The Key to Lasting Motivation

By Lisa Rhea

IMG_0508Motivation seems to be the key between fitness success and failure. I spend a lot of time talking about it, because it’s the biggest issue people seem to face – actually getting to the gym and consistently eating well.

New Year’s resolutions, class reunions, breakups, weddings – they all spur a drive to succeed in a fitness endeavor, but often fall short weeks later or as soon as the event has passed. Finding lasting motivation seems to be the biggest fitness hurdle.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I have found my motivation lacking at different stages in my life. In retrospect, I can tell you exactly why – because at those times, my motivation was solely appearance-based. When I have fallen off the proverbial wagon is when my goals were wrapped around looking a certain way, and I decided I’d rather be a little fluffier and enjoy x, y or z.

During those time periods, I wanted to drink, indulge and be lazy and have seen the only drawback being a bigger pant size. I didn’t consider all the other reasons to workout and be healthy. I didn’t consider everything else I was lacking in my life when I put aside my training and proper nutrition. My “why” was misguided, and my motivation waned, and I not only gained fat, but also lost out on all those other benefits of being healthy and fit.

The secret to continued motivation is developing your “why” beyond your waistline. If you are only exercising because you’re disgusted with how you look, you won’t find longterm success. If your only reason for eating a nutritious diet and passing on the donuts is to impress an ex, your willpower will soon lapse. If you care only about how diet and exercise will make you look, you won’t have lasting motivation. You need to see fitness as more than a number on the scale or how much body fat you can pinch.

Time after time, I have asked people to create a measurable fitness goal – a performance-based goal, only to hear them say they don’t have one. They can’t even think of what they want to accomplish besides looking better. If that’s you, please take this to heart. There are so many reasons to be physically active and eat healthfully that have nothing to do with your outward appearance.

When you sit down and think about your “why” consider all the other benefits to a healthy lifestyle – all those reasons to eat better and make it to the gym that go beyond meeting an appearance goal. It may be better health – i.e.: lower cholesterol, greater bone density, less joint pain, or enhanced quality of life – i.e.: sleeping soundly, increased energy, less depression, or personal accomplishment, or greater patience, a sense of self-worth, time to focus on yourself, etc. There are truly a huge number of benefits to a healthy life than have absolutely nothing to do with appearances. Feeling good about how you look is merely a bi-product of a successful fit life.

Put together your thoughts on why you will benefit from a healthier lifestyle. And like the quote above, your thoughts become your words and subsequently your actions, and your habits and your character and ultimately your destiny. Those initial thoughts are key because they shape everything else.

Personally, I find strength in living a healthy life. I derive a strong sense of empowerment from being fit and healthy – a sense that I am able to overcome anything. I truly credit my fitness with giving me the mental strength to make it through a number of trials in my life. It’s empowering. Every time I have set a fitness goal and reached it, my confidence has grown. My ability to overcome and persevere has been strengthened, until I have learned to approach every hurdle with a positive mindset. And strength has become part of my character.

Let’s face it – being fit makes you a badass. I like feeling like a badass.

My "why" obviously has nothing to do with looking good on the beach these days, but my motivation is unwavering.

My “why” obviously has nothing to do with looking good on the beach these days, but my motivation is unwavering.

Being in my third trimester of pregnancy, I could easily fall off the fitness wagon if I cared only about appearances – because I’m certainly not getting any thinner these days! I’ve had people ask me me what keeps me going, and I never actually considered quitting. I don’t train for a beach body. I don’t eat healthy for a number on the scale.

I train because I love feeling strong. Because I love the rush of endorphins. Because all that blood pumping through my body makes me feel more alive than ever. Because I enjoy the people I train with. Because I sleep like a baby at night. Because it gets me outside. Because it makes me even more energetic. Because I love crushing obstacles and overcoming. Because I can.

Likewise, I eat healthy because I feel so much better after a good meal. Because my skin is better. Because it tastes delicious. Because I can still be active after a big, nutritious meal. Because my body now craves it. Because it keeps me regular. Because it fuels my activity. Because I want to.

And because I train and eat healthy on a regular basis, I reap a tremendous amount of benefits. I know I wouldn’t feel as good as I do during this pregnancy if I hadn’t been in good shape before and stayed active during it. My doctor credited my great test scores, lack of back pain, swelling, etc. with my activity level and solid nutrition. And even with this big, basketball belly, I am able to run and move and feel great. Why? Because of fitness.

So there’s no way I’m stopping. My motivation hasn’t gone anywhere. And even though I know there’s nothing badass about a big ‘ol pregnant woman (I mean, seriously, I can’t leave the grocery store without getting asked if I need help about five times) I still feel like one. I don’t feel weak or vulnerable. I’m still empowered, because I’m still fit.

Your “why” may be completely different than mine (although who doesn’t want to be a badass?) but spend some time figuring it out and focusing your thoughts on a “why” beyond your waistline.

This “why” will become your lasting motivation. And ultimately, your destiny.

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