It’s been a few years since I was a regular at a gym. It was easier when I wasn’t commuting, or working late, or attending post-work events, or hosting a dinner party or some other reason. The strange thing was that I fell out the gym habit rather suddenly. I had been training regularly since my student days so I couldn’t understand my complete and sudden lack of interest and motivation
I thought I would eventually miss it so much, I would go back, but I didn’t and then it was two years later. Over that time I tried to jumpstart the habit. I read habit-forming books, which would get me out jogging for a few weeks, and then I would realize I was completely and utterly bored. I wondered what had happened to me and where my motivation had gone.
Then a few weeks ago I was reading a passage about Bhuddism that explained suffering, specifically, the type that comes from the lack of motivation. It explained we have a choice between the pain of discipline or the pain of regret which weighs heavier on us. That’s when it clicked. I had fallen out of discipline and had got pretty good at beating myself up about my lack of motivation. I decided to set about practicing exercise as a discipline.
I put all motivational thoughts aside and focused on achieving a weekly target of gym visits. I made sure I planned ahead so my bag was packed the night before, new podcasts were downloaded for training and my dinner was planned for post work-out. Whenever a possible distraction comes to mind, I think purely about achieving the necessary act of discipline and it gives me the focus I need.
It’s been four weeks which means my training schedule now qualifies as a habit. It doesn’t feel like one yet, though. I am feeling the benefits of regular training – more energy, toning up, better sleep – but strangely it’s the want for discipline that keeping me going back.