For most people actually working out is not the problem. The problem is getting to the gym, the problem is finding time, the problem is there is always something else that needs doing. The reality is if you really want to do something you’ll find a way, if you don’t you’ll find an excuse (the Rock said that!). It’s very true. When I don’t want to do something I’ll find a million reasons why I can’t. If I want to do something I’ll always find a way. You need to motivate yourself to want to train and that motivation will be different for everyone.
What does not work is someone else’s motivation. Someone else wants you to lose weight, someone else wants to run a marathon so you need to run with them. Sure you may get bullied into training for a while but someone else’s motivation is destined to fail. They may lose their own motivation which means you both quit or you get fed up with them so quit to “show them you don’t have to”. You need to find a motivation for you.
Now, that motivation could very well be something that will impact someone else. You want to get fitter so you can play more with your kids. Great! You want to lose weight to look better for your partner (without them pestering you to). Great! You want to get healthier to improve your overall quality of life and set a good example for your kids. Perfect. You want your wife to look at you the way she looks at Stephen Amell on TV. Make it happen! It’s still your choice and something you want to do. If others benefit as well that’s just extra goodness.
Motivation has to kick in at different times during training. There need to be long term and short term motivations.
- There is the motivation to decide and maintain training. This is a long term motivation. I like to train to be healthy, so I can protect my family, to set an example for my family and to allow me to eat complete crap occasionally! Work out what yours is. A mission statement for you.
- While training there is the motivation to push yourself. To run that extra 5 minutes. To go for the extra set. To do some abdominals. Here you may ask yourself “why are you here?” and you’ll answer with your long term motivation. You have a goal. You are here to achieve it so work and achieve it! There may also be short term motivations. “Hey, if I run 10 more minutes that’s 150 extra calories I’ll burn. I can totally have a red velvet buntini after dinner” (I love those things). OR “hey 150 more calories burnt, that’s nearly a 1/20th of a pound of fat burnt, woo hoo!”. Beating your personal best! I ran at 6.7mph last week, I’m going to run at 6.8mph this week.
I have Arnold Schwarzenegger in my head a lot when I train (or Arnie as he likes me to call him… in my mind). “Come on John, you can do it <with an accent>, push it harder, my grandmother in Austria lifted more than that, don’t be a girly man”. Arnie is my life long idle 🙂 Pick someone you look up to and let them motivate you during training! Train with someone where possible and motivate each other during training. It’s also great so you can spot each other!
- When you want to give up there is the motivation not to. You are tired and still have 20 minutes left of cardio and an easy exit is right there. How not to take it. Once again there is the long term goal but this is where you need a mind shift a little. As long as its not some sharp pain indicating injury but rather just muscle aching from working out then we need to push through. You need to say to yourself “this is uncomfortable and it kinda sucks but you know what, its OK to feel this way. I’m getting stronger”. It’s a mind shift but its vital. I struggled with running long distances until I had this mind shift. You’re going to be uncomfortable but you’ll get through it and next time you’ll be able to push a bit harder. That much closer to a goal.
I’ll say movie quotes to myself when I’m tired to get myself fired up. I’ll play the scene from Rocky Balboa in my mind when he talks to his son about its how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward (go buy the movie but if you are cheap search for Rocky Balboa Inspirational Speech). I’ll remind myself what a fantastic, easy life I have that this is the hardest thing in it and others have it far worse to survive and am I really going to give up. There was a news video of a little 8-year old boy with Cerebral Palsy completing a triathlon. At the finish line he pushed aside his walking aid and just ran. He fell, got up, ran, fell down, got up, ran and he finished. Seriously the tiredness I fell, do I truly believe I have it worse than that brave little 8-year old boy. Hell no. He motivates me more than anything else and I think of him often when I want to give up. Go watch it at https://youtu.be/bEWO9JljMCY . When you want to quit remind yourself of that brave little boy and ask do you have some excuse better than him?
- When there is some tasty food I really want but know I shouldn’t. I’ll remind myself of my long term motivations. I’ll remind myself really its just a short term fix and I’ll just want more and to instead eat something healthier however at the same time I believe occasionally have a treat. Just watch the portion and frequency but it’s OK to treat yourself now and then.
In my bedroom closet I have a set of pictures I look at the start of every day. You can see it below. Maybe you have a mirror you can place some pictures on, or notes, or anything you want. Some people get a little tattoo but I wouldn’t get “lose 10lbs” written on your body anywhere important and there are less permanent options. You just want something to keep you going.
Everyone is different. There is no one motivation for everyone but I strongly urge you before embarking on a training regime to work out your motivation (and see a doctor to make sure there are no problems) as it will help you keep training rather than aggressively embarking on a super training goal and then fading out within a month. Look inside yourself for why you want to train and think of ways to remind yourself of it. And I’m focusing on training but really this applies to anything in life. Education, stopping a bad habit, starting a good habit. Motivate!