Motivation: Is It Really the Main Way to Achieving Your Fitness Goals?

Having trouble staying motivated during a new fitness regimen?

Well, according to Susy Natal, a performance coach and personal trainer, relying  solely on motivation to reach your health and fitness goals often leads to failure.

This is how she coaches her athletes to maintain their commitment to training.

In the age of social media, motivational quotes and posts are everywhere. 

Over the years I’ve been helping people reach their fitness goals and I’ve found that while these messages mean well, they’re not great at keeping you on track. 

There’s a common misconception that if you want it you can go out and get it. This is a great idea, until reality kicks in that long-term, consistent motivation just isn’t realistic.

My experience is that while motivation may get you started, it’s not what will get you through the long-haul. 

You may start strong with your goal to get lean and toned or adopt a healthier eating plan, but will struggle to remain consistent as time wears on.  

The following are the main reasons you need to substitute motivation for something better: a habit.

Motivation is just a feeling

Just like any success, consistency is key with your health and fitness. Consistent effort requires a consistent driver and motivation is often turned to, yet motivation itself isn’t consistent. 

Motivation is just a feeling, and all feelings fluctuate. Just like you can’t be expected to feel happy 100% of the time, it doesn’t matter how badly you want to achieve a goal or love doing something – there will be days when you just aren’t feeling it. 

We’re hard-wired to fear and resist change

Motivation has been given this pedestal by many motivational speakers, coaches and trainers as the key to success. But motivation should just be the push that helps us feel extra pumped about something that we already want to do. A health and fitness goal can come with huge habit and lifestyle changes and we’re all hard-wired to fear change. 

Our innate biological response to change is to hit the brakes. If you’ve bought into this idea that you need to wait until you feel ready for it before you start, you need to just start because that feeling may never come.

Forming new habits takes a long time

You may have heard it takes 21 days to form a new habit, or how you need to practice something at least 10,000 times before you’re adequately skilled at it. These numbers are all somewhat arbitrary, but they demonstrate something important: clear and permanent change requires a lot of time and effort. 

Hard work is not a sexy concept and sometimes it can be boring and you’re not always going to feel motivated to do the work. But if you want change, you’ll need to find something stronger than just motivation to help you keep moving forward.

Commitment is a promise to yourself

We’re shaped by how we deal with the events in our life, good and bad. We’re a product of our decisions and big ones require commitment. 

It’s why setting goals and committing to them can be a more powerful tool than just relying on motivation. A goal you commit to is a promise you make to yourself and to those you choose to share it with. It creates strong accountability and gives you a network of support. 

When you’re setting your next health and fitness goal, phrase it as a promise and commit to work towards it for both yourself and your loved ones. 

Let motivation weave in and out of the journey to help give you an extra buzz whenever it comes along for the ride.

Susy Natal is a Sydney-based performance coach and personal trainer who also has a Bachelor of Psychology. She’s also an online trainer and coach for beginners right through to competing athletes. She defines health as optimised movement, nutrition and mindset for an individual, and works with her clients to help them achieve this. Find her at susynatal.com

This article first appeared in Fitness First magazine.

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