Welcome to Hit Refresh. Over the next five weeks, we’ll be bringing you articles created by experts that will help you live your best life in 2019. Today, fitness expert Drew Harrisberg reveals how to find your motivation (or, your “why”) to get to the gym.
It’s 5pm on a Monday. You’ve just finished a long, busy day at work. The 3pm blues are still lingering. All you want to do is go straight to the comfort of your couch, have a bite to eat, and watch something on Netflix.
The last thing you feel like doing is stopping by the gym on the way home, even though you know you should. Sound familiar?
You tell yourself “I’m too tired” (you’re always too tired) and “I’ll go tomorrow” (but you won’t). So how do you break the cycle of paralysing, unproductive thoughts? You need motivation, right? Sure, motivation helps but it’s not entirely necessary. Motivation is only required to do the things you don’t want to do. You don’t need any motivation to go home, eat the chocolate and sit down to watch a movie. Those things come easily.
So, instead of trying to find the motivation to do the things you don’t want to do, what if you could find a way to actually want to do them instead? That way, they’d become effortless and enjoyable without requiring truck-loads of will-power and motivation.
You know you should go to the gym but you just can’t get yourself to do it. So, the question is, how do you bridge the gap between knowing what you should do and actually doing it? The answer to this problem comes in the form of a question… What’s your ‘why’? Bridging the knowledge-action gap is easier than you think. Your ‘why’ is the bridge that connects knowledge and action.
Start by discovering and defining a deep reason/purpose to do the difficult things that you don’t really want to do. Your reason or purpose has to be significantly more appealing than the chocolate, or Netflix, or your couch. It needs to be something that you value more than anything else in the world. Next, attach a positive emotion to it. An emotion that aligns with the joy of being alive and happy, rather than fear of sickness or death. For example: “I want to live a long, healthy life because it will make me happy and fulfilled to see my grandkids grow up” rather than “I’m afraid of not being around to see my grandkids grow up”.
Once you’ve defined your own personal ‘why’ repeat it over and over and over until it becomes your mantra. On days when you encounter hurdles, you’ll have some extra drive to overcome them. When you’re dreading going to the gym but you know you should, remind yourself about your ‘why’ that you’ve committed to. You could even write it down on a post-it note and stick it to your bathroom mirror. Look at it every night before you go to bed and first thing in the morning. Read it and repeat it to yourself with conviction. Do whatever it takes to imprint it in your mind.
On a personal note, after being diagnosed with diabetes at age 22, my ‘why’ completely shifted from aesthetics to optimally managing my diabetes and avoiding the frightening long term complications. Now I see exercise as a form of medicine that I can freely and happily administer to myself. I love the entire process. I no longer need motivation because it comes naturally.
I came to the realisation that exercise will help you get the body you desire, but your ‘why’ is the difference between an effortless process or a process filled with difficulty, pain, sacrifice and a constant battle of will power. Let the physical transformation be a by-product of a healthy mindset.
So, let’s rewind.
It’s 5pm on a Monday. You’ve just finished a long, busy day at work. You’re tired and want to go home to watch Netflix and eat junk food but you remind yourself that there are a few things that you want even more than that…
- You want to prevent, manage and reverse disease
- You want to feel the endorphin rush after a solid workout
- You want to give your body the gift of movement that it craves and deserves.
- You want to live a long, healthy life and see your future grandchildren grow up.
- Most of all, you value your health above and beyond anything else and you want to live a life aligned with your core values.
And at the end of the day, you can still end up at home watching Netflix with a delicious, healthy home-cooked meal but just imagine how much better it will taste knowing that you well and truly earned it!Discover your ‘why’. Make it personal. Don’t ever forget it.
Drew Harrisberg is an exercise physiologist, diabetes educator, sport scientist and most importantly – a happy and healthy guy thriving with type 1 diabetes. Follow him on Instagram @drews.daily.dose.