Finding your why
Regardless of your goals, the roots of your motivation must be based in a clear, concise, and purposeful reason for accomplishing them. If you’re anything like me, your why changes as you age, as you learn more about yourself and you gain wisdom. My “why” for joining the military at 18 was so I could get an education without going into debt. Not a great reason for me, so I have struggled with my military affiliation since day one. Still to this day I’m rediscovering my “why” in respect to my 13-year career, hoping to find something deeper, some personal conviction to keep me focused on my participation and progression. Now, that’s an extreme example, but it’s my example.
You must find your “why” in all things
You must find your “why” in all things, especially when it comes to health and fitness. Some people find fitness by means of necessity, others through recreation, but everyone has their basic motivation for showing up and putting in the work.
Extrinsic vs intrinsic motivators
“I want to look good naked.” “I want to go to the CrossFit Games.” “I need to fit into my wedding dress.” The common thread is the nature of the primary motivation. These are extrinsic motivators. Extrinsic motivators are those that are driven by external reward such as a desire to gain reward (praise and attention) or to avoid punishment (criticism and embarrassment). Extrinsic motivators are personified by that “bro” who just keeps watching himself flexing in the mirror. Alone. At midnight. In a Planet Fitness. “I love the way it makes me feel.” “I meet amazing people.” “It’s challenging and exciting.” How are these “whys” different from the others? These motivations come from inside yourself. Intrinsic motivations. These “whys” are rooted in a deep desire to participate because it’s an enjoyable experience and the benefits cannot be quantified. So what? Why does this matter? Your “why” should be balanced in both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Wanna get that muscle-up? Awesome, but what does that really mean in the grand scheme of your life? Most likely no one outside of our CrossFit culture cares whether you can do a muscle-up (or what a muscle-up is for that matter), how fast you run 400m, or that your one rep max deadlift. Of course, I care, but there has to be MORE. I urge you to search and discover those things that will help create longevity in your fitness goals, and keep you from burn-out and injury. Find your ENDEAVOR.
What is your nutritional “why”?
As important as it is to find your “why” for getting into the gym, it’s doubly important when it comes to nutrition. With the plethora of temptation that surrounds us, healthy food is probably the single most obscured, life-sustaining necessity. There’s a Wendy’s on every corner and grocery stores are filled with boxed, processed shit, AND IT’S ALL SO DELICIOUS. This is why diets fail. Diets are temporary and unsustainable, even destructive at times. In order to achieve true adherence to real nourishment, your “why” must be established. Some say you must hate yourself enough to change, but I think the more appropriate perspective is to love yourself (and your family and friends) enough to provide the real food and proper nutrition your body needs to function efficiently. When you identify your “why,” nutrition becomes easy. Second nature, even. Wanna feel better during workouts? Fix your nutrition. Wanna sleep better at night? Fix your nutrition. Wanna lose body fat? Fix your nutrition. It is the foundation of fitness and life. Your “why” will determine how well you manage temptation. It may change, it may mutate, but having your “why” will be your home base. The place you go when you start to feel like shit and realize you haven’t seen a green vegetable in or near your kitchen except for the green peppers on that double cheese supreme pizza you demolished last night.
Tis the season…
We’re entering “the season” of comfort foods, large meals, parties, cookies and treats. I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to going a little overboard at the cookie socials at work and “friendsgiving”. I’m not saying complete restriction is the right route, but those decisions become less stressful when you keep your “why” in the front of your mind. And let’s be honest, some people can totally get away with overindulging, but you must know where YOU are on your own nutrition journey. You can only follow a plan that you can actually sustain. Just make an effort to think before you act. Identify a routine that fits your life, satisfies your “why”, and still allows for enjoyment of all the festivities in the workplace and your personal life. Your success depends on how well your motivation is balanced in intrinsic and extrinsic “whys”. Don’t be afraid to do some introspection and some soul-searching. It may sound simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Have a plan, give yourself a break, and enjoy the process. By: Michelle Tirey