The Importance of Self-Discipline with Mental Toughness Training (Part 2)

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(In the first part of this series on self-discipline, I talked about how impossible it is to predicate if somebody will make it through a CrossFit program. It’s just too hard to make an educated guess on somebody’s desire based on their appearance. This is even more of an issue if one is training alone without the guidance of coach working directly with them. If you are doing this program independently without being in a CrossFit box, you still can make substantial gains with improving your body composition and inner strength. However, your margin of error is very small. You must take greater responsibility than the average client who has the advantage of working with a trainer directly. In other words, your self-discipline can either make you or break you.)

So in order to improve your chances of getting through this very intense program, the burden is greater on you if you do it on your own. What will determine your success or failure with this program is not your PR in your bench press, but your self-discipline. Self-discipline is about doing things when you don’t want to do it. When you are training by yourself, there will be many days where you just don’t feel like training. If you have strong self-discipline, you will push yourself to do the work, regardless if you have a hang-over from the previous night or if you are just feeling lazy.

From my experience as a coach and trainer, having as strong sense of self-discipline is by far the number one factor to predicating if one will succeed or fail with any athletic endeavor. Motivation is important, but to be honest, it is very rare that somebody tells me that they aren’t motivated to change. The majority of men and women that I meet talk a big game about how blah-blah-blah motivated they are to train. Most people start out the gate really fast with their enthusiasm and eagerness. However, it doesn’t take long before their “great motivation” gets distracted and they end up doing everything but the training.

So when somebody tells me they are motivated as hell, I’m little bit skeptical. I don’t want to sound like a jaded old coach because I’m still willing to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. It’s just that I’m a man that believes behaviors are more important than words. At some time or another, you got to show me some actions.

If you’re self-discipline is poor, you won’t be able to stay on track with the demands of this program. It’s understandable if you occasionally miss a training session here and there, but once the pattern of inconsistency begins, it becomes a hard habit to break and that’s when the training soon drops off.

It usually begins first with something mundane like skipping a training session because they have to go to a harmless birthday party. No big deal. I think it’s important to enjoy life so go knock yourself out every once in a while. But, soon the “birthday party” morphs into other social events and that begins to multiple in greater numbers and instances. What was once thought as a “rare special occasion” now begins to add up in numbers to the point that all no-shows are due to “special occasions that you can’t get yourself out of going.” When this happens, you might as well forget about it. There is no way you can achieve mental toughness with a wishy-washy commitment.

If you want to change your mind and body, you must be 110 percent committed to doing so.  Like most positive factors, self-discipline is based on momentum. One positive action can have a beneficial effect on the next behavior. The most important action to display your commitment and self-discipline is to show up for the WODs on a daily basis. If you just did this, your chances of making this program will greatly increase. However, I know this is easier said than done, especially when you have an upcoming WOD that you just know is going to suck really bad. Your body’s natural instincts doesn’t want to go through the misery, so your brain will obliged and do whatever it can to get you out of doing the WOD.

If it makes it easier for you all, I have this problem just about every time before I have to go train. As proud as I am of my personal achievements with toughness training and passionate about it, there is probably a million other things I would prefer to do than doing an upcoming WOD that I know will make me nauseous and feeling like piking. I mean, who really looks forward to doing this stuff? The temptation to do something other than 100 burpees is always there.

When I confessed this daily inner struggle I have with my wife, even she was shocked. She always assume behind my happy go lucky smile that I going to workout was all fun and games. I love the aftereffects of the training, but I would never call doing “Fran” as something fun and something I look forward to doing. I call it plain fucken misery. To be honest, the thought of “Fran” and certain other WODs always makes me sick to my stomach.

Even my closest friends who have always admired me for my self-discipline are surprised when I tell them about my daily turmoil in deciding to go to the gym or to ditch the workout. The conflict is always there and I have accepted that it is never going a way either.

So, how do I become so consistent with my training for almost 8 years?

When I first started with mental toughness training it was right after I literally hit rock bottom in my life. I was badly out of shape, depressed and hated where I was in my life. When comparing myself to others in my CrossFit beginner’s group, I had nothing going for myself. I was older, fatter and way weaker than even most of the girls in the class. I needed strength, something positive that I would have over everybody else.

That’s when I noticed that a lot of the participants were inconsistent with their training and even more so with their eating habits. It was at this moment that I knew I could do something better than even the most athletic and strongest CrossFitters at my box.

My self-discipline would be superior to everyone else. I vow to never miss a session or to cheat on my diet. I would make up for all my flaws by being so disciplined with my work ethic and habits that I will eventually catch up to others and surpass them.

Self-discipline was all I had. It was the difference maker to making me who I am today. Do I expect you all to vow to the same commitment as I did with your self-discipline plan? That depends are how satisfied you are with your life. If you are making six figures, driving a convertible and working the job that you always dreamed about, I would say no. Having a strict self-discipline plan would only hinder the lavish lifestyle that I’m sure you are having. However, if you are sick of not getting what you know you deserved in life and tired of feeling weak and pathetic, then I would say hell you, I expect you to be as tough on yourself as I am with your self-discipline.

Having a strong sense of self-discipline will do wonders for you on this mental toughness program, particularly if you don’t have any natural talent or physical skills. Like me, you can make up for any mental and physical deficiency with an impeccable sense of discipline.

(To be continued)

Today’s WOD –

100 burpees for time (when you are done, write down your time so you can beat it the next time)

Self-discipline is all about doing something you don’t want to do. When it comes to testing your self-discipline, nothing will do it more than a WOD filled with burpees. So facing a WOD that requires you to do 100 burpees as fast as possible is one way to find out immediately if you have weak or strong self-discipline. The good news is that this WOD should take you no more than 10 minutes. The bad news is that it will probably the worse 10 minutes of your life.

So go into this WOD as way to prove to yourself that your self-discipline is strong. Let it be a statement to yourself that you know you can tolerate and do what you know is going to hurt big time.

Normally, I give you mental tips on how to get through the WOD, but today I won’t. I’ll let you to discover them for yourself. Today’s WOD is the ultimate of having to do what you don’t want to do so I’m going to add to the challenge by keeping my big mouth shut.

The WOD is simplistic with only one movement, but don’t underestimate the value you will get from finishing it. There is a huge lesson at the end of it that you will discover if you finish it. So make this WOD symbolic of your whole mental toughness journey. No matter how rough and awful any WOD is, you will never backed down. You will meet the challenge head on. It may not be fun, but being weak and a pushover in your life isn’t fun either.

If you are tired of being weak, commit to doing the 100 burpees.

Make today a statement and a testimony of how powerful your self-discipline can be.

Scaled back version of this WOD –

1. Do only 50 burpees.

2. Omit the push-up part of the burpee. For example, from a standing position, jump down into a plank and quickly jump back up in the air and land in the standing position.

3. Omit the push-up part of the burpee and the jump back up. For example, from a standing position, jump down into a plank and quickly jump back up to the standing position.


7 thoughts on “The Importance of Self-Discipline with Mental Toughness Training (Part 2)”

  1. I’m envious of your self-discipline. Being discipline is a huge factor for me, more so, the lack of it. Trying hard. However, lots of time I do fall of the wagon with my training and diet.

    You haven’t talked much about what you eat. Will you be going into more depth with this in future blogs?

    Great series. Thanks!

  2. Did I just read it right…100 burpees? Holy shit…

    Anybody did this WOD yet? If so, how long did it take? Sounds miserable as fuck….


  3. Good article! I know i have this problem when one of my friends tempt me to go out instead of training. Jackson, your self-discipline is admirable. I strive to be as strict as you are. But, more than anything I like how you view self-discipline as strength you have over everybody else.

    Interesting approach. I could see how this could work to your psyche and to your advantage.

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