Discipline over motivation-where real weight loss success is found
This is part 2 to Motivation vs Discipline. Part 1 was about forgetting about motivation to achieve big success and crush your goals. What you need instead to achieve success is discipline. We talked a little about how to apply discipline. But in part 2, I lay down the road map to discipline… and how to help you get started.
The path to achieving discipline is much easier said than done. For weight loss there’s a reason that it is a billion industry. It’s hard. And we all want shortcuts.
Discipline isn’t a shortcut
… But it is sustainable and the key to long-term success. It’s the ‘trick’ no one wants to tell you because it doesn’t sell.
Discipline causes you to be self-sufficient. Our entire goal at FTBH is to get our readers to be self-sufficient. To create a lifestyle that works for you, not someone else. (Great article about that here – Stop Putting a Square Peg into a Round Hole)
Also, as you become self-sufficient you’ll learn what discipline means to you. Being in the fitness community I know many people that live healthy lives. They all arrive at their idea of success in a different way.
From different forms of exercise to different diet strategies. No two people arrive at success the same way. We all have different experiences that cause each of us to look at the world a little differently. On top of that we have unique bodies, lives and family health histories.
Choosing to take the road to success through discipline is the healthiest path… and… the most satisfying path to success.
Often the biggest factor in the way of health is stress. Discipline helps to remove stress. Because you have no choice to to move forward. You’re disciplined and stress can’t stop you.
This is the quickest way to apply discipline to weight loss. The same road map can be used for any difficult life goal. Here we go…
1. Seek accountability
Seeking accountability for weight loss use to be tough. But with the rise of the internet and group style gyms this has become much easier to find.
There are many forums on the internet that are incredibly supportive. The subreddit /loseit is one of these forums. You can see how mentally difficult this is for everyone. It’s not easy. And knowing it’s not easy… makes it easier. Odd how that works isn’t it?
The rise of group fitness gyms are one of the best forms of accountability. Gyms such as Crossfit, Orange Theory, Yoga Studios… gyms where the coaches and other clients know you. And if you don’t show up they start texting you. That’s great accountability.
Personal trainers can be great forms accountability. But they should be trainers… not friends. I see this way too often. The trainers would rather chat about their clients weekend than let them know they’re slipping a little too much.
Family (and some friends) are difficult for many to find accountability from. Our relationships with them are more than just a health goal. And our family and close friends like who we are now. Even if weight loss is a goal, when you start to apply discipline your schedule will change. Many times our family are verbally supportive but their actions say otherwise.
They serve food you ask them not to. They question you every time you make health a priority.
This can be difficult early on. And expecting them to provide accountability often falls short.
Family and friends can be good accountability partners … only when they themselves are doing the things and leading the life you want. They will understand what you’re trying to do and how hard it is.
As time goes on you’ll start to find you become accountable to yourself. Discipline is starting to take hold when this becomes the case.
2. Take a systematic approach
Break down the pieces of weight loss into smaller pieces that you can master one by one instead of all at once.
‘Being Healthier’ is a HUGE goal. Weight Loss is a HUGE goal. If you’re coming into this thinking about where to start it is very overwhelming. Not only are these gigantic goals but the target is moving. You and your life aren’t static. The world around you is changing, you’re always evolving. Hitting a moving target is hard.
A systematic approach is breaking it down into small pieces. This is why being self-sufficient is so important. You can make changes to your pieces as needed.
What are small pieces?
The two most important small pieces are Diet and Exercise. The next most important small pieces are Stress and Sleep.
Diet – The first of the big two.
Diet Can be broken down the most & many of these sub-categories can be broken down further:
Calories – Know what YOUR body requires to lose weight. Even if you don’t use a calorie counting approach… knowing about how much you should eat each day will have a huge impact on your weight loss journey.
Macros – Do you respond better using a low carb diet, a higher carb diet, a high fat diet, a keto diet? Master the best strategy for you, at your current weight, one that works for your life.
Food Quality – Do you have trigger foods? I don’t know anyone that struggles with weight that don’t have trigger foods (peanut butter is my biggest!). Know what they are and avoid them. Moderation with these foods are NOT possible to start. Get them out of the house. Also, if you have health issues that are caused by foods… solving them would fall into the food quality category. Gluten sensitivity being the big one.
Timing – Do you respond well to diet timing strategies? They are not required to lose weight. But many find it beneficial. Intermittent fasting being the popular one right now. Timing also includes nutrition around workouts.
Preparation – This includes the best ways for you to prepare your food and make life simpler. This also includes preparation for social a situation. Types of alcohol that will keep you on track and even fast food options that you know to either avoid or eat… depending on what might throw you into a tailspin.
Consistency – Probably the most important sub-category of diet. Doing the right things more often than not. We all have different levels of consistency that work for us. If you’re very overweight, to see progress right away you might not have to go crazy with consistency. But as you get closer and closer to your goal weight your consistency will have to improve. Once you hit your goal weight figuring out the consistency will be important to keep you there. These are 3 sub-levels of consistency that you can break down and master on your weight loss journey.
Fitness – The second of the big two.
You can break down fitness into smaller manageable pieces. Depending on your choice of exercise you can break these down into even smaller pieces as well. If you lift weight there are many movements that you can learn. Or maybe you chose to rotate between different forms of fitness. Becoming experienced enough in each to have positive effects is a way to break fitness down.
Lifting weights – Learning how to correctly workout with weights, and with the intention of weight loss, are two subcategories of fitness you can master.
Figuring out what to do at the gym (aka your program) is something you can learn for yourself. Or follow someone else’s if you’d like to not make that something you need to learn. We have a great 7 day starter program!
Running – Many people love to run (yuck, I hate it haha). How fast, how far, how often? Learning what works best for and what challenges you is a fitness sub category.
Yoga – Taking a class is generally the best way to get the hands on help you need. But there are many youtube channels that will help you follow along at home. If you want to take it further you can always take a teacher training course, or go on a yoga retreat. Even if you never plan to teach, this is a great way to take your knowledge further. (My sister did this and loved it)
There are endless fitness endeavors. Find the one which keeps you coming back for more.
However; don’t let fitness become mindless movement for the sake of moving. Real growth in fitness comes from constant effort. Enjoy it but learn when it’s time to step up the intensity to continue to see progress. Scheduling time to try something new once in a while is a great way to change it up and keep you engaged.
Stress is the first of the small two.
It’s another moving target that can be broken down in infinite ways. We talk about managing stress in our article “How To Manage Stress.” But… some common ways to breakdown stress include, journaling, yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation.
Check out our article for a deep dive into stress and health.
Sleep is the second of the small two.
Once you solve your sleeping habits. It becomes more about consistency than breaking it down into pieces. But… if you struggle with sleep there are many things to try. Such as temperature, sounds, light control, types of mattress & pillows, sleeping positions, bedtimes, pre-bed routines… Once you find your ideal habits stick to them. You’ve mastered the sleeping discipline!
Reading through all these smaller pieces is overwhelming. That’s why you take a systematic approach and break it down into manageable parts. Which leads us to #3…
3. Form habits from the mastery of the small pieces
You’re trying to lose weight. When most people first start they think “okay, I need to go on a diet. I better get ALL the healthy food! Cut out carbs, alcohol, sugars, count my calories and macros, prep all my meals, make smoothies, take the right supplements…”
Wow… I’m overwhelmed thinking about it.
But this time you’re using discipline to get there… You’re going to layer in the small pieces.
*Remember from #2. You’re taking a systematic approach. And layering in the small pieces allows for these pieces to become habits.
As you master a small piece they’ll become habits when you stop having to think about them or they become part of you. You’ll naturally work them into your life. Without them life feels off.
After you master each of your subcategories move to the next. Stack small piece on top of small piece.
As the small pieces form into habits, you can start to expand in each area… like find new meals to cook. New ways to reduce stress further. Chose one and master it… then another… and another… until one day you’re doing things automatically. That’s discipline. Habits are discipline.
I wish I could give you a path to follow here but this path is highly dependent on you.
Here’s two examples:
Tracking → food prep → calories → macros → quality→ more quality → less cheats → less alcohol → another layer → another layer…
Or it could look like this:
Intermittent fasting → food prep → quality → macros
In example one you never stop looking to layer in more. In example two you find these four pieces work for you and that’s good enough.
The reality is it’s a mix of both. Your life is constantly moving. You’ll find things that work for you now. But as life changes you’ll have to drop parts and add in new ones. This is natural.
4. Be honest with yourself: Everything you try isn’t going to work. Even if it works for someone else.
A diet strategy that is popular might work for many people but it doesn’t for you. That’s ok. But be honest about it. Did you follow it like you should? Or are you making excuses to go back to your ways? Or does it not fit with your lifestyle?
Changes will need to occur if you’re trying to change something about yourself. Don’t make excuses.
Also, just showing up sometimes isn’t enough to see changes. You actually have to work hard. This includes your diet too. You can’t say you’re counting macros but slip in a little extra all the time and expect changes. You’re not being honest with yourself if you can’t see what you’re doing is holding you back.
Did you have a bad week or is your approach not working? Be honest. It’s sometimes a bad week.
We all have biases and they show up most often when we’re being honest with ourselves. Find your biases, identify them, and when you think something isn’t working… ask yourself if that’s a bias talking or is it not working?
“It ain’t what we don’t know that gets us into trouble. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain
5. Surround yourself with the right people
Where it might take a few people or a single group to keep you accountable… Surrounding yourself with the right people is by far the single best way to change your situation.
You’ve probably heard that you’re the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If you haven’t it’s exactly as it sounds. Look at the 5 people you spend the most time with. They have the greatest psychological influence over who you are, whether you realize it or not. Or whether it’s who you want to be or not.
Ever notice how people who look similar seem to be in the same group of friends? Not only do their interests overlap but even how they look and dress overlap.
People who enjoy yoga tend to hangout with other people who enjoy yoga. People who like going to the gym, hangout with other people who go to the gym. Or dance, or try new restaurants, or go to music festivals, different breweries etc. etc.
Changing this is the most difficult of any of the 6 steps. For most of us the two groups of people we spend the most time around are our families and co-workers. Two groups of people you can’t just ‘drop’ from your life. Nor do you generally want to. Unless you hate your job, well then… go for it! 😉
If our social group or families are not supportive this can be incredibly difficult. Access to fitness communities are easier than ever now. Get involved. Make these groups people you start to spend more time with.
Hopefully your friends are supportive. But if they are struggling with their own health issues and are not ready to join you it will be stressful on your relationship.
Changing the 5 people you’re around the most is often the #1 advice espoused by ‘experts’ if you want to change your life. And they act as if changing it is as easy as changing your clothes. It’s not. It’s so incredibly hard to change your 5 closest relationships.
Many times these relationships are amazing, it’s just one part of the relationship that has negative effects on your life. Should you throw out an amazing relationship for that one negative effect? I don’t think so.
If that negative effect is about your health. You need to make it known that you want to and need to change it. And work through it with that person.
Also the more you immerse yourself into the health communities of your choosing these become the people you start to spend more time with. And by default they become the people closest to you.
6. Reward yourself
Small wins are the ‘motivation’ to keep going. Finally motivation!
The wins, the small success are the motivation to keep you on your path to discipline. Progress is motivation. Not some meme on the internet. So stop looking for it there and start crushing your path to discipline.
What are small successes? Making it to the gym all the days you set out to. Seeing progress in the mirror or scale (if that’s how you’re tracking). Small successes can be endless.
I’ve found rewarding myself on a weekly basis works best. It’s short enough to keep the motivation up and if I miss it, the next week is right there. But rewarding myself on a daily basis just becomes insignificant (for me personally).
This sounds cheesy but my rewards now are the feeling that comes from knowing I achieved the goal.
If you killed your weight loss goal that week and ‘feeling good’ isn’t enough reward… than buy that sweater you always wanted or get your nails done. However, If weight loss is the goal, the reward shouldn’t be food or drinks. You’re building discipline not looking for reasons to break your discipline.__________________________________
The best advice I ever received about discipline was…
“Be comfortable with the slightly uncomfortable.”
Constantly pushing and being uncomfortable is where real growth lies.
Think about any time in your life where you were truly happy. I’d guess that it came after a struggle. You got in the groove of being uncomfortable and this caused you to grow as a person. To be stronger, more resilient.
Often when these times happen we don’t even realize the satisfaction in our lives. We aren’t able to recognize when we’re in it. But if you look back you can see it.
Building this into your life is critical to discipline.
Discipline will allow you to be unstoppable!