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Ode to Discipline: Muscle Building Workouts To Develop Character

It takes discipline to get the body you want. It takes discipline to get the body you want.


If a finance publication splashed an article on its cover touting a way to attain vast wealth by doing nothing, would anyone believe it? Probably not. Even the most wishful thinkers don’t believe there is any such thing as a free lunch. So why do aspiring health and fitness buffs fall for articles like “Iron Abs in 10 Days” or “Eat Anything and Lose Weight”?

It is snake oil,  a wordy elixir concocted by writers, editors, and publishers hawking magazines and other media. They know everyone wants to be fit, and they know that most folks would like to achieve results quickly, painlessly, and permanently. Sadly, and obviously, when it comes to fitness, you don’t get anywhere by doing nothing. Instead, to live a fit life, you have to embrace the reality that fitness is work. You learn to seek out discomfort—and sometimes pain—and welcome it as a fair and logical exchange for looking and feeling good and being healthy.

In fitness, exercise is ritual; discipline rules the day. It’s never about liking or disliking bench presses or squatting. It is a matter of practicality. You do what you need to do, regardless of the pain, because the rewards of exercise far exceed the hardships. And the rewards aren’t exclusively physical. Something fundamental happens to our being when we challenge ourselves, when we sacrifice and face hardships for the sake of well-being. It enlivens our spirit and enriches our experience. It builds our character as well as our muscles, and it imbues us with self-confidence. We become more alive and our senses are heightened. The affirmation that comes with achieving a difficult goal becomes a springboard for new achievements.

Conversely, when we give in to urges, temptations, and the “easy way,” we forfeit enrichment to reinforce false notions about the nature of success and what it means to be living a truly fulfilling life. Set your goals in health and fitness, and stick to them. Be disciplined. You will feel capable of new and wondrous heights.

Maintenance Plan:

Get Back on that Horse

If you stumble and drop your goal, don’t give up. Get right back to it. Don’t let long periods of time elapse between the time you quit and the time you begin again.

Be Critical of Your Laziness

Don’t take your falling down lightly.  If you have set a fitness goal that is realistic, and you quit, beat yourself up a bit. Reflect heavily on the negative alternatives that you are succumbing to. Do not dismiss your failures with denial; do not rationalize to justify quitting.

Set Realistic Goals

Don’t get overwhelmed with overreaching goals. If you are overweight, focus on reducing your weight to a desirable level first, then focus on a hard weight-training regimen. Start by walking on the treadmill three times per week, working up a good sweat. Cut out the bad calories gradually. Do a light circuit-training routine of all body parts. Don’t spend more than an hour a day in the gym for the first few months. Then build up to more advanced training.

Listen to Positive Self-Talk

Pay close attention to your inner voice. Is it primarily positive when it comes to your health and fitness goals? Are you enthusiastic that you will succeed or do you harbor self-doubt about attaining your goals? Be positive and take incremental steps. Brag to friends about how you’ve been sticking to the program and how your endurance and strength are improving.

Create Mental Visualization

Arnold Schwarzenegger used to imagine his biceps as mountain peaks, and look how they turned out! Creating a mental image of the body you want is instrumental in producing how you will look. Picture an aesthetically balanced physique, and you’ll strive to train your body equally, bringing up your weak points to meet your strong points.

Good Comrades

If you are going to hang out at a bar, make it the juice bar. Associate with people who share similar goals and values. Commiserating with buddies at the local watering hole over how much you have let yourself go will not get you into the gym. Lifting a drink doesn’t do much for the biceps.

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This is another example of a character-building workout.
Last modified on Monday, 17 September 2012 21:41

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