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Developing the Discipline of Exercise

winter runAs a part of my Fitness Challenge for the new year I am trying to develop a habit of exercising on a regular basis. But creating a new habit is not as easy as just deciding that you want to do something, or writing down a goal and sticking to it. That’s not enough to keep you from falling off the wagon.

Developing a new habit requires discipline. I think most of us as busy parents could use a little more discipline in our lives, especially when it comes to exercise. I know I could.

I recently heard discipline defined as the ability to make yourself do something you don’t want to do, in order to achieve achieve a result you really want. I thought that was such a great way to look at it as it relates to developing the habit of exercise.

Honestly, most days, I don’t feel like exercising. I just don’t want to. But, I’ll tell you what I do want. I want to get back into shape to have more energy to take care of my family. I want to lose the rest of the weight I put on during pregnancy, and fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. I want to run a half marathon with my younger sister in June.

Those are all results that I really want. But I’m not going to achieve them by sitting on my butt and skipping out on my exercise routine every day because I don’t feel like it.

If we only focus on the negative parts of our exercise routine, the things we don’t want to do, then it’s easy to skip a workout, to chose to watch a TV show instead of putting in a workout DVD, to stay inside where it’s warm rather then heading out into the freezing cold for a run.

But, if we change our thinking to focus on the positives, the good things that we want that will come as a result of our exercising, then it’s easier to jump over that mental hurdle and get moving; put in the workout DVD or head out on a frosty run.

So, developing discipline and creating the habit of exercise means that I have to focus on the end results, the things that I do want. And I want them badly enough to make myself do something, even when I might not want to, because I want those end results; getting in shape, losing the baby weight, and finishing the half-marathon.

And you know what? I always feel better after I exercise. I never get done and think to myself, “Wow, that was a waste of time. I really wish I hadn’t gone on that run, or put in that workout DVD.” It feels good to to exercise, even when I don’t want to, and I am always so glad that I made myself do it.  Sitting on my butt on the couch however, definitely does not give me that same good feeling.

Sometimes it also helps to have some extra motivation, and here are a few resources:

Listen in on Summer Sanders and Kara Goucher, two Olympic athletes, talk about their exercise routines, and fitting in exercise as busy moms, over at our friends on espnW.

Listen to a podcast by Michael Hyatt on developing discipline.

Work through 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine, a great ebook with daily assignments to help you develop discipline in your life.

Follow along with my Fitness Challenge on my blog and Facebook page for inspiration and encouragement.

Emily writes about green and natural living at Live Renewed.
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Photo Credit: iStockphoto

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