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Living Your Best Life – Part 3 of a 6 Part Series Exploring Happiness and Contentment

Part 3 of a 6-part series on happiness and contentment

Welcome all to part 3 of my 6-part series on happiness and contentment. Before we move into the motivation/discipline discussion and talk about the importance of taking care of ourselves physically, I do have a disclaimer to make.

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No, I do not have all of this figured out in my own life. I am a work in progress, and I struggle with these concepts every hour of every day. The information I have gathered is from several online and print resources (as I stated when I first began) from people I know and respect. These ideas are difficult to follow and take discipline, not motivation, in order to be successful on a consistent basis.So, what is the difference between these two terms? Let us begin with an example.

Each year, people make New Year’s Resolutions. Most of the time they contain some type of exercise routine or diet plan in order to lose weight and/or feel better. People are highly motivated at the beginning and may even see early success until eventually life gets in the way and they fall of the wagon. I am not going to quote numbers but I am sure we can all agree that most resolutions fall flat within a few weeks. This happens for one reason. Motivation does not last. No person alive is motivated all the time. While I love training for ultra-marathons (particularly my upcoming race in Death Valley), I find my motivation lacking on a daily basis. I do not always want to leave my job and drive 30 minutes to bake in a 160 degree sauna for 45 minutes. My motivation to do that is not enough to train in this manner as often as I need to. And it is here where discipline comes in.

People who live disciplined lifestyles are normally more efficient with their time (our most precious resource) and find themselves more satisfied with their existence. Unfortunately, this is not a neither/nor situation. We are all disciplined in some aspects of our lives and undisciplined in others. The key is to recognize those areas in which we are lacking, admit them as weaknesses, and attack them to make those weaknesses a strength.

If you are going to make a difference in your life physically, you must begin with discipline. While the internet is full of workout plans and “magic” diets, being physically fit and healthy comes down to consistent calorie burning (exercise) and limited caloric intake. That is it. Most of the plans/diets people attempt fail not because they are not good plans but because of a lack of consistency. Again, motivation will go away. In our modern society, living a healthy lifestyle is difficult. Food is plentiful and hard work through exercise is often looked down upon. People are after the most they can get for the smallest amount of effort. However, not everything works that way. You will be rewarded and improve your health based upon the effort you put in. Surgeries and pills are not going to help on a long-term basis. You have to put in the time. There are no short-cuts.

On a personal note, I have had lots of questions about my physical preparation/training to run the Badwater 135 this summer. While I have previously stated that this is a personal journey (including my journey to finally make it to the starting line), I will share a few details. Most of the runners in the event are putting in lots of miles running, some as many as 100 miles per week! My body does not hold up to that amount of pounding, particularly on pavement. I have been limiting myself to 50ish miles per week but including another 25-30 on the indoor exercise bike at max resistance to build up leg strength for the mountains that I will be climbing. In addition, I spend 5 days per week in the sauna working on heat acclimation. Most runners do this in the month prior to the race but I started 12 weeks early. While a big part of the gains can be made in a month, the research shows that incremental gains are still possible the earlier one starts. I am also trying to teach my stomach to handle the fluids my body will need in that environment. I drink a ridiculous amount of water daily. Finally, I perform a short 15-20 minute yoga routine before bed to stretch my back and hips (my two weakest areas) and to relax my body before bed allowing me to rest and recuperate so I can train the next day.

Is this the workout plan you need to follow? Probably not but I will be posting a plan I made a few years ago for a colleague at the end of this series. It will focus not only on the physical side but will also deal with both the mental aspect (next week’s topic) and the spiritual parts of our lives.

Thanks again to everyone who has been following along! The feedback I have gotten so far has been amazing and I welcome the comments and ideas.

Shane Tucker is a guest columnist for All on Georgia. He is a retired teacher, ultra runner, and life-long resident of Chattooga County. He is also a member of Alpine Community Church and enjoys hiking/running with Cookie, the rescued Basset-Lab.

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