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Motivation: Exercise's Best Friend

Motivation. Lately this topic or concept has come up a lot with clients and people in general. The more I talked about it, the more I thought about it, and the more I thought about it the more clear it became just how unclear the concept of motivation can be to people. When it comes to exercise, motivation can make or break us. We’ve decided to explore “motivation” in a series of posts, part one being motivation in relation to just exercise.

The Oxford dictionary defines motivation (noun) as:

  1. The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.

  2. The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

I have met and talked with so many people about health and fitness over the last few years, in both personal and professional settings. One thing that is pretty consistent is that when asked about fitness people do know what they want, in other words, they have goals whether they’ve realized it or not.

  • I need to lose weight because my health is now suffering

  • I want to lose 20 lbs for my wedding next year

  • I want to be healthy so I’m here for my kids and family

  • I want to be fit so I have energy to play with my kids

  • I want to be fit and healthy because there’s a lot I want to do in the future

  • I need to be fit because I have chronic pain

If we know what we want and/or we have health/fitness goals then why do we need SO much motivation to actually exercise? A quick web search for “motivation in exercise” yields many results like these:

  • “Secrets to Regular Exercise Motivation”

  • “4 Scientifically Proven Ways to Get Workout Motivation”

  • “5 Ways to Stay Motivated to Exercise Regularly”

  • “31 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise”

  • “29 Smart Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out”

Is the motivation to exercise a best-kept secret? If so, why is it a secret in the first place and not just common knowledge? Are we even meant to uncover the secret, or is it secret for a reason? Volunteers on opening up Pandora’s box of exercise motivation? Do we really need scientifically proven reasons to exercise? Is our lifespan and quality of life not reason enough? 29 Smart and 31 ways to motivate yourself. That’s 60 ways to motivate yourself, do you want to read all 60 ways to motivate yourself? How can there be a cool 60 ways to get motivated at the same time that these are supposed to be secretive? Also, why are 29 considered smart? Who deemed them smart? While the 29 reasons I read were all clever ideas, they were also very subjective.

Lastly, 5 ways to stay motivated. So in addition to finding the motivation, which appears to be quantifiable, one must also factor in motivation to stay motivated to exercise?

Wtf, mate?

Does anyone else feel exhausted by this? If just getting motivated is this involved, then what does that say about the exercise itself? It seems complicated enough to get that coveted motivation in the first place, forget about working out…

Then I remember those discussions I had with clients, or friends, or family, or with myself. Why do YOU want to be healthy? What does fitness mean for YOU and YOUR life?

Is it possible that we don’t actually have to search all over the world or web for the motivation to exercise; that we can create our own motivation fairly easily by asking ourselves a couple of questions? We definitely think it is, however it doesn’t quite end there because what about that whole staying motivated part?

The Oxford dictionary definition doesn’t make any mention of needing motivation to be motivated about something. The general desire or willingness of someone to do something. Two different questions we can then ask ourselves are 1. What is it that you want/desire? and 2. What are you willing to do to get it? Remember when I said that people, when asked, know what they want and that they have goals whether they know it or not? What I’m getting at here is that your desires are your goals.

We encourage our clients to set short-term goals, as these are easier to achieve and therefore less daunting. It only takes 21 days of doing something consistently to develop a new habit; 21 days of regular exercise is more than enough time to meet a number of short-term goals. Once goals are met they’re replaced with new goals, and we established that goals are also desires, so it’s only natural to ask ourselves once again, “what am I willing to do to meet this new goal?”

Perhaps staying motivated is as simple as recognizing the progress we’ve made, however small it may be- because it IS happening. In our studio we regularly track measurements and body fat % to show our clients that their bodies are changing even if the scale isn’t showing what they want to see. When we accept and celebrate the small wins we’re able to shift our focus towards the new goal easily and often seamlessly. You could call that “staying motivated.”

This is the Foss perspective, and sure, we have a lot of experience on the subject but we know there are all sorts of perspectives on this broad topic.

Have you had a time when you felt super motivated about something important and then it kind of just dwindled? Are you currently feeling like all of your motivation packed up and left you long ago, so the mere idea of being motivated to exercise is laughable? Our next post will be a continuation of motivation as it relates to just exercise, though we’ll look at it from another angle. Is there such a thing as too much motivation? What happens when motivation has an adverse effect?

Stay tuned. Until then, peace.


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