My 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.