Hello dear friends. As I sit here mustering up the energy to workout today, I decided to write about it. I might be procrastinating, in reality.
Although I intended on exercising first thing this morning, I didn’t. I could make the excuse that the tiny people inhabiting my home startled me awake at dawn; but truthfully, that isn’t the reason. I just didn’t want to do anything this morning. Wait – that’s not true. I’ve been super domestic, actually. Sheets are changed, floor is swept, laundry is tumbling away in the dryer. Babies are fed and clean. So, what’s the deal?
Motivation comes in many packages. Some are motivated by positive feedback, such as praise. Some are motivated by fear. Fear of failure, specifically, can be a huge driving force. Whatever it is inside us, we often simply haven’t spent enough time with self-reflection to find it. If we do know what motivates us, we still have to spend the time to cultivate it or it will wilt like a little flower that hasn’t been watered.
Whether you are struggling with motivation to eat better, move more, or really any other goal you have, the real trick is developing your why. Your why is metaphorically the tiny little flame deep inside your belly. Why do you want to be healthier? Why do you want stronger muscles? If weight loss is what you desire, then why? It might seem silly, or even obvious. But sometimes it’s not.
While teaching a weight loss class one time, I asked each participant why he or she wanted to lose weight. Each looked at me like I had four heads; it seemed like such a stupid question. “Um, duh, Casey” is what their faces all said. But “duh” isn’t accurate.
Me: “[Lady], why do you want to lose weight?”
Lady: “Uhh….well, because weight loss would help me have less knee pain.”
Me: “Why would less knee pain be good?” (c’mon, bear with me here…)
Lady: “Well, less knee pain would allow me to walk more.”
Me: “Why would you want to walk more?”
Lady: “If I could walk more without pain, I could travel more. [eyes tear up] I used to travel all over the world; but I can’t now because it’s too painful on my knees to walk around touring places.”
Maybe that lady’s example doesn’t exactly hit home for you directly, but I hope you get the point. The point is, preventing diabetes isn’t a dazzling motivator on a lazy Sunday morning. The idea of reducing my cholesterol and blood pressure doesn’t jolt me out of bed for some treadmill time. I know exercise would do those things, but that honestly isn’t enough to motivate me.
I’ll share with you what my motivations have been over the years. Mine are dynamic, and yours can be too.
My motivation to get through Army basic training as a fat, out-of-shape teenager was the fact that I absolutely had to prove everyone wrong. I had so many people tell me I couldn’t do it. Some said “did you know you can’t wear mascara in boot camp, Casey?” When my hands were literally bloody from doing a zillion push-ups on the rocks, and I truly didn’t think I could keep going, I remembered how pissed I was at all those naysayers. I’ll spare you the saga of the injuries my non-athletic body endured during that nine weeks, but I only made it through that pain because of the motivation to prove I could do it. (And I did, like a boss.)
In my current career as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), I am charged with being a spokesperson of health. If I am trying to inspire people to be super fit and healthy, I guess I should be fit and healthy, right? I am far from perfect, but the thing that keeps me from eating poorly and turning completely gelatinous is that someone, somewhere, might be using me as a symbol of hope.
A silly, yet powerful, motivator for me is that I really, really want to be strong. I want arms that resemble those warrior ladies on the newest Wonder Woman movie. I really do. Gone are the days of my teen years wanting to be “skinny.” I never want to be skinny; I want to be strong AF. So, when I am tempted by the warmth and coziness of being lazy all day, I envision the chiseled body I want, and usually it’s enough to get me off the couch…eventually.
Ask yourself “why” over and over until you get a little misty-eyed; that means you found that little flame in your belly. We don’t need no water; let the motherf***er burn.