Fitness Motivation, Part 1: motivated by other’s story.

Your fitness motivation often starts with somebody’s story that moves you. Here you are, looking at her picture and thinking, “Wow, she is amazing! She did it, against all odds. True inspiration.” In the midst of all the challenges, temptations, and distractions, this person, looking at you from an image, is an ultimate badass. And now you want to run to the gym and squat two times your bodyweight after at least an hour of inclined treadmill. It’s about the time that you (finally) claim that dream body of yours!

Fitness stories of others are usually source of our own fitness motivation. Social media supplies an abundance of fitness stories for us to watch unfolding. We see an example of someone changing their life and become empowered to do the same with ours. All the stories of fitness transformations can generally fall within these 7 broad categories:

1. She was depressed and then she got fit

A story of someone regaining an interest to life and finding a new energy source from fitness is always extremely powerful. It is through fitness that she discovers a new meaning to the existence and learns to appreciate her body.

2. She became a mother and then got fit

A woman who has fulfilled her big calling for motherhood and still rocks a bikini ranks high among the fitness motivation stories. Needless to say, she is a rockstar. She challenges the assumptions that the body changes forever after the childbirth.

3. She was dumped and then she got fit

This is a narrative of going from a betrayed love for someone to a fully restored love for herself. Getting fit can be a form of revenge, a remedy from pain, or a distraction from thoughts, but it always leads to a renewed appreciation for self.

4. She was ill and then got fit

It’s a story of a courageous fight with a decease. Many in her place would give up, but she persisted. And fitness was something that kept her going. Squat after squat she was leaving the sickness no chances.

5. She was overweight and then she got fit

In food, she found joy, pleasure, reward, and the assurance she wasn’t getting enough elsewhere. Every time she allowed food rule her life, she sacrificed her body to it, as if it was a price to pay. One day she decided – “enough is enough” and made fitness her new addiction.

6. She battled anorexia and then she got fit

She felt she was never enough. Eating less was her way of claiming some control over her life. And it was fitness that helped her understand that food is not an enemy. For the first time, she felt complete.

7. She had a near death experience and then she got fit

Before she used to live like tomorrow is promised. But one day changed her life forever. She experienced something that made her reevaluate her values. And taking care of herself became her first priority. Fitness was a way of staying present and in the moment.

Sounds familiar?

Chances – your social media feed will show you one or a few of those stories within one minute of scrolling. We choose watching such stories as a reminder that we too can become the best version of ourselves.

Here’s the thing though: As often you see these inspirational stories and get motivated by them, the times you ACTUALLY take an action and do something repetitively are few and far between. Why does motivation leave you so quickly? Because sitting here, looking at that inspirational image, you may not have experienced a life threatening event or a decease, neither are you depressed. You had your breakups, but whatever – they are in the past. You are not significantly over- or underweight. If you are not dripping sweat with one of those images in your mind every day, most likely, none of these stories truly relate to you. And something we cannot relate to, however inspiring, will motivate us but that much.

More likely, with the help of your comparison mind , this motivation will grow into guilt. These people did not stop before the difficulties, and you, with everything stacked in your favor, still cannot change for a bit! These people had a willpower to keep going, and the most willpower you worked up in the last 10 days was not to get a burrito after staying late at work.

Whatever makes you feel bad about yourself is an unlikely candidate for a sustainable motivation. Just the opposite, your mind will try to eliminate the triggers of these negative feelings and minimize things that remind you of them. AS the result, no motivation, and no fitness.

So now what?

If motivation by others’ stories does not last, why does online fitness training industry thrive? Isn’t the inspiration from individual trainers drives multiple people to change their own lives? We at PhysCult will be the first to agree to that. But these trainers do something more then just provide their story as an inspiration. They help you evoke your own motivation. And those trainers who don’t – even if you purchased their workout programs – will lose you as their audience soon.

Motivation by others story, as powerful as it is, will not last, if you are not in the beginning of the same or similar scenario. The lasting motivation is a matter of introspection.  It’s on you to create your own motivation.

How do you create an intrinsic fitness motivation? The kind that does not require comparison with others to take an action and does not involve guilt or feeling inferior to others?

You create intrinsic fitness motivation by internalizing that the pleasure of having a beautiful and healthy body will exceed the suffering from the commitment required to get fit.

Duhh! You know that already! So why are you still not rocking a six pack and an enviously round booty? Because, in your head, getting fit equals exchanging one suffering for another. You simply trade the suffering of having a body that you are unhappy with to the suffering of restrictions you must now adopt to get fit. And you are not sure which suffering is more. Neither are you sure of the successful outcome of the whole enterprise. Both making your motivation fragile and transient.

What are the ways to design intrinsic motivation that lasts? Stay tuned for the next post!

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