The Problem with the “Disciplined” Mindset

A disciplined mindset around health is oftentimes praised in our society today. And though I am a believer that there’s a healthy way to be disciplined in your life, being so adamant about discipline when it comes to your health can actually be detrimental to a healthy relationship with food and your body. Today we’re talking about the problem with the “disciplined” mindset and how you SHOULD be thinking instead when it comes to your wellness.

This topic is very real to me. And though I know there could be some controversy with this, hear me out. I want to repeat that there is such thing as healthy discipline. Being disciplined with your school work or job can help you do your best. Gentle discipline with your children (and your dog for those like me whose dogs are their children) can be a form of love towards them because you want them to succeed and be safe. But the issue we run into a lot of times with such a rigid and military…disciplined…mindset around food is that we are oftentimes harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else in our lives. Strict discipline in how we eat and move is actually more harmful than good. 

“But the issue we run into a lot of times with such a rigid and military…disciplined…mindset around food is that we are oftentimes harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else in our lives.”

I, also, believed the lie that I had to be disciplined (i.e. perfect) with how I ate and exercised in order to be healthy. That’s what we all hear, isn’t it? That we better not eat one cookie because one would be too many for the one who’s disciplined. That if we did dare eat that one cookie, then all bets are off and we might as well finish the entire plate. The disciplined mindset confirms your negative thoughts that food is “good” or “bad”, leaving you the only option of eating “good” foods or else reaping the consequences. This promotes living a life of guilt around food and a life of never feeling good enough by your choices.

What about the disciplined mindset around exercise? Being disciplined with exercise today often means someone’s over-exercising, which we know can actually be damaging to your health. Over-exercising can lead to injury as well as decreases immunity. But we’re praised for not missing a day of exercise, and revered if we show up at the gym despite being sick. I was this person, and I know a lot of you are as well or know someone like this. I remember being diagnosed with plantar fasciitis my freshman year of college and still teaching cycle classes with a boot on as well as lifting weights, all because I thought that to be healthy meant ALWAYS being disciplined.

So if this militant mindset around food and exercise isn’t healthy, then what SHOULD my mindset be?

The answer is not a very popular one, I’m afraid. But in order to have a healthy relationship with food and your body you have to get rid of the discipline around food and exercise. I know, it sounds bizarre. But trust me on this as one of the most disciplined when it came to eating healthy foods and exercising. When your focus is on sticking to your plan, or eliminating foods from your diet, or going to the gym daily, here’s what will happen– you’ll feel guilty for anything you ate that you didn’t anticipate or for skipping a day working out (even though you felt awful when you woke up). Does this sound healthy? I think not.

So let your hair down, girl, and let yourself be un-disciplined around food and exercise. It may take time to really find your groove of what feels best to you, but I guarantee that with some practice and patience of trusting your body and listening to your body’s cues, you’ll be happy to be unchained from the hold of your old disciplined mindset.

Looking for help in getting to a place where you can trust yourself around food? Wanting support in pursuing this food and exercise freedom? Let’s chat in a discovery call and get to know each other a little better!

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