What is “grit.”

According to Angela Duckworth in her best selling book, “Grit” it is a blend of passion and persistence.

Grit in my words is “doing things you know will help you even when you don’t want to do them.”

A huge part of grit is having some level of discipline. Physical and mental. How do you gain this discipline to do things when you don’t necessarily want to do them? Or when there is an “easier” or more comfortable option? Well I think part of it is how we are raised and our experiences as kids. Another part is innate in us. And a third part is the experiences WE CHOOSE to participate in as adults…you know when your parents don’t control what you do anymore, but you actually decide what to do with your life.

For me, I know the discipline and grit I have with my exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and just my life overall, comes from all three of these factors. My parents had high expectations for my sisters and I. I had do things for sports I didn’t always want to do (AKA summer for lifting for high school football). I think part of my discipline is genetic. And thirdly, choosing a career where I need to set an example of health has kept me stay accountable to eating healthy, being active and taking care of my health.

I have used the following comparison before in blogs and in discussions with clients. It has sunk in with a few of my clients recently.

How is saving money like living a healthier lifestyle?

They both involve saying “no” in the short term, so you can enjoy a more rewarding “yes” in the long term.

Here is some background. I would get an allowance as a kid. So did my younger sister. But, not all this money was for spending. My dad had envelopes in his dresser for “big item savings,” and “donations.” We had to physically put some of our allowance in these envelopes to develop the habit of saving and knowing what it felt like to not be able to spend all our money right when we got it. In the moment I had no idea how this would help me down the road, but now I can look back and see how much it has. I am saver now and always have been…learning this skill at a young age was crucial. I like to say “I don’t have many skills besides being able to save money and listen to people.”  I got the listening from my mom 🙂

Now to today. I have been called cheap by friends for not gambling or buying rounds of shots all night. Margo and I don’t go out to eat during the week and this is called “boring.” We would rather save money for weekend trips, big vacations or a week at an all inclusive resort. I don’t spend on money on something unless I know I  need it or its something that will help my fitness (road bike soon), help my stress levels (new car that actually runs), is a necessity for our house or is a cool experience for Margo and I.

Broccoli for lunch. Is it amazing no? But, I eat lunch alone. I am in complete control. No excuse to go out and buy pizza or greasy tacos for lunch when I’m alone. You are in control too, if you want to be.

By having the discipline to not overspend at restaurants or rounds of shots, the irony is that I have more flexibility in the rest of my life. On the surface it might seem like I live a boring life, but I never miss out on a friends trip because I’m short on cash. I can go golfing whenever I want because I didn’t spend $50 on a random Wednesday night dinner. I don’t need to save for months and months for a road bike and cringe at the price because I always have a “buffer” cash account I never touch unless I need to buy a car or WANT to buy a bike. When you have discipline with your money it might seem like you are cheap, boring and don’t have a life, but in reality you have much more control over how you live your life and the experiences you want to enjoy. I have learned the number one benefit of running my own business is being in control and having flexibility with my life schedule. Being disciplined with how I spend and save money allows me to do go on trips, buy what I want etc without worrying about paying the bills.

I use that above comparison a lot because every adult reading this budgets, spends and saves money. It’s something we all have in common. Learning a new lifestyle is often a foreign experience though. This real life comparison has made the concept of “nutritional discipline” hit home for many clients over the years. We all need to budget our money. If you want to change how you look and feel, you also need to budget your health. Having discipline with how you eat, your activity level and stress management might seem obsessive or boring or too strict on the surface. But, just like with saving money…when you have discipline with your health it opens the door for so many bigger opportunities you miss out on if you forget about your health. The irony is, that even though you think you might not have time in your day to workout, or meal prep or even go for a walk, once you MAKE the time for these things you will be even more productive with your career, with cleaning the house, or whatever else you need to get done each day.

Here are some steps to help you MAKE time in your day for exercise and healthier nutrition.

Step #1. Change your perspective. Eating “simple” meals at least of the some of the time is NOT boring. Once something is “boring” in our mind we consider it “bad.” Eating simple is NOT boring. Say that out loud. If your perspective on nutrition is one of “every meal needs to taste AMAZING”  you will struggle to change your health. 80% of meals need to taste “good enough.” The other 20% can be fun 🙂 Exercise isn’t painful. Exercise helps you grow. Waking up earlier and going to be earlier isn’t for old people. Waking up earlier and going to be earlier makes you more productive. When you’re more productive you are happier and more confident. Having discipline and saying “no” is NOT a punishment. Saying “yes” to everything might seem fun at first…tell me how you feel in 10 years. Your body and mind need discipline…YOU have to decide if you WANT it or not. 

Step #2: Make exercise an appointment. You wouldn’t miss a doctor’s appointment would you? Dedicated exercise time MUST be a top priority every single day. When you don’t exercise you have less energy. You might think that skipping the lunch time walk for more emails is productive. You’re wrong. Go for the walk, come back and I guarantee you are more productive the next 2-3 hours. Studies prove this.

Step #3: Plan ahead with your nutrition. Be “OK” knowing what you are going to eat two days from now. If you don’t know what you are eating for dinner tonight that’s a problem. Write down your lunches and dinners for the week on Sunday. You don’t need to prep them all (though this helps) but knowing what you will eat will eliminate your ability to second guess your health and order the pizza. Planning your nutrition out for the week on a Sunday might seem like more work on the surface (and maybe it is when you start out), but guess what it leads to over time? It leads to you becoming more self sufficient with your health and not needing to spend thousands of dollars and endless hours with a nutritionist.  Short term sacrifice for long term gain. Then you can spend that money on a vacation or a boat or something “fun.” Just like being able to go on vacations or buy a road bike without needing to pinch pennies, when I eat the way I do during the week it allows me the leeway to not only eat however I want on the weekends but also do it looking the way I want. I know looking how you want to look is definitely not everything. But, looking how you want to look only helps your confidence and your mood. Having nutritional discipline during the week is easier than having discipline when the beers start flowing and bar food is the only option on the weekend. Life is less stressful when you just have the drinks, eat the wings at a party and know it won’t hurt how you look. But, to do this you need to say “no” during the week or when you are alone. 

Step #4: Prioritize sleep as best you can. Everyone is different but most studies show adults need 6-8 hours. Don’t skimp on this if you can help it. Yes, yes I know…kids ruin your sleep. I get this and this makes me nervous ! But, there are things you can still control like turning off your TV before going to bed so your 4 hours of sleep are at least better quality sleep. You can sneak in a 10 minute power nap while the kid sleeps instead of playing on your phone. Just like with the walking example above, you will be more productive after a power nap than you think. When you have a night without the kids, go to be bed early instead of staying up to 2am at the bars. I know it won’t be perfect, but don’t play victim. There are a few things you can control…I have clients who can attest to this…I didn’t make these up.

Short term discipline is only “restrictive” and “boring” if that’s  your perspective on it. If you know that saying “no” now leads to your ability to have more freedom down the road, you will be able to crush this “lifestyle change” thing. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely doable.

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