Let’s start with a statistic – 67% of Americans who have gym membership never even use them, that’s 2 out of 3 people. Now an average gym membership costs about $58 according to the 2014 statistics and that means Americans are spending more than 6.7 billion dollars every year. 6.7 Billion dollars (for those who are too busy counting the zeros) is more than what 38 countries make a year-and we are spending it just to sit on the fucking couch. Now I’m no expert on the fine arts of couch sitting, but from my experience, I’m pretty sure that you can do that shit for free.
Now why does this happen? I’ve already talked about seeing a lot of new faces in the gym during the beginning of the year-turns out that is true. It is estimated that gyms get between 30-50% in members in the first week of January and the second week is the busiest week of the year. It’s the time of the year when people go- “My New Year’s resolution is that I’ll finally work out regularly this year.” Notice that word “finally?” They always say finally because it’s the same fucking resolution they made the previous year and the year before.
Now these guys go to the gym for the first 2 weeks and about 80% will drop off at the end of week 2. There was an actual scientific study carried out about this at Berkley and their conclusion is that it’s not because they’re lazy; it’s because of what they call “hyperbolic discounting”- which basically states that people will pick the option which comes faster. Most people think that results from working out are like cheeseburgers from McDonalds where they’ll go “yeah, I’ll have a body like that” and expect to get it less than 5 minutes. So when the kid behind the counter goes “Yeah, for that you’ll have to work really hard for that and it’ll take 4-6 months” most people freak out and don’t come back. After all, you won’t wait more than an hour for a cheeseburger, will you?
But you are not like those people, are you? No, you understand quite clearly that it takes hard work to get that perfect body. Some of you might have heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s rule that you can master anything if you practice for 10,000 hours. Hell, if you work hard enough, you can do anything- you’ve been told this your whole life, right? Just one question- how do you work hard? Because nobody tells you that, do they? They automatically assume that if you want something, you’ll work hard for it. And you will, I expect you to work real hard- until you reach your breaking point, and like everyone who drops out of the gym within 2 weeks will go “This is bullshit, fuck this” when you don’t get the result you are looking for.
Now the bad news is- everyone has a breaking point. And that’s because we’re human beings, not some fucking terminator which can go on forever. What most people don’t realize is that we only do the hard work because we want to get the result, if we don’t get to kill John Connor, we’d probably quit to be the Governor of California as well.
The good news is we can extend our breaking point with self discipline. Those guys who don’t quit after 2 weeks of working out are the ones that go, “Okay, this is harder than I thought, but I can still do this”. Obviously this becomes harder as you go along (at which point, you should look at other reasons as well) and you’ll need more self discipline at this period.
And I’ll tell you exactly how you can do that.
Make sure you have the right motivation
Quick, stop reading this article right now and give me 500 squats.
Huh, none of you did what I just said, did you? (Note: to the one guy who did the 500 squats just because I said so, I am promoting you to be my chief minion. Send me a message later and we can talk more about taking over the world)
But the rest of you who didn’t listen to me, consider this scenario. You are just reading this blog post in your room. Suddenly a guy kicks in your bedroom door wearing a ninja mask, a purple T-shirt, hiking boots and no pants; he stinks of cheap vodka and has a butcher knife in one hand and the cutest puppy on earth in the other. And the guy goes- give me 500 squats right now or I’ll cut off the puppy’s legs!
Now if the guy had said, “I’ll kill the puppy”, that’s not a threat, it’s just a drunk guy yelling and he probably won’t do it (because who the fuck would kill a puppy?). But cutting off the puppy’s legs? That’s a cold crazy psychopath right there, and I’m guessing he’ll do it. And I expect most of you’ll probably start doing squats right there. Why? Because you are trying to save a puppy from a psychopath. And for me that’s one of the noblest reasons that anyone can give why they are doing squats.
And that is exactly how you should feel like when you do something. If you are hitting the gym because you thought that it would be a good idea when you were drunk with your friends on New Year’s eve, there is no way in hell that you will go through with that. I got drunk one time and thought that I’d make a great president; do you think Obama is worried about President Brandon? It’s the same thing, if you are to follow through with anything, whether to be a great president or a great artist or getting that perfect body, you should really believe it is as important to you as saving that puppy. No matter what that reason is, if you truly believe that it’s important, then you have a head start in gaining self discipline.
Setting medium term goals
Now I’ve already told you about how some people lose it when they don’t get any results in the first few weeks or months and quit. The best way to deal this is to set realistic goals.
Let’s take the example of school- when you were in your kindergarten, most of you didn’t even know your ABC’s. If I went back in time and gave the 4 year old a big ass novel and told you to read, I’d imagine most of you would start crying. But if I did that now, most of you would be able to read it, how did it happen? Well, you learned your letters, then you learned about putting those letters together to form words and then to put those words into sentences. You didn’t learn all of this in a week either; you had to pass every grade and it took you more than 10 years to get your ass out of high school.
If you start training from scratch, you won’t be seeing much gains right away. But all you have to remember is how much farther you have reached now compared to when you started. You can lift heavier weights now, run faster, your endurance is higher and you can probably kick your beginning-of-training version’s ass any day of the week.
I’ve read this really interesting article on the subject of willpower, did you know that you can run out of willpower by the end of the day? Apparently willpower is kind of like your muscles, you can only use it for so long before you lose it. And when you lose your willpower, it really screws with your brain and decision making process-the part of your brain which handles willpower is in the same area where you make short term decisions.
What that means is that your willpower decreases each time you make a decision, and when you are forced to make too many decisions your willpower drops to zero and your brain goes “Fuck this shit, I’m out”. This is an actual serious problem- prisoners who are appealing for parole has a 65% chance of getting a parole in the morning compared to zero in the afternoon, regardless of their crimes because the parole officers lose their willpower to make the right decision after hearing for so many cases
So if you are overwhelmed by something, think about what time it is and what happened during the day. Was it one of those completely fucked up days where you feel like the universe just hates you and everything bad happened to you? If that’s the case, then good news- your willpower just ran out for the day and the best thing to do is to go to sleep! Sleep helps you to regain your willpower faster and if you really want to make the best decisions, make them in the morning when your brain hasn’t had much to think about.
Or in other words, don’t trust your stupid fucking brain at night because he’s basically drunk at the time, wait till morning.
Remove all temptations/distractions
Let me tell you something about Barack Obama- he is the President of the US, he has to deal with thousands of decisions a day about everything from politics to politics (I don’t know much about politics) and still manages to do cardio and weights for 45 minutes a day. Do you know how he does it? Here’s a quote from the guy- “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing because I have too many other decisions to make.”
And that is how disciplined our President is when he comes to managing his time. There’s also this cool observation about Bill Gates- ever since he founded Microsoft, the guy has been making about $2000 per minute. Now if he accidentally drops a hundred dollar bill, Bill Gates is technically losing money if he takes more than 5 seconds to pick it up.
These are two of the most important people in this country right now, where every decision they make means a lot. They literally can’t afford to waste their time and they do this by eliminating every single distraction from their lives. And as I said, your willpower decreases with every decision you make, so why waste it on some stupid decisions?
So when you are working or working out is better to turn off your phone and the Internet. Most of the time, removing the distractions and temptations is a lot easier than trying to use discipline to not use them.
Don’t worry if you mess up
Picture this scenario- you are 8 months old and one day you suddenly started walking. Your parents are so happy to see their kid walking for the first time and everyone is looking at you. Then suddenly you fall down and you go “This is bullshit, fuck walking.” Does this sound stupid to you?
Because no, you didn’t do that. You fell, cried for a while, tried walking again, got a bit farther and fell again and repeated the same process till you could walk properly. And that is why you are still walking today instead of crawling like a baby.
Why don’t we do this in adult life more often? The baby version of us were geniuses in a way, they didn’t mind screwing up and always picked themselves up and kept moving forward. And soon they grew into the current version of us who is insecure about making mistakes and worried about making a fool out of themselves. And we are way too quick to go “I can’t do this” even before they learned to walk. You have to realize that it’s okay to fall down because that’s how you learn.
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