What motivates you to train and do it consistently?
I recently posted this question on social media. It's asked by many locals, young and old, in the gym and swimming pool. What's the motivation behind dedicating yourself to consistent training?
Never quit -- proving others wrong
The Force is strong in this one.
Wanting to prove others wrong can be a strong source of motivation. I have concentrated on doing that throughout my life to motivate me, and still do. This is very powerful for those seeking challenging educational and career paths, as well as to those fighting medical issues like this comment demonstrates:
"Someone once told me I am always going to be fat because I am a Type 1 diabetic. That sparked something inside me and motivated me to prove them wrong. It's been a little over a year, and I have taken off 51 pounds and am feeling great. And those two great words -- never quit -- are a big part of my life."
Group training -- being part of a team
I know having a group does it for me. I train people 20 years younger than I am and strive to hang with them each day at 6 a.m. Being part of a group, or a group trainer, makes you work harder than if you were by yourself. You'd feel bad if you let down the team by failing to show up or work hard. This one is implemented by many different groups from athletes in sports of all ages, ballet dancers, CrossFitters and group training instructors in all types of workouts.
Family health and wellness
Many people work out to stay healthy for familial reasons. That was certainly the case for this motivated military lawyer:
"What gets me motivated and moving is my family. I am 28 and don't have a wife and kids yet, but will someday. I have lost 67 pounds this year in an attempt to get into the Air Force JAG and have finally been accepted. I want to be able to provide for my future family and give them the best life I can, so I put my body to the test day in and day out while keeping them in mind. Knowing that I was doing it for them kept me going when it would have been so easy to stop and go home."
Future military, law enforcement and firefighters
All of the above careers share a common goal of preparing for a life of physical challenges. Many successful young men and women seeking these professions consistently train hard for a considerable amount of time before their selection. Many try to develop a solid physical foundation and turn their weaknesses into strengths. A future Marine sums it up best:
"My motivation is knowing that being physically fit is at the core of being a good Marine. It can save your life. I also remind myself that our enemies are training just as hard, and if I slack off, people can die. That's what gets me going on the days where I'm just not feeling it."
There are many great sayings and self-talk out there that can motivate us to train hard. I have used the following.
"Train to compete, not just survive." This is perfect when striving to push through physical and mental barriers.
"Stronger people are harder to kill than weaker people and more useful in general."
-- Mark Rippetoe
Both of these, and many others, will help focus you to push through the minimum standards in life and reach your maximum potential.
Having a tangible goal
Signing up for events and races is one way to keep a carrot always dangling in front of you while training. Training to compete with a group of people in a race is a way to reduce and even eliminate the days when you consider skipping a workout.
There are many things that motivate us to train hard. I am grouping these last few together, because they are related to each other in many ways. When you train hard, you meet others who train hard. You can form a new social group, and together, you all stay strong.
Here are two final posts that summarize fitness motivation very well from an older athlete and a future tactical athlete.
From the older and wiser athlete:
Here is what motivates me:
Looking at pictures of myself 50 pounds ago. (Functional and aesthetic.)
Still being able to participate in multi-hour and -day endurance events and be social with some pretty amazing people. (Performance.)
Cheating the clock of life. Staying fit and exercising regularly is the fountain of youth.
I enjoy working out. Some go to a psychiatrist. I use the gym or toss on the ruck and go. (Stress buster.)
In the end, many of the fittest people I know share the same love of fitness and hard work. It has become a habit that might start with childhood sports and never reach a final destination.
From the younger, future tactical athlete:
When I hear comments like this from our younger generation, I am confident we have a bright future:
"My training motivation reflects a revulsion against mediocrity and a refusal to be outworked. I train so that I can be strong for the team with which I'll one day serve. I train so that I can be the one of which Heraclitus spoke: the one who will 'bring the others back.'"
Training hard is a part of me, and when you love something that much, motivation doesn't come from quotes and YouTube videos. It's just a matter of finding passion in the daily grind, building strong habits and doing your job. There is no secret sauce. You don't need to know what perfect looks like, only what better looks like.
Half the battle is showing up; the rest will take care of itself.
Thank you all for the great ideas.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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