Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Discipline vs enthusiasm, part 8 million.

I have a bunch of ideas on this topic.

I'm half way through a feature post on my official site talking about the "Fair World Theory" and how that relates to people's ideas about fitness, dieting, and health. This is a little story I thought of that's related but won't fit into that entry which is already too long and not even finished.

I've covered this a few times in the past as well. According to the captions on "fitspiration" type images you might see on facebook or tumblr, or certain people's blogs or instagrams or where ever else, it's all about discipline, or commitment, or will power, and so on.

Basically, the suggestion would be that if you're a great person with all of these positive character traits that make you an achiever in life, that's why you have a nice athletic physique, too. People who haven't been so successful? They must be undisciplined, weak willed, lacking in commitment.

Well, I think that is such a load of narcissistic, self aggrandising nonsense.

I will tell you a story.

Back in my days as an aspiring / serious musician, I would often do about 6 hours a day of solid technique work on the guitar. Not including / not talking about jamming along with cds, practicing the songs, rehearsing with the band, etc... just flat out technique work with an unplugged electric guitar and a metronome. I'm trying to remember right now how I managed this around a full time job...

Now THAT takes discipline.

Or does it? Really?

Something that's not actually unpleasant to do, that you take satisfaction in, and you have reason to believe is taking you towards a goal that means a lot to you. Sure, you have to make the effort and many people wouldn't have it in them. Still though, that effort comes out of enthusiasm more so than anything else. Doing it even though you didn't really want to, that would take discipline.

I was trying just now to think of an example of why you might put in all of that effort if you were not enthusiastic about it and didn't care about progressing towards a meaningful goal. I couldn't though. Really, you just wouldn't do it if you weren't enthusiastic about it.

This is analogous to training.

Training is similar. In fact now that I think of it, I'm sure I can remember an interview or two with European bands who used the phrase "band training" rather than "rehearsal". I always liked that translation.

Unlike personal practice on your instrument + band practice though, training for a sport or body condition goal might take perhaps an hour of your day most days, unless you're really looking to excel at an advanced, competitive level.

That might take some discipline while you're new to training, still trying to establish good habits, and schedule them into your routine... and especially if you're still not overly optimistic about your chances of seeing results. I feel like many people especially in the beginning might be quite pessimistic and not terribly enthusiastic, but somewhat reluctantly decide "I suppose I need to show people that I'm trying, at least".

That does take discipline.

People in the business though? People who run fitness blogs and so on? Talking about how you need to be more disciplined and use your will power, just like them? What a crock. Those people are in shape because they are very, very enthusiastic about training. It doesn't take discipline to show up and do something you're really enthusiastic about for as little as an hour a day. That's not a chore, it's a highlight. Marketing and book keeping and things like that are the chores, training is the good stuff.

I suppose there are some exceptions which for example are the "business owner" types who got into the industry at some point when they were told there'd be a lot of money to be made as the obesity epidemic got out of hand. Usually the ones who "don't have time" to actually train themselves, right?

Everyone else though... they don't show up to training every day because of "discipline". Maybe there's a particular routine on the program that's a "you gotta do what you gotta do" type of thing, but generally speaking they love, are enthusiastic about, and look forward to training and that's why they show up and get it done.

Nutrition though. That's the hard part right? 

That's the challenge, where you gotta be disciplined.

Nope.

Well maybe just a little.

Making effective, strategic training a part of your daily routine is one part of the equation. Getting your nutrition right is the other, and either one on it's own is only so much use. This not to say that you need to be "disciplined" and force yourself to eat foods that you don't like and avoid the ones that you do like at all times.

The bottom line is that people are successful because they have found one of many possible approaches and become enthusiastic enough to get stuck into it. Now as a fitness blogger or instagrammer or whatever else, you can take any approach that is sensible and healthy and try to get other people enthusiastic about it too, and that's awesome. No doubt you will inspire many to make a positive change in their lives.

Promote enthusiasm though, not discipline. And especially, let's not kid ourselves that doing something that we enjoy and eating the foods that we like to eat makes us "disciplined" and that people who aren't enthusiastic about eating the same foods need to "harden up" or whatever.

People will get results from any effective training program so long as their total intake is not inappropriate. It is down to providing both the physical stimulus and the energy and protein resources required to build your healthy goal physique, and people can achieve this with whatever selection of food choices best suits them.

Getting back to this "Fair World Hypothesis", it is fair enough to take pride in whatever success you've had in training or in other aspects of life that have been the result of consistent effort. However, results from training do come from putting in the effort and providing the right amount of energy, not by proving your moral worth by avoiding certain foods in favour of others.

People who have not yet been successful simply have not been given a plan that they can get enthusiastic about that is based on effective training and ensures appropriate energy intake.

In the real world, this is all that it comes down to.