A common question I hear is – “How do you stay so motivated?”
My answer is to that is complex. Motivation isn’t simple. It would be awesome if it were intrinsic (there’s a psychological debate there), however I’m not a psychologist so my answer is as I see it.
Experience has taught me, since I spent so much of my life a slacker, that motivation is something you earn by pushing yourself towards your goals. If it were intrinsic it would just exist inside of you. I’m sure there’s still some slackers out there who believe that it is, and maybe they’re jealous of the motivated people around them thinking, “I wish I were motivated like that…” Here’s an awful truth for you: you make motivation happen. Motivation is something you cultivate.
Part of it is in being decisive, “yes I’m doing this!”
Part of it is in believing in yourself, “shit, yes, I CAN do this.”
But MOST of it is in reminding yourself daily what you’re working towards. And asking yourself am I moving myself closer or further away from my goal?
Fitness and working out have given me more than health and strength, they have helped make concrete my determination, my ability to push forward even when I do not know if I can, and remind me everyday that I can change what or who I am by working towards what want to be.
Once you give up being a fatalistic victim (poor me, I wish my circumstances were different), take the reigns, then yes, you become more determined. But it doesn’t happen on it’s own. And that is why I say motivation is cultivated.
First, if you do not want it badly enough, well then, maybe you have a problem. You have to want it, bad.
Get it in the forefront of your mind.
Sometimes, we also don’t want to let ourselves want something because we do not know if we can achieve it. It’s a protective mechanism inside that stops us from allowing ourselves to try in case we fail. You’re afraid of failure.
You might let yourself down. You might fail. Failing is how you learn what works. Success will not be easy, and it will never be a straight path. No one who achieved their goals hasn’t failed a few times first.
” When you get to the point where all you wanna do is be is successful as bad as you wanna breathe then you will be successful. And I’m here to tell you that number one, most of you say you wanna be successful but you don’t want it bad, you just kind of want it.”– Eric Thomas
So how do you cultivate motivation to work out and to eat healthy?
- Remind yourself what your bad habits have given you, if that’s out of shape, tired, you don’t like how your clothes fit, you feel embarrassed to wear something revealing or body hugging, then if you keep doing what you’re doing then that will continue, nothing will ever change, and you will continue to be the same out of shape, tired, unhappy person. Instead of looking at changing habits as something you have to give up (cake, chocolate), or something you have to suffer for (more reps, more running), focus always on what you are gaining. Make it real in your mind, picture it. Then work for it (and eat for it too). Your willpower has to get strong. Food isn’t meant to be a celebration, a comfort. It is sustenance, to fuel the body. And fit and toned is the way the human body was meant to be. Sitting for hours, eating tons of unhealthy fatty, sugary, and salty foods, is not the way the body performs optimally. Remind yourself that you will feel better, and coming from someone who has made these changes, you probably have no conception of how strong the difference is, and how MUCH better you can feel. Everything in life is better and happier once you choose to live healthy. I truly believe that depression and mental illness would be greatly reduced if people would just get up off their asses.
- On a similar note, negativity is poison, if you let it be. Instead of feeling awful about where you’re starting or how far you have to go focus on the positive aspects, and the positive changes you feel as you make your way through the journey. Of which there will be many. First of all even small changes in weight will help you feel less sluggish, more energetic, help you fit better and look better in your clothes. And it won’t be long before your friends and co-workers start noticing. Focus on those achievements.
- And celebrate those achievements, but DO NOT DO IT WITH CAKE. This only reinforces unhealthy relationships with food. As a reward or punishment. Instead, buy yourself a new workout outfit. Get a new heart rate/calorie burn monitor. New kicks. A special day of pampering. Something. It’s important that you pat yourself on the back for making accomplishments, but that you do it in a healthy way that isn’t in conflict with the goal.
- Set small, measurable, achievable goals that are time based. Big goals are important, it’s important to dream big, but it’s also important to have small goals that push you along the way. They need to be measurable so that you can gauge if you are progressing, and time-based to hold yourself accountable.
- Challenge yourself constantly. Maybe it’s working up to real push-ups. Maybe it’s running a ten-minute mile. Maybe it’s just beating the weight you lifted last time. I don’t know about you, but for me, challenging myself keeps it interesting. You should write these things down so you can see where you have made your greatest strides, and where you have the greatest weaknesses.
- Find clean/healthy versions of your favourite foods so that you never have to feel like you are giving something up. It is difficult to stay motivated sticking to a plan that feels like punishment. Foods that help you towards your goals can be delicious, you just might have to get creative.
- Find athletes and role models you can look up to. I have a few favourites, and I follow them on facebook, instagram, etc. I buy magazines with motivating workouts and pictures. I keep fit forms as backgrounds on my phone and computer. I surround myself with fierce, strong females and motivational quotes. It’s important that you see them everyday. Even put them on the fridge if you have to. Everyday they remind me to push harder. They remind me of my goal.
- Covet personal statements of power, like a motto you repeat. It could be just a word “Strong.” It might be a reminder “I can do this!” But it should be personal and it should give you power. Try visualizing the words in your head. Say it out loud if you need to. This can help you power through a difficult workout, or get through those last few reps.
- When you are having a hard time just getting your butt to the gym, the only thing you can do is do it anyway. I know, it’s hard sometimes. But not once, not ever, did someone do that and say they regretted the workout afterwards. You’ll always feel better, stronger, and have more energy, BECAUSE you went. Have a cup of coffee and go. Research has proven that caffeine is a an excellent pre-workout tool. People are able to workout longer, harder, and perform better. In fact, it’s the major ingredient in most pre-workout supplements.
It is easy to let day-to-day things get in the way of a far-off goal you are working towards, because we like instant gratification. Everything in life these days is so instant. A healthy body and fit appearance isn’t one of them. It still requires time, patience, and an extended period of intensive effort. If it were easy, then everybody would be walking around looking like bikini competitors, and well, we know that isn’t the case. But the dedication and determination you are building in this sphere, won’t only help you with your health and to achieve a fit body, it will help to build your confidence, it strengthens your dedication and determination for work and career goals. It gives you patience in personal matters. It reinforces the strength of your character and sheer will.
So, are you moving yourself closer or further away from your goals?