Self Discipline and Your Long-Term Fitness Goals

We all need a fitness program of some kind that we participate in regularly. Once you start exercising your mind and your body will want more. But it requires self-discipline to begin and follow through.

Webster’s Dictionary defines self-discipline as: “correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.“

Why seek improvement when it comes to personal health? This, from the AMA Bulletin 2 2009, should provide some motivation:“Two thirds of Americans die from one, of the following diseases: heart disease (652,000 deaths), cancer (559,000), stroke/cerebrovascular diseases (144,00), chronic lower respiratory diseases (130,933), accidents/unintentional injuries (118,000), and diabetes (75,000). Many of these deaths are premature; i.e., occurring before age 75 years, and in many cases, before age 65 years, with a cost to our society of almost $800 billion annually. Underlying these diseases are unhealthy but potentially preventable behaviors: (1) unhealthy nutrition (diets characterized by high intake of sodium, saturated and trans fats, and/or calories and low intake of fruits and vegetables); (2) physical inactivity; (3) smoking; and (4) excess or risky alcohol consumption. The vast majority of our population engages in at least one of these unhealthy lifestyle behaviors and many engage in all four.“ I’m betting the AMA knows what it’s talking about.

How does this apply to your overall well-being and maintaining an active fitness program? I’ll use myself as an example.

I’ve been weight training for the past 26 years at least four times per week with the exception of recovery from multiple knee surgeries. I also shoot hoops, box, swim or ride the bike five times weekly. At 60 I bench press 305 rather easily, shrug 665, arm curl 115 and squat 365 just for kicks. I’m 6′ 1/2“ and weigh 202 at 8.5% body fat. I have gone to the gym several times on crutches, once cleared by my Surgeon, following reconstructive knee surgery! Am I really crazy? Ha…I just know what will happened to my mind and body if I stop weight training and cardio exercise. I also am addicted to exercise and it’s rewards.

It’ll begin like this… I miss a week from the gym eating anything I want. Then I sleep with my stomach packed full of food that is much harder to properly digest. Next, I’ll put off any cardio exercise long enough for my blood pressure to get high from the 10 extra pounds I’ve added my belly button because I just “don’t want to stop drinking too much wine or lay off the cheesecake.“ No worries though as I’m going to start back soon. Oh boy! I have heard this far too many times to understand it’s a serious threat to millions of us.

I work hard all week so I deserve those saturated fats and triglycerides (any of a group of lipids that are esters formed from one molecule of glycerol and three molecules of one or more fatty acids, are widespread in adipose tissue, and commonly circulate in the blood in the form of lipoproteins) I just packed in from the gravy, butter and related comfort foods like mashed potatoes and anything battered then fried! Great, I’m now on my way to possible stroke or heart attack.

My Oncologist now appreciates that I help send his kids to good Ivy League schools back east. I’m rolling now so will stop any form of resistance training as I’m way too busy to worry about working out or seeing my kids graduate from high school or college. Besides my body will keep it’s definition and strength forever.

Back to my imy point about self-discipline: “We all need a fitness program of some kind that we participate in regularly.“ You have to do this for yourself folks! Once you start exercising your mind and your body will want more. I promise!

Toyota Motors USA has workers participate in two ten minute exercise sessions daily. Both sessions are mandatory if you want to keep your job. Strong point for exercise isn’t it? Take a look at these great ideas from American Heart Association then think of your own ways to fit in fitness:

Banking. Get out of your car and go inside. Doing so can pay added dividends because you’ll get to know your banking staff personally. And vice versa. This relationship may prove helpful when you want to take out a loan or use other banking services.

Car Pooling. What can you do with a carload of kids? Not much while you’re driving. Park the car a few blocks from school and walk the rest of the way with them. After they go inside, take a couple of turns around the block, the school grounds or the track.

Cleaners. Carry your laundry to and from the cleaners from across the parking lot. You’ll burn more calories!

Grocery Shopping. Grab a cart on the way in. Loop around the inside of the store at least once before heading down the aisles. Do some stretching activities while you’re waiting to check out. Push your own groceries out to the car. Take the cart back to the store instead of leaving it in a corral in the parking lot. That will add a few extra walking minutes to your daily goal. All those steps add up! And your stamina will increase.

Hairdresser. Do leg kicks and leg lifts while you’re sitting under the dryer.

Shopping. Be an “aerobic shopper.“ Walk the mall before starting your shopping. Climb the stairs instead of using the escalator. By fitting in fitness at the mall, you might not feel so guilty about “exercising“ your credit cards. From; In our 1. increasingly sedentary 2. stressed-out 3. overfed culture, people are exercising less and collectively getting more overweight by the minute.

If getting fit and losing weight was one of your New Year’s resolutions, your dog can help. After all, he’s the only exercise partner who will never blow you off for a better offer or decide staying in bed is better than going for a walk. In fact, studies show that people with pets are more likely to be active, and pet lovers who start walking with their dogs for fitness are more likely to keep doing so. If you’ll just start some exercise today and stay with it for 30 days you’ll have changed your metabolism and will begin feeling the endorphin release which creates that feeling of satisfaction from working your body. That itself makes the brain want more.

As I ask my clients “what have you really got to loose except days, weeks and months off your life?“


1. American Heart Association
2. AMA Bulletin 2 2009
About the Author


Bill McGinnis is an NFPT-certified Master Fitness Trainer, and trains exclusively at the University of Texas Medical Branch Alumni Field House on Galveston Island, TX. He has over 24 years in the Fitness Industry, including work as the Men’s Fitness Trainer at the Betty Ford Center and as a Fitness Manager in Southern California. He currently specializes in training older clients for balance, strength, endurance, golf, tennis and an improved quality of life.



These resources are for the purpose of personal trainer growth and development through Continuing Education which advances the knowledge of fitness professionals. This article is written for NFPT Certified Personal Trainers to receive Continuing Education Credit (CEC). Please contact NFPT at 800.729.6378 or [email protected] with questions or for more information.
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