This was a guest post for Western Mastery, a fantastic blog for just about…
As you are probably aware (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this), success with fitness is really, really important. Success in your fitness life promotes a huge self-confidence boost, and carries over into all other areas of life, as I describe in my book.
But, if it’s so important, why do 90% of people fail to improve in their fitness life? What causes this? They must know that they would be happier if they improved, so why do they seemingly choose to live a lower-quality life instead?
Do they REALLY want low self-confidence? Do they REALLY want to be unattractive to members of the opposite sex? Do they REALLY want to feel unsuccessful their entire lives?
I would argue no. Most people desire to improve, but either:
- Don’t posses the knowledge required.
- Don’t have enough motivation.
Or a bit of both.
People DO in fact want to improve, but they just don’t want it badly enough, therefore, they never take any progress-stimulating action. Maintaining their current condition is simply easier. Laziness often beats happiness.
Knowledge isn’t the major contributing factor when it comes to making progress, as the internet has an abundance of knowledge available. Most of it’s bullshit and based on marketing, but that’s another story. Some of it’s VERY useful for short-term progress, but very few people will help you to sustain that progress as well as I can.
Although knowledge is important, I would say that intrinsic motivation is the major barrier to progress with fitness for most people.
What Causes Motivation?
Psychologists have done a lot of work on this, and it’s great stuff – your goals have to be YOUR goals, and nobody else’s, in order for the motivation to be intrinsically rewarding.
I’ve spoken about this before, so this is nothing new. However, your fitness life is your fitness life. It’s different to work/business/studying goals, whereby, unless you’re self-employed, you’re essentially being “forced” to perform a specific task, with a specific deadline.
This doesn’t really apply to fitness. There must be more to it…
Psychologists have also pointed out that external rewards reduce intrinsic motivation. Essentially, this means that you HAVE TO ENJOY THE PROCESS IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS.
You MUST enjoy the day-to-day life that is required for success in fitness, otherwise you will fail.
None of this:
- I can reward myself with “x” food/drink, because of all the cardio I did today
- I can binge all weekend cuz I stuck to ma diet mid-week (this is why the cheat day mentality is so bad for sustainable progress)
- I can start “bulking” now – as I’m already lean, and I won’t gain any fat cuz it’s all going to ma muscles
NO, NO, NO!
If you are going to train with weights, do some cardio, restrict calories, you NEED to make these changes slowly, as this will make them as enjoyable as possible, and less chore-like. This is great for sustainable progress and long-term happiness.
If you’re going to transition from a cut to a bulk, do it slowly. If you’re going to increase total training volume, do it slowly. Perform your favourite exercises. Etc.
Enjoying the process is the most important thing. Now, what if you enjoy the gym and “clean-eating” (for example), but don’t seem to be making any progress?
Set some specific, measurable goals.
People are terrified of holding themselves accountable for their successes and failures – you have to do this, and measure your progress along the way. Otherwise, be prepared to live a life of frustration and unfulfillment. Set some specific goals, use time management techniques to ensure you achieve these goals (short-term first, then long-term), and reap the benefits.
It’s a great feeling…you’ll soon find out.
If all else fails, you need to use fear. I hate to say this, but most people don’t have the motivation to change until it’s too late. This normally means their health has gone to shit, and they can’t possibly enjoy life to the same degree as they used to be able to.
Don’t let this be you!
Think of what could happen if you fail to hit your goals in 12 months time, or 5 years time, or 20 years time. What if you are still overweight, or still have zero muscle mass and strength? How does that make you feel? Good?
I didn’t think so.
However, it hopefully shouldn’t have to come to this. Most people fail because they are trying to impress other people, as opposed to pursuing intrinsically-motivating goals that they truly desire for themselves. Don’t compare yourself to others. Not good.
I do think that the issue is that people don’t know how great it is to achieve these goals, until they actually do it. It’s like they’re stuck in their own little mediocre routine, never knowing what fitness success actually feels like.
I can tell you:
- It increases your confidence, which carries over into all human relationships – friendships, relationships, family, business etc.
- It boosts your sex appeal.
- It increases you energy and vitality – which improves your productivity.
- It generally makes you feel pretty invincible.
Set some fitness goals, and get to work. Stop being lazy. Stop making excuses.