Call or Text:
(609) 952-6200

Health and Personal Development

Discipline Isn't What You Think: An Alternative Approach To Health

February 27, 20249 min read

Everyone wants to look good naked. Everyone wants to move their body when they want, how they want, for as long as they want, without pain.

No one wants to be a regular at the doctor’s office. No one wants to experience pain during mundane tasks.

And most of us want to live a long and joyful life well into old age. As universal as these desires are, how come so few achieve them?

Why are healthy and functional 70-year-olds the exception, not the rule? Why are healthy and functional 40-year-olds the exception, not the rule?

The offenders of the good life may not be what you think.

First, some basic principles.


It’s A Simple Equation

Your health is your engine. Your success here will affect your ability to be successful in your professional life, personal development, and your most meaningful relationships.

This is two-fold. The health and vitality you possess is the fuel source for all aspects of your life. Success is a game of endurance. The goal is not to win your marriage, with an end. The goal is to stay married for as long as is possible. For many of us, our professional life will span four decades (and in the modern economy, far longer). The capacity you have for work, effort, and productive action will determine how much you do in this life.

It’s a simple equation:

The energy you have = the number of meaningful things you can do

And the opposite of this holds true: the less energy you have, the less meaningful things you can do.

A good life requires a tremendous amount of physical capacity. Raising kids, especially newborns, consists of sleep deprivation that rivals inhumane interrogation tactics. Working all day, driving home in the dark during rush hour traffic, and cooking dinner for your family – for decades – requires marathon-like endurance.

Every creative pursuit requires divine attention and persistence in the face of resistance.

Without the energy to do what is required, your life will be less than it could have been. This begins in imperceptible ways.

You skip your friend’s hang out on Sunday because you want to rest for the week. You order takeout because you don’t have the energy to cook. You skip the workout because you’re already tired.

Slowly but surely, we gradually make tradeoffs that rob us of our vitality. This theft deprives the most important areas of our life of the best we have to offer.


The One Thing To Think About

Health is complicated. Listening to Peter Attia or Rhonda Patrick is both informative and daunting. There’s much to be considered when cultivating a health practice.

Are you training for hypertrophy or strength? Is your cardio aimed at your zone 2 or your VO2 max? How’s your stability? Are you activating heat and cold shock proteins? What about your sleep hygiene? How’s your lipid panel, your ApoB, and your A1C looking?

All this matters. A lot. It’s also a lot to think about when you are operating near full capacity to maintain your day-to-day experience.

I propose a simple frame, a placeholder until you are ready to tackle the nuance that is the human system.

Most of us do not have lofty health goals. We are no longer concerned about increasing our max bench or decreasing our mile time.

We want to look good and feel good while doing the things that matter most, and we want to do those things for as long as is possible.

If your health is not what you would like it to be, try this.

Take the simple equation from the previous section:

An Increase In Energy = An Increase In Your Ability To Do Meaningful Things

Then ask the question, “What can I do to increase my energy?” A whole host of solutions may come to mind:

I could work out.
I could go to sleep earlier.
I could eat less processed foods.
I could go for more walks.
I could spend less time on my phone.

Take this one step further, paraphrasing Jordan Peterson, and ask, “What could I do, that I would do, to increase my energy?”

That’s a different question. Maybe you don’t want to work out, go to bed earlier, or eat less processed foods. But a walk sounds nice.

Great, that’s a start, do that.

In the world of personal transformation, there are no small actions. Everything matters. And everything matters far more than we think. Snowflakes become avalanches.

Here's why.

Energy Compounds

Have you ever made the mistake of trying to tire out your dog by taking him on runs, only to find that you are simply increasing his energy?

The same tends to work for people. The more energy we use, the more energy we have. Compounding is a strange phenomenon that doesn’t quite make sense to the logical mind. James Clear has done a wonderful job communicating this through the lens of constant improvement:


Getting 1% better every day, for a year, leaves you 37x better than you were.

Does increasing your energy 1% each day do the same? I don’t know, I don’t understand thermodynamics. But I do know that the more you increase that energy, the more energy you will have to give to what matters most to you.

Why do we fail to take the actions that lead to energy? I can hear Jocko’s voice in my head, “Discipline.”

And it is, just not in the way you might expect.

Discipline Isn’t What You Think It Is

Discipline is not about great will and strength. It’s not even about having a high pain tolerance and being able to suffer through hard things.

Discipline is, in a word, communication.

We are disciplined when we act in accordance with our goals. That may be your morning pages of writing, or hopping on the treadmill, or putting down the fork.

Each of us practices discipline in some areas of life and are lax in others. Why?

Discipline is not a will problem; it’s a communication problem.

Jocko has this good way of framing discipline: you are both the general and the troops. You decide what you want to do (that’s the general) but you also must take action (that’s the troops).

Communication is the bridge between the general’s wishes and the troops actions.

The general needs to tell the troops what to do, how to do it, why it matters, and what will result of these actions. The troops need to understand the full context of the mission to have complete buy-in.

We are no different.

Where we lack discipline, we have failed to communicate to ourselves. When we fail to achieve our body composition goals, the primary problem is that we have failed to communicate the goal’s importance.

And this is good news!

If you have failed to be disciplined in your health, it’s not that you are broken, weak, or somehow less than. You have not cultivated the vision that allows for effective communication about why your health is important.

When we do communicate effectively, we will appear to the outside world as “disciplined,” but we will be free of the feeling of “grinding.” We will not need to push ourselves; we will be pulled.

This adds to our previous equation:

Increase Clarity Of Vision = An Increase Of Internal Communication = An Increase of Energy = An Increase Of Our Ability To Do Meaningful Things


What Your Playing For

I think of life like a game. Your life is a unique expression of the primary aspects of being a human: your professional development, your personal development, your home life and most meaningful relationships, and your health.

While these aspects are common to most of us, they are uniquely expressed in the particulars of your life, on your unique scoreboard. Here’s the deal:

You need a body that can win your game.

Because the body produces the energy that your win requires.

I’m in my 5th year as a Performance Coach. While I’ve worked with a wide range of high performers, many have fallen into the following archetype:

Successful in their professional life, so much so, that they are unbalanced and underdeveloped in the other primary areas of life: personal development and/or home life and/or health.

The quality of their lives tends to mirror the quality of the worst part of their lives. We solve for that, and everything improves. Fast.

I’ve helped many people create rapid improvements in their health, problems that they’ve experienced for years and couldn’t transcend.

And while there are many tactics for this - lifestyle design, psychological leverage, and habit forming being the primary three, their success is the result of something far simpler:

The changes they create are the result of an upgrade in understanding.

When they get clear on what their game is, and why this aspect of their life is of irrefutable importance, change happens. And it happens fast.

Improving our health is simple. Eat better. Move more. Sleep better and more. You do that, your health improves.

But it’s not easy.

That is, it’s not easy until the troops understand the mission, until the general has provided the bird’s eye view of the whole picture.

That’s when we create the change that we want.

The Exercise:

1)Understanding your game is the first step to winning your game. By clearly defining your vision of a compelling future, change becomes far more accessible.

Here’s a short article about getting clear on that vision:

Here's a short article about getting MORE clear on that vision:

This will increase internal communication.

2) With improved communication, now we lean on the wisdom of Peterson, and ask, “What could I do, that I would do, to increase my energy?”

Whatever you are willing to do, do that. Your energy will expand. You will then continue to ask this question and take more worthwhile actions.

Momentum builds and transformation becomes inevitable.

3) Remember what health is. In our teens and twenties, your body was a status symbol. It was a means of attracting a mate and feeling good about being you.

It still is. But it’s also so much more than that.

Your health is what allows you to play and win your game, your unique expression of being alive. I use a framework called the Big Four, that addresses primary areas of most people’s lives:

big four

It's a simple and useful framework. When we become a blackbelt in these four domains, we have a beautiful experience.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, and we understand that our health is the greatest contributor (and governor) to these primary areas of life, our lives look more like this:

health over everything

Health is the foundation. Act accordingly.


I am beta testing a self-assessment that addresses the primary areas of life so you can see how you stack up on your own scorecard, by your own terms.

It takes 5 minutes and it’s free. You’ll receive a detailed report about how your “game” is going.

You can access this here:
"Win Your Game" Self-Assessment

blog author image

Chris Matakas

Chris Matakas is a Performance Coach, 15x author, BJJ Blackbelt, and is the Founder of Matakas Jiu Jitsu and Matakas Coaching

Back to Blog

Solution/Positioning Statement Goes Here

Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur excepteur sint occaecat.

Avatar 1

Lorem ipsum dolor amet consec tetur adipiscing elit eiusmod tempor incididunt labore dolore magna alirua enim.

Avatar 2

Lorem ipsum dolor amet consec tetur adipiscing elit eiusmod tempor incididunt labore dolore magna alirua enim.

Avatar 3

Lorem ipsum dolor amet consec tetur adipiscing elit eiusmod tempor incididunt labore dolore magna alirua enim.

Give Your Plan A Name

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod


Step 1 goes here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consect adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore


Step 2 goes here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consect adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore


Step 3 goes here

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consect adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore

Want me as your coach?
How to Get Started

World-Class Performance Coaching for small business owners and community leaders


Schedule your Discovery Call

  • Click “Apply For Coaching” below to choose the date and time for your introductory call.


Fill out New Client Form

  • We get to know you and your goals better.


Work With Chris

  • When our discovery team feels that you are a good fit for the program, you will begin working 1-on-1 with Chris to achieve your goals!

Founder Story

Your Paragraph text goes Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit. Autem dolore, alias, numquam enim ab voluptate id quam harum ducimus cupiditate similique quisquam et deserunt, recusandae. here

Chris Matakas' Story

Chris Matakas is 2nd-degree BJJ blackbelt under Ricardo Almeida, founded the Matakas Jiu Jitsu Academy in 2017, and has published several best selling books about using Jiu Jitsu as a vehicle for personal development.

Due to an influx of readers reaching out for guidance during the global pandemic of 2020, Chris founded Matakas Coaching to help high achievers fulfill their potential off the mat, as well.

Chris is a Performance Coach to business owners, community leaders, and high net worth individuals. He loves the process of transformation and enjoys guiding sincere individuals to the achievement their goals.

He is a 15x author of books about personal transformation. He believes that the more we grow, the more we have to give, and that it is our moral responsibility to fulfill our potential so that we may contribute to those we serve.

More Kind Words

Matakas BJJ has been an amazing experience for my daughter. I can't say enough about this family-oriented academy and their dedicated coaches. If want your child to learn to defend themselves, go see for yourself and sit in on a class.



Mother of 8 year old in our Youth Program

Jane Doe

Chris is among the most knowledgeable and disciplined students that I’ve had the privilege to teach. His lessons and writings about the moral, mental, and spiritual aspect of training are nothing short of inspiring.


Ricardo Almeida

BJJ School Owner

Jane Doe

Here's What Our Clients Say About Their Results With Matakas Coaching

"Because of Chris, I now have so much clarity of purpose and a better understanding of my own internal drive."


Zach Thomas

Owner/Operator: Chic-Fil-A

"..His outlook on life and especially BJJ can benefit people of all walks of life."


Frankie Edgar

Former UFC Champion

"Chris was my saving ferryman who guided me across a sea of desperation to a beautiful path towards the light. He is a beautiful soul. Because of Chris I went from being completely lost to being highly confident that I could handle the difficult problem that was presented to me.


Bill C

Appellate Services

"Working with Chris has given me more clarity in my mission in life."


Tommy W

Small Business Owner

"Because of Chris, I now have so much clarity of purpose and a better understanding of my own internal drive."


Zach Thomas

Owner/Operator: Chic-Fil-A

"Chris was my saving ferryman who guided me across a sea of desperation to a beautiful path towards the light. He is a beautiful soul. Because of Chris I went from being completely lost to being highly confident that I could handle the difficult problem that was presented to me.


Bill C

Appellate Services

Get Started Now

26,000+ Readers


These are the common questions we get from prospective students about our program

How do I know if a Performance Coach is right for me?

The most successful people – in all areas of life – have a coach. We need a mentor, a guide, someone who has been there before and can save us the pain of failing and wandering without progress toward a goal.

If you are sincere in your growth and have the resources for this type of relationship, this will accelerate your progress and improve the quality of your life. Guaranteed.

What does the coaching relationship entail?

Should you be selected for the program, you will begin with an introductory assessment in which Chris will take you through his “Big Four Assessment” to get a clear picture of your current status and what you would like to achieve.

After onboarding, Chris will give you your personal transformation roadmap and provide weekly support as you run the process and achieve your goal. You will connect with Chris for weekly zoom calls as well as having unlimited communication on a private channel.

How do I know it’s worth the investment?

We use a simple equation for this. Decide the value of achieving your goal. Put a financial number to it. “If I achieve “x” in the next 12 weeks, that would be worthy “y”.

If your goal is worth more than the investment for coaching, then it’s safe to say the investment is worth it!

What if I have more than one goal I want to achieve?

Great! Chris uses his “Big Four” methodology to assess the primary areas of your life and align on your needs/desires in what matters most.

Most clients have 1 or more areas of their lives they would like to improve. Together, you and Chris will create your transformation roadmap to achieve all these goals simultaneously.

What if I want to work with Chris beyond the 12-week agreement?

Most clients choose to continue working with Chris beyond their original agreement. Chris limits first-time clients to the initial 12-week program to ensure that we have a right fit before making a longer term coach-client relationship.

For those who are coachable and committed to progress, Chris happily continues the coaching relationship.

How do I know the program will work?

Between coaching, the books, and speaking, Chris has served thousands and thousands of people committed to personal development. Through years of experience, he has refined his coaching methodology to the essentials that create immediate results.

Chris’s Performance Coaching is highly effective in accelerating personal transformation.

Schedule a Call Now

Your Solution To Your Personal Transformation Needs

Proudly Serving High Achievers That Make The World A Better Place


Contact Us



2043 US 130, Florence, NJ 08016

Phone Number:


Social Media Links

Instagram1 Column



Copyright 2024. All rights reserved