How you start is important, very important, but in the end it is how you finish that counts. It is easier to be a self-starter than a self-finisher.
The victor in the race is not the one who dashes off swiftest but the one who leads at the finish. In the race for success, speed is less important than stamina.
The sticker outlasts the sprinter in life's race. In America we breed many hares but not so many tortoises." - B.C. Forbes
There are a lot of reasons to start something, but do YOU want it, or is it the desire of someone else?
Chances are, if you do not want it, you will be the hare. You will get all amped up to start a new program and you will be off! You may even see some results in your short-term motivation. But what about long-term? What about sticking power, where does that come from?
It comes from setting the right goals and choosing the right activity for YOU.
Let's start with your goals.
Are you focused on the wrong goal?
We all know physical activity is great for you, is a necessity and will vastly improve your health...but people are still inactive, lazy and don't stick to programs...What gives?
The fact of the matter is, most people are after the wrong goals. I am here to tell you your ONLY reason for getting fit and healthy cannot be your appearance.
More and more research is being done on why people just straight-up do no workout, and they are finding it comes down to what motivates a person to actually exercise and eat right. It comes down to how you view your goals in your mind, are you extrinsically motivated or intrinsically motivated?
Extrinsic motivators are things like gaining approval from others, avoiding guilt, or obtaining contingent self-worth.
Unfortunately, a majority of people look at fitness and health in this way. You are simply trying to look a particular way, for a specific time or event. Don't get me wrong, some people are so motivated to look a particular way, always, and they do it for them that it is an intrinsic motivator, but that is a rare case.
If you only workout to look a certain way for other people, how long will that last?
Let me put it this way; if you had to work a full-time job, but your paycheck had to be spent on things that ONLY impressed your neighbors, how long would you keep the job? Hopefully that is a good analogy for you. If you would love to keep working that job, we have a lot of work to do.
To quote the research: "Ingledew and Markland (2008) showed that appearance and weight goals were positively associated with extrinsic motivation and negatively associated with exercise participation, while health and fitness motives were positively related to self-determined motivation and physical activity participation"
Intrinsic motivator refers to participating in a behavior for the enjoyment, satisfaction, and interest inherent in the behavior, or for personally endorsed or valued outcomes. You do it for you. You do it because your enjoy it, you want to get better and you want to grow.
Not many people look at fitness and health this way. Also, you are not born as a person who likes to workout or a person who doesn't. The human body at its very foundation was built for activity, not being sedentary. It is a simple change in perspective that can change your motivation, not hardwiring the brain in a different way.
Here is a quick look at extrinsic and intrinsic goals, see where you are at, and remember intrinsic(s) are the "good ones":
Satisfy competitive desires....Extrinsic
After looking at that, where do you stand? Do you see why your fitness motivation may lack, or see why you keep at it? Do not get me wrong it is OK to want to look a certain way or to lose weight or gain muscle, it is the WHY that matters. Is it for you? Do you want it?
Get intrinsically motivated and you get sticking power.
Sticking power, honestly, is mental toughness. Sticking with something no matter what. Pressing on when you don't feel you can. To keep moving week after week towards a goal.
How can you find an activity that will matter? Something that will keep you engaged? Keep you motivated?
It comes down to two simple principles:
Enjoyment & Competence:
Enjoyment - The desire to have a good time, to have fun and to pursue interests.
Competence - To expand your skills, to be challenged, to grow and to exercise.
Fitness has become a programmed activity in today's world. It fits in with a checklist; take out the trash, go to work, long list of 13 other things....then workout (if you can). If fitness is not something you enjoy, you are doing it wrong! Who said you have to lift a barbell? Who said you have to run? Who said...?
You need to find something YOU enjoy whether it is powerlifting or parkour. Try it all out, experiment, find something that you enjoy and something that you want to get better at.
Let's find out where you are at.
Take 5-10 minutes to honestly answer this one question. Your response will be the basis for moving forward:
Think about what you like to do that would make you want to discuss it after it was over, something others would be interested in talking about?
For a lot of people the response will not be "Run on a treadmill", but also, for some that is their answer.
For a lot of people the response will not be "Lift weights", but also, for some that is their answer.
For a lot of people the response will not be "Cycling", but also, for some that is their answer.
For a lot of people the response will not be "Sandbag training", but also, for some that is their answer.
What's your answer? What excites you? What keeps you engaged? You do not have to do what others do! You only need to do what you care about!
Furthermore, the research says, if you are going to keep at fitness for the long haul a minimum of two of these three things need to happen:
YOU need to pick WHAT you do and WHY you do it.
YOU need to WANT to get better and efficient in your chosen activity.
YOU need to develop intra-personal relationships with others around said activity.
So if you picked what and why you are doing something and you want to get good at it, you've got it!
If someone else picked the activity, but you want to get good at it and you have made great relationships in the process, you're good!
Someone else picks it, you don't enjoy it or care to progress and you don't like the people involved, you need to make a change!
Fitness is not 30 minutes of weight training followed by 20 minutes of cardio and 10 minutes of abs. There is an entire other world out there; sandbag training, kettlebell training, high intensity interval training, powerlifting, running, weightlifting, bodybuilding, the list goes on and on.
This is why I program so many different options in the weekly workouts
There isn't a right answer, there is only what will keep you engaged, healthy and fit for the rest of your life.
Find the right activity and overall goal!
Take you time and answer the question: Think about what you like to do that would make you want to discuss it after it was over, something others would be interested in talking about?