly gained weight back over the last two years. I obviously didn’t want this to happen but wasn’t sure how to get going again because it really was such a strenuous process the first time. I remember the hard work and the feelings of deprivation and forget about the benefits of looking and feeling better. I couldn’t remember HOW I was able to do it the first time but this comparison of determination versus discipline is certainly helping me figure it all out.


    • Amanda says:

      It was really an on-point article. I know Nia Shanks wrote it basically because she was pissed at a client for a nasty email, but hey whatever it ended up teaching me something new!


  2. Michelle says:

    Discipline – I think that is a great word and a great explanation of how making healthy choices and having a healthy lifestyle actually works. Those who train for a marathon have discipline to get out there and put in the hours. People going through any type of professional degree program have discipline to do the work . Musicians and other artists have discipline to sit down and practice their craft. I severely lack discipline. I know this, but I like your statement about the discipline to get up and go to work each day no matter how much you may not want to do so. I am definitely going to have to do some soul-searching with this one.


    • Amanda says:

      I don’t really have a lot of discipline in general. It’s actually quite hard to have it when your job is essentially taking care of the house/family and therefore you have to create your own stop/start to the day and your own routines. It requires more energy than “yes you have to go to work” because you’re the one doing it and nothing depends on you to do it. If my house gets messy, it gets messy. If I don’t exercise, it only affects me. You know?


      • Michelle says:

        I get it. I’m the same way at home as well. I think this is why I don’t exercise – because it only affects me, and I am way too busy making sure the kids eat, have everything they need, get to where they need to go, etc.


  3. Pingback: Wellness Wednesday #40: One Word for 2017 | The Zen Leaf

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