The Problem With Motivation

As a fitness professional, I hear things like this all the time….

“I need to get motivated to eat better and exercise more.”

“I’m struggling to get motivated to do XYZ.”

Most fitness experts would consider this a form of laziness. I’m not like most fitness experts (trust me, it’s a good thing) and I totally get where people are coming from.


I absolutely love to work out. I also hate to workout. I’m never sure which way I’m going to feel until I actually tie up my shoes and start. People assume that I never struggle, like I’m some kind of superhuman who has it easier than most people(I am a ninja secretly though). Well, I do struggle. All the time as a matter of fact. Weekly. Daily. Hourly.


I’ve been working out for about 15 years. The honeymoon stage is long gone. I don’t workout because I have to anymore. I don’t drink a gallon of water each day because I have to. I don’t eat well because I have to. It’s now just something I do. Sort of like brushing your teeth every morning. You do it without even thinking about it. It’s just what you do.


It stopped being about motivation a long time ago for me. In fact, if I had to rely on motivation and only doing things when I felt like doing them, I’d be screwed. I would never have clean clothes, my dishes would never be done, I’d probably sleep til noon, and I never would have graduated college. Those are just a few examples, but you get the idea.


I struggle with motivation all the time. Nearly half the time I don’t want to workout. Especially leg day. I hate training legs, literally HATE training legs. I think of a million excuses why I can’t workout on leg day, but every week I make myself do it. Twice. A funny thing usually happens. I start my warm up with some mobility work, start doing warm up sets, and the more I get into the workout, the more motivated I become. I usually end up killing my workout and feeling awesome afterwards. I’m pretty sure I’ve never regretted doing a workout. I HAVE regretted and been pissed at myself  for NOT doing a workout.


What is the point? Motivation is something that happens once you start DOING. Motivation will sometimes hit me and I absolutely take advantage. But a lot of the time (more often than I can count), it’s not going to be there at all and I have to make myself do it anyways. This is why I have a problem with motivation. When you’re first starting out, it’s great to have that motivation and be excited and eager to embark on a new journey and get yourself all pumped up. This will only get you started, but I promise you it won’t keep you going day in and day out.


If you sit around waiting for motivation to hit you, you might be waiting forever. Even though I said I had a problem with motivation, it’s really not the problem. It’s not about whether you are motivated to do something, but actually doing it or not doing it. That’s the problem, the follow through.

So how exactly do we get ourselves to follow though? A few tips that might help you:


-Create an environment that sets you up for success and your goals. Have your workout clothes ready to go, in fact working out first thing in the morning is a great idea before your mind even knows what the hell is going on

-Hire a trainer, coach, or join a group fitness class with friends. When you have to be accountable to someone else, it’s hard for your mind to argue against that. I know that my group training clients have been very successful with this strategy.

-Writing shit down. I know it seems ridiculous and crazy, but when I actually put the words “workout” into my calendar, I know it’s scheduled and I don’t want to miss it.

-The first few weeks will require discipline, but after that, momentum will keep you going. As soon as you start doing something you don’t necessarily want to do, your mind will shut up and stop arguing with you.

-Pay for it-This is a huge reason why I do a lot of things. I made a pretty big investment and hired a coach because I knew that by putting money into something, I almost guarantee you that I will be much more successful because well..I hate wasting money.


I think instead of relying on motivation to do things, start leaning towards inspiration. What’s the difference?


Motivation is considered an external source. It only seems to last short term as long as the reward is there and generally short lived as well as ignoring obstacles.


Inspiration is more about influence. It is more internal, and this is where you will find something inside you to push through obstacles when things get tough, when you don’t feel like doing the things you want to do, this is your why.


As a fitness professional, trainer, and coach, I absolutely want to motivate you to start, but I want you to be INSPIRED to keep going even when things get tough. That is what separates those that achieve success and those that don’t.  


Ignore the mind trying to talk you out of things. Action does not require motivation. Get shit done.