By LMQC Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell, St. Ambrose communications professor, RAGBRAI-er, pizza lover and longtime weight watcher.
I barely made it to the Y this morning, going up and down very slowly on the Arc Trainer, waiting for my motivation to kick in.
It finally did, when Peter Parker slipped on his Spiderman suit and started swinging his way through the city.
For the next 5 minutes, I stepped harder and faster while I vicariously helped Spiderman capture bad guys. Before I knew it, my workout had flown by.
For many people, though, motivation is a secondary problem.
Self-discipline is missing to begin with. The self-discipline to get out of bed and to the gym – or on the bike or on a walk – is just not there.
For me, after a summer of not having to follow a strict schedule – hey, teaching has a lot of benefits! – getting back to an alarm is hard work. Also, let’s face it. I may have had a bit too much ice cream.
I came upon some self-discipline help from psychotherapist Amy Morin (comments in parentheses are by me). Maybe they’ll help you, too!
1. Acknowledge Your Weaknesses – Whether cookies are the downfall to your diet, or you can’t resist checking your social media accounts every 2 minutes, acknowledge your pitfalls. (I acknowledge ANYTHING with sugar, or butter, or flour, or … well, you see where this is going.)
2. Establish a Clear Plan – No one wakes up one day suddenly blessed with self-discipline. Develop a plan to outline the action steps that will help you reach your goals. (I probably developed self-discipline delivering newspapers as a kid. My goals have changed, however, throughout my life. Keeping my weight down was always a goal, for example, but I didn’t develop the self-discipline to accomplish it till recently. And I still need to practice it!)
3. Remove the Temptations When Necessary – It only takes one moment of weakness to convince ourselves to cave to temptation. Making it difficult to access those temptations can be pivotal to increasing self-discipline. (No more ice cream in the freezer. For someone else, it’s putting the Snooze Button across the room. Both are on my radar right now.)
4. Practice Tolerating Emotional Discomfort – It’s normal to want to avoid pain and discomfort, but trying to eliminate all discomfort will only reinforce to yourself that you can’t handle distress. Practice allowing yourself to experience uncomfortable emotions that you may experience as you increase your self-discipline. (Hmmmm. The pain of no ice cream is certainly real, but I didn’t ever practice feeling it.)
5. Visualize the Long-Term Rewards – You’ll be less likely to cave to temptation when you focus on the long-term gain. Visualize yourself meeting your goals and reaping the rewards that you’ll gain by practicing self-discipline on a daily basis. (I like not hating my reflection in the mirror.)
6. Recover From Mistakes Effectively – Self-discipline comes easier on some days than others. If you’re feeling stressed, you may convince yourself to skip your workout. The key is to acknowledge your mistakes and move on from them with even more resolve to do better next time. (Oh, yeah.)
|Meet Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell. Alan is a communications professor at St. Ambrose University and a former reporter for WQAD-TV who has exercised – and dieted – his entire life. Read Alan’s other blog posts.|