Some Thoughts On Health & Fitness Goals & Motivation

MOTIVATION IS THE DRIVING FORCE THAT MAKES YOU GLEEFULLY HOP OUT OF BED IN THE MORNING, FULL OF YOURSELF AND HAPPY TO BE ALIVE – WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVATION?

Motivated people have a dream, show passion and enthusiasm, work with a practical and flexible plan and never ever give up. Motivation is the driving force that makes you gleefully hop out of bed in the morning, full of yourself and happy to be alive. When you are motivated, life is full of magic, and when you are not motivated you need to get there and quick. Motivated people are passionate and positively full of themselves, their enthusiasm and excitement are contagious, and they attract people to them. Do whatever it takes to stay motivated, dream, fantasise and imagine the unique body and fitness that the future you will earn and turn into reality, very soon.

Intrinsic motivation is the key to success in everything we wish to attain in our lives. I would say motivation is the key to the inner universe. With motivation nothing is impossible.

There are many theories on motivation and a general understanding and acceptance of what may motivate you is helpful if you are to be coaching yourself. Many of these theories do seem to be at least somewhat age and sex related but that is no hard and fast rule and there are always exceptions. I also believe that motivational factors are different for each individual and may change at different stages in any person’s life. It is important to accept what motivates you and to accommodate that drive in your programme selection. We are all driven primarily for the need for food, but I think we can discount that as our motivation in this instance, unless you starve all day and then leave your dinner at the end of an assault course. Maybe not that practical and there is bound to be a McDonalds somewhere on the course. An actor asks what their motivation is before they perform so let us see if we can narrow down exactly what your motivation for changing your body and fitness may be.

Sigmund Freud theorises that we are driven by our repressed sexual urges. Alfred Adler states that we are driven by the search for power to make up for what we believe we are lacking, so inferiority, inadequacy and insecurity determine the strength of our drive and ultimate goals. He uses Napoleon as an example of an inferiority complex. He was highly motivated because of his lack of stature. Erik Erikson believed that identity crises are essential for us to form ourselves and that we are driven by forming those identities. The last 2 psychologists I will mention here are Viktor Frankl, who believed that man’s search for meaning is ultimately what drives him. And finally, to Abraham Maslow whose hierarchy of needs shows that we have an order of needs that begins with food, water, shelter and safety and goes up through the higher values of self-esteem to ultimately becoming self-realised and driven by values and life meaning. I think it is fair to say that we are complex organisms and all the above are true to some degree in most of us.

Young men are generally the most obvious in what drives them, and they are training either to excel in sport or just to be bigger, stronger and more attractive to any prospective mates, thus conforming to a society ideal portrayed in magazines and television. The bigger and stronger image is for other guys mostly to strengthen their identities in the pack. This drive quite easily leads into the middle years in men as well particularly if they are in amongst the young guys at the gym. Sadly, muscular size is overly revered in society but that is just the way it is. So, if you are a guy and your motivation is to get bigger and stronger that is great just remember that fat is not the way to go. Gyms are full of size monsters that are just plain overweight. Cardio, leg work, good eating habits and stretching need to be included in your workouts. Nobody is fooled by Mr upper body except Mr upper body. Quality above quantity is the way to go, it may take longer but will be well worth the wait.

For men the society acceptance threshold for being overweight is higher than for women. An overweight guy is “a big bloke” and totally accepted up to an invisible limit, where he becomes fat. For women that limit is much lower, and society is less forgiving of overweight women.

For young women it is not important to be strong and powerful and in fact a woman with muscle could be frowned upon, again there seems to be a line not to be crossed. For a while that line was determined by Madonna’s stringy, yet muscly arms. Madonna though is quickly replaced by the next must have celebrity body just like the latest model of a car or mobile phone catches the desire of consumers in a capitalist society. Generally young women are motivated by reaching a weight or dress size acceptable to both society and themselves. You could then say that forming an identity that is shaped by the media is the driving force for women’s fitness and that the painfully thin photo-shopped role models are the gold standard. These motivations lead to women wrongly avoiding weight training in favour of attempting to burn off as many calories as possible with cardio and men not seeing the need to do cardio and spending all their time getting big, yes, and fat. For women this motivation is quite consistent throughout the years.

As men age they start to reach an unacceptable level of both fitness and fatness and health concerns may arise. Confronted with the middle years, they decide to do something about it. This stage being bigger and more powerful is not as important, often married with kids and settled the need to attract a mate is less of a drive. This is often where the drive is to improve the quality of fitness and subsequently the quality of life, the time for more meaning and where being free of health problems becomes much more important, something as a youngster we tend to take for granted. As for strength and fitness the old saying “the older I get the better I was” comes into play. I have heard about some amazing feats of strength that men allegedly performed when they were in their prime.

The quality of life stage is very similar with women of the same age, a realisation that improved health through nutrition and fitness not only makes you look better but improves your moods and the quality of your life, all factors that produce excellent motivation. Have you found your motivation amongst the sex, power, meaning or identity in here anywhere? Desire is the key to motivation, but it is acting to meet your desires that produces results.

Motivated people have a dream, show passion and enthusiasm, work with a practical and flexible plan and never ever give up. Motivation is the driving force that makes you gleefully hop out of bed in the morning, full of yourself and happy to be alive. When you are motivated, life is full of magic, and when you are not motivated you need to get there and quick. Motivated people are passionate and positively full of themselves, their enthusiasm and excitement are contagious, and they attract people to them. Do whatever it takes to stay motivated, dream, fantasise and imagine the unique body and fitness that the future you will earn and turn into reality, very soon.

Be Your Own Coach

In delivering my books and blogs to you we are obviously expecting you to become your own life coach. We can carry on our fitness lifestyle because we are coaches and we have an awareness of what is needed, and we take full responsibility for our own progress. This responsibility or ownership coupled with the learning and subsequent improvements are what make fitness so enjoyable and are key motivating factors. In simple terms the buck stops here. Immerse yourself in the knowledge and empower yourself with the responsibility for your total well being it may help you stay motivated. It has with me.

YOUR GOALS ARE HELD DEEP IN YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS MIND – LEADING YOUR ACTION TOWARDS SUCCESS.

“I have mixed feelings about goal setting as I feel, and have seen something as simple as a person weighing themselves turn them from a positive and motivated individual into a self-confessed failure in front of my eyes. Nothing deflates certain personalities quicker than perceived failure. In our eyes this is not even an issue, in health and fitness as life there are no failures and it is not a competition. Perceived failures are just part of the process to success in reaching your goals. At worst we all have to navigate around obstacles we know as failures at best they are your guiding lights to progress and success. We suggest you take the latter view, why look at it any other way?”

Just because you are not writing them down and studying them doesn’t mean you don’t have them etched deeply in your subconscious mind.

So the big question is – How do we set goals that do not turn out to be counterproductive?

Julie and I sat for hours chatting about goal setting and how we approach this in our training. We have nothing detailed and specific written down. So our first question to answer was – do we have goals? We both decided that we do. Ok!

Next question – where do we now keep our goals?

Well we both keep our goals in our journals, when we see something we need to work on we log the fact that it is a priority and watch it for 30 days and then just informally after that to ensure the new habit doesn’t slip too far. You may wish to detail your goals more thoroughly, but we believe that is when you set yourself up for disappointment, constantly number crunching to check your success and missing the big picture. We both decided that we keep a very positive body image embedded deep in our subconscious minds, put there from years of seeing the finished article as we daydreamed, this is undoubtedly the safest and best place for your goals but being honest this has happened for us totally by accident and through force of some very good habits. Although I do use creative visualisation now, we arrived at this level of fitness and physique by unwittingly using the skills I now deliberately employ in other areas of my life.

I asked Julie what her desire was for her body and her fitness and how she saw herself in her perfect scene. She pointed out that she always saw certain areas of her body as better than they are now. For example, her legs and glutes are less likely to carry any fat in what she holds in her mind. She said that in all honesty the fitness for her was the fantastic by-product of attaining the body, if you get the body the fitness just comes along with it, a two for one. That would indicate that Julie is motivated by the need for an identity based on her body. She stated that her real physique is always a tad behind the subconscious Julie. I asked if this meant that she was dis-satisfied with how she is now, she answered that she does have her moments like any person does but she is very happy with her body 99% of the time. We theorise that the subconscious image of us is where we are aiming to be and is just enough of an improvement on reality in our eyes to keep us both motivated. In summary Julie is satisfied but more than happy to welcome positive changes to her physique. This attitude lends itself to a relaxed approach to any goals and avoids constant disappointment for falling short.


Self-Image –

For any goal to be realistic and attainable one must have an accurate self-image and yet most of us do not see ourselves accurately at all. This inaccurate evaluation of ourselves is always lower and limits our potential. In psycho cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz he likens it to having two boxes one small one inside a much larger one. The small box represents our image of our self and our capabilities, the larger box represents our fantastic potential. The void between these two boxes needs to be filled by improving our self-image with that all important self-belief and ridding ourselves of self-imposed limitations. As an example of how we limit ourselves again taken from psycho cybernetics. A person that has a fat self-image convinces themselves that they have a sweet tooth and cannot resist rubbish food, they can’t find the time to exercise and nothing they do works. This becomes their reality, you cannot escape self-image but you can change that image. If you feel that you really need work in this area to improve self-image, I heartily recommend the above book- Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz and there are others. Anything is possible if you believe in yourself.

Ok, now with self-image as a work in progress or perfectly Ok we will look at how this information can best help us set goals that will inspire us with minimum effort. The results we want can be facilitated by setting goals whether we write them down or have them all stored in our on-board computer, so for us it is our handwritten journal and our minds. We need goals for every aspect of our fitness related behaviour particularly as in many cases we are setting out to form new habits.

Our HEALTH AND FITNESS goals for a typical day when writing this – Flexible as we change very often.

Our habits ensure we achieve our goals each day. To give an idea of what I mean I will break down a typical day for me. None of this list is written down as it is habitual behaviour but nevertheless has to be completed for our deltoid angel to rest peacefully, having vanquished her deltoid devil adversary for another day. Should we at any time consider that we are falling below our own expectations on any of these, we hand the goal over to our journal to once again reinforce the habit. Any new goals get the journal treatment from the word go. Often we need nothing written down as we are driven and habitual in many of our habits and the foundations are layed with the good habits outweighing the bad.

  • A little and often feeding schedule including moderate protein and carbs with healthy fats. Any current eating plan could fit here, intermittent fasting, Keto, or zero carb days etc.
  • To walk the dogs four times for at least 30 minutes
  • To go to the gym and workout whatever has been planned. This get to the gym goal has goals within the goal. There are also goals in the workout to achieve, for instance 30 minutes cardio at a set heart rate level, or a perceived exertion level of very hard, and a workout to complete to our satisfaction. The feeling post workout has to be one of having given a good honest account of ourselves. We never leave the gym thinking “that’ll do” or “maybe next time”. Workouts have to be challenging. I cannot remember ever leaving the gym without completing the work out.
  • The feeding “little and often” carries on with our shake post workout and then throughout the day till bedtime, don’t worry we do eat some proper food for dinner. Your feeding schedule is the key to your results and is determined by your size and activity levels and your goals of either fat loss or muscle gain.

For me the day starts at about 4am with a shower and a meal replacement protein shake before I settle down to meditate for up to an hour, I then write my informal journal. I get to work on my current project for my first stint of the day until about 9am. I have another shake at about 8am as I work. My goals for feeding are to take on board moderate to high protein and moderate carbs throughout the day either from solid food or more conveniently liquid form, being heavier my requirements are greater than Julies. At 9am we both take the dogs over the park for a long run lasting about an hour. We have protein fortified porridge when we get back. I do a little more work and then we get set to leave for training at about 11am. We pack our bags to include shakes for immediately after training and water. Upon arriving at the gym (a major goal), arriving is where most people fall down, we set about our first workout goal and today for me it is completing a tough but satisfying 20 minutes on the cross trainer. I have always found cardio is where I need to make a special effort as it is where I will justify slacking off. I never slack off these days and complete a hard 20 minutes alternating between high and low levels. After cardio I stretch, I perform 8/10 stretches, each for 30 seconds, another goal achieved. My next goal is an upper body workout. I perform 10 upper body exercises in a set order very intensely with good technique and the exercises have to pass my inbuilt “hard work” test, another goal completed. I shower drink my shake and return home. I know when I need to feed next at all times, this avoids me ever eating out of control or missing valuable feeds. Progress hinges on training, sleeping and feeding. All three need to be planned and in your goals, if not automatically then logged in your journal until they are ingrained in your behaviour.

Julie (57)

For anybody thinking that my schedule is suited to this, maybe you are right at the present time but for the last 35 years whatever job I have been doing, wherever I have been and even working abroad I have always managed to design a schedule to keep up my fitness needs. I am now training fasted since 3pm yesterday at 4am in the morning because it is easier, my physique goal is different and Julie can always make it. It makes little difference to any goals. Planning is the key, if you rush out of the house each morning without a plan for your nutrition and exercise needs, you will fail. YOU are responsible, nobody else, so save your excuses and just get on with it. Once it becomes habitual you will wonder what you were worried about. Maybe one of your main goals will be to plan and prepare each days feeding schedule for your success. I have used shakes in the past because I just think it is convenient and measurable nutrition. In each shake I get X amount of protein, carbs etc. and if you can measure something you can adjust the levels either way upon evaluation of your progress. We rarely leave home without a shake on-board and there are lots of healthy fast food options like Brazil nuts, dried fruits and all sorts of bars and drinks now on the market. Porridge is quite nice even when cold in a sealed container, just match your taste buds up to your imagination and find your healthy nutritious solution. This is just one of many skills you will need to master as your own coach. I will leave the feeding schedule for the moment. We will discuss nutrition options later and I will give you some valuable sources to obtain your healthy convenience foods.

Remember that goal setting doesn’t mean that you are stuck with those goals. You can change your goals as often as you want and feel it is needed. Also it does not mean that you become emotionally addicted to achieving them. Goals should help you flow and give you a clear focus and direction to direct your energy toward. Goals are there to help and support not hinder you in your true purpose. They are not taken too heavily or seriously but at the same time you must give them enough weight and importance so they are of real value to you. Start with simple obvious things and you change and develop them as you go along.

Ultimately goals are set to help you form new habits and get rid of some of your existing ones. These new habits need to hold the promise of improving the quality of your life experience otherwise there will be little motivation to reach your goals or change our existing habits.

I will now outline the Habits we credit with our fitness success to assist you with the goal setting process.

We plan to exercise every day. This leaves us room to manoeuvre and missing a session doesn’t become failure as five or six workouts a week is still something to be proud of. Aiming high always give you a good average workouts per week. We witness trainers that aim for 2/3 session per week and quite regularly miss them and yet when asked they say “I work out 3 times per week”, firmly believing that they really do 3 workouts per week. Goal 1 – aim high with your workout regularity. Aim to get some exercise every day and you will always achieve a good average. Any less than 3 times per week is really not enough anyway and you should be doing something on a daily basis. It is wise to get out of the habit of thinking everyday exercise is too much, it is not, our bodies are created to move so give them what they need every day not just a few days per week. Walk, run, play sport or get to the gym but every day is your aim, it doesn’t have to be super intense every day, and intensity interspersed with more moderate days like taking a long walk is perfect. Get yourself moving and away from the temptation of boredom or low energy eating. The number one way to energise your body is to exercise. A long walk with Jacob and Smudge is often as well as other exercise in our day, if we have nothing planned that walk can be just a little or a lot longer.

Adam (60)

We plan to eat little and often, always knowing what and when our next feed will be. Protein shakes are food. Anything with a calorie content is food whether you eat it or drink it. We never have a constant supply of crap foods in the house, no alcohol either, if you are serious about getting and staying in shape you need to avoid the temptations so don’t buy them. You will be setting an example for all of your loved ones, if it’s not good for you then it’s not good for them and why would you want to be introducing them to habits they will struggle to change when they inevitably need to.

Julie – (3 children and Grandmother of 4) – (57 yrs) – pregnancy no excuse here.

We always do balanced workouts that over the week include – Cardio, weights for every muscle group and stretching. And lots of walking or bike riding.

We always work hard, not going through the motions. It is not enough just to turn up you have to train intensely. The last set on all resistance exercise is done to failure which means we couldn’t do another rep if our live depended on it.

If I were to recommend one habit as the most important to your successful progress in fitness and most other aspects of life this would be it!!

Keep a journal, this is a good way to discipline yourself to keep your habits as it is difficult to kid yourself. I cannot praise the process enough. There is no fun in writing up failures each day but there is much satisfaction is seeing your progress and success and looking back on your feelings, it allows you the opportunity to re-align your goals each and every day. The journal also allows you to spot a problem before it becomes much of a problem at all. Sitting and writing about your dreams and expectations is good also. This can include anything and doesn’t have to just be about your health and fitness. If you have a bad day it is good to talk to yourself about it in your journal and turn it around for the next day. You journal can be a day to day assessment of your whole life. -DIY Therapy-

Meditation and visualisation are both part of our lives, most of our goals are held in our heads. Visualising your ideal scene is great when meditating and the relaxation felt in your often tight body from workouts is very therapeutic. See it, believe it and know you will surely get there in the end. I believe that we all hold images of ourselves that match the stories we tell about ourselves – make sure you tell a great story and hold prime images of your future self. These stories are something I will return to often in my writing. They are so important in creatinf our apparent reality.

This may surprise you but one of our goals has been to avoid getting into the habit of watching too much television. We find this habit addictive and energy sapping and very powerful. How many times do you find yourself watching other peoples crap lives unfolding before your eyes and passing for entertainment? Or sit looking for absolutely anything to watch rather than move your backside? We feel that apart from the odd exception television depicts the worse side of human nature and never energises but rather saps the energy from your body and to cap it all for some reason we all sit and eat while we do nothing. For us that is a bit of a negative double Whammy! And a habit we have to fight to avoid but the effort is well worth the gains. Our main living room no longer has a television in it, we have it housed in a small room adjacent. We mainly watch selective sporting events and often they are recorded so we can make it fit our schedule as opposed to letting the devil box in the corner dictate our lives, not to mention the position of our furniture. Just as a side to this, our conversations and family moments are much more rewarding without being distracted by the television on in the background all the time. I recommend you try it, you will not miss it until you are bored and then you should get the message and find something better to do. Each of us at some time does have the odd programme we like to watch but that doesn’t now entail any person in the room having to watch it and becoming hypnotised as well. As you can see, I am quite a critic of the negative effects that television and computer games have on our overall fitness, energy levels, social skills and activity habits. DOH! Sorry about that it is just one of my hot buttons, I have been sucked in once too often. At one time I had watched so many re-runs of friends that I began quoting the wisdom of Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, Rachael, Ross and Monica at the most indiscriminate moments, now that is sad and most definitely time to take stock of your meme library. I guess the fact that I have just mentioned them all by name shows I am some way from a total cure.

To summarise goals –

  • Your goals will ultimately be achieved by setting your new habits and breaking destructive habits. If you change nothing then nothing will change.
  • Self-belief is of paramount importance. Visualise what you want and do not accept no for an answer. Anything is possible.
  • Use your journal to focus daily, the present moment on your progress, thoughts and plans.
  • Once you are focused do not become goal obsessed, relax and let it all happen perfectly. Again, stay in the now.
  • Know and accept that you will not reach your goals without having to deal with some negative feedback, your progress line will be a zigzag, never straight.
  • Approach each moment of adversity with an optimistic view and move onwards and leave it behind. It really doesn’t matter. Never dwell on small matters.
  • Develop “the happy little place in your head” where you can go when you need your motivation bolstered. Make it your planned reality. It will happen if you want it with emotion, passion and then let it go.
  • Try to make meditation a part of your daily routine, a time to relax and put all that is happening into perspective.
  • Know that the way you think is the key, all you ever have to change is inside of yourself, if you are having bad feelings, and your negative thoughts are causing them. Look inside, never outside.
  • Last but not least, have some fun and never take yourself too seriously.

Take all of this on board and it is not a matter of how but rather WHEN you will succeed.

AGREE OR DISAGREE! If you like my writing or it at least gets you thinking – please check out my books here.

-Adam Senex-