So, you work really hard to not only get in shape, but also to stay in shape. Yes, all that sweat, pain and hard work really does pay off both mentally and physically and while those actions may help us to get to that healthy state, those actions are not finite and so, we still need to keep going, day after day. Sadly, although it’s exciting to think about those long term results, the truth is that the process to get there is actually quite boring.
This brings us to today’s question: what motivates you to get out of bed and into the gym or simply to come face to face with your next workout?
The most obvious motivator for staying fit is your personal health. Many people take their health for granted and, if you’ve been lucky to have relatively good health for most of your life, you may already be healthy and leading a lifestyle that goes along with that. However, if you’ve ever been plagued with a chronic illness or even just led an unhealthy lifestyle where you drank a lot or smoked cigarettes regularly, then you will know what the other side of the coin feels like (myself included). Simply knowing and remembering what it feels like to be sluggish, out of breath, overweight, hungover, is actually a great motivator to keep you locked into a positive and healthy mindset. Your health, how you feel today, and remembering the bad times can be a catalyst and powerful motivator for making healthy choices, and the drive to one more lap around the track.
Feeling good is one thing, and those tough workouts will really deliver (once the pain wears off), but so much of our self esteem is derived by not only how we feel but how we appear in the mirror. And no, I’m not talking about how we appear to other people, but how we appear to ourselves. Self image/body image is a huge driving motivator for working out, eating healthy and ultimately staying fit. It’s not always an easy road to get there as we also tend to be very hard on ourselves (scrutinizing every wrinkle or little ounce of fat), but for many people, image is a huge motivator. It comes down to this: if you don’t like what you see in the mirror, change it. With that said, only you have the right to be your worst critic, so don’t worry or pay attention to what other people say, especially if it borders on the negative. Striving for healthy self esteem is an excellent motivator for using that gym membership or doing one more yoga video on YouTube.
For many people, money is a massive motivator to working hard at your job, or “getting ahead”. Since we don’t generally focus on money as a metric for personal success, how does it come into play when it comes to staying fit? The answer is simple and it’s all about how often you cook for yourself. A huge part of leading a healthy lifestyle has to do with what you put in your mouth and indeed, cooking for yourself is a good way to save money while protecting yourself from over-processed and prepared foods. Considering that having a healthy bank account is also key to a certain amount of peace of mind, saving money comes into play as a behind-the-scenes motivator. Or maybe it’s not all that surprising.
Social activities are a double edged sword when it comes to staying motivated. In fact, being social can make or break a workout. If you align yourself with some like minded friends, you can build workouts into social activities. A good running buddy can be a great asset and if you are truly on the same page, you will motivate each other. But beware: some friends can demotivate you just as quickly. Ever had a workout buddy who was also a great dining buddy? They can easily convince you to cut the run short and head to the nearest cafe or diner, so stick to your guns and finish the run. Another approach is to use services like MeetUp or another form of social media to meet fellow motivators. If you enjoy meeting people, group workouts are a great way to do it. Also, you’ll find that it’s easier to stay motivated if you’re in a good group. As they say: strength in numbers!
In summary, all of the points that I talked about above may act as motivators for working out and getting/staying fit, but in the end, the only motivator that matters is you. Simply put, tl;dr, you do it because you care and because you want to. That’s the real motivation.
So: What motivates you?