I used to be an overweight smoker. Discipline changed my life - it can work for you too

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One of my favourite quotes, and one that has seen me through many uninspired days, is this: "Successful people do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, whether they like it or not."

As a trainer and coach, I’m often asked by people about motivation - how to get it and how to keep it. As if a lack of motivation is the one thing standing between them and six-pack abs, the one thing that will guarantee the results they wish for. As if the elusive motivation is the thing that will magically make eating healthy and exercising daily easy. This is how I respond to that question: "Motivation comes and goes, because it’s nothing more than just a feeling." 

What is more crucial to your success is discipline and commitment to change, as these two factors are far more solid and lasting than something that is so dependent on your emotions on any given day.

Motivation is not something tangible that you can grab and hold onto forever. It’s a nice feeling to have, and it’s easy to get all inspired and busy when you have it, but the fact is you can’t rely on it to get you out of bed every morning and into your runners. The truth is, because it’s just a feeling, you’re not always going to be “feeling it”. Even the most dedicated exerciser, who diligently pursues healthy living, doesn’t feel motivated 100 per cent of the time. But what separates the successful people from the “gunners” (“gunner” do this, “gunner” do that) is that they have taken a stand and made a commitment to do something whether they feel like it or not. They exercise discipline.

If you’re married, you probably didn’t say in your vows: "I promise to be with this person for as long as I feel like it." No. You take a stand, and then you commit to it, whether you feel like it or not.

As some of you know from reading the Bio on my website, back when I was in my twenties I used to smoke. A lot. I can tell you that if I’d have waited to "feel like it" before quitting, I would probably be sitting here puffing on a cigarette right now. I loved my unhealthy lifestyle back then, it’s all I knew, until it turned on me and started making me sick.

After recognising that to continue on my current path would most likely lead to future health problems, I had to take a stand and change my behaviours. I didn’t wake up one day, magically motivated to change. It’s just something I had to do to get something that was more important to me than being sick. That is: being healthy. 

I quit smoking, went to Weight Watchers to learn how to eat properly, joined a gym, and bought a bike. Despite being the middle of winter and not “feeling motivated” to ride in the freezing cold, I did it anyway because of the commitment I had made to myself to start living well. I put the action in despite really wanting to stay on the couch. I passed on the big bowls of pasta my boyfriend was eating for dinner for the chicken salad because my bigger picture of feeling, looking and being healthy was way more important and valued than the short term pleasure of a carb coma. Despite not feeling motivated 100 per cent of the time, I did it anyway.

Motivation comes and goes. Instead of relying on a fleeting feeling of inspiration to drive your behaviour, use those compelling reasons you have to change instead, as it’s these, combined with discipline and commitment, that will truly stay the distance.

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Mareike Bout is a qualified and registered personal trainer who specialises in holistic fitness and lifestyle coaching. She is a recognised leader in the industry, receiving the peer-voted South Australia Personal Trainer of the Year award in 2008. She is also a regular guest on Adelaide’s top-rating radio station FIVEaa. Mareike runs her personal training business, One Life Live Well, both online and from a private studio in Adelaide. Services include one-on-one training, outdoor group fitness, lifestyle coaching and weight-loss programs. Individually tailored programs encompass aspects of exercise, nutrition, relaxation, positive thinking, life balance, and goal setting. Her approach is to guide, support and educate her clients so that they posses the tools required to live a life of health, strength and vitality!