Building Better Self-Discipline for Fitness and Life

Motivation is fleeting. If you truly want to succeed in fitness (and life), you must practice self-discipline! Here are four ways to get you on track to building discipline, so you never skip a workout again!

Building Better Self-Discipline for Fitness and Life
Evelyn Valdez Evelyn Valdez
6 min read

Many people struggle with staying on track with their fitness. At first, it's exciting setting fitness goals, forming your workout plan, buying new workout clothes... But that initial excitement and motivation are short-lived. That's why the slightest disturbance or change to your schedule can cause you to take a break from working out, but that break can turn into months! Although this is not ideal, it can happen, but not because of laziness... It's a lack of discipline.

The art of self-discipline is hard to master, especially in regards to health and fitness, but it's not impossible. With the right tools, you'll be able to master self-discipline to stay on top of your health and workouts!

Why you should rely on discipline, not motivation

In fitness, the word 'motivation' is thrown out a lot, people think it's the main driving force to workout. The thing is, motivation comes and goes, as we said earlier, it's short-lived. Discipline is not, it's something you develop and sticks with you. To understand the difference between discipline and motivation, let's look at what they actually mean according to the dictionary:

  • Self-discipline - The ability to control one's feelings and overcome one's weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.
  • Motivation - The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. Or the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

That's why at the beginning of your fitness journey, your motivation to workout is much higher than in the following weeks. You have a reason, a driving force, to help you get started and most importantly, it's fresh in your mind. Discipline, on the other hand, requires action and a commitment to yourself to overcome any temptations or weaknesses in order to do what's right, in this case, workout. For example, let's say for the New Year you decided to dedicate an hour before work to fit in some regular exercise, it could be a walk, run, or lifting weights. You might do well the first few days because you have that initial excitement/motivation to get active, but then one day, the weather's unusually ugly, or you hit snooze on your alarm. Chances are your motivation and will are not going to get you out of bed. But discipline will! Having self-discipline will allow you to overcome your feelings, even on the days when it seems impossible to get out of bed and get your workout done.

Motivation isn't all bad, you don't have to dump it and never rely on it again. If following your favorite YouTuber, or other social media persons, fitness journey is what motivates you then continue doing it! Just don't only rely on your motivational sources, always remember that the main factor in achieving success is discipline. Which means you need to follow through with a commitment even when it's hard.

How to build self-discipline

Contrary to what you may believe, having discipline is not a characteristic or personality trait. Bodybuilders, athletes, CEOs, all of these successful people put in hard work to develop discipline in order to achieve their goals. They weren't born with self-discipline, it's a learned skill that they mastered through self-control and creating good habits. So, if you want to succeed in anything, not just fitness, then the answer is to build self-discipline.

There is a lot of trial and error during the process of cultivating discipline, but these four tips will help you get started on the right track to building discipline and creating a daily routine that helps you achieve your goals.

Start small

When you're starting a new fitness program or a new diet, you always start small. The same goes for building discipline! To start building discipline, start by creating small daily habits that will help you achieve your goals in the long-run. An example would be setting a better morning routine to help increase productivity throughout the day! The last thing you want to do is dive headfirst and list all the ways you want to improve your morning routine, like waking up at the crack of dawn to work out, read, and cook a healthy breakfast. Those are all great habits to have, but build up to them slowly. If you want to achieve a new habit that will help with your self-discipline, start simple. So, instead of aiming straight for your 'dream morning routine', set a simple one first. Like for the first week, wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual and use that time to stretch, followed by a few bodyweight squats, and eating a healthy breakfast. This might seem a little too easy, but that's the point. You'll most likely follow through because it's approachable. As the weeks go by, continue keeping the progressions simple and experiment with different things until you find the perfect routine for you.

Do this for any new habit you want to form! Start by improving your daily routine one step at a time because those small daily changes are the ones that will have the greatest impact in the long-run.

Identify and work on your weakness

Be honest with yourself and identify what your weaknesses are so you can create a plan to overcome them. You might know that getting your early morning workout done is good for you, but you have to overcome the emotions that might keep you in bed. For example, if your weakness is always hitting the snooze button then a plan to overcome that is putting your alarm someplace that forces you to get out of bed to turn it off. You'll be out of bed, thus minimizing the chances of you getting back in! If you want to start eating healthier for weight-loss reasons and one of your weaknesses is ordering take out five times a week, then find a way to overcome it, like planning your meals in advance and prepping the ingredients the night before to make it easier for you to get up and cook.

This can even apply to people who've been going to the gym for years! One's discipline can fall short at any time, but to avoid that from happening you have to know what your weaknesses are and have a plan. For example, you noticed you're no longer building muscle, from there you have to take a step back and look at your training sessions and diet. Identify where you're going wrong, what weakness might be holding you back, and create a better clear plan that will redirect your focus to your goals.

Learn to make sacrifices

To be disciplined and reach your goals, you're going to have to make sacrifices. It could be as simple as saying no to that piece of cake at your friend's party or skipping brunch with friends to do a challenging workout instead of being tempted with mimosas and french toast. This doesn't mean you'll always skip social outings, or miss out on all your favorite foods, but if they get in the way of your goals then you have to get comfortable reducing those indulgences.

Indulging a little from time-to-time is okay, but it can also lead to major slip-ups. So, be careful with what you indulge in. Only you know your weaknesses, and if eating a full tub of ice cream is one of your weaknesses that leads to spiraling, then you need to learn to sacrifice it for a healthier option. This might be difficult at first, but a change in your mindset can go a long way! So, instead of seeing these sacrifices as missing out, see them as gains! A gain towards your will, inner strength, and towards your goals.

Plan your day the night before

Planning ahead is probably the best way to stay on track and disciplined. Some prefer to plan their entire week, but do what's best for you. Simply spending a few minutes the night before to plan your next day can be just as beneficial as planning your entire week! Plan your meals, your workout, or if it's a rest day plan light and enjoyable physical activity, like biking, even plan what you're going to do first thing in the morning. Planning ahead will show you what might hinder you from staying on track. Like, if you have an early morning meeting the next day that cuts into your workout time, you have time to plan to wake up earlier or schedule your workout at a later time. If your day is jam-packed with activities, you can plan and prep some healthy snacks to help you get through the day and prevent you from getting take-out!

Remember, it's hard work building discipline. When you start you'll be motivated to develop the routine that turns you into the disciplined person you want to be, but that's only the start. The real test happens when you face obstacles that try to derail you from your established routine. The tips we have given you will help you to build and maintain discipline through obstacles you may face. The best part is, that mastering it will not only benefit your workout routine, it will also positively impact your wellness and the rest of your life! Besides staying disciplined with your fitness, it will change your outlook on life. You'll go from never wanting to leave your warm comfy bed, to getting up early to get your day started because it helps improve your mood, energy, or productivity.

That's the beauty of self-discipline, and hopefully, these tips help you master it! Oh, and whatever routine you decide on, just make sure it's enjoyable, fits your lifestyle, and it helps you get closer to your goals!