The Art of Discipline: @exercisingwitheleanor’s Insight into Holistic Health

Women's Best Interview Team

Reading time: 5min

Embarking on a fitness journey isn't just about transforming your physique; it's a transformative journey that encompasses the mind, body, and soul. We sat down with Eleanor Mackenzie, Women’s Best Team Mate, to delve into the depths of discipline and explore its pivotal role in our paths to wellness.

During lockdown at age 21, Eleanor began sharing home workout videos online. Eleanor’s platform quickly became a safe space for her, and her followers, to talk about all things fitness and health. With a background in Psychology, a master's in Health Psychology, and a PT qualification, Eleanor truly understands the importance of holistic health and the relationship between physical and mental well-being.

For Eleanor, discipline isn't just about motivation; it's about pushing through tough times to reach long-term goals. We asked her a couple of questions and here’s what she had to say…

How do you define discipline/ what does it mean to you?

Discipline is something only you can do for yourself — nobody can do it for you. I find that so empowering because it means you are in control. To me, it means honoring the commitments you made to yourself, even when your motivation for those commitments is no longer there. You draw on that inner discipline because ultimately you know this is what you want and what will get you one step closer to your goals and self-fulfilment. Looking at discipline through that mindset, it's a form of self-love! You deserve to unlock your full potential and achieve the goals you have set for yourself — and the only way you will achieve that is by being disciplined.

Eleanor stresses the importance of discipline, especially on tough days when we feel unmotivated, or as she likes to call them: CBA (can’t be arsed) days. We all get them. She emphasized that while motivation may ebb and flow, real progress stems from the commitment to push through these low-motivation days. According to Eleanor, discipline isn't just about grinding relentlessly; it's about recognizing the fine balance between pushing through and knowing when to rest. In a world saturated with hustle culture, she emphasizes listening to your body and avoiding the pressure of trendy fitness culture. 

Do you have any specific rituals or habits that contribute to your overall well-being and discipline?

I sometimes find it hard to focus, especially if I'm busy. A habit that helps me most during this time is starting my day with a to-do list. Write it all down so it's not clouding your thoughts and then reorganize the list into priorities. 

First, eat the frog!
This means identifying one challenging task (the frog) and completing it first thing in the morning (eating it) before you do any other work. It may sound weird but give it a go! You automatically feel a sense of achievement — if you can get something challenging done first thing, anything else afterwards seems easy. 

After that, I use the MoSCoW framework for the rest of my tasks: what MUST be done today; what SHOULD be done today; what COULD be done today; and what (probably) WON'T be done today. Then you can allocate time to the tasks, based on priority, and timeblock your day. It's also super important to be realistic about what you can get done on any given day — don't set yourself up to fail! Take it step by step, work through that list (starting at MUST), and see what you can achieve.

Adding to this, sometimes we do everything right and plan meticulously, and we still can't focus. If this happens, don't beat yourself up! There's this misconception that a day is a write-off if you've not had a productive morning, but that's not the case! You can restart the day at any time. To do this, I like to tap into different strategies to reset, including taking a cold shower; getting outside for some fresh air and a walk; stretching; reading a chapter of a book — it really can be anything as long as you feel like you're switching off for a minute and resetting for the next part of the day. I also use the Women's Best Energy & Focus supplement on these particularly difficult, low-motivation days!

When talking about staying motivated, Eleanor highlighted the importance of being kind to yourself and taking small, actionable steps. She believes in being gentle with oneself and recognizing that progress, no matter how small, is still progress.

What lessons have you learned about discipline through your fitness journey that you apply to other aspects of your life?

The biggest lesson I have learned is to ditch the all-or-nothing mindset. This is a common 'perfectionist' mindset where you see everything as black and white, as success or failure. This is not only untrue, but it's also unhealthy to think like this! When I first started my fitness journey, if I missed a workout one day, I'd think the whole week was a write-off. If I ended up eating 'unhealthily', I'd think well I'll just start again Monday, and end up going 'off track' the whole week. It's taken time & educating myself (as well as through my two degrees & my PT course) to learn that this is not the case. 

Life is about balance! 

It's much better to follow the 80/20 rule and accept that some weeks will look more like 60/40 or even 30/70, but that doesn't mean you're a failure. It means you're human. I've learned to apply this to my overall mindset of health and life — look at it holistically. Look at the bigger picture! One unproductive afternoon doesn't undo all the work you've done, just like one extra rest day doesn't undo all the progress you've made.

For those finding it hard to embrace exercise, Eleanor suggests trying different activities until you find what truly brings you joy. Exercise isn't limited to the gym—it can be swimming, dancing, or even cleaning your apartment. Again, she advises listening to your body and not conforming to societal norms about what a healthy lifestyle should look like.

What advice would you give to someone struggling to establish discipline in their fitness routine?

Firstly, be kind to yourself. Like I said, you're human, and we've all been there struggling to stick to something. Some weeks will be easier, others will be harder. I think the biggest tips I have would be to ensure the fitness routine is 1) enjoyable and 2) realistic. 

If you don't enjoy the fitness routine, you won't be able to stick to it. There are so many types of exercise, so don't be afraid to try lots of classes out and find one that works for you. Secondly, be realistic. Don't overfill your routine to the point that it's packed and hard to stick to. It's better to schedule 3 workouts in a week and manage to achieve that and maybe more, than schedule in 6 and struggle to achieve half — you'll feel a lot better about yourself with this approach and the schedule won't seem so daunting. 

Adding to this, don't try to copy someone else's routine. Just because your friend manages to train every Monday, doesn't mean you have to train every Monday — if it doesn't work for your schedule, don't do it!

Eleanor teaches us that discipline isn't just about pushing through—it's about cultivating resilience, embracing self-compassion, and honoring individual needs. On our unique journeys, let's embrace Eleanor's insight. 

Let's see discipline as a powerful tool that drives us toward holistic well-being and being the best versions of ourselves!

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