There are three big myths surrounding the requirements of sustainable, purposeful exercise and good, supportive nutrition. And like a mythological dragon protecting a castle, these myths may be keeping you from your goals.
Myth #1: You need inspiration to practice.
Myth #2: You need motivation to practice.
Myth #3: “Professionals” are always motivated to practice.
On occasion, I blow a client’s mind when I share with him or her that I’m not always motivated. (Whaaa?)
The truth is, there’s no such thing as unwavering motivation.
When I was in college, I had two of the best training partners. The first was my roommate Jeff. When he graduated, it became Tim.
They were great for me (and I them, I hope). There were days where I just wasn’t feeling it. Yet, they were always there to get my butt into the gym.
But after I graduated, I went through a season (okay, seasons) where I relied on motivation as my training partner.
Motivation was (and still is) a lot like a cat—fickle and never around when you want him.
Some days he’d show up early before I even left for the gym. Some days he wouldn’t. Some days, without him, I’d still make it to the gym. Some days, without him, I wouldn’t. Somedays when I did manage to get to the gym without him, he’d show up. But some days he wouldn’t.
Motivation comes and goes. Some days he’s totally MIA.
Good news, though. It. Doesn’t. Matter.
You don’t need inspiration or motivation to follow through with your training and nutrition plans.
I no longer rely on inspiration or motivation. (Okay, most of the time I don’t rely on inspiration or motivation.) I instead rely on action.
I mentioned earlier that some days motivation would show up after I went to the gym, i.e., I acted. You don’t need inspiration or motivation to act. Action often comes before motivation.
But not only does it come before motivation; it often produces it. I’ll often be unmotivated before training, only to become motivated while training.
Have you ever experienced this? Have you ever gone on a walk or run, not because you necessarily wanted to, but because you thought it might do your brain and body good?
At first, you sorta just shuffle along, staring at the pavement six feet in front of you. (Is this just me?!)
After a few minutes, though, the joints start to loosen up. The “fog” in your brain begins to lift. Your stride lengthens. Your head stands taller.
Instead of taking from you, movement is actually giving to you! At this point, you may have solved all the world’s problems . . . or at least your own. (Not only have I become motivated while training, this motivation often carries over to the remainder of my day.)
You acted first.
So, if we don’t rely on inspiration or motivation, what do we rely on?
Something that was taught to me by Precision Nutrition and I now teach to my clients are the “3 Ss”*:
Simply put, structure is organization. Structure ensures we get things done.
Have a daily and weekly routine that keeps you organized. Make healthy food accessible and unhealthy food inaccessible. Find a gym that’s on your way home from work.
In his book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, author James Clear writes, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
Systems are the practices we use to make things happen.
At night, pack your gym bag for the next day. In the morning, make and pack your food for the day (to help ensure you don’t succumb to fast food or the vending machine). Have a training program to follow.
When I first started in this industry two decades ago, I seldom wrote down my training appointments with clients. You know what happened? I spent a lot of time apologizing to clients for missing our training appointments.
Do you schedule important appointments, meetings, and events? Do you attend those things? Likewise, book time for your training and nutrition.
Schedule your three days of strength training for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 5:30 p.m. at the gym on your way home from work. (Remember structure?) Schedule time for grocery shopping and food prep on Sunday.
Dispel the myths that are keeping you from your goals by taking control of your structures, systems, and scheduling. They’re a lot more predictable than inspiration and motivation.
*While serving in the military, I was also taught the “3 Ss”, but they were a different three.