Progression Motivation Cycle - Stay Motivated
on a Fitness Program
is your fuel. It's what propels you towards your goals and aspirations
at break neck speed. On the other hand, a lack of it could be the
kiss of death towards those same hopes and dreams. I used to think
I could always rely on will power and discipline to replenish my
motivation but that never worked so well. There is simply no good
substitute for motivation. You can't fake it, or conjure it up through
Trying to will yourself to have motivation can be like willing
yourself to fall in love. It's not exactly something you can just
make happen through pure choice and effort. Sure you can force yourself
to go through with a diet or hard workout but the real question
is, do you really want to do it? Is the desire and fire within you
making you hungry for the process?
Without any exception, all fitness success is only possible when
a burning desire within the person to do the work that is necessary
to succeed. Be it going for a run or ordering a salad, all choices
are only possible when the hunger of motivation is driving the choices.
I used to believe that an exciting goal was the key to having
motivation. While having a goal is important, you need more than
a carrot at the end of a stick to keep going. You must have a desire
for the actual journey that brings you to your goal as well as the
I recently read a book that had some very interesting research
on how the brain operates and its effects on our desire to do something.
In one study, subjects were given a choice to make based on personal
preference and desire. Examples included what kind of ice cream
they would like or what color car they would drive. After each question,
the areas of the brain that control emotion activated first. After
they had their emotional response, the area of the brain responsible
for logical thought fired off second.
The brain scans showed that the choices the subjects made were
based upon emotional thoughts and feelings and logical thoughts
came into play to accommodate those emotions. A good example of
this is when we make an emotional purchase but then draw upon logical
reasons to justify spending the money.
In the second part of the study, the researches started asking
questions that were highly logical. Things like would you invest
in a stock that offered a 5 percent return or a 7% return? Even
though the questions were very logical, the emotional area of the
brain still activated first before the logical areas. This suggested
that even the most logical choices we make in life still have an
emotional foundation to them.
This is why scientific data and facts have limited influence upon
our diet and exercise choices. We can learn about calories, muscle
fiber recruitment patterns and hormones all we like. However, at
the end of the day it's our personal desires and emotions that are
the driving force behind the choices we make.
motivation is very much about our emotions and personal desires.
You can read food labels and study the facts behind your workout
all you like. The information is good to know, but your motivation
won't come from a logical point of focus. You can't sit down with
motivation and give it a Power Point presentation on why it needs
to increase. It only shows up when we have an emotional and passionate
desire to do what must be done.
This is why motivation can be such a fleeting and variable thing.
You can do the same workout for years. The facts and logic behind
it will be the same time after time, yet your emotional state can
vary greatly from one day to the next, thus so will your motivation.
It's important to note that having your motivation guided by your
emotions doesn't make you weak or undisciplined. You're not weak
because you have an emotional desire to eat something or skip a
workout. It's simply part of being human and a normal healthy human
The first thing to consider is that negative emotions drain motivation.
It doesn't matter if it's anger, sadness, or frustration. Any negatively
charged emotion you feel towards any diet or exercise choices will
drain your motivation. The second important thing to consider is
that while emotions can cause you to sabotage your healthy habits,
they can also propel you to new heights.
This is largely why negative feelings towards diet, exercise or
even ourselves can stop our progress in its tracks. Every time you
speak, or even think negatively about yourself or your habits it's
like pulling the drain plug on your motivation. Beating yourself
up in an attempt to pep talk yourself into sticking to a habit may
give you a short term boost, but it ultimately drains your long
term inner fuel.
This doesn't mean you should walk around with a fake smile on or
saying you don't miss chocolate when you really do. Your emotions
are buried deep within and are seated in some very primal areas
of your brain. You can't trick your emotions. Therefore you can't
trick your motivation. You can however shift your focus towards
the positive aspects you enjoy. So instead of thinking of how tired
you are while working out, you can focus on how strong you feel
during the movement.
Sometimes it can be difficult to find a positive aspect to a diet
or exercise habit. If that's the case, then you are probably better
off just dropping the habit for something else you have more desire
and motivation for. Always remember, there are millions of options
within our fitness culture. There is almost never a single diet
or exercise habit you absolutely must adhere to. You can give up
or "quit" anything and still find ways to reach your goals.
You have lots of options and very few requirements.
The final lesson is that your emotions and motivation reacts very
strongly to progress towards your goal. The more progress you make,
the more motivation you will have. This is due to the simple, yet
basic, instinct we all have that is always measuring the balance
between the cost of our choices and rewards they bring. Both your
conscious and subconscious are constantly weighing the efforts you
are putting into something and the results you receive. If the results
are positive enough, you'll have an emotional drive to do almost
anything to keep those results going. However, if the results are
too low, even the easiest and least costly habits can still become
impossible to motivate yourself for.
motivation to do something is usually not because of a lack of willpower
or discipline. It's simply a healthy reaction you're having that's
essentially saying "HEY! It's just not worth it." A lack
of motivation can actually be a healthy thing so its not something
you should ignore or fight against. It's your own mind and emotions
telling you that your efforts are better off being directs towards
other pursuits. However, if you're getting enough bang for your
buck then you'll have an endless supply of motivation. This is due
to the fact that progression and motivation can build up momentum
in a continuous cycle.
The more progress you achieve, the more motivated you are. The
more motivated you are the more fuel you have to make more progress
and the cycle continues. Of course, the cycle can spiral downward
as much as it can cycle upward. The less motivation you have, the
less you'll power yourself to improve thus you'll have less progression
followed by less motivation. This is why keeping some sort of workout
journal or record is so important. Much of the time, we either
don't know what to do to progress, nor do we notice the progression
when it happens.
If you did 8 pull ups in your next workout would that be progression
or not? If you did 7 the week before then it is progressive and
you'll gain some motivation. However, if you did 9 the week before
then you at least know what you have to do to progress. Without
documenting it in a fitness log, you're just guessing. Are the 8
pull ups progression or regression? Is that enough to get stronger
or not? Is the number of pull ups appropriate towards your goal
or are you just spinning your wheels with busy work? Uncertainty
like this can keep your mental cost and benefit ratio in constant
flux. Without knowing for sure what to do in order to progress your
progression is left to random chance and thus so is your motivation.
So to recap the key points of this article:
- Motivation is the driving force you must have to accomplish
any and all health and fitness goals.
- You cannot just will yourself to be motivated through willpower
- Your emotions and feelings have a far stronger influence on
your motivation than logical thought.
- Your mind is constantly evaluating the balance between the costs
and the benefits of every diet and exercise choice you make. You're
motivated to make choices where the costs are low and the benefits
are high and vice versa.
- Progression and achievement can help you build motivation and
motivation will help power you through more progression.
- Keep track of your progress to know if you're making progress.
If you're not making progress then your records will help motivate
you to do what will bring you progress.
Motivation isn't complicated nor is it something mysterious or
pseudo scientific. It's a simple and healthy set of emotional reactions
that can potentially tell you everything you need to know to reach
your fitness goals.