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The Anatomy of Discipline

This discipline dissection is designed to help you train your own Gazoo.

Anybody remember this guy?

Meet Gazoo! He’s your new best friend!

Gazoo and I became acquainted when I was a child watching the Flintstones cartoon. Gazoo is a little, flying, green martian that lands on my shoulder out of nowhere. Let’s just say I’m ying and he’s yang. He talks to me in my ear. He has a PhD in annoyance. Yet I’m so grateful for the little bugger. If it weren’t for him, well, there wouldn’t be a FITskitz- that’s for sure! Here’s a brief story to show Gazoo at work.

I didn’t sleep well Friday night. I went to bed later than usual only to toss and turn until about 4 am when I finally fell into a deep sleep. My workout plan for the week included a 14 mile run on Saturday.

My alarm went off at 5:45am. I pushed snooze faster than I can bat a fly. Immediately my thought was , “NO WAY!”  My next thought before drifting off was “I need sleep!”  Ten minutes later, Rihanna blares in my ear with her new single, Stay. I slapped the snooze button while yelling out loud in my head,

“Yeah, exactly, I’m staying in bed. Good grief I’m sooooo tired!”

Ten minutes later I hit the button again. I force my eyes open and look at the clock. I was supposed to get up 20 minutes ago.

I stumble out of bed to the bathroom having every intention of stumbling right back to bed.

(I invite you inside my weary head. The quotes in green are Gazoo talking, perched and pesky on my unwelcoming shoulder.)

“I hardly slept at all last night. I need sleep to function. Go back to bed.”

“If you get back in bed it will be that much harder to get up again.”

“There’s no way I can run 14 miles. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I feel heavy, sluggish and miserable.”

“Maybe you’ll feel better if you get your running clothes on and wash your face. Just do that and we’ll talk after.”

I enter my closet and literally lay my head on a shelf and close my eyes.

“See, I’m too tired. I should go back to bed. I need sleep more than I need exercise today.”

“How will you feel later today if you don’t do this run you planned?  You can’t change the plan on the spot, remember the rule!”

I check my iPhone and it’s 40 degrees with 15-20 mile north winds.

“I hate running in the wind. But 14 miles is even worse on the treadmill. I don’t want to do either. Maybe I should wait until tomorrow.”

“Get your clothes on! Think of the hot cup of coffee waiting for you downstairs.”

I continue my pre-workout ritual of coffee, clif bar and reading on my iPad. I start feeling like a human.

I let the dog out and a burst of freezing wind hits my face.

“It’s dreary and awful out there. I’m going to be miserable.”

“You have a choice of giving the first mile a try outdoors or changing your clothes and going to the gym. Which?”

“I’ll try a mile outdoors. I just feel so sluggish since my hard workout on Thursday.”

“Focus on mental toughness and endurance today. Some of your best workouts start out feeling like this. Remember?”

“At least I’ll have a tail wind coming home so I just need to get through the first 7 miles.”

After my delightful morning ritual which includes caffeine, I grab my Garmin and music and head out the door.

“It’s freezing. I don’t know if I can do this.”

“Decide after the first mile if you want to turn around and head to the gym. If you can conquer the first 7 miles, you’ll be home free and so proud of yourself today.”

I start jogging slower than I can walk.

“Just keep moving. Keep your head down. Think about how tough you are. Think about how good you’re going to feel in the hot shower after this is over.”

“Small steps. Forward baby, forward.”  Becomes my mantra for the entire run.

Fourteen miles later I enter the garage drenched in a cold sweat.

“That a way, girl! Way to get it done. It doesn’t always have to be pretty. Ugly workouts make you mentally tough.”

This scenario proves that discipline is always a work in progress. The only difference when it comes to workout discipline between gold medal swimmer, Michael Phelps, and us, is that he has practiced mastering the art of discipline for years. In a pre-retirement interview, Phelps said it was never easy to jump in that cold water- ever! He said discipline is a battle you learn to conquer over time– overcoming your own resistance.

The pros and fit people you see at the gym every day have dependable Gazoo’s. The Great Gazoo’s.

Here’s Gazoo’s top 10 list:

  1. Have a plan that cannot be altered on the day of execution.
  2. Have a pre-workout ritual that is something you look forward to.
  3. Know your common excuses and pre-plan Gazoo’s replies.
  4. Ask questions during moments of hesitance that you answer as if it was bedtime that day. (“Did I work out today?” “What am I proud of today?” “What obstacle did I overcome today?”)
  5. Postpone decisions rather than abandon them. (I’m going to drive to the gym and start walking on the treadmill and then decide if I’m going to jog).
  6. Create or adopt mantras.
  7. Re-visit your plan and your goals at set intervals. Are my goals still powerful and worth working for?
  8. Act out your vision of success. Wear yoga clothes if you want to be a yogi. Sign up for a race if you want to be a runner. Don’t wait until you are something to do something.
  9. Use an individual that inspires you as your first Gazoo. Hear him/her encouraging you to stay determined and asking you the tough questions.
  10. There is always room on the train. If you fall off, just grab hold and jump right back on.

You not only have to practice your craft to be good at it. You have to practice practicing.

Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with discipline. Everyone does. The more you practice, the better you become your own best coach.

Cheers to Gazoo!

No wonder Fred and Barney could motor their car with their own feet!

No wonder Fred and Barney could motor their car with their own feet!

 If you liked this post, you might want to check these out:

Catch A Phrase and Hang On

Le Tour de Fitness

Exercise Apathy


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