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You vs the snooze button!9 min read
In this blog I wanted to focus on personal motivation and inspiration, so hopefully I can put my thoughts into some sort of coherent essay.
Why do we exercise?
To some it is to be able to compete in their sport at the highest level possible, others want to change the way they look in order to feel healthier and happier in day to day life. For myself, it is the fact that exercise sets me up both physically and mentally for my day ahead.
When that alarm clock goes off and your bed has you in its persuasive grip, it is knowing how good you are going to feel after you have got up and attacked the day that allows you to win the battle with the snooze button.
Even if you simply go for a walk, do a shorter less intense workout in your kitchen or bedroom you have gone through the motions and that can be enough on some days. Straight away you have won a fight with your mind and got yourself up and out of bed.
One of my biggest inspirations and someone who has changed my outlook on daily life is Jocko Willink. Jocko is a retired Navy SEAL, who has written several books and hosts a weekly podcast. His book ‘Discipline equals freedom’ really opened my eyes to how much we lie to ourselves about not having enough time. He is known for waking up and working out at 04.30 every single day. To some this seems crazy and stupid, but as he explains, it is the discipline of waking up early and getting his workout or any work done whilst everyone is sleeping that offers him time during the rest of the day to do whatever he wants. This may be spending time with his family or general life admin. I started this in September last year and have never looked back. Of course, there have been days where that discipline has fallen to the wayside and the snooze button won a few rounds, but I got straight back to it the following morning.
Am I saying you should set your alarm for 04.30? No, of course not, sleep is essential for health and recovery so should always be a priority. However, getting to sleep earlier allows you to wake up for example 30 minutes earlier than usual and straight away you’ve gained an extra 3 and a half hours per week. That’s 3 and a half hours to workout, go for an early morning walk or read that book that you have been putting off. The fact is that you have time, you just have to be disciplined to make it. I know I am talking to the converted as I see people getting after it in the gym before work and that is another thing that inspires me.
Another huge inspiration and idol of mine is David Goggins. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he is another retired Navy SEAL, ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, motivational speaker and all-round machine of a man. His book ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ retells his life story and is highly recommended as it is a self-help book from someone who practices what they preach every day. He talks a lot about callousing the mind. He believes that you only really find what you are made of when you are confronted with a challenge, and you must face these daily. It is these mental victories, no matter how big, that will lead you to be able to face any challenge head on.
He ran his fist 100-mile race with minimal training and says that in the back of his mind all he was thinking was ‘what if?’. What if he did complete this mammoth of a challenge, what else was he capable of? It was this mental battle that allowed him to go on to become a successful ultrarunner. I’m not saying you should all get your trainers on and start doing 100 mile runs at the weekend but instead, use this story of someone overcoming a challenge and find your own ‘100-mile run’. This could be anything from getting to the gym more times a week, going for a walk after work or simply getting those boring daily tasks done.
Looking at the bigger picture, what does regular exercise allow us to do?
From a physical perspective there are only positives, such as reducing the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, strokes, colon cancer and early death. If that doesn’t motivate you to move your body, you also have the mental benefits that are can be massively overlooked. Exercise has been proven to help with moderate depression just as much as using anti-depressants but without the risk of adverse side effects. This is due to endorphins being released in the brain that give you that feel good sensation. It also offers a distraction for any negative thoughts you may have. Without this distraction, you can spiral through this vicious cycle of negative thoughts. With a regular exercise routine, you get away from them and over time they become less and less prevalent as you change up your behavioural patterns. Of course, you will always have those days when perhaps you don’t want to train or do anything, and it is on those days that it is vital you go through the motions. Go for a walk or do some push ups and get those endorphins flowing to win that mental battle.
Not only is depression alleviated with exercise, but also stress and anxiety. From my experience of moving to Birmingham last September I have found that finding a facility like MSC to train at helped me out massively, not only to get physically fitter, but more importantly mentally fitter. This is of course due to the members, environment and the opportunity I have been given to coach and take classes. When I first started, I was massively nervous as I doubted myself every day, but it was the regular exercise and going through the motions that reduced stress and any anxiety I had.
My point here is that exercise allows us to reach our full potential in the hours spent outside of the gym just as much if not more than the ones inside.
The take home message then is that we all have time and we all need to keep getting after it daily, you just need to find what your ‘it’ is.
JockoPodcast – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkqcY4CAuBFNFho6JgygCnA
Discipline Equals Freedom – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Discipline-Equals-Freedom-Jocko-Willink/dp/1250156947/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2700CX5RS9Y99&keywords=discipline+equals+freedom&qid=1567526861&s=gateway&sprefix=discipline+equals%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-1