Monday

How To Boost Your Self-Discipline and Stay in Control


In very simple mathematical terms, all you need to do to lose weight is to burn off more calories than you eat. Of course in the real world, our weight-loss journey will very rarely pan out quite as easily as that. There’s obviously more to it than simply ‘the amount you eat’ and ‘the amount you burn off’. There’s a third, very important factor in all this; our mind-set.

Losing weight starts in the mind
 
All too often however, people can reach a point where they feel totally helpless, out of control and stuck in their old frame of mind towards certain foods, towards staying active or towards life in general. This mind-set commonly leads to a downward spiral where sugary or fatty food is eaten, initially as a ‘comfort’. The brief pleasure provided by these foods is very quickly over, leaving them feeling even worse about themselves, reinforcing their negative mind-set; and the cycle continues. A constant emotional downward spiral.

If this has been you, ask yourself this question; are you really "not in control" of what you eat and what you burn off?

If it isn’t you that’s controlling your ‘energy in / energy used’ ratio, who is? The reality is that you are actually fully in control, although admittedly, you might not be entirely happy with your current results.

Not only are you in control of your own 'energy in / energy used' ratio, if you drive a car, you’re almost certainly doing a great job of controlling your cars ‘energy in / energy used’ ratio too, otherwise you’d be running out of fuel all the time! Clearly, you must have some disciplines in place that prevent that from happening (or at least, not too often!).

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be exploring our perception of control and self-discipline, looking at how it’s possible to actually change what you may have been doing in the past and begin to create the mind-set of that slimmer person you want to become.

What Is Self-Discipline?

Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state.

Imagine what you could accomplish if you could simply think about something, then easily follow through with it, no matter what. For example, imagine saying to your body, “You’re overweight, lose 20 pounds”. Without self-discipline that intention wouldn’t manifest into a reality. But with sufficient self-discipline, you really can make it happen.

The ultimate peak of self-discipline, is when you reach the point that you can make a conscious decision about something, then virtually guarantee you’ll follow through on it.

Once mastered, self-discipline can empower you to overcome any addiction or lose any amount of weight. It can wipe out procrastination, disorder, and ignorance. With regard to the wide-ranging problems it can solve, self-discipline is simply unmatched. Moreover, it becomes a powerful team-mate when combined with other ‘development mind-sets’ such as passion, goal-setting, and planning.

Building Self-Discipline

A great way of understanding how to build self-discipline, is best explained using an analogy:- Self-discipline is like a muscle; The more you train it, the stronger it becomes. The less you train it, the weaker it becomes.

Just as everyone has different muscular strength, we all possess different levels of self-discipline. Just know that you do indeed have at least some self-discipline, everyone does. For example, if you can hold your breath a few seconds, at some level, that requires self-discipline. If you have a regular bath or shower, you're using your self-discipline to achieve that. Some people have developed their self-discipline to a very high level, whilst others have probably not developed their self-discipline much at all, until now.

Just as it takes muscle to build muscle, it takes self-discipline to build self-discipline.

The way to build self-discipline is comparable to using progressive weight training to build muscle; this means lifting weights that are close to your limit. Note that when you weight train, you lift weights that are within your ability to lift, push your muscles until they fail, and then you rest.

Similarly, the basic method to build self-discipline is to tackle challenges that you can successfully accomplish, but which are near to your limit. This doesn’t mean trying something and failing at it every day, nor does it mean staying within your comfort zone. You will gain no strength trying to lift a weight that you cannot budge, nor will you gain strength lifting weights that are too light for you. You must start with weights/challenges that are within your current ability to lift but which are near to your limit.

Progressive training means that once you succeed, you increase the challenge. If we just keep working out with the same weights, it’s likely we wouldn’t get any stronger. In the same way, if we fail to challenge our self in life, we won’t gain any increase in self-discipline.

A common mistake many people make when looking to lose weight, is that they try to push themselves too hard, too soon. If our goal was to transform our entire life overnight, we’re setting ourselves up to fail. This would be like someone going out for their very first jog and expecting to become fit enough to run a marathon by the end of the week.

If our current situation is that we can walk half a mile, then that’s our current situation; there’s no shame in starting exactly where you are.

So, if you’ve been feeling very undisciplined until now, we’re going to look at exactly how it is possible for you to use the little bit of discipline you do currently have, to build more. The more disciplined you become, the mentally stronger you become and the easier life gets. Challenges that may have once seemed impossible, will begin to become easier and easier; in much the same way as when we get physically stronger, the same weights seem to get lighter and lighter.

Over the next four blog posts, we’re going to be looking at the four, very distinctive keystones involved in boosting your current levels of self-discipline and helping you to feel and stay in full control.

In learning and mastering these four keystones, there is one elementary principle that you must adhere to throughout. That is; don’t compare yourself to other people, it just isn't comparing apples with apples. You will always know of people who can seemingly eat like a horse and never gain an ounce. At the same time, there’ll be others who seem to gain 10 lbs just walking past a cake-shop! Everyone’s metabolism is different and we all gain and lose weight at different rates, so your only concern is with your own situation and progress. 

When we start to compare ourselves to other people, we’ll only find what we expect to find. If we think we’re weak, everyone else will seem stronger. If we think we’re slow, everyone else will seem faster. There’s no point in doing this. Simply look at where you are now, and aim to get better as you go forward.

To give you an idea of how we go about raising or level of self-discipline, let’s consider an example where you may want to develop your self-discipline to become more active;

Suppose you want to develop the ability to walk 3 miles each day, since you know it will make a real difference to your level of fitness.

Perhaps you may try to walk for 3 miles, at a decent pace without stopping, and you can only do it once. The next day, you fail miserably; that’s OK. You did manage one 3 mile walk; two days in a row is too much for you at this point. So cut back a bit.

What distance could you allow yourself to walk for 5 consecutive days (or a whole week)? Could you walk 2 miles a day, five days in a row? If you can’t do that, how about 1 mile a day or whatever you can do (even if it’s a hundred yards). Once you've succeed to walk a set distance for 5 (or 7) days in a row, that's your starting point. So then, you increase the distance; for example, having walked 2 miles a day for 5 days, you may choose to walk 2 1/2 miles a day for 5 days, etc

Once you’ve mastered a week at one level, take it up a notch the next week. And continue with this progressive ‘training’ until you’ve reached your goal.

While analogies like this are never perfect, you can soon begin to register some real progress by applying this, starting from a point that you know is within your capacity. By raising the bar just a little each week, you stay within your capabilities and grow stronger over time.

Throughout the next four blog posts we’ll dive more deeply into each of the four essential keystones that will help you boost your own self-discipline and level of control, that will help you bring about the mind-set of a slimmer person...

Have a great Easter and I’ll catch up with you soon

Best wishes

Tony

 

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