Whenever someone talks about exercising, dieting, losing weight/fat, succeeding at something or achieving any type of goal for that matter, motivation always comes to mind. But, the truth is motivation sucks!
What is motivation? Motivation is a psychological process that creates a goal oriented behavior. While achieving, a personal goal is nothing bad and you should be ambitious and strive to achieve the highest personal success possible, motivation in and itself is counterproductive because it makes you rely on an external factor to keep that internal desire (flame) on fire.
Motivation is subjective because it’s different from a person to another. You could be very motivated because you heard a meaningful song. Someone else gets motivated because he saw another person achieve the same goal he wants to achieve. A third person’s motivation could be a movie about an ambitious story. What motivates people is different, however, they all have one thing in common, and that is being an external factor.
Hypothetically speaking, had you not seen that motivating true story based movie, would you have been motivated to achieve your goal? Hmmm I doubt it. Had you not listened to that pumping song that made you get up and go to the gym, would you have gone if you hadn’t listened to it? I think you see what I am trying to get it.
The reason why motivation could be counterproductive because it makes you CONSTANTLY rely on an external factor to get something done. Relying on an external factor doesn’t teach you responsibility or discipline, which are both far superior to motivation. You can have all the motivation in the world and still not achieve anything if you lack discipline and sense of responsibility. Another reason why motivation sucks is because just like any stimulation, humans can become desensitized to its effects. For instance; if you keep listening to the same song that once made you get off your a** and go to the gym for 7 days in a row, will the song still motivate you as much as it usually does by the seventh day? I highly doubt it. The point is that as humans we get desensitized to things when we are constantly exposed to them, thus relying on an external factor all the time is bound to fail and will do nothing but hinder your progress and even make you feel like a loser if you fail to achieve whatever it is you are trying to achieve which can create a vicious loop.
The points mentioned above are specifically addressing extrinsic motivation, which is doing something for an external reward or fear of something.
Now, in regards to intrinsic motivation; this type of motivation will always beat extrinsic motivation because it is solely based on something you like doing. If you get up in the morning and all you want to do is play your favorite sport just because you enjoy it, that’s intrinsic motivation that will always remain ignited. Now, there are physical benefits of playing your favorite sport, however, those benefits are not the main cause you want to play, they’re just bonuses and whether you get them or not, it won’t matter to you and you will keep playing that sport no matter what.
There is only one problem with intrinsic motivation and that is it is not going to help you achieve hard goals, especially weight loss. No one enjoys restricting their eating habits or passing on that last piece of carrot cake when dieting. You won’t ever meet a person who wakes up in the morning everyday wanting to restrict their calories! Thus, when things get difficult, your intrinsic motivation will fail you because it lacks discipline.
Now, let me tell you what you really need. You need a strong willpower. Some might say that not everyone has a strong power of level, which is true, but what we can agree on is that your willpower could be strengthened significantly.
What is power of will anyway? Willpower could be defined as an energetic determination to achieve something or refrain from doing something depending on the scenario. Either way, willpower makes you do something you wouldn’t usually do. For example: if you are dieting, you will be tempted to binge eat from time to time and you will start questioning whether losing weight is even worth it. Now, you have two options, binge eat and feel like crap later or fight the urge to binge eat for a bigger goal. In this example, you chose NOT to do something you’d really love to do (binge eat), however, your evaluated both options and decided to go with not binge eating to have a better body, improve your health…etc.
If you think you cannot strengthen your willpower, you’re either delusional or were lied to. Yes, some people are born with a stronger willpower than others, however, power of will is still majorly a taught trait. For us to understand how to strengthen our willpower, we must first understand what makes up power of will.
In English, dedication means to be dedicated to something for the sake of being dedicated, in other words; for the heck of it. When you are dedicated to something, you focus on achieving that goal no matter how long it takes. Since this blog is “dedicated” to working out, let’s address dedication within the intended context. If you are dedicated to losing 100 lbs., you devote yourself to losing those 100 lbs., period. You don’t care how long it takes and you don’t care how much effort it will take, you just do it. Much like intrinsic motivation where you do something for no external reward or fear of punishment, however, since we talking about being overweight, you consider most of the benefits of weight loss as bonuses and not goals. Your sole goal is to lose 100 pounds. Dedication helps you stay focused. Dedication is your friend, be dedicated!
Let me teach you another quick linguistic lesson. Determination in English refers to essentially bring something to an end. So, marathon runners are determined to reach the finish line. They don’t care how, when, where, how tired they are, all they’re focused on is reaching the finish line. Now, don’t confuse determination as an extrinsic motivator, because it is not. The difference between an extrinsic motivator and determination is that an extrinsic motivator is limited by a few factors depending on the circumstances while determination is not limited, however, it is infinite. Allow me to illustrate through an example:
Scenario #1: your boss tells you if you don’t finish the marathon first he will fire you! (An extrinsic motivator).
Scenario # 2: you tell yourself that you will finish the marathon first no matter how hard you will have to work, how much time it will take and how. You simply just insist on reaching the marathon’s line first and that’s it! Every cell in your body is focused on that specific goal.
Now, who do you think will reach the marathon’s finish line first? If you answered the guy from the second scenario, you are correct! Bravo!
In our case of losing weight and changing our appearance, if you insist on changing your body composition, you will get there no matter what simply because you stay focused throughout the journey.
A major contributor to a strong willpower is discipline. Discipline is simply the act of controlling your behavior and replacing excuses and other similar hurdles with habitual behavior that benefits you in the long run. When you start dieting and training, the weather will be so cold sometimes that you will feel like being a couch potato, but discipline will tell you to get your fat @ss to the gym and get through it. Discipline will make you go to the gym every training session and sticking to your diet no matter what the obstacles are. When you are disciplined, you just do things. Your weak-minded side tries to tell you not to train or to eat that piece of cake, but discipline smacks some sense into you and tells you to go train or do something useful instead. One of the best things I have personally benefited from the gym is that I have developed a great sense of discipline over the years. When I am sick, I don’t think how sick I am, I only think how to get to the gym today and get through the day. Be disciplined and you will become and unstoppable machine.
Sense of Responsibility
If you change nothing, nothing will change. Like Einstein said “madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results”. If you keep NOT exercising and sticking to your diet, you will remain fat. It is that simple. Sense of responsibility refers to you finally realizing that you are in control of everything in your life. The circumstances could indeed be difficult, you are still responsible for your decisions and thus outcomes. You are responsible for choosing whether you’ll push through those difficult circumstances and find a way, or you are also responsible for choosing to not do something and quitting. The whole situation is in your hands. Also, the world doesn’t owe you anything or even cares about you! That is the sad truth. You may have amazing friends and family members that support you through everything, but only YOU will do the most to achieve something you want. Your family and friends won’t do it for you, only you. Once you realize that this world is yours and that the outside world doesn’t owe you a thing, you will start being more responsible of your life. For instance: you may be highly qualified for a job you applied to and you feel confident that you will be hired. A week later, one of the people who interviewed you informs you that they “sadly” regret to inform you that you weren’t hired and they decided to go with another candidate. You later find out that special “candidate” is the manager’s son who doesn’t know a thing. Is this fair? Absolutely not, but you can either cry and whine about it or you can say “screw them” and let that experience strengthen you even more to go out and look for better jobs, and trust me, the magic WILL happen. Just be persistent, stop blaming the world, stop cursing your fate and realize that you are always responsible.
You might be wondering why I am listing maturity as an element of a strong willpower. The reason I think so is because when you are mature, you understand that things will get hard. In fact, you EXPECT things to get harder. You realize that your small business you just started is not going to boom overnight, you will have a lot of competition, unexpected things will happen and things will harder. You know all of this and expect it, but the way you perceive those difficulties is what matters. If you expect things to get harder that means you will prepare yourself to fight and push through those inevitable future obstacles. You will not quit no matter how long it takes. You will be so patient to the point that patience itself gets sick of you! Be mature when working on your goals and expect things to difficult because when you do so, you will push through the obstacles easily no matter how hard things get.
If you are fat, broke, heartbroken or whatever it is you are currently dealing with, let me tell you something and I want you to think very deeply about it.
If you were to die tomorrow, what would you wish you have done differently in your life?
Think about this question thoroughly because the answer will “motivate” you forever. Before you tell me that you are happy with your body and all of that reverse psychological crap you’re trying to convince yourself with, think; do you REALLY want to live your whole life overweight? The answer is obvious. Do you REALLY want to live your whole life broke and not get to enjoy life? The answer is also as clear as the sun. WAKE UP! You only have one life. The 60, 70 or 80 years of life you were blessed with to live on this planet were not meant to be lived in poverty, sickness and suffering, IT’S YOUR CHOICE! Don’t let those 70 or 80 years of life go to waste. You don’t have time to train? Make some F$#@ing time to train, wake up a bit earlier, watch less TV, play less video games, work less, DO SOMETHING! Fit those 2 hours of training somewhere, I am sure you can fit 2 hours of an activity into 24 hours. You are complaining about being poor? I understand that having financial problems is not really a choice sometimes, but guess what? You CAN fix it! Start applying to more job, it’s a numbers game. When you go to an interview, let them hear the crap they want to hear and give it your all and some more. Didn’t get accepted into the job of your dreams? WHO CARES? Go out there, get a better job and let the naysayers screw themselves. You are already in pain, you’re already in the worst state you can be, why don’t you risk something and try something new? You literally have nothing to lose. Understand that human beings have a tremendous potential if given the choice, your brain and whole body are the most sophisticated machine in existence, thus you already have every tool needed to be happy, successful, in shape, sociable…etc. you just need to act today and push through it. And realize that along your journey, things will inevitably get difficult, no questions about it. You will either fail or you will push through it for “the bigger purpose”. And even if you fail, you will learn from your mistakes and won’t allow such a pathetic failure to break you and hold you back from the living the life you could live if you put in the effort. Stop telling yourself you can’t do it and just do it. Don’t listen to those inner voices that constantly doubt it. It’s hard to do so at first, but it will become second nature with time.
JUST DO IT! Next time you are thinking about skipping leg day, remember that you can stay home, be lazy and eat what you want and never achieve the body you could have and deserve, or you can literally drag yourself to the gym whether “you” like it or not. Just get in there and force your body to train, tell your body “I don’t care how you feel, you will train today and give it all you got” and watch your miraculous body do magical things. Don’t even be surprised if you have the best leg workout ever! Remember that you can stand up and fight for your dreams or not do anything and die like the rest of people. You choose if you want to have a mediocre life, or achieve everything you would love to achieve. And remember that the world doesn’t owe you anything, only you owe yourself to be the best version of yourself.
In conclusion, if you keep relying on that external motivation to start working out and sticking to a nutrition plan, I’m here to tell you that you are bound to fail and you will forever chase that carrot. Take action! Be responsible of your own life and realize that you have everything you need to get in the best shape of your life. If you fail, who cares? That’s normal and everyone has failed at some point in their life. You can learn from those failures and pick yourself up to achieve the body of your dreams or you can stay on the ground the first time you fall. You pick what you will do!