I have been asked many times: what is the one most important thing for getting in shape. Is it effective exercise? Is it the right food plan? Is it taking the right supplements?
No. It's your exercise motivation. Your motivation to exercise (and eat well) is the number 1 priority.
And more specifically, your reasons become crucial. Let me explain...
Make no mistake, you have to get your exercise and nutrition right. You have to be following the right actions. But it is the reasons you establish for getting in shape that will actually determine whether you will or not. Without sufficiently strong reasons, you have little chance of getting what I call exercise motivation. With sufficiently strong reasons – even without the absolute best exercise or nutrition program – you will get the job done.
The beauty of it therefore is this: it is completely free to establish strong reasons! And you can do it wherever you may be in your life and with the state of the body. In just a few minutes you can have it done, and it doesn't cost a cent. And, it will mean you are well on your way to the motivation to exercise and eat well that you need.
To elaborate a little, getting in shape is a two-step process. The first step is to get motivated – and chiefly this means finding your reasons. The second step is to find the right actions to take – both exercise and nutrition – that will ensure your body changes. Now the second step – finding the right actions to take – yes, that is important. And you might agree it's like a minefield out there – in terms of what exercise programme to follow or what food plan to follow. But rest assured the right information is out there. But before you go and find it, I advise establish your reasons for doing this.
Ok, so what do I mean by reasons? It's simply a matter of being clear on why you want to get in shape. Or to view it slightly differently, why it is worth making the effort to exercise in new ways and eat in new ways. The importance of the why is this: it is not necessarily going to be easy to change your habits. To counteract the effort, you want a clear reward. The reward is your why.
To do something not easy takes a clear understanding of the reward you get. The reward serves as the counter-balance to the sometimes difficult actions.
So your reasons, your why, should be strong enough to provide enough 'pull' to get you through any difficult actions.
Establishing your reasons may only take a few minutes. Think about this. Firstly, do you want to get in shape to: look better; be fitter and stronger; feel better; have more energy? Then, how will you benefit when you achieve that?
For example: I am going to get in shape so that I have more energy so I can spend better quality time with my children at the end of the day.
Or: I am going to get in shape so that I feel better about myself so I can go out and get a new girl/boyfriend!
Or: I am going to get in shape so that I get fit again and can play social sports like I used to.
Once you give a reason, and then get quite specific about it, instantly a new image forms for you. It's like uncovering a little pathway that leads somewhere nice. It becomes obvious and simple. All of the end results in the examples above take you to a desirable place. It is this place, this result, that are your reasons. These reasons are your counterbalance for the efforts you will have to make to get there.
Exercise motivation: how to get it.
I recommend anywhere between 3 and 5 good reason statements. And make them strong. Make it so that you feel the reason, rather than just understand it logically. It should feel exciting. It should feel like fun. Because during the course of getting in shape you will need to call on these reasons to pull you through and keep you going. That may mean getting up at 6am to workout. It may mean foregoing that morning donut. Set your reasons strong enough to counterbalance these efforts and success will result.
Motivation relating to exercise and nutrition
Now let's look at nutrition and exercise and see how establishing your reasons helps with these specific actions as well. You see, once you establish your reasons, there are TWO ways that these reasons can help you specifically with exercise and nutrition. Read on to learn how this works...
Once you have your reason statements, you have worked out where you want to go. What you want to achieve, and why. For example, I am going to get in shape so that I have more energy so I can spend better quality time with my children at the end of the day.
Firstly, this can help you choose what type of program you want to follow. When you are checking out different exercise and nutrition plans, you will be looking out for one that offers you increased energy. If one of your reasons included growing muscle so that your arms look better in a t-shirt (if that's a strong reason for you!), you will obviously be looking out for program that offers some muscle growth.
Second, having your reason statements established focuses your intent. Let's say you are in the gym lifting some weights. It's the end of your workout and you are tired. And you have two more sets of lifting to go. What may go through your mind is: I'm stuffed. I don't know if I can do those final couple of sets. That might do for today. What you really want to do is complete the last couple of sets and do your duty. Yet that question can pop up. What is really useful at this time is to think of your reason statements.
If you think of, say, the fun and the opportunities that will arise out of your reasons. If you focus on what the actions you are taking will bring you, everything can change. You think past your current tiredness, over to your rewards. Now this is very powerful. Because your mind will become energised by your rewards, and will forget your tiredness. Go with that, and finish the last couple of sets! That is exercise motivation in the short-term.
It's amazingly powerful when you think about the rewards. That's why we pick our reasons to be exciting and fun. So they can pull you through when you need it.
You see, what really counts is the intent that you have when you are taking your exercise and nutrition actions. You know why you are doing it. Each workout you do should be seen as a step towards the goals you have in your reasons. Each meal you eat should be seen as a step in this same direction.
Done with this intent, it actually doesn't matter if you aren't following the 'perfect' program. Or if your eating isn't 'perfectly' to plan. It never will be, anyway! Your intent and purpose is very important regardless of what exactly you are doing.
Spend just a few minutes establishing your own reasons for becoming, leaner, fitter, stronger and more energised. And then hold on to those reasons for the full length of your fitness program. Through every workout and in every day of eating.
Your reasons will focus your intent, which will make it clear to you why you are taking these actions. And they will help you keep taking the actions at difficult times.
What are your reasons?