I picked up a great advice from the recent episode of Bettercast with Steven Ledbetter and Julie Dirksen where they dwelled into the skills of teaching.
Ask this simple question when you are about to skip a workout, about to walk through the golden arches for dinner, or when reaching for the third piece of double chocolate brownie. Especially if those things seem to be something that you are doing with a too much of a frequency.
Use the future based thinking to propel you forward, to tighten up the shoes and to pull on your best pair of training shorts. And not necessary in that order.
The process goals don’t always work
Often we struggle with motivation because we focus on the minutiae. The action of going to the gym, counting reps, going through the movements. This can be extremely boring for those who feel alienated from the fitness culture. A culture where most people seems to be motivated by just the fact of training. Or the the vague, “to look good”.
Training to look good is a great goal in itself, but what does that mean to you? Can you sustain a training routine based on that? Because from my experience, most people can’t unless there is a deeper desire underneath it all. Like in the Shakira song.
Injecting yourself with other people’s motivation doesn’t work (and it’s probably illegal)
If you are going out there looking for motivation, you are already looking at this whole fitness thing from an untenable angle. Nobody can give you motivation. You can hire a trainer for the accountability, but accountability doesn’t equal motivation. And it doesn’t suffice as a permanent solution if you ever want to be in full control of your health and fitness.
The only way I can think motivation can be injected by another person is through education. If a doctor tells you that you are likely to die of a heart attack unless you change your behavior, it can be a powerful boost to stop smoking.
Unfortunately the warning often comes too early and is ignored based on it won’t happen to me. Or it comes too late, by the time it doesn’t fucking matter anymore.
a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.
the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.
Accountability and motivation are two different things. It has to be you who motivates you to take the actions you want to take. Motivation can replace the need for accountability, not the other way around.
Not everyone enjoys training
I understand that not everyone is driven by training and lifting goals. For you each training session can feel like a torture performed by iron, lycra and sweaty buttcracks.
Try to remove yourself from the day-to-day thinking and focus on the healthier version of future you. You might even come to enjoy the process, I’ve seen it happen with most of my clients. But, I’ve also seen people not to enjoy it, no matter what they’ve tried and done.
If the above sounds like you, give this future me thinking a fair go when pulling on training pants is as exciting as watching grandpa putting on sunscreen.
Tell yourself that you are a healthy person. Explain to yourself why you are following a training routine. Reflect on those thoughts.
Whatever it is that gets you to stick with training, use it to your advantage. There is no one right answer or a reason to find motivation in you. No matter how silly you might think your reason for training is.
If it’s because you want to be confident in your Tarzan clothing to make the wife drool, use it. If it’s because you want to be able to lift your kids up over your head when they are in their 20’s, use it. If it’s because you are going to Ibiza and want to have frequent sexy time with the British tourists, have at it. Don’t let anyone tell you what should motivate you.
And when you do actually skip a workout, you haven’t fallen off the wagon. Fitness isn’t even a wagon. It’s a slow moving, never ending row of carriages and you can jump on anytime you want. It is always going and every day of your life you can decide “here we go!” and hop on.
But to give you a bit of urgency, the longer you travel on the fitness train the further you’ll probably go in life, both in quality and quantity.
As I was writing this I learned something about myself
I realized that I am already using the future me with a lot of habits in life. Both in and outside of fitness.
I do my joint routine each morning because I know that it will make my joints better and reduce tension around my hips, shoulders and lower back. I can tell you that I don’t do it because it’s fun, but the thought of how it makes my life better makes me somewhat enjoy it. The future me has joints like a 30 year old when I am sitting at 75.
Same with meditation. On most mornings I would much rather check the NHL trade news than sit on the chair with my eyes closed. But because I know how it centers me, I keep at it. The future me is calm and collected. With a hint of peppermint.
Now, like you, I need apply this same thinking to things that I struggle with.
I guess the future me thinking was one of the big reason why I never did heroin either.
It’s a joke, relax.
It was too expensive.