Building my Self-Discipline

Shahla Latifi

  For me, a woman with a free mind and an unconventional approach to life, working out is a powerful motivator toward a healthier life. Rather than clinging to the webs of uptightness that play an important role in Afghan culture, or wishing for better life without earning it, I set specific goals and formulate plans to navigate my mind, spiritually and emotionally.


I started Pilates thirteen years ago at home, unsure of how to achieve my ambition to become good at it. I felt the need to come out of my shell. I had a natural tendency to build a good habit of exercising and improving my physical and mental health, but still, I was skeptical about it. Since I did not have a specific strategy, guidance, and support to adhere to any exercise routine, I felt stressed and unmotivated. I undoubtedly knew that if I wanted to achieve something, I must take a step forward and face new challenges. But how? How to start a plan with no guidance? How to determine the importance and relevance of my ideas and ambitions? How can I approach my goals with no fear? How do I identify my talents and errors? How can I build and appraise my abilities?


Suddenly my heart sparkled with anticipation. From the core of my wisdom, ambition whispered in my ear: If you want to make a dream true, step forward and don’t hesitate! Once I decided to wake up and follow my goal, it helped regulate my mind and it boosted my energy to step toward the new tests of life. Slowly, with minor accomplishments, I was motivated purely by the result.


As time went by, I focused on my goal by increasing the amount of time I spent on the Pilates mat, and slowly I worked my way up—first to fifteen minutes, then to twenty-five, then to thirty-five…


Determined to break down the wall of fear and low self-esteem, I came to a realization that, when adding up the time and effort to my Pilates routine, not only had I crossed the bridge of fear, it also purified my mind and directed me to step out of my comfort zone.


As life is constantly changing, a strong person with a vigorous mindset takes life as it comes. For me, a self-reliant woman with no shoulder to lean on, changes can be overwhelming. Sometimes under the pressure of life, I could forget about my health and well-being. And as I carry the burden of responsibilities alone, sometimes I unwittingly neglect myself. Of course, the lack of care for myself leads to self-doubt, weakness, and a negative sense of inability and great aptitude for success.


In 2013, as I fell into the depth of depression, I stopped doing Pilates. With each passing day, I became more and more consumed with life events. With every new experience and problem, I was somehow altered.


Time was passing. Year after year, apart from my abusive marriage, life was unfolding. At the end of 2015, I moved to embrace a different approach to life, one where I saw my strength, abilities, and areas where there was room to grow. I knew if I eliminated fear, disruption, and personal weakness, I might achieve a healthy balance and take control of my life. With such understanding and acceptance, my mind started to open up more. My heart began moving faster within. My skin, hair, and body, previously neglected through carelessness, loneliness, regained my attention. Determined with certainty, I started to take care of myself. With proper planning and a positive attitude, I began simple steps toward a healthier me.


Day by day, struggling up my dream ladder, I realized the difference any change in daily routine can make. I realized any improvement over time is an astonishing achievement, an achievement founded on rationality and intelligence that secures our positive thinking, and makes us more driven in life.


Standing tall on the edge of my dream, my eyes opened to the depth of that goal. I could see myself as a shining example of courage and integrity. I could see a woman who never abandoned her dreams, a woman who fought for her goal. I could see a woman who moved through her life with difficulties, yet never lost her mind and self-worth.


By holding on to that aspiration, I felt free. My longing heart, thirsty for happiness and success, gave me a hand of boldness and confidence. With a heart full of courage I went on with my dream.


It’s a new year. I am striving toward a better me. I would like to improve my workout routine. This year I want to add some positive reinforcement to my personal boundaries and reward myself by joining a personal training gym.


Keene is a good trainer. With her, I am progressing. She knows the level of my performance and she is eager to strategize a great plan for me. With Keena, I am myself. I’m able to formulate her ideas to start a positive journey toward betterment. With her experience, I craft a long-term workout plan that fits me. Even though I am sometimes overwhelmed by the intensity of workout routines, I won’t disappoint her or myself. I will give myself a chance to learn and develop a sense of purpose and consistency. I will learn to be patient, to nurture my body and mind. I will learn to be persistent and organize my time for exercise. I will learn to be a good listener and increase my motivation to achieve. I will learn to condition my body and mind against any fear and anxiety.


Nine months have passed from my training exercises. Yet, as the days go by I make a conscious effort to do better. I have learned to make level-headed decisions and feel more satisfied with my life activities. As I acknowledge my shortcomings and own up to my physical and mental flaws, I try to work on building my self-discipline and consistency. By picking up positive physical activity habits, I feel stronger. I feel like I’m ready to step up to the next level of exercise. I am ready to join an intense and more enjoyable gym.


I’m a little bit anxious. Wearing my new sneakers, I step into the Orange Theory Fitness. I am here with a good mindset to accomplish something that I never thought was possible. Even though I feel a little under pressure and discouraged among the fit women and men (who look like they exercise every day), I am here to put aside the feeling of intimidation, to work hard, and wipe off my sweat with a smile.


Since the gym specializes in group fitness, it’s a very motivating environment for me. And I think I can adjust to this new exercise plan with speed and efficiency.


Two years have passed since my serious workout plan began. Now, I sense an inner calm. My mood stays almost the same all day. My body functions better. My skin is vivacious and clear. I have vibrant energy throughout the day. I'm happier, and the stress of life is under my control. The exercise showed me the importance of positive changes. With exercise, I can bounce back when things are going crazy. As soon as I learned how to dedicate a portion of my day solely for my benefit, I picked up good habits to pursue the object of my dedication and adjust my body and mind amid life’s unpredictability.


This year, I have an exhilarating goal in mind. A goal that I always wanted to achieve. Since my passion for tennis is strong, and I have always enjoyed watching tennis, positive mental energy is pulling me toward that game. Having not been born into an athletic family, I must admit my passion for tennis runs unnaturally deep—it’s always been a part of me. After serious consideration of all the aspects of playing tennis, I have decided to sign up with Yacht Club tennis lessons.


My tennis instructor, Joe, is knowledgeable. He communicates clearly and concisely. Regardless of the depth of my love for tennis, I need to learn proper techniques. As I am willing to practice and stay dedicated to my passion for tennis, I believe that with Joe’s professionalism, level of maturity, and good personality, I will climb the ladder of learning the sport. With a clear intention, I am willing to execute the skills of the game until I reach my full potential and ability.


To me, tennis is a form of art. Tennis is rich in elegance and beauty. When I am on the court, when I feel the touch of sun on my skin, when the wind blows my hair, when my heart beats with excitement, when I follow the ball with my gaze, when I hit the ball over the net, when I hear a compliment from my coach... Again and again, I feel free.


As I remain active and trying to reach a certain level of productivity, I become more aware of myself. Once buried under the clouds of despair and tiresome routines, now I feel happy and relaxed. I can see my days without darkness. I rely on my intellectual capacity to retain my sanity. I listen to my children without nagging or arguing constantly. And I look at myself without pity! As I am infusing my life with positive energy, I will not postpone any important and constructive plan for the future. I will concentrate on the present and enjoy every fall and rise. The expectations we set for ourselves will impact our mind and soul. Doing exercise, paying attention to myself, and following the path of progress and productivity gave me the push I needed to awaken my mind, body, and soul. As I stay with my workout plan and increase the time I spend doing it, I feel happier and more confident. Truly inspired by positive changes in my body and mind, I am optimistic for the road ahead and I'll continue to excel in my goals and stay focused toward the things that matter most.  


 Shahla Latifi

January 1st, 2020

  • Author: Shahla Latifi (Pseudonym) (Offline Offline)
  • Published: January 1st, 2020 12:26
  • Category: Reflection
  • Views: 77


  • rrodriguez

    You're an awesome woman and you have a story to share. You have the book in you....

    • Shahla Latifi

      Happy New Year!
      Thank you, and I'm glad to hear from you.

      • rrodriguez

        Stay in touch...

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