Finding Motivation



Have ever noticed how some people just seem to get excited at the very thought of exercising; like going to the gym or heading out for a run, while others almost always seem to oppose the very thought of exercising but show up unmotivated anyway?

Those individuals who remain motivated with very little effort are recognized as being intrinsically motivated --- engaged in an exercise activity for the inherent pleasure or experience that comes from the engagement itself.

Unfortunately, intrinsically motivated individuals or those who engage in fitness activities for better health because it is intrinsically rewarding are a minority of those who actually participate in fitness activities.

The truth is, most people who seek better health through fitness are extrinsically motivated --- engaged in an exercise activity for an external purpose or external reward.  For example, these individuals may not necessarily be motivated to lose weight because it is something that will fundamentally make them happier, but rather they choose to lose weight for others --- significant other, employer, etc.  While an extrinsic reward can most certainly be a powerful tool toward fulfilling health and fitness goals, the mind has to believe that the extrinsic reward that it is attaching itself to is real, and this will only happen if you learn not to regret eating healthier and exercising regularly.

Not so long ago, I thought I was a pretty happy guy even though I was more than 40-pounds overweight.  Sure, I was not really thrilled to see the heavy guy that looked back at me every time I glanced in the mirror, so I learned to ignore him.  That was of course until the day my reality check arrived.

There I was sitting in my doctor’s office as he began evaluating the battery of test I had just undergone in order to determine just how bad my heart attack had been.  As he continued to talk all I could think of was leaving my wife and young children if I were to have another heart attack. I knew right then I needed to make a drastic lifestyle change.




There I was, just before my 50th birthday engaging in my very first exercise program.  At the onset of my fitness program, I could hardly wait to exercise; I was at the gym 3,4,5 and sometimes even 6 days a week.  Regrettably, a couple of months into my new journey I found myself looking for excuses as to why I couldn’t make it to the gym --- not enough time, lack of energy, and so on.  It was during those times that I would reflect on my state of health and the possibility of having another heart attack if I didn’t accomplish the goal which I had undertaken. Yet sometimes that just wasn’t enough motivation to keep me going.  The problem was, I had not figured out how to become intrinsically motivated to remain fit.

Although the book I wrote several years back, Forever Fit, has a 20-page chapter devoted to the topic of motivation, the following 3 questions will be pivotal in keeping you motivated along your health & fitness journey.

Be sure to answer each of the following questions honestly.

Question 1: What is your goal?

As a personal trainer weight loss is perhaps the number one factor for driving people to seek out my help.  Regrettably, I turn more clients away than I take on simply because most individuals have chosen to set unrealistic goals. The truth is, physical transformation takes time, consistency and a degree of action that many are just not willing to fully commit to.  Statistics show that those who set unrealistic goals consistently fall short and therefore tend to give up altogether when they don’t see the results in which they expected.

The getting fit fast mentality almost never works, especially long term.  All too often people start out super-charged positive attitude, but when reality sets in and things don’t go as planned goals usually come to a screeching halt.

I embolden my clients to take the necessary time to prepare mentally as well as physically for the great results they can & will achieve.  It is imperative that you carefully chose a plan of action that best suits your needs. The ‘results not typical’ quick fixes have a track record of not being sustainable simply because the methods used to achieve them oftentimes are not maintainable.

Simply put, the goals you set must be sensible & attainable, and common sense should prevail when setting these goals.

For example:

  • If you are not a morning person then don’t schedule your workouts first thing in the A.M.
  • If you’re unable to perform a proper pushup [prone position], begin by performing wall pushups and progress into the prone pushup.
  • If you don’t like grilled chicken, then don’t create a meal plan that contains grilled chicken just because everyone else is eating it; choose lean protein sources that you will enjoy eating.
  • If you despise running [treadmill/outdoors] then don’t make this your choice for cardio activity. Choose something that you will stick with like an aerobics class, biking, elliptical machines, etc. 
  • If getting in 10,000 steps a day is too arduous at the onset of your fitness plan, then choose a number that is achievable, but still challenging.
  • If you plan to lose weight be sensible about the number of pounds you wish to lose within a timetable that is actually attainable.  You did not gain all your weight overnight, and you shouldn’t plan on losing it all overnight either.

Use the following to set up your plan for attaining your goal.


Craft a goal that is clearly defined: what, when & how it is to be accomplished. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight”, say “I want to lose 10 pounds in four-weeks by incorporating resistance training into my exercise regimen.”


Institute a plan that will allow you to measure and/or weigh the progress toward your goal.  Instead of saying, “I want to look better” (not measurable), say “It is my plan to lose 1-3 pounds each week until I reach my goal of losing 10 pounds in six-weeks” (measurable).


Keep your goals sensible; be sure that your goals are challenging, but not too extreme. It is a challenge to lose 1-3 pounds each and every week consistently; it is unreasonable to think that 5 pounds can be lost each and every week consistently in a healthy manner.


Create a goal that inspires you; one that you truly believe you can successfully accomplish.  You are inspired by setting a goal to run a 5K race within a couple of months; you are being unrealistic if you think you could train for a marathon within a couple of months.


Put a completion date on your goal.  The date that you choose should be specific and reasonable.  Keeping track of your “Measurable” goals will assist you in defining a completion date.  Attempt to remain true to your timetable, but also be flexible for life’s curveballs.




Question 2: What is your WHY?

The truth is there will be occasions when you may feel like putting your fitness goal on hold, or perhaps even worse, giving up completely on ever achieving your dreams of living a healthier lifestyle.  I have discovered one of the best ways to invalidate this negative type of thinking is to remember WHY you started your journey in the first place? 

Do you desire to live a longer, healthier lifestyle for your children, your grandchildren, or your significant other?  Is it your wish to move about with less pain?  Is it your desire to boost your self-esteem by transforming your overall appearance?  Is your place of employment requiring you to become more fit?

Whatever the reason for your WHY, if truly you intend to succeed you must hold that reason at the very forethought of your mind each & every day, especially on those days when you are trying to make excuses as to why you can’t make it to the gym or get in that exercise when you get home.

I Want This Lifestyle Change Because…


[fill in the blank]

Once you’ve established your WHY or your motivation for setting your goal in the first place I implore you to put it on paper.  Let me say that again, write your motivational goal on paper!  And before you begin scribbling some random words like ‘I want to lose weight’ on that scratch piece of paper at your immediate disposal I want you to actually take a moment to think this through… know that your transformational WHY is important.  Then I want you to type or write your WHY onto several pieces of paper and post those pieces of paper where you can view them many times during the day.

Question 3: What happens if you fail?




Many individuals attempt to accomplish something they genuinely desire to embark upon [for example getting fit], then they fail [perhaps miserably], then they gave up.

How many times have you started a fitness routine and began noticing results, even the slightest of results, only to give up on your quest for better health?  I meet with people virtually every single day struggling to make sense of why they should be under tension instead of being on a couch in front of a television.  Simply put, the fountain of youth does not come in a pill just yet, so the only way to truly remain healthy is to keep accessing and advancing your health & fitness goals.

I encourage those with the enthusiasm and encouragement to seek better health, to reconsider their goal when things aren’t going as planned.  I tell my clients that to fail simply means “first attempt in learning”, and consequently additional attempts should be looked upon as practice needed to accomplish their goal.

For those devoted to better health, to fail is merely a temporary disappointment, and not an excuse to give up on their quest to accomplish their task.

Once upon a time I was fortunate enough to work beside a middle-aged woman that taught me probably as much as I was able to teach her when it came to motivation and accountability.  One day I asked her how she remained so positive throughout her training. 

This was her advice.

“Failure is not an option.”

  • Create A Goal.: She explained that she did as I requested and crafted a motivational goal, which she placed throughout her home on index cards.

  • Change Friends: Prior to commencing her journey to better health, she contacted all of her family and friends and bluntly told them that she was beginning a 12-week personal transformation and that she would most likely not be speaking with them until she had completed all 12-weeks.  Of course, everyone she spoke with asked her why she was taking such a position, and she politely explained to each of them that it was because they would try to talk her out of it.

She explained to me that she really had no intention of not speaking with those she cared for, she just wanted to let them know upfront that when she did speak with them that if anything negative was brought into the conversation regarding her participation in our program that she would simply say her good-byes and hang upon them.

  • Remain Accountable: Although she was 100% committed to accomplishing her goal, she wisely realized that there might be days during her transformation when she might not feel as motivated as she does on others.  She gave great thought to how she would overcome these days, and she decided that the best way to give her all even when she didn’t think she could was to have a lifelong friend hold her accountable.

This friend, a positive influence in her life would call her two times each & every day like clockwork, once before she was to exercise and once later in the evening to check up on her days’ status.  It worked!  Twelve weeks later she emerged as a new person, and she has never looked back.

To this date, I share this story with all my clients and encourage them to implement these three steps into their fitness goals.

Perhaps you noticed that in the above story I mentioned accountability.  The truth is, while motivation is extremely important to reaching your health & fitness goal, it is only half of the equation necessary to succeed both in the now and remain successful in the future.

As a personal trainer, I can attest to the fact that those I see on a regular basis, those I can hold accountable practically always reach their fitness goals, and those I am unable to hold accountable rarely succeed in fulfilling their fitness goals.

While friends and family are always willing to give advice, it is not always the advice that one needs to fulfill their dreams --- remember my client.  That is why I strongly suggest employing the services of a professional trainer to help you to best maximize your time and efforts, so as to fulfill your health and fitness goals.

At XUBIFIT, all of our trainers are highly skilled in their respective fields and truly enjoy providing their clients with the most rewarding experience possible.  Find out more about XUBIFIT by clicking here.




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