Top 5 Fitness Motivation Pitfalls

Summer is over and fall has arrived! Time for your favorite jeans. If they aren’t fitting the way you remember and you are restarting your fitness journey check out these tips to help you stay motivated.

1. Confusing inspiration with motivation: most people who do not workout consistently will tell you “I’m not motivated.” What they actually mean is “I don’t feel sufficiently inspired”. Inspiration feels great, but is fleeting. If you only showed up to work on the days you were inspired to, then you’d be unemployed and flat broke. Motivation is something else entirely.

2. Relying on external motivation: external motivation is pressure from events like weddings or people who judge you. Brides are often very motivated to get into the best shape of their lives for the big day. However, if their appearance on the big day is their primary motivation they almost always let themselves go starting on day #1 of the honeymoon. Actively cultivating your internal motivation is the key to a lifetime of health and fitness vs. being on the perpetual diet rollercoaster.

Examples of internal motivation are working out because it makes you feel better, sleep better, helps you manage stress, makes you feel strong, etc. Many fear that taking their focus off their appearance means they won’t change it. The truth is we will only change how we look by changing how we behave. Internal motivation is far more powerful in changing how we behave long term.

3. All it takes is motivation: motivation alone will not get far for long. To borrow Dan & Chip Heath’s metaphor from Shift getting yourself to change is like riding an elephant. You need motivation (the large, powerful elephant), and you need the rider (logical self) to provide consistent and meaningful direction. We’ve got to break our desires into specific things to do – how many workouts? How long? What will you do? Do those activities match your goals?

4. Confusing traits and skills: In upgrading your lifestyle it’s important to remember a healthy lifestyle is built from skills not traits. Eating healthy is about being skilled at planning for the week, prepping and cooking. Consistent exercise is about being skilled at time management and at saying “no” to the inevitable obstacles to following through on your plans. These are skills just like learning to drive a stick shift vs. traits like height or eye color. Everyone can develop these skills. Everyone develops skills the same way: effort and time, making mistakes and learning how to fix those mistakes. Everyone struggles with new skills.

5. Ignoring your environment: despite cliché’s to the contrary, we actually are products of our environment. If you live in a house full of tempting ice cream and potato chips, then you will eat them on a fairly regular basis. This will be true no matter how motivated you are. What makes humans different than other animals is that we can control and reshape our environment. We can use our self-discipline to remove the temptation from our homes.

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