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Discipline – Doing What Needs to Be Done


Discipline – Doing What Needs to Be Done

“We make a distinction between motivation and discipline.  Motivation is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done when we want to do it.  Discipline is doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done when we don’t want to do it.” – Bobbi DePorter

When it comes to losing weight and engaging in a healthy lifestyle campaign, the discipline you need to carry you through is, I’ve discovered, a learned skill and it takes time to improve it.  Motivation is great at the initial stages to get you started, when you are pumped full of enthusiasm and verve, but when day to day real life kicks in, it is discipline that will keep your momentum going, edging you closer to your goals.  Willpower will only get you so far.  If you want to be successful at losing weight and increasing your fitness levels you need to build up and reinforce your discipline to follow through on your action plan, particularly for days when you don’t feel like it, when motivation and enthusiasm may be weak or non-existent.

Discipline needs to be managed and built up gradually.  It is way too unrealistic to expect to make intense big changes all at the one time and believe that this is sustainable.  I’ve learned this the hard way.  Making too many changes all at once felt empowering in the initial stages but I had taken on so many new habits to change all at the same time, not giving myself a chance to become accustomed to a new habit over time.  I felt overwhelmed and resentful and just kept packing it in.  The discipline required to keep going at such an excessive intensity felt punitive and there was no longer any joy or satisfaction in building up a healthier lifestyle.

Sustainable success over time can be manifested by setting realistic attainable goals and building up your discipline to keep following through.  If you have never run before or can manage a 10 minute jog, it would be crazy to set yourself a goal of running 5 miles in 2 weeks time.  It would be unrealistic to set yourself a goal of running a marathon in 3 months time when you have just managed to run 1 mile today.  If you rarely eat vegetables and are used to microwaved dinners or lots of processed foods, it would be a massive struggle to decide to have fruits, vegetables and clean food at every single meal from day one and keep this going over the long term.  Discipline is strengthened and reinforced over time when you introduce your changes gradually.  When you make small changes you are giving yourself a chance to become familiar with the discipline needed to ensure you continue to choose this new change until it becomes a habit.  As you become used to your new habit, you can then introduce another change or improvement you want to master and over time you can increase what you are capable of achieving with the power of discipline.

When I am feeling weary, hungry, stressed, down in the dumps or just plain contrary, my willpower expires and I am open to any temptation on offer.  I’m safe enough in my own home in that I don’t bring temptation foods in as a rule but my God, there was a night there during the week where my niece brought donuts into the house and I was like a feral animal with my nose in the bag and had one inhaled before I could take a breathe!  It was not my most elegant or sexy moment.  This is where discipline comes in.  When I feel like rebelling I need to call on and fall back on the mental discipline I have gradually generated over time to help me follow through with my healthy action plans, particularly when I really just don’t feel like it.  It’s a struggle.  Weight loss is not easy.  Getting out the front door to go run 5 miles is not easy.  Lately I have found that most of the time now I can still make the wiser disciplined choice for myself even when willpower is low, like choosing salad instead of chips or showing up for my running track session instead of lounging on the couch in front of the telly with a cheesecake.  What I find more of a challenge in my life now is dealing with underlying hungers that have nothing to do with food but that I have medicated with food in the past, that need to finally be looked at square in the eye and nourished with self-love and self-compassion.  I am beginning to slowly, gently unfurl in the dark the parts of me that I have kept hidden from myself, that I have felt too fragile to acknowledge until now.  But that’s a story for another day.

“The one quality which sets one man apart from another – the key which lifts one to every aspiration while others are caught up in the mire of mediocrity – is not talent, formal education, nor intellectual brightness – it is self-discipline.  With self-discipline, all things are possible.  Without it, even the simplest goal can seem like the impossible dream.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

My Running & Exercise Update

Discipline - just like in running a race

Running Session One – It doesn’t happen.  I am in Co. Waterford at my Mam’s house with my boys.  I’ve messaged my running coach, Gary, for a breakdown of what I’ll be missing at the session so I can do it in my Mam’s garden near the mountains.  Sure won’t it be lovely?!  I’m writing during the day and playing with my boys so the running kind of gets put on the back burner.  The following day I am writing again and figure I can go out and run in the evening.  I am in my running gear and am just finished preparing dinner and am heading out to the garden to get the run done before my brother Billy gets home from the airport and sure then he arrives!!  It’s getting dark and I wander around the garden walking first to see if anywhere is uneven and how I’ll manage doing hard intervals.  I don’t fancy my chances in the dark.  Even with a torch.  It is too tempting to go back inside and catch up with Billy and tuck in to dinner.

Running Session Two – Tonight’s track session will be tough but I’m up for it as I can channel my contrariness into the running and emerge at the end battered but in way better form.  We’ve to run “easy” (ha!) for 4 minutes, then run “comfortably hard” for 2 minutes and repeat these 6 minute intervals twice more.  I take off a little too fast (my first minute is 10:30/mile pace) so slow it down as the first four minutes are meant to be “easy” and I need to keep something back so I can manage the 2 minutes that follow to run “comfortably hard”.  It can be challenging trying to figure out how fast or slow to go, factoring in how many minutes you have to run for as well.  I cover 0.53 miles in the first 6 minutes with an overall pace of 11:31/mi which I’m thrilled with.  The second 6 minutes I cover 0.54 miles at pace of 11:07/mi and the final 6 minutes run 0.52 miles at 11:43/mi pace.   This is fast for me and from where I’ve started from, this is epic progress.  Losing 5 stone has been of massive benefit to my running and joining a running club has given me much needed structure and fun to my training, helping me to love running again.  Slow and steady, building up endurance along the way and I’m getting there.  I know my fast is someone else’s slow but we all have to start somewhere and everyone was a beginner once.  I’m in competition with no one but myself and I am winning!  Another thing that is sure to help with my breathing and aid my running progress is to stop smoking.  My face is burning here as I admit that I am still a smoker.  I make a rollie and light up as soon as I am back in my car at the end of training.  Like every day, I berate myself for continuing to do something so stupid and deadly, yet continue to inhale.  I’ve codded myself into believing that I can only truly relax when I am inhaling tobacco and skulk around trying to smoke on the sly, hiding my dirty little secret.  When I get home tonight I throw my tobacco out and hope this time I cop on to myself enough to cut this lethal habit for good.

Strength & Conditioning Class – Tonight’s class starts off with some eye-watering floor exercises and keeping my balance and coordination in check is challenging with a combination of fire hydrants, double leg bridges and more.  I can get my bum off the floor for the double leg bridges and keep my hips up which is demanding enough but to add leg extensions is just pure torture.  I’m no way balanced and my hips keep dropping.  I might get one or two done correctly which is mightily frustrating, so a lot of improvement needed here.  We gratefully move on to the circuit and Gary demonstrates each exercise.  It looks intimidating but I just get on with with it, focusing only on the exercise I’m doing in the moment.  At station one we hold out a kettle-bell in front of us with straight arms and rotate clockwise for 30 seconds and then repeat in anti-clockwise direction for 30 seconds.  Station two is Bulgarian split squats with our back leg up on a low bench.  My mouth goes dry at the thoughts of trying to keep my balance on this bench.  Taking it slow and steady I stay on my feet and get through them.  Station three is tricep dips using another low bench.  The fourth station is the dreaded push-up but using a medicine ball with one hand!!  I grimace at the sight of this as following through with one proper push-up is awkward enough on its own.  Bizarrely enough the medicine ball is a great help, moving the ball from one hand to the other for each push-up.  Again I slow down my movements so I can get a few proper ones done with correct form.  I fantasize about my body of the future that will be stronger and able to keep up.  The fifth station is one I like to call “Breaking in Wild Horses”, where one person places a large resistance band around their waist and a second person holds the length of the band with both hands at the back, like reins, pulling back on the band while the person in the front runs as fast as they can towards a row of cones.  We do this a few times, aiming to reach cones further out down the hall and take turns.  Station six is lunges on each leg while holding a kettle-bell in each hand, focusing on getting the kettle-bells to the ground and getting back up in 4 movements.  The circuit is repeated 3 times.  I usually start these classes with feelings of dread and dismay but always finish feeling Olympic.  I drive home without resorting to my usual smoke and bank my accomplishment of being smoke-free for over 24 hours.

Running Session Three – I’m looking forward to the 4 mile (6.5km) run with the club this morning but my heart falls when I hear the rain battering against the house when I rise from my cozy bed.  The track is water-logged so we start off from the road and we are off, at 9am in the lashing rain and strong wind!  I’m aiming for a 13:00/mi average pace overall.  The second mile has a few inclines and uphills so I am praying that this doesn’t affect my pace too much, ensuring I keep running and do not stop or slow to a walk.  The wind is barbarous so I’m feeling slow but also strong at the same time if that makes sense.  The battering rain is stinging my face and I wonder if I wore those mad fake eyelashes next week would they keep the rain out of my eyes!!  I am way behind everyone else but manage to keep the last runner ahead of me in my sights until maybe the first mile and a half but lose them after that.  I bump in to two runners who have finished before me, Mick and Mary, who have come back to finish with me when I have about half a mile to go, which gives me a glorious lift.  No one is left behind at Adrenaline Running Club.  When I reach the finish point I realise I still have 0.13 of a mile to go to reach the 4 miles exactly so let out a roar “I have to keep going!!  I want to hit the 4 miles!!” and stay battering on down the road until I hit the magic number.  I am over the moon to see that EVERY mile was faster than my aimed for pace of 13:00/mi so had in the end run at an incredible overall pace of 12:32/mi which is epic for me and especially over a long run. (Mile 1 – 12:36, Mile 2 – 12:56, Mile 3 – 12:34, Mile 4 – 12:03).  I also hit my fastest 5km EVER out there today at 38:57, WHOOP!!  I discovered just before the run started that my running tights were on backwards when I couldn’t find the concealed back pocket to put my key and phone and ended up having to wear them on my tummy so figure this could have given me luck today out there so may have to keep wearing them backwards in future. 🙂  Next week now is the Run with the Lions 10km race so I am looking forward to that with a mixture of terror and mild hysterics at the thoughts of being the last runner out on the course but also excited and grateful to get to RUN.

My Weight Loss Update

Discipline - my weight loss update

Over time I have just kept chipping away at it.  Each and every half pound and pound loss have all added up.  One foot in front of the other.  Every single day.  I have lost 1.5lbs this week, bringing my total weight loss so far to a whopping 5 STONE exactly!!  This is such a massive milestone for me and the last stone seemed to take forever to shed.  I know however that I have been cutting corners and have opportunity now to discipline myself more, to refocus so that I can build back up the momentum from the early months of my weight loss and lose this final 4.5 stone for good.  Never give up!  Every day is a new day to give it all you’ve got, to follow through with your daily disciplines and work on your healthy lifestyle campaign.  Build up your grit, your determination, your consistency and discipline and you can lose your excess weight too.  You know you can do it.  You CAN do it.  I never thought I would have the gumption to stick at and follow through with building up a healthy lifestyle for myself over the long term that would result in me losing all the weight.  I’m still in shock really.  I’ve lost 5 stone.  That’s 70lbs and that is heavy!!!!  I’m over half way so just 63lbs to go!! WOOOO HOOOO!

Spinach & Prawn Salad with Avocado & Coriander Dressing

Discipline - Spinach Prawn Salad Avocado Coriander Dressing

As you can see, my love affair with spinach and avocado continues! This is my lunch box salad for my trip on the train with my boys to visit the Archaeological Museum in Dublin over the Easter Break.  Bringing my own lunch keeps me accountable and I know I can honestly fill in my food diary.  I just lashed whatever I fancied in and enough for two servings just in case I’m peckish on the train journey home.  Calories are 205 per serving of salad and dressing.  The Avocado & Coriander Dressing is a slightly tweaked recipe from Lindsay at

Salad Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 100g raw baby spinach
  • 5 slices cucumber, quartered
  • 7 cherry tomatoes
  • 25g Good 4 U Quinoa Sprouts
  • 200g cooked King Prawns
  • 50g blueberries
  • 10g Good 4 U Super Seed Sprinkles

Avocado & Coriander Dressing (generously serves 2)

  • half a medium avocado, about 60-70g
  • 50g 0% Natural Fat Free Greek Yogurt
  • 50ml water
  • small handful of coriander, about 20g, stems included
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • half tsp salt
  • 1 clove of garlic


  1. In a food processor blend together the avocado, Greek yogurt, water, coriander, lemon juice, salt and garlic until well mixed.  If you would like your dressing a little runnier, add a little more water.  Set aside.
  2. Plate up your spinach, sprouts, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, King Prawns, blueberries and seeds and spoon dollops of the delicious avocado and coriander dressing on top.  Enjoy!

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