I need some motivation to get in the gym. Working out alone doesn’t really seem to motivate me that much. Last year I just wasn’t motivated enough, but this year…
I hate (well, maybe love to hate) to break it to you, but motivation is a myth–something of a utopia we chase in vain that’s ultimately an excuse for not getting our ass in the gym. This isn’t to say just ignore it with the old pull-yourself-by-the-bootstraps approach either (dudes, I’m mainly talking to you). In both instances, you find yourself in the same situation: endlessly trudging along on the proverbial hamster wheel.
This article is likely past due, given that our perceived motivation, or lack thereof, impacts consistency in fitness. Right or wrong, this perception is real, causing an obsession with external sources of drive and desire that inevitably leads to unrealistic expectations, unrealized goals and guilt. The operative word here is external, implying that motivation has more to do with what’s going on around us than within us. Whereas many health coaches will seek to explain this with unnecessarily complex terms like extrinsic and intrinsic motivation (feel free to look them up if you’re interested in overly intellectualizing things), it’s simply a matter of identifying your individual inspirations and priorities.
Dictionary definitions aside, if we understand motivation as having to do with our surroundings, inspiration–from the Latin, inspirare–means from within. This is an important distinction to make since the former lacks lasting meaning, while the latter endlessly drives our actions. So how the hell does this relate to fitness? Well, the truth is your personal inspirations–the things that draw your attention, make you focus, and energize you with feelings of truly being alive–might actually have nothing directly to do with exercise. This is where priorities come in…
I cannot overstate the importance of determining your priorities as it relates to health and fitness. And this is not merely a surface understanding of what you think is important, but precisely what you show to be important through your daily actions. Having a firm grasp of this will allow you to align your priorities–that is, your behavior–with your health and fitness goals. For instance, a parent of 3 who spends an overwhelming majority of their time on career and family, will be best served with a fitness program that is time efficient, effective, prevents injury and enhances daily energy. On the other end, you get people who are endlessly fighting against their priorities/who they are, struggling just to get in the gym, and chasing the same goals for years, even decades–this exactly why so many people have been trying to lose, say, 20 lbs. for the past 20 years.
To conclude, weight training, conditioning, assessment, movement patterns, etc. are all largely bullshit without taking the time to gain insight into your priorities and inspirations. This can be difficult in the face of all the fitness hype and #MondayMotivation out there. And admittedly, this is something I’m constantly tinkering and toiling with in my coaching practice to adequately support people in their fitness journey.