I know there are millions of “diet hacks”, “secret exercises”, and “fat burning supplements” out there nowadays. However, just humor me for a second. Just pretend that reaching your fitness goals came down to controlling caloric intake, consistent exercise habits, and proper recovery techniques. This advice doesn’t sell very effectively. It’s too simple and not sexy enough. When in reality, following some sound direction in these areas will get you results faster than the newest diet or fat burning ab routine. I don't think scientific direction resonates as effectively with people because it doesn’t cater to the second half of the equation. The longer I am in this field, the more I realize there are two parts to the equation of reaching your fitness goals.
You need direction and motivation to be successful. The exercise and nutrition protocols serve as direction but motivation is a little more complicated than exercise structure and macronutrients. We focus on the first half but rarely take a second to consider our motivation and that is just as important, if not more important than anything else. Sure, we have some motivational awareness. Workout partners, group exercise classes, music, or the guy on TV that yells at you to go faster. But what happens when these factors dissolve. What’s underneath? Why are you really doing this? You can have the best workout plan, the best nutrition structure but if you don’t have the motivation to apply it, it’s worthless.
Most successful people have appropriate motivation. The reason I say “appropriate” is because there are a lot of different forms of motivation. Some forms of motivation will lead you away from your goals and your happiness. Some forms will lead you to a sense of personal accomplishment, contentment, and a proper perspective.
I’m a pretty motivated individual but have had lapses over the past 10 years where I have lost motivation. However, after intentionally practicing the following three categories of motivation, I have always come back to consistent wellness habits. I am well aware that we are individualized human beings, so our motivation might differ depending on who we are but nonetheless here are some things you might want to consider.
Often times we compare our behind the scenes with other people’s highlight reel. So much of what we experience is based on our expectation. The way you see yourself drastically effects the way you see your circumstances around you. If you are constantly comparing yourself to other people you will always be disappointed. It also does a disservice to yourself because comparing yourself to others doesn't emphasize your own individual gifts and talents.
If you are constantly trying to meet an expectation based on outside influences, you won’t have the ability to exceed your own expectations of yourself, and that’s a beautiful thing. If every day you wake up and say well I’m not like him or I’m not like her then the motivation and inspiration will evaporate over time. That motivation won’t last long and you will be in a constant state of doubt, frustration, and bitterness because of it. The answer is to find motivation internally not externally.
Future Potential Motivation
One of the best forms of motivation that I have found is linked to accepting your flaws while realizing your own potential. That’s a mindset that will get you through the ups and downs. That’s the motivation that will help you enjoy the process. I like to tell me clients the phrase "content but hungry". That push and pull keeps you consistent but allows you the capacity to drastically improve.
No, I’m not where I want to be right now. There are things I can improve. There are ways to get better, but I have the same ability to be content and happy right now in this moment as I can when I’m "x" pounds lighter.
I also believe we sell ourselves short because we only focus on what we see in the mirror. We as humans are so "right now" orientated. Sometimes we get caught up in the benefits of the short-term. How do I look right now? How am I going to look this summer? But what about your future potential when you are 70 years old? Developing a functional approach to fitness will enhance your life 10, 20, 30, 40, and even 50 years from now. I'm all about looking good and feeling good in the short-term! However, playing with your grand kids, staying out of assisted living homes, and reduced medical expenses should have some pull.
Purpose Driven Motivation
Lastly, sustainable motivation involves a sense of purpose. The longer I’m alive, the more I believe that the key to behavior modification isn’t just trying harder, or having more persistence, or more discipline. I believe the key to lasting change, a lifestyle change, comes only from the belief that your sacrificing something good now for something better later.
The idea of betterment, is so important because it will provide a sense of purpose. For the most part, I think people are okay with being uncomfortable when they can see the outcome is worthwhile. The example I think of is painting a deck. There’s a lot of work involved with painting a deck. You have to sand the deck, making sure everything is clean and smooth. You have to apply several coats of primer and paint. There is a tedious process involved. There are times when you have to be on your hands and knees working long hours of manual labor. There is frustration, sweat, and probably some soreness. However, there is a sense of direction that keeps you going. You know that it’s going to look a lot better after the fact and the paint will help prolong the duration of the deck. When you have direction, purpose, and belief in the outcome you can acknowledge the hard work and adversity of the process. I know that's kind of a weird metaphor but it’s the same with fitness. If you truly believe that your life will be enhanced by it, you will almost welcome the short term 'pain' that comes along with it. After all, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.
My wish for you is to find a motivation that lets you enjoy the weight flucations. The good and bad days in the gym. The ice cream cones as well as the chicken breast meals. A motivation that gives each day purpose, potential, and contentment. Your best is yet to come!