Friday, September 2, 2011

What Motivates Me? A Guide To Finding Your Own Motivation.

In wondering how to motivate my clients, I asked myself: "what motivates me?", and it's an interesting question. What does, intrinsically motivate me, what basic assumptions am I working under, that make me go through the rigmarole of the training life, the difficulties of lifting weights, doing intervals and dieting?

For me, it comes down to 2 ideas; (a)  the first 25 years of my life, especially my teen and early 20's, were spent eating junk food, drinking and generally punishing my body, and mind. I used to eat, 6 meat pies over a day, and the only liquid I would drink, by the gallon, was soft drink. When I diverted from this, it was to eat McDonald's, KFC, and still when I diverted from this, I drank booze! I never exercised, I stayed up all night, I did nothing positive to and for my body. This has put a fear in me about my latter days, am I going to get bowel/esophageal/stomach etc cancer at age 40 because of the crap I've done to myself?

Maybe. It's on the cards.

(b) I also, from about age 12, went absolutely spastic for comics, I own a modest collection of about 10,000 (don't ask how much money I spent on them!). What does this have to do with motivation? I grew up, as a skinny little dweeb (no wonder why when you look at the above eh?) who emulated muscle, the power, confidence and general appeal I took from that made me want to get involved with weight training, but I didn't know how.  Fortunately I worked with a big guy, who took me under his wing, let me train with him, and immediately, my inner geek, fan boy was addicted.

Trying to look like an action hero? That was for me.

These 2 driving principles, the desire to avoid an early death, and the desire to emulate the action heroes I grew up with, are what, at my core, motivate me. Don't get me wrong, I want to be healthy for health's sake, I enjoy learning about training etc, this has become my life, but the reason I get up at 5am to come to work, to train you guys, and to train myself, and to get better at it, starts from those two basic, intrinsic desires, that I'm barely conscious of anymore.

If you're wondering how to motivate yourself- ask yourself- what motivates you? At your core, what basic assumptions keep you where you are, from your goals, and from the body you want.

If you feel like sharing, I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Brutal honesty that will make me sound like a complete superficial prat to follow:

    I figure if you're a girl with a fairly tight body, then you don't ALWAYS have to worry about how the rest looks (i.e. face and hair), because y'know, at least you have your hot body to fall back on (you can insert some discourse on superficial image-driven society here to make me sound more intelligent and like this has any scientific backing). Some days my hair looks crap, or I didn't get enough sleep. If I can still wear a tight dress and rock the bust-waist-hip measurement aspect, then it's better than nothing.

    What else... Oh yeah, I like being able to outdo boys at things. It's fun when you can do more push-ups than them. It's a lame little quasi-feminist notion of mine, even though actual "fit" boys can kick my butt. I take what I can get.

    Other dumb things: Sometimes my friends and I get a bit drunk and bitchy and rag on fat people (I know, I know...). If we get fat, we can no longer share this immature joy.

    I'm better in bed when I'm working out more (or at least less lazy)

    If I'm in better shape I have a better chance of running for the bus and ACTUALLY making it, instead of looking like a loser and running and NOT making it, and standing there hating life.

    Yes, these are the things that consume my mind on a daily basis. A nice mix of vanity and concern for my overall health and wellbeing :)

  2. Hmmmm....being strong enough to Javelin-launch a 50+kg barbell at your head when you call me "Chezza"?

  3. Wow, good question.  The immediate response for me is that I want to like what I see in the mirror each morning.  Having been overweight to some degree for most of my life being "in shape" represents a huge positive achievement, something tangible that says if I work hard and am consistent and dedicated, I can improve myself.   It is a revelation to go shopping and realise I can buy a tight fitting shirt to look good in when the baggy style has always been my friend.

    I like the positive reinforcement when a friend or colleague I haven't seen for a while says "hey, you're looking good" and I can modestly reply "yeh, I've been trying to eat healthy" or "I've been working out".  
    Kara referred in another post to "social capital", and while I have never thought of it that way I think there is a definite respect amongst my friends/colleagues/peers when you can honestly say that you're trying to look after yourself when my peers are working long hours, eating bad food and drinking too much.  

    On a short term reward scale, I look forward to breaking old personal records and setting new PR's.  I've never consciously experienced that endorphin rush that people talk about from exercise but sometimes I will go home after a big session on a massive high that can last for days and feel incredibly enthused about working out - best two examples were after one particularly intense boxing cardio/HIIT workout and the first time I squatted 100kg.  I felt great!  

    So maybe it's about ego and self respect for me?  I like being fitter but my lifestyle has never really required much in the way of fitness and I haven't really spent much time worrying about long term health issues.