When I decided to launch the Lose Weight Feel Great blog series one of the first things I wanted to be sure of was that I wrote about topics that would be of interest to YOU the reader. So I did over three months of research (literally) to see what was on everyone’s mind.
After reading several hundred comments on Facebook Fitness pages and groups. Going through hundreds of questions on Quora. Several Google searches, and doing a bunch of other online research here’s what I’ve realized: 99% of you want answers on how to find the motivation. Motivation to start, stick with, regain, and achieve your fitness goals.
Here’s the problem: 99% of you are focusing on the wrong thing.
Motivation isn’t what you need, it’s discipline (yeah I know you don’t wanna hear it).
The good news is discipline can be developed with time and patience.
So as to not be confused let’s define Discipline to mean doing what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it, long after the feeling has left. In other words long after motivation has left.
I believe in truth. Truth that helps you to change and become better. Not fluff that sounds good and makes you feel good, but doesn’t do anything to actually help you.
I’m about helping you to become your best self in your fitness life, so you can become your best self in the other areas of your life most important to you.
The Truth About Fitness Motivation
I’ve spent a lot of my time focusing on the Psychology Of Fitness™, more than the practicality of actually doing the work. This is because I’ve realized when it comes to sticking with any fitness goal it’s 90% mental and emotional, 9% practicality, 1% motivation (sorry but it’s true).
The problem with motivation is relying on it to achieve your fitness goals is a desperately bad strategy.
I’m not here to criticize or chastise you, I’m empathizing with you. I understand how you feel, and where you’re coming from. I know because I’m talking from experience.
At the same time I don’t want you to continue falling into the trap of thinking motivation is what you need.
At 10 years old I started doing pushups, using filled water containers as weights, and exercising just for the fun of it (I was weird like that).
For literally 21 years I struggled to remain consistent at it for more than 15 days. In other words no matter how hard I tried, and how much I really wanted it to happen, I never stuck with it for longer than 15 days.
For 21 years that was my pattern. Every time I would start, do it for a few days, then quit on it. It shattered my self-esteem. In my head it was reinforcing how much of a loser I was because of yet another goal I failed to stick with, and succeed at. It made me feel like crap.
Maybe you can relate to what I’m talking about.
This was mostly because I kept relying on motivation.
This isn’t just with me, but a common trend I’ve noticed with a lot of people that try to rely on motivation to stick with ANY goal they have, not just in the area of fitness. So let’s just agree that motivation is not what you need (I’m repeatedly emphasizing this for a reason).
On the other hand the moment I stopped focusing on motivation and started focusing on consistency, discipline, and developing better habits through a patient practical process, that’s when the miracle happened.
Now I’m not saying motivation doesn’t have it’s place, especially in helping you start the process. However, I am saying ONLY relying on motivation for LONG-TERM consistency, and sticking with your fitness goals is a bad idea.
Why Relying on Motivation To Achieve Your Fitness Goals Is Bad
1. Most days you won’t feel like doing anything
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Without even knowing you I know one thing with utmost certainty, the days you didn’t follow through on a fitness activity you should have was because you didn’t FEEL like doing it.
You then created several reasons to justify why you didn’t get it done just so you wouldn’t feel disappointed in yourself for not following through on it. Things like “I was too busy”, “I was too tired”, “I loss the shoelace for my running shoes so I couldn’t do it because I didn’t want to fall and hurt myself, so I decided not to risk it”. Whatever your reason was it ultimate comes back to the fact you didn’t feel like doing it, a.k.a. “I wasn’t motivated”.
What you may not realize is this repeated cycle of justifying why you can’t get it done is slowly chipping away at your self-esteem.
This is why you’ll feel good starting on a fitness goal but the moment you don’t stick with your commitment you basically feel like complete crap.
The key is learning how to push through and get it done, whether or not the motivation is there…THAT my friend is where discipline is developed.
2. Most days you’ll be too busy
Now I know there are some of you who lead ridiculously busy lives. So not having enough time may genuinely be a factor to why you can’t put in the work consistently.
Even more when you’ve had a super long day, super very tired, and super very stressed from having to deal with people you didn’t want to deal with. Plus you came home some ungodly hours. This is definitely one of those moments the last thing you want to think about is hitting that cardio workout. In other words you won’t feel motivated. All you want to do right now is kick off your shoes and be a slouch in your couch right about now.
Believe me when I say I’m 100% sure you’ll have many more days like this.
Therefore, you need something more than motivation that will get you to get it done even when you d had the worst and busiest days ever.
3. It’s dangerous for your self-esteem
As I mentioned in point one not sticking with your commitment to your fitness goals because your waiting to be motivated chips away at your self-esteem. Let me break down to you how this happens.
When you commit to a fitness goal but don’t follow through, unknowingly you are reaffirming and reinforcing to your subconscious that you are a failure. Not necessarily through your words, but through your actions. What this does is you are unconsciously creating an identity of being a failure, in other words you see yourself as a failure. When you see yourself as a failure then you will behave accordingly with being a failure. Then you start to FEEL like a failure, and your self-esteem is how you FEEL about yourself…get it?
Over time even the thought of trying to achieve another fitness goal is going to seem too overwhelming for you, because you’ll still see yourself as a failure.
A Better Solution Than Motivation for your Fitness Goals
Rather than focusing on motivation to stick with your fitness goals, try to these instead.
1. Focus on never missing a day
Instead of waiting to be motivated and take action, set the standard and commit to that standard of never missing a day to work out. Even if all you do is spend 10 minutes moving, when you had planned to do 1 hour, it’s still better than doing nothing.
What this does is train your brain to push through and get it done, even when you don’t feel like doing it. Eventually it will help to reshape your thoughts and create the identity of someone who always follows through. Once that identity is cemented enough, the behaviour of discipline follows.
2. Have a painful consequence if you don’t follow through
Much of human behaviour is based on our need to avoid pain as much as possible. It’s a survival mechanism built not just in our psychology, but in our DNA.
One of things that has worked significantly well for me, and I recommend this to you, is if there is a severe and painful consequence attached to NOT following through on exercising. The more painful the better.
The reason why it may have been difficult for you to follow through on sticking with your fitness goals is because you associate or link more pain to exercising and dieting than you do to not doing it. However, if you created a consequence for not taking action (and there’s a way to do this), that is MORE painful than taking action, then your brain would push you to get it done.
This is because whichever of the two scenarios is more painful, in this case not exercising or dieting, then the brain will try to avoid that pain.
It’s the idea of ‘the lesser of two evils’.
3. Have a reward if you do follow through
Just as how our brains do as much as possible to avoid pain, it also does as much as possible to move towards pleasure. Pleasure in this case is instant gratification.
When I started (restarted) my fitness routine in 2016, one of the things I did was discipline myself not being allowed to eat a heavy meal until I had exercised. Once I did then the reward would be the opportunity to indulge.
Now I’m not telling you to do this because maybe for health reasons you have to eat.
However, you can discipline yourself not to be allowed to indulge in something you enjoy until you’ve done your fitness routine. It makes the reward that much sweeter, which creates a craving over time making you want to execute your routine again.
4. Start small and simple
The reason why you think you need motivation to start and stick with your fitness goals is because you’re trying to do too much too soon. In your mind you’re trying to climb to the top of the mountain, when you haven’t even laced up your hiking shoes as yet.
This creates feelings of being overwhelmed (and indirectly linking pain to the activity). You now believe that you need enormous amounts of drive and energy just to start (in other words motivation).
The best way is to start small and simple. As a matter of fact so small and simple that it’s laughably ridiculous…but that’s a good thing!
The easier your brain thinks the activity is, the less resistance it will give you, the more likely you’ll follow through, and the less you’ll have to rely on motivation.
I’m putting together a free practical guide that will help you start the process, and develop the mindset and discipline to stick with your fitness goals once and for all, even on the days you don’t have the motivation to do so.
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