How Do You Get Motivated?
Before beginning a workout or a fitness program, many people will look for motivational exercise quotes to give themselves a jump-start. There seem to literally be thousands of these around the internet (After one Google search, I even saw one by noted fitness guru, Gandhi!), and some can be helpful, but others not.
Let’s take a look at one in particular today and discuss it for a bit. The first quote is short and simple, but
says a lot.
“Strive for progress, not perfection.”
Before we get started, I just want to say that I am 100% in agreement with this quote, but let’s dig deeper as to why.
Begin With the End in Mind – But Don’t Get Caught Up
One of the most popular things people like to post when it comes to their own personal fitness is the “before and after” shot.
On the left you see the out of shape, pre-excercise person (usually complete with sad face), while on the right is Mr. Buff City complete with a pearly white smile and bicep pose (Because all everyone apparently wants are biceps and abs).
For me, there are a couple of problems that stem from this practice that may hamper motivation instead of create it and fly in the face of our goal for progress and not perfection.
- Setting up a false expectation: We look at these comparison shots and are obviously more drawn to the perfection side of the picture. We begin to wonder, “Can I look like that?”
For some, the answer is “Yes” and they get going. For others however, the complete opposite may be true. Running through their minds is, “I could never look like that.” The problem of using these before and after shots to sell a fitness program is it doesn’t take into account the individual’s mindset.
“If you do this, you will look like this.” Not necessarily! Everyone has a different body type that will respond differently to exercise. So instead of the comparisons, how about teaching that the ideal body is the one that is healthy for YOU the individual?
- Flab to Fab…but where did the middle go?: One other thing these before and after shots fail to show is everything that went in to getting from point A to point B.
All the effort, the frustrations, the plateaus, and obstacles overcome are nowhere to be found. It’s all the results without any of the sweat. Let’s be more open and honest about the progress portion of fitness instead of placing idols of perfection in front of people.
Instead of “Look at where I am”, lets focus on “Let me show you how I got here.” The guide doesn’t climb to the summit of Mount Everest and then call you up. He walks with you.
Let’s look at the key words of the quote now a little more in depth.
Perfection – The Internal Killer of Potentially Great Things
I’m going to be totally honest here. I have struggled with being a perfectionist my entire life. Whether it was in athletics, work, parenting, etc., if it wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t happy.
The funny thing is, I know I’m not perfect and I know I’ll never be perfect. Yet, still I would strive for it and fall short every single time. Only within the past couple of years have I begun to apply what I already know about perfectionism:
- You lose before you begin: It is important to have a goal. Something you wish achieve (whether in fitness or in life). However, if you get fixated that one specific goal in the exact way you imagine it, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
For me, in baseball, my one goal was to get a hit…every single time. Can anyone tell me how many baseball players in the history of the game batted 1.000? My goal in tennis was to never lose…to my wife…who played on the collegiate level.
Now I’m athletic and can get to a lot of shots that other people can’t get to. But there are some shots that she sets up and just knows how to do that I can’t come close to. Is my expectation realistic then?
Yet, I would get frustrated as anything when I didn’t achieve the ONE GOAL I wanted, which sometimes affected me for the rest of the game, causing me to fail even more at achieving my ONE GOAL.
By all means, set goals, but start small and realistic (more on that another time) so you give yourself the chance to succeed. Otherwise,:
- You quit too early: When you don’t achieve the results you want, when you want, you give up. It’s happened to me so many times over the years. The problem is, when you up and quit, you never give yourself the chance to learn from the mistakes you made.
We have the potential to gain more from our mistakes than our successes (Read up on any inventor…ever), but only if we are willing to do so. Quitting doesn’t give us that chance.
It’s happened to me and I’m sure it has happened to some of you, that you have seen days, weeks, or months of progress totally wiped out by an instance of perfectionist quitting.
Give yourself the grace to fail, figure out why you failed, and start moving ahead again!
Progress – Slow and Steady Wins the Body
This brings us to progress. Progress takes time. Progress is hard. Progress has to be fought for; it is not given. It’s why I have so much beef with the fad diets, quick fix pills, and…ahem…insane workout programs (more on these in future articles).
Sustained success is a matter of sustained effort. Quick fixes may work in the short term, but what about after that? It’s hard to be patient, especially in today’s world where everything is nearly instant at the touch of a button.
We want everything fast and easy, but honestly, lifelong fitness just isn’t like that in my experience.
If you take a look at my about me page, it took years of trial and error before I came up with something that worked for me, but over that time I learned an incredible amount.
Once I found what worked, it took me over a year to get to where I am now with putting on muscle. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is your body. That’s part of the reason I started this website. We are all in different positions, financially, physically, motivationally, etc.
My hope is to meet you where you are, and help bring you step by step to where you want to be.
Strive – Yes It Will Take Work
How does muscle grow? It has to be worked to the point that it actually gets micro-tears in the fibers that repair themselves into something stronger and bigger. I’m sure we have all heard the phrase, “No pain, no gain.”
While this quote is too broad and could have a whole separate article about it (hmm…*jots down for future reference*), there is some truth to it. I’m not saying you should ever exercise hurt.
Fitness while legitimately injured is never advisable and anyone who tells you otherwise has more muscle between their ears than actual brain.
However, from personal experience, exercise is difficult. Any exercise that does not challenge you, will not be all that effective. It’s as simple as that.
Look at other aspects of your lives. It took work to get where you are in your job. It takes work to be a good spouse and a good parent (and lots and lots of prayer!) If we have to strive for results and work through failure to grow in most every area of our lives, why would fitness be different?
And yet, if we do, and we are patient with ourselves, the results can be incredible! So by all means, strive for progress! Be willing to sweat and challenge yourself and see where it takes you!
Work That’s Worth It
Motivational quotes for fitness can be extremely helpful. In this case, progress is king. You would never see someone walk into a gym for the first time in their lives, put six plates on each side of the bar, lay down on the bench, and fire off three sets of twelve perfect reps.
It takes a long period of consistent effort for someone to even attempt that. Heck, I know for a fact that I will never get to that point and you know what?
I’m OK with that.
I don’t have to be Mr. Olympia (those speedos just don’t do it for me anyway) to be happy. I’m not going to look at pictures of body builders because I’m made differently than them.
The key is for me to work with my own body in a healthy way rather than dream of being the “perfection” that is theirs (which it’s not). I’m also comfortable that while we will never reach perfection, if we put in the work, we will truly see amazing progress!
What are your thoughts on the above quote? What’s your experience with perfectionism? Let me know in the comments below! Until then, God bless and progress!