Finishing Programmes - Fun vs. Discipline

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    Finishing Programmes - Fun vs. Discipline

    Hello fellow Bees,

    I have kind of a problem that is not really a problem, but I would appreciate some opinions on how you'd deal with it. At the moment, I'm doing Hero's Journey, currently on Day 27. Usually, I try to shoot for Level 2, sometimes I manage Level 3, sometimes only Level 1 (which is pretty okay in my book).
    Now, over the last five days or so, I noticed that my motivation for doing the workouts pretty much dropped to near zero and I half-heartedly finish them at Level 1, not really trying for more, just to get it over with. Today it reached the point where I look at the PDF and think 'meh, just meh'. I still have some time until I would regularly start, but it's pulling my motivation with such full speed down to earth's core that it drags everything else with it.

    Now, I'm a bit torn. On one hand, I'd say 'do what's fun for you, working out should be fun so you do it as best as you can. If you don't have fun, drop it and do something else'. On the other hand I think 'get your sh#t together and just pull through, motivation is fleeting, discipline will get you to the end and you do it for other reasons and not for fun'.

    I wonder what the take of different Bees is on that problem. Would you stop the programme and do another that's more fun and where you'd look forwards to doing the workout? Or grit your teeth and get it over with? I'm a bit lost and would really like to hear other's opinions.

    Thank you very much for your time and for reading

    In my training there is both a discipline and a fun component. Strength training is what remains the basis and then I choose from time to time something that inspires me. What personally helps me when I don't really like something I am doing is doing it at a lower level of difficulty so the time and effort decrease and it becomes more acceptable and I have also successfully experimented with changing it by adding more if I find it boring.
    In practice, I change the sets by changing some exercises and maybe adding others that I like to do, in this way mixing the cards a little for me it becomes more fun to train because I have customized it
    I think since we choose to train it is essential to do it in a way we like


      Hah I have been struggling with this for the past couple weeks! Age of Pandora Part 1 kept me pretty engaged, but for some reason, the storyline in Part 2 is not feeling as motivating as Part 1. Honestly I have been pushing through each day on Level 2 because I made the commitment at the start of AoP to do Level 2, and I don't want to give up now. That same reason also motivates me to complete the daily workout, regardless of whether or not I find the story interesting. However, that being said, I've noticed my motivation flagging a lot, especially with general muscle soreness.

      I guess honestly for me, I'm looking forward to the rewarding and fun feeling of having another badge, 5 days from now... even if completing the chapters doesn't feel so fun. I guess in that respect, I'm farther on the "discipline" end of the spectrum. AoP has become kind of my daily baseline "workout" and then I feel like I can do other and more "fun" forms of exercise on top of it, such as going for a walk outside, if I want to. But the types of exercises I've been doing a lot of, such as push-ups and plank walk-outs, are not really ever fun for me regardless of what setting I do them in - I know they're what my body needs and that they're good for me, so I try to push through in order to savor that feeling of accomplishment and health later.


        Wow, that is weird because for the past few days I have been feeling exactly the same thing about the Avatar program and I'm about half way through just like you. Although for me it's more about it being a bit too hard for me rather than the fun factor. I don't want to intrude but maybe it's not just the fun factor for you either. Can it maybe be something else that is bothering you in your personal life, or your mood in general lately?

        If I were you, maybe I would go on and do another program and come back and finish Hero's Journey later when I am a bit more motivated.
        Good luck finding a solution and make sure to tell us what you end up doing.


          Sorry to hear that you are in such a bad state. My personal experience is that motivation is overrated and discipline gets me through times like this. I have bad days when I let myself go and party during the week and have a massive hangover the next morning. But before breakfast lies an hour of working out. The temptation to say "f*** it, I just skip the day" is huge. The other voice in my head says:"A workout is supposed to feel good at the end, not the beginning, so get a move on". After finishing (an under par workout) my hangover is usually gone and I am content with myself. I skipped 3 days like this in the last 4 months, so it's not becoming a real habit, but I am still unhappy with those three red bars in my workout diary.
          I have been working out on a daily basis for 12 years now, I got so used to it, that stopping is not an option. That said, I know that if I take a break, coming back is a lot harder than working through it.
          I hope that made some sense.
          All the best and good luck Nihopaloa


            I’m currently doing the easiest programs because I’m trying to build the habit and make it stick, so motivation on those ones is a lot easier to come by since they’re fairly quick (and the promise of a badge right now is helping as well). But I’ll probably run into those problems when I get to the harder ones. Like Andi64 said, it’s a lot harder when you stop completely and try to come back. I’ve had several of those moments since I started exercising.

            That being said, I think whatever works for you in this moment is the answer. Maybe Hero’s Journey isn’t right for you right now. Maybe it is. If trying something new is going to help you achieve your goals, then go for it.


              For me making a habit and being disciplined works.. I work on the basis of routine.. everyday it has to be the same routine.. the timings may be a little off here and there but it is the routine that gets me through..
              For the last 2-3 weeks I have realized that weekends does break the routine for me and once it is Monday, I again fall back to rhythm..
              In my case, I stopped regretting and being hard on myself if I skip a day.. but If I don't like something, I either skip it & move to the next day and come back when my mood is very good to tackle anything in my way.. or just plain skip and sleep on it..
              These days my main go to is meditation, might have to do with all the mentally draining things going on in life.. but that's that..


                One suggestion is to change your attention to focus on a slightly different challenge. When I get bored of routines, I've found that a hyper-focus on my form helps. I pay very careful attention to everything my body is doing, noticing how I perform an exercise differently on different sides, noticing what I'm weak in and where I am strong. This helps me to re-focus because when you get bored, your form often gets weak and you just do easy exercises, not feeling the gains. With an intense focus on form, you should feel yourself being challenged more and feel the WORK of the exercise, which will help you get back on track. It also gives you good insight about what extra challenges to add, to focus on areas that need more attention.

                Get bored is part of the journey. It happens to all of us. That is where the mental game comes in. Change the focus of your attention and you'll find a renewed motivation.


                  You might also be doing exactly what you need to do. Motivation can come and go for a countless number of reasons. I fairly normal one is you need a deload. This would just be a time (generally a week ish) where you keep working out and you go easier. You may not want to even be there to workout but it lets you rest (physical and mental) and it can let life things pass by (if the lack of motivation is coming from some outside factor). The goal of the deload is to have you ready to go again by the end.

                  It is great that you are sticking it out and I would recommend that but don't beat yourself up for going easy. Take the reduced load and keep moving forward, the motivation will return.


                    I drop it! Why do one that's boring if another one is available? And for me, it helps my motivation. Because I don't have to be afraid I'll be stuck with a program when I start it, I can try one and find one I'm enjoying. Actually I just dropped the xpress tone program and started avatar. Which is harder, but fun so far!


                      I am going to add something a little more general to this discussion that might help add a little more insight in how we operate as individuals and why we do what we do. From a neuroscientific point of view motivation is the result of the chemical actions of dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, and noradrenaline. Dopamine is by far the biggest player in this cocktail. What it does is it creates what is called an electrical potential which increases, over time, and leads to the firing of specific neurons which define specific decisions which then lead to actions. All of this, in the plainest English possible, translates into moving from a state of dissatisfaction to a state of greater satisfaction. This is the only reason we stick to doing anything. If we understand and feel the "why" the "how" then is something we can endure. If, for instance, we consider climbing a mountain to be fun and feel compelled to do it because it will make us happier than not doing it we shall quite willingly undergo the gruelling process of climbing it, enduring cold and ice and lower oxygen content in the atmosphere, in order to get to the top of it.

                      And this now leads to training. We all know why we should train. But we don't all feel it all the time, especially now when there is a constant, low level of background anxiety associated with Covid-19, sapping our emotional energy. The question of fun vs discipline that Nihopaloa has brought up beautifully illustrates the dilemma. Fun implies that we get to a higher level of enjoyment than we are at now and we are always motivated to try that. Discipline means that we get through things that are not fun because we cognitively know the benefits even though emotionally we may not feel like we can put ourselves through it all.

                      As it turns out there is a way to tackle this. Now, fun is always fun so if you are cutting programs, skipping from workout to workout, dropping a program and picking up another one but are still training all the time I'd argue that you shouldn't worry about it in the least. But, in my experience, this is not without some drawbacks. We are feeling machines that think as opposed to thinking machines that feel. Over time, this perceived inability to stick at things undermines our confidence and self-belief and sets us up for greater failures which then makes us ripe for the destructive monologue that begins inside ourselves. By then it is really difficult to break the pattern because we already have a demonstrable record of 'failures' and 'quitting'. It becomes really easy to think that we are not worth what we think we are and that quitting is what we deserve. How do we tackle this? Immersive visualization.

                      In Hero's Journey, for instance, actually visualizing the storyline, immersing ourselves in the role-play serves to distance ourselves from our own sense of ego (used in the psychological sense of the word) and that is usually sufficient to get us through the bumps and onto the finale. Similarly any of the RPG programs we have deliver the same results. In the workshops we ran them through as a test, prior to release, we noticed a big difference between the volunteer groups testing the exercises and the ones testing the exercises and storyline. The latter got through everything at a much higher level of intensity, with fewer negative comments on the level of exercise difficulty in the feedback.

                      Training should allow us to escape and usually we need to escape from ourselves and our immediate world because things get too much even on good days when the world is not in the dire straits it is in now. Escaping in our mind, through visualization, when training is important. None of us is immune to feeling generally worried, fatigued and demotivated. When I feel like this, I tend to visualize that I am running (if running) or fighting (if I am doing combat moves) for my life. Stopping then is not an option unless I want to die and I know I am not ready for that yet. Silly as this may sound it gets me through whatever is trying to pull me down.

                      Beyond the RPG element we also notice a difference in the feedback when we test workouts by just giving them to individuals and the same workouts tested in volunteer groups that use them as a class. Group work creates accountability and neuroscience (again) shows that it takes us out of ourselves by dampening the ego and making us part of the group which then helps motivate each other. This is why The Hive is so important, why positivity matters so much and why even conversations such as this one are so useful.

                      So, to recap, I will say that if you are struggling with discipline and feel demotivated and are trying to force things, don't. Accept that as a person you are weak (because we all are). That while you may at times be able to do amazing things, at other times you will feel low and small and weak and maybe, even, worthless. Be then prepared to work through that natural ebb by utilizing mental imagery, role-playing and/or asking for help here. Make yourself accountable, be willing to accept that you are vulnerable. Understand that this is perfectly fine. There is no one solution to this problem. But it can be solved by trying different things out, seeking help and support and plodding on. I really hope this helps and feel free to get back to me with any questions.


                        Damer beautifully written. You are such a good writer. I just picked gladiator as my class. I am strong as one, or at least I want to be.

                        Nihopaloa Purpose and need play a big role in my decision and feeling. To your question sometimes I make it through; sometimes I drop it. Usually if I feel like it really doesn't serve my purpose, or I don't need it, I can drop it pretty quickly without guilt/ regret. Sometimes I endure through a program thinking that it's going to benefit me, but if I don't feel much of the "benefits" and I look back at it, I would just laugh my pointless persistency.

                        I would say now I have become more patient and persistent partly because I have enough personal experience that tells me that if I do something for 10 days to 2 weeks I will see some results, and then I can decide. At least I have become more willing to experiment with new things for more than several days if for some reason I believe that it will benefit me in some way.

                        But when I feel bored with the programs, hmm.. it still depends on how strongly I feel like I need it, although I am likely to drop things.

                        I can still have guilt in not making some relatively unimportant routine when I know I really don't need to be guilty. For example, missing a day in a little workout/ exercise I plan to do every day. I stopped clicking the consecutive exercise badge, 100 days, 1 year, etc. because it gave me pressure to workout every day even when I was injured. It didn't help.


                          Thank you all for your detailed and helpful responses I'm trying to reply to everyone, so prepare for a wall of text.

                          Fremen I keep your way of changing things up in mind for the next time I get hit by a low. I would have never thought about actually adding something! I've already learnt much from your personal check-in thread (swapping out exercises for example) which often helped me going on, so I'm always excited to read your ideas. Thank you.

                          calendula I'm also a badge-hunter, but in this case I still was too far away from the badge to actually pull through. But your last sentence, about keeping in mind what I'm actually doing this for... I will think of this during my next low, try focusing the thoughts on something else. Thanks!

                          SukiBoo your question if something personal is going on helped a lot, because there was something I've been unaware of. I've subconsciously taken up your advice and will come back to Hero's Journey again at a later time. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

                          Andi64 12 years with only 3 red bars is very impressive. I'm not a big fan of the much-overused word 'inspirational', but I'll keep you in mind the next time I really want to skip a workout. And you're right, coming back after a break is hard. I stumbled upon this particular problem after one day of complete rest. Thanks for that insight. I should review my folder of fun workouts again for such days.

                          LizardFriend95 I often think I've finally built a habit, that's when I usually get a whack on the head that my habit is wobbly at best. Again, I should be cautious with complete rest days. I wish you much success in building a habit and sticking to it!

                          vrsthe1 I've actually found that what works for you turned out to become a problem for me! I've built a really good routine over the past weeks I felt comfortable with, but now I realised that routine was more of an ill-fitting corset than well-fitted workout clothes. I'm currently trying to change some things and get back on track, so hopefully that'll help. Thanks for your opinion!

                          Salishsea I've never thought about focusing on something else entirely during a workout, like form. During a workout I'm completely concentrated on counting reps and watching the timer, so my mind usually is completely void of other thoughts. Your idea could change some things, if I get my brain to work that way. Thanks for the tip.

                          Azercord Deloading sounds like another good strategy for those weak days. Definitely better than stopping completely. Thanks for pointing that out, very helpful.

                          Pseudonymravid Thanks for your opinion, I actually think keeping mostly to fun things (and sometimes pulling through when it's not so fun) helps me 'pushing it' more, striving for better results. I didn't have that with the last days of Hero's Journey, so I'm definitely with you on that one!

                          Damer thanks for your incredible helpful and detailed wall of text (just kidding). Interestingly, though, I have found that for me, the RPG elements of the programmes usually did nothing, on the contrary even (I disliked the RPG programmes the most, so far). They even bother me most of the time, although I'm a big fan of RPGs in general. I have no idea why I am like this, really. And because I'm horribly focused on counting reps and watching the timer while working out I've never succeeded in imagining scenarios to pull through. I have to admit, working out, for me, is a combination of going through motions as accurately as possible, working with the numbers in my mind, checking off each rep and set and getting it done. Maybe it's a mentality thing, I don't know. I might have to re-examine my stance of working out some time, perhaps.

                          kandy I'm usually not thinking about purpose and benefits, only about completing things. Sadly, I'm not such a completionist that I absolutely have to finish everything I've started (on the contrary, my motto is 'barely enough is already too much'). Because of that I usually try to balance the 'shame' (not really) of quitting with the struggle of completing. Sometimes, the scale shifts to quitting, sometimes it shifts to completing. This time, I was interested in how other Bees handle that dilemma. Also, I don't click the consecutive exercise badges as much as often, too. Thank you for your opinion on that matter!

                          For those of you interested on the outcome of my own dilemma:
                          I dropped Hero's Journey for now. I have to admit I'm a person that has one ridiculous quirk: If I dislike one (even tiny) detail in a thing, person, film, book, whatever, I'm completely turned off by the object (person) in question as a whole and would really have to struggle to shift away from that opinion. The same happened with HJ, where I disliked one workout and suddenly absolutely hated the complete programme. It's a mental thing, and probably something I should work on some time.
                          Coupled with this was the fact that I was unsatisfied with the very tight schedule I set myself for my days (of which I initially thought it would work out splendidly for me. Didn't, though).
                          So, I'm going to change things up again. Try another programme while sticking to the challenges and other workouts I'm doing. I will retry HJ at a later time, when the workout in question hopefully won't bother me as much any more.
                          I'm moving on, re-evaluating some things, and hopefully come out better at the end of it.

                          Thank you all for your time to read, reply and share your experiences and opinions. You are all awesome and I hope you will all succeed in whatever endeavours each of you is pursuing.


                            Nihopaloa thank you for starting this thread in the first place. We are each a work in progress. Experiment and see what works and stay safe.


                              Originally posted by Andi64 View Post
                              I skipped 3 days like this in the last 4 months, so it's not becoming a real habit, but I am still unhappy with those three red bars in my workout diary.
                              Äääähhhh, that's more like 16 weeks than 12 years, I am not a fitness-saint.