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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

The fear of pain...

Current state… getting back into the discipline of training for two half marathons coming up in December and January. And it’s not just about running and cranking out the miles. For me it’s about getting my mind ready for what’s coming. I know these races are going to hurt. I’m going to have to deal with some pain. And y’all, I’m afraid of pain. The thought of it brings tears to my eyes. But there’s no feeling like the feeling of doing something that only .6% of the population in the US has done. Not only that… doing something that you never thought possible for yourself. So, I keep doing them. Every year the goal is nearly the same. Finish injury free and in less pain than the last time. I’m not worried about my time, only the pain. And the training time is a huge commitment. Even this morning, on a Saturday, I got my butt up out of bed to go run at 6:30 a.m. because it was already getting hot. And there’s one thing I hate more than pain when I run, and that’s the intense heat. Pushing against the barriers of pain and heat will take discipline and I’m no stranger to discipline.

I see the word discipline all over my social media. (Probably because all the tech in my life is listening to me all the time and I talk about it with clients every day.) When you look at a post or someone’s story or some quote it may look like something easy to attain or easy to implement. In my experience discipline is more than just pushing past the desire to do something other than what you should be doing. I’ve seen it in my self and in my clients. It’s that push but taken to the next level.

I was checking in with a client about a month ago and she was telling me a story about how her behavior has changed since she’s started implementing healthy habits around her eating and movement. She now shops in the grocery store differently and getting up and getting a workout in on a regular basis with little effort because it’s now just a part of her routine. But she found that it’s bled over into her day-to-day operation. In this check-in she told me of how she got up to put a glass in the sink and then spent about twenty minutes doing something that she hates to do but didn’t even blink an eye. She unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and a did a load of laundry. This was so unusual that she expressed that she thought she was crazy. I smiled and I welcomed her to discipline (also known as being an annoying healthy person). When she realized that she now does activities simply because they need to be done, instead of needing motivation to do them it was mind boggling. And then she started realizing all the other things that she does differently. All because she found discipline in one area. This is what is called the halo effect. One area of discipline could (and probably will) start to influence other areas of your life. Furthermore, it could inspire someone around you to make changes too.

Discipline starts with a choice. A choice that you’re going to make something a part of your life for the long term. And not only do you desire to make it a part of your life, but you also desire it so much that you want to make changes no matter what. The changes are non-negotiable. But it doesn’t stop there. It takes making space for the changes in your routine. And it takes understanding that you’re not going to want the changes every day, but you should do them anyway. It takes understanding that there will be events and experiences that you will have to turn down for the changes you want. For me, this morning it was sleep. I would have loved to get up leisurely after sleeping in a little to enjoy a cup of coffee and read my book. But my discipline kicked in and said, “Do it now so you don’t make excuses later.”

In my experience, there is a progression from choice to discipline. And the key is to make changes so small that even on your worst day you can do what it is you’ve decided to do. I tell myself and my clients, that the discipline you’re trying to build in a specific area should at some point feel just as easy as brushing your teeth. If you sit and think about it, most people don’t have to feel motivated to brush their teeth. They don’t make excuses for brushing their teeth. They just get up and do it. Because it needs to be done for healthy teeth and avoiding painful and expensive visits to the dentist. Makes sense, right? I think it does.

Choice: Choosing what it is that you want to create. Understanding why you want to create that thing. I’ll use an example for someone who wants to build discipline in hydration by drinking water instead of soda.

Action: Taking the step into the choice that you’ve made. In the case of hydration, I might decide to have a bottle of water ready in the bathroom so that in the morning I can easily drink 8 oz before I even go make a cup of coffee. So, 2 actions here are to fix the bottle the night before and drink it the next morning. You make space in your evening before you go to bed. It only takes a few minutes, but you still have to add it onto whatever else you have in your evening routine.

Repeat: Do that same action every day. Make the bottle the night before and drink it the next morning. Even on the days when you don’t want to.

Habit: After doing that same action every day, it becomes a habit. It’s something that you do every day because its there. And in your usual environment it’s easy to carry out. But when out of your environment, it may not happen. Like on vacation or on work travel. If you’re not in your usual element you still must intentionally put in the steps to get your water in (since we’re still on the hydration habit). So, you may forget a few days. And then when you get home, you must get back into routine.

Discipline: Following the habit over a period will just make it a part of your routine no matter what. That period of time could be much longer than you think it will, but eventually you will get there. No setting of intention to remember really. It’s just something that you do. You don’t even consider not packing a water bottle for vacations or work trips. You don’t even consider brushing your teeth without drinking that water first thing. It’s just something that you do. You’ve made space for it. The biggest factor is that there is no emotion around it. There’s no need for motivation. The ego is 100% taken out of the equation here. You just do it simply because it needs to be done.

Over the last five years I’ve been working intentionally to build discipline in several areas. And each time I bring in a new habit, it gets easier to get to that discipline. But that doesn’t mean that we never find ourselves off track. Circumstances like injury, family or work dynamic changes, and financial impacts can derail the most disciplined. And if you’re managing your life around what matters most, sometimes its on purpose. And sometimes the circumstances are seasonal. For me, that’s where I am. I still have difficulty keeping consistent with the way that I eat during the summer with vacations, birthdays, and this year… being sick for a solid month. I find myself going into a need for a reset almost every August. And that’s ok. I know that at some point I won’t need that but this year, I definitely do. So, starting on August 2nd I started on a 30 day run to be consistent in 5 things: Eating, Exercise, Personal Development, Sleep, and Hydration. It’s perfect timing as I’m getting prepared for my races. My goal is that I jump start back into my routine as school starts and it gets easier to find a rhythm. But I can’t get there if I don’t make the choice to do it and get into action. A little accountability never hurt either. So here I am. Holding myself accountable, until I get back to that discipline.

If you’re doing the same (or plan to) here are some of the things that I’m doing to help me out..

  • I bought a new pretty cup to use for hydration. Feel cute. Drink cute.

  • I put my EAAs out along with my shaker bottle at night so I’m ready to go for my morning workout.

  • I put my gym/running clothes out the night before, so I know what I’m doing the next morning.

  • I plan out my week of workouts along with a calendar. And I plan out my meals. I do this planning right along my work and family calendar so nothing can sneak up and steal my dedicated time for exercise and proper eating away from me. (Sunday is that day for me every week... pick a week that way it’s easier to do repeatedly)

  • I set my book and journal out on my desk right in front of my keyboard. That way I see that first and set intention before I log on and start getting sucked into emails.

  • I have a set sleep time… 10:00. I need a solid 7 hours of sleep at night so if I want to wake up at 5:00 I need to be asleep at 10 soI’m headed toward the bedroom no later than 9:30 pm.

This week is my first week back in action. And it’s been tough. The heat has been brutal outside and I’m fighting the urge to snack all the time. But it hasn’t been impossible. I made it through a happy hour with nothing off my fueling plan. I’ve been consistent with bedtime. I did shove off my personal development for 2 days, but I’m back in the swing of it (I think). And I’ve completed 11.23 miles (either outside or on the treadmill) and 3 days of weight training. The hardest part was getting all the weight training, but I managed to fit it in. So, I’m learning from last week and applying that to this week. And I need to apply it because school starts this next week and the routine will shift, yet again.

Wish me luck!

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