I read an article yesterday that I am going to talk about here (and post) on my blog post today for a lot of reasons. Willpower and self discipline or lack of willpower and self discipline is a huge concern of mine. Sometimes the things that people do or don’t do, confuses me more than anything else in the world. One thing I have learned in my almost 38 years on this earth is that people no longer surprise me. I have a hard time understanding how a person who has an overwhelming desire to lose weight would make the conscious decision to eat foods that will do the exact opposite of what their desire is. There are many reasons why I want to discuss this topic today. One of the reasons is that I think we all can use a little dose of reality once in a while. All of us. We are all human and we all make mistakes, but for the most part as humans we are all given the opportunity to make choices. Why do WE at times choose to make the wrong choice?
I have concluded that it is all about willpower and self discipline. I am going to primarily base my thoughts on health and fitness however understand that will power and self discipline can be attributed to virtually every aspect of our lives.
As an endurance runner and as a personal trainer I see the effects of lack of will power and self discipline clearly every single day. I see it in my clients (sorry guys but I do), I see it in MYSELF! (Sorry JB, but I do). Yesterday while on my run, I was thinking of all these things. Why do WE all do some of the stupid things we do. Yes I am including myself in this logic. I do stupid things as well.
We want to lose weight, yet we continue to eat crappy junk foods or we drink to much alcohol. We want to run faster, yet we choose to train slow. We want to get stronger but yet we are afraid to challenge ourselves. One thing I have learned is that making the right choices is extremely difficult. The desire to eat that slice of pie, or eat that cookie or the entire box of cookies instead of a bag of carrot sticks is an amazingly challenging task. It is an amazingly complex scenario.
What we all need is a shift in our paradigm. We need to develop the self realization that we have to make a change. We cannot continue to do the same things over and over again and expect to have different results. I will use myself as an example. Over the holidays, I gained close to 10 pounds. I wasn’t running nearly as much as I am used to and I pretty much ate everything I saw. I felt guilty and I felt weak. Since January 1st however, I have gotten my own self back on track and I have lost as of yesterday 8.2 of the almost 10 pounds I have gained. How did I do this? I stopped eating all the crap. It’s hard. I love ice cream, I love junk food, and yes I have treated myself once in a while, but it is literally once in a while. Every single day there are challenges, donuts at work, dessert at the base Galley, sugary drinks, candy, act. You name it we all see it. I have throw almost all of it out of my life (again) and amazingly, the weight has just basically fallen off. It really is a simple concept. I am going to use the simple Chocolate Chip Cookie as an example here. One Chocolate Chip Cookie has an average of 78 Calories. Doesn’t sound like much but the problem is that no one eats just one. So let’s say for the sake of argument that you eat just 2. Well for the average person to burn that cookie off, you need to run 2 miles. 1 mile to burn off the 2 cookies and another mile to get back on track and lose the weight. How about a cinnamon roll….223 Calories, now you need to get out there and run 3 miles….2 miles to burn off the little cinnamon roll and 1 to get back on track. Want to eat a Big Mac? Get ready to work out and workout for a very long time. You would need to run for 62 minutes consecutively just to burn it off. Now if all we are doing is burning off all the crap we are eating, we are never getting to the weight we need to lose.
Simply put, we need to remove this stuff from our lives. It is going to kill us. No amount of exercise is going to accomplish what simply changing your eating and drinking habits will do. I have in my day seen a ton of overweight runners. They are overweight, not because they run but because they feel they can reward themselves for running. It doesn’t work that way. It never has and it never will. Simple math….More calories in than calories out you gain weight. Less calories in and more calories out, you lose weight.
The below article discusses willpower and self discipline far better than I can. I would ask that everyone read through it and think about what the author states. If we all choose to take onboard this idea of willpower, we will all be successful at what we are wanting to accomplish. If we choose to not take this onboard, than the only person we have to blame for our lack of success is us.
From Will Power and Self Discipline by Remez Sasson
The possession of willpower and self discipline or their lack, play an important role in everyone’s life. For example, you wish to go for a walk, knowing how good it is for your health and how wonderful you feel afterwards, but you feel too lazy, and prefer to watch TV instead. You might be aware of the fact that you need to change your eating habits or stop smoking, but you don’t have the inner power and persistence to change these habits.
Does this sound familiar? How many times have you said, “I wish I had will power and self discipline”? How many times have you started to do something, only to quit after a short while? We all have had experiences like these.
Everyone has a few habits they wish they could get rid of, such as smoking, excessive eating, laziness, procrastination or lack of assertiveness. To overcome these habits or addictions, one needs a certain degree of willpower and self discipline. Their possession makes a great difference in everyone’s life, bringing to the fore inner strength, self mastery and decisiveness.
Definitions of Will Power and Self Discipline
Will power is the ability to overcome laziness and procrastination. It is the ability to control or reject unnecessary or harmful impulses. It is the ability to arrive at a decision and follow it with perseverance until its successful accomplishment. It is the inner power that overcomes the desire to indulge in unnecessary and useless habits, and the inner strength that overcomes inner emotional and mental resistance for taking action. It is one of the corner stones of success, both spiritual and material.
Self-discipline is the companion of will power. It endows the one possessing it with the stamina to persevere in whatever he or she does. It bestows the ability to withstand hardships and difficulties, whether physical, emotional or mental. It grants the ability to reject immediate satisfaction, in order to gain something better, but, which requires effort and time.
Everyone has inner, unconscious, or partly conscious impulses, making them say or do things they later regret saying or doing. On many occasions people do not think before they talk or act. By developing these two powers, one becomes conscious of the inner, subconscious impulses, and gains the ability to reject them when they are not for his/her own good.
These two powers help us to choose our behavior and reactions, instead of being ruled by them. Their possession won’t make life dull or boring. On the contrary, you will feel more powerful, in charge of yourself and your surroundings, happy and satisfied.
How many times have you felt too weak, lazy or shy to do something you wanted to do? You can gain inner strength, initiative and the ability to make decisions and follow them. Believe me, it is not difficult to develop these two powers. If you are earnest and are willing to become stronger, you will certainly succeed.
In this article, you will find some exercises and techniques for developing these abilities. These simple, but effective exercises, can be performed everywhere and at any time. Go slowly and gradually, and you will see how you get stronger and your life start improving.
There is a misconception in the public mind regarding will power. It is erroneously thought to be something strenuous and difficult, and that one has to exert and tense the body and mind when expressing it. It is a completely wrong concept. This is one of the reasons why people avoid using it, though they are conscious of its benefits. They acknowledge the fact that the employment of will power in their life and affairs will greatly help them, and that they need to strengthen it, yet they do nothing about it.
Will power gets stronger by holding back and not allowing the expression of unimportant, unnecessary and unhealthy thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. If this saved energy is not allowed expression, it is stored inside you like a battery, and it becomes available at the time of need. By practicing appropriate exercises, you develop your powers the same way, as a person who trains his/her muscles in order to strengthen them.
Developing Will Power and Self Discipline
An effective method for developing and improving these abilities is to perform certain actions or activities, which you would rather avoid doing due to laziness, procrastination, weakness, shyness, etc. Doing things that you usually do not like to do. or feel too lazy to do, you overcome your subconscious resistance, train your mind to obey you, strengthen your inner powers and gain inner strength. Muscles get stronger by resisting the power of the barbells. Inner strength is attained by overcoming inner resistance.
Remember, strengthening one of these abilities, automatically strengthens the other one.
Here are a few exercises:
1) You are sitting in a bus or train and an old man or woman, or a pregnant lady walks in. Stand up and give up your seat, even if you prefer to stay seated. Act so, not just because it is polite, but because you are doing something that you are reluctant to do. This is an exercise in overcoming the resistance of your body, mind and feelings.
2) There are dishes in the sink that need washing, and you postpone washing them for later. Get up and wash them now. Do not let your laziness overcome you. When you know that in this way you are developing your will power, and if you are convinced of the importance of will power in your life, it will be easier for you to do whatever you have to do.
3) You come home tired from work and sit in front of the T.V., because you feel too lazy and too tired to take a shower first. Do not succumb to the desire to sit in front of the T.V, and go and take a shower.
4) You may know your body needs some physical exercise, but instead you keep on sitting doing nothing or watching a movie. Get up and walk, run or do some other physical exercise.
5) Do you like your coffee with sugar? If you do, then for one whole week drink it without sugar. Do you drink three cups of coffee each day? If you do, then drink only two cups a day for one whole week.
6) Sometimes, when you want to say something that is not important, decide not to say it.
7) Don’t read some unimportant gossip in the newspaper, even if you want to.
8) You have a desire to eat something not too healthy. For the sake of the exercise refuse the desire.
9) If you find yourself thinking unimportant, unnecessary, negative thoughts, try to develop a lack of interest in them, by thinking about their futility and uselessness.
10) Overcome your laziness. Convince yourself of the importance of what is to be done. Convince your mind that you gain inner strength when you act and do things, in spite of laziness, reluctance or senseless inner resistance.
Never say that you cannot follow the above exercises, because you certainly can. Be persistent no matter what. Motivate yourself by thinking about of the importance of performing the exercises, and the inner power and strength you will gain.
Attempting too many exercises when you are still a beginner, might end in disappointment. It is better to start with a few easy exercises at first, and then gradually increase their number and move to the more difficult exercises.
Most of these exercises can be practiced anywhere and at anytime, which means that you don’t have to devote special times for them. They will help you develop your willpower and self discipline, enabling you to use them whenever you need them.
If you practice weight lifting, running or aerobics, you strengthen your muscles, so that when you need to move or carry something heavy, for example, you have the strength for it. By studying French each day, you will be able to speak French when you travel to France. It is the same with will power and self-discipline; by strengthening them, they become available for your use whenever you need them.
If for the sake of an exercise, you stop doing something that you usually do, and overcome the inner resistance concerning it, you may resume doing it, if it is not harmful. For example, if you love drinking orange juice, and for the sake of an exercise you switch to drinking apple juice, after doing so for some time, and after it makes no great difference to you, you may go back to drinking orange juice, if you still like it. The point here is to develop inner strength, not making life difficult for you or continue doing things you don’t like to do.
Benefits of Possessing Will Power and Self Discipline
You need these skills to control your thoughts, improve your concentration, and to become the boss of your mind. The stronger these skills are, the more inner strength you possess.
Being the master of your mind you enjoy inner peace and happiness. External events do not sway you, and circumstances have no power over your peace of mind. This might sound too unreal for you, but experience will prove to you that all the above is true.
These skills are vital for achieving success. They give you more control over your life, help you change and improve habits, and are essential for self improvement, spiritual growth and meditation.
Practice the exercises presented here earnestly and persistently, and your life will start changing.