The title of this article is inspired by a quote I used for my Shred It! Training Journal, which was just released during the holiday season. The actual quote, from an unknown source, reads, “Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” I have used this approach to help numerous friends and colleagues get on the right track toward achieving their health and fitness goals. How often do we focus on this technique in other areas of life? We grind through school for many years to put ourselves in a position to be better off down the road. We exhibit patience while we save up for a large purchase for something that is meaningful to us, such as a home. We learn and grow in relationships that evolve over years. We play by the rules and understand that one action step supports another, and that we don’t just get to the finish line overnight. We know this takes time. But when the conversation turns to health and fitness, we are often more concerned with what we want now rather than what we want most.
We want to be thinner, fitter, or more muscular most, we would often rather eat junk food and sit on the couch right now, rather than eating healthy food and going to the gym. We crave instant gratification even though we’ve persevered in many other areas of life, often for decades, to get where we are today. We know that behaviors become habits and habits create results, either positive or negative outcomes. So why don’t we embrace the same level of dedication to our health and fitness goals as we do our education, personal finances, or relationships? Perhaps it is because we are told there is a quick fix out there. Follow this program, use this pill, avoid these foods, join in this challenge. We’ve convinced ourselves that change doesn’t need to take time and that the consequences of our actions can be mended by a quick fix solution, often pulled out of thin air. The truth is, if you want positive health and fitness results, you have to play by the rules and put in the work.
First, determine what you actually want to achieve. Then answer some basic questions: Why do you want to achieve your health and fitness goals? What do they mean to you? How hard are you willing to work to achieve them? How will your life change as a result? These questions should get you motivated and inspired to follow the actions necessary to get you where you want to go. Now answer the next questions: What are you willing to do day in and day out in order to achieve your goals? How will you embrace the concept of focusing on what you want most rather than what you want now? When you’re grocery shopping, ask yourself, “what will this food do for me? Will it help me achieve my goals?” When you’re considering whether to exercise or not, ask yourself, “will exercising help me get closer to achieving my fitness goals?” Every decision involving health and fitness should have important consideration. If you’ve struggled to achieve specific health and fitness goals in the past, it is especially important to ask yourself the following question regarding any health and fitness related decision: “Will this action help me achieve the goals that really matter to me?”
The concept of focusing on what you want most rather than what you want now can be life-changing. Many of us don’t pause to give this topic as much attention as it deserves. A simple recognition of our daily actions with objective perception and consideration could completely transform our behaviors, therefore overhauling our habits, creating new ones. Imagine the impact a single decision could make, such as avoiding consuming processed foods, to put you in a better position to improve health and fitness. The requisite condition of adopting a fun exercise program that leads to consistency, adaptation, improvement, and success could change your entire fitness outcome. Perhaps ask yourself these important questions: “Is watching television for hours really worth the outcome it will likely create, and the lack of exercise and poor nutritional habits it usually leads to?” And, “is the taste of this dessert, or processed meal, or oil-covered dish really worth the outcome that it will likely lead to, and the habits it will create?”
As you embrace your own meaningful goals this year, I hope you will consider the outcomes of your actions and that you will find meaning in your pursuit of higher levels of health and fitness. Remember to ask yourself, “what will do this for me? Will it help me achieve my goals?” Then determine if your true focus is on what you want most or what you want now. Follow your passion and make it happen!
- Robert Cheeke, best-selling author of Shred It! and Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness, 2-time champion bodybuilder, and founder/president of Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness – www.veganbodybuilding.com.