As a personal trainer, I’ve had many clients over the years who have wanted me to hold their hand. Not literally, of course. They’ve wanted me to make them do the work. To motivate them. To not only give them the tools to achieve their goals, but be there supporting them every step of the way.
How often have you heard a personal trainer describe themselves as a ‘motivator’? I’ve learned, through personal experience, that I cannot motivate another human being. I can put together the best training program possible, tailored for you. I can show you what to do, I can explain what will work and what won’t. I can do everything in my professional power to help you get the most out of working with me. But I can’t motivate you. The motivation is all on you.
I overheard a conversation last week, between a couple of people, talking about a female celebrity. The celebrity in question is clearly overweight and has had a yo-yo approach to health and weight loss over the years. The essence of the discussion came down to this:
“I just don’t understand why she’s not in shape. If I had that much money and spare time, I’d have a trainer every day, someone to do all my meal planning and cooking – I just think it would be impossible not to be fit.”
I’m sure you’ve heard the same sentiment expressed – maybe you’ve even said something similar yourself. And it’s the perfect example that motivation can’t be hired, or bought, or come from an extrinsic source. Even people who have every resource available to work out, eat right and take care of themselves physically and mentally struggle with the motivation it requires.
It’s incredibly uncomfortable to admit when your lack of success, or your failing, can’t be blamed on someone or something else. I’ve been on the receiving end of a client telling me I haven’t done my job because they are not where they hoped they would be (which I’ve learned not to take personally). I’ve also been privy to hearing a multitude of excuses as to why a client can’t do workouts on their own, or stick to their eating plan. I understand why it happens – I don’t like admitting that I skipped a workout because I didn’t feel like it, not because I didn’t have time, either. At this point in my career, it really doesn’t take me long to work out if a prospective client I’m meeting with has the motivation and mindset it takes to make our relationship work.
So, what’s the secret to motivating yourself? If you were hoping I’d reveal the secret, I’m afraid I have bad news. The truth is, I don’t know. It’s going to be different for every person and there countless variables involved. I’ve come to believe that rather than trying to work out what your motivation is for getting fit and healthy, your real focus should be on the areas you’re looking for some hand-holding. Those are your personal roadblocks and if you can find ways around them, it might give you the push you need to take control.
For example – if you have no problem doing cardio at the gym, but you’ve never worked out with weights, think about the underlying issue. Do you feel intimidated by the people using the weights? Try changing your routine to see if there’s a different crowd, or even switch gyms if you’re truly uncomfortable. Do you just have no idea what to do when it comes to strength training? You could always do an introductory session with a trainer, or even take exercises you’ve done in a group exercise class and put together your own routine.
If your main sticking point is being able to eat healthy, think about what the real impediment is – is it lack of time for cooking? Lack of ability for cooking? Are you looking for comfort through food? Find that root issue and deal with it – if you can’t cook, maybe take classes, or make a deal with someone in your household to cook if you clean. If you’re a comfort eater, think about ways you can lighten up your favorites so you can indulge without a massive calorie hit. Or find a therapist who can work with you on emotional issues that might be surfacing in your eating habits.
Finally, remember that what you want to get out of exercising and eating well doesn’t have to be what every women’s magazine claims you should want. Move your body because it feels good. Find a workout that makes you feel strong, or happy, or accomplished, or even all three! Eat well because you feel better when you do.
Find your own motivation and make it work – for you.
Is there any area you look to others to provide the motivation?
What works for you to get motivated?