How To Fall Back In Love With The Gym

Find The Internal Motivation To Get Back In Shape

You’ve seen the workout motivation quotes to promote your fitness goals and give you inspiration to stick to your goals.

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If only these memes and motivational quotes worked. We know the dirty little secret, don’t we? They’re cute. We post and share them but they don’t carry us to our goals. That’s because all of the habit books, the behavior change coaching, support groups, cool clothing, classes, magazine articles, and tips and hacks don’t have magic in them. Only your mind does.


Let’s take a deep dive to demonstrate what I mean. Answer the following questions on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is the highest:


  1. How much do you want to begin working out again?
  2. How important is working out to you?
  3. How confident are you that you can begin working out again?
  4. How ready are you to begin working out again?


Notice any pattern? Wonder why you didn’t say 0?


What are the good things about not working out? What are the not so good things about not working out? What are the good things that might come to you if you did begin working out again? What are some of the not so good things that might come to you if you started working out again?


See a pattern emerge? Do the good things outweigh the negatives or is it the other way around for you?


Mark Twain wasn’t attempting to motivate people to exercise when he said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Getting started sounds easy, but for 50% of the US population who don’t meet even the minimal 150-minutes-a-week exercise guideline and for the 31% of those Americans who don’t work out at all, it is anything but easy.


Knowing what motivates and discourages you to exercise is more important than knowing the right athletic shoes to purchase for your feet or remembering the combination to your gym locker door. Without understanding your motivation to begin exercising and to adhere to your program, you just won’t do it.


Exercise professionals explain that there are two forms of motivation; internal, or intrinsic motivation, and external, or extrinsic motivation.


Externally motivated folks find the drive to exercise when they think of the end goal. When those goals are reached, motivation to usually fades. This is why internal motivation is more powerful.


Internally motivated people are more likely to continue exercising since they are focused on “here and now” inherent rewards. Often, the exercise feels enjoyable or the activity is personally meaningful. Perhaps seeing improvement in your performance leads to a positive feedback loop that promotes a sense of meaning doing an increasing physical challenge.


Think of those who do the Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure” as an example. They are highly motivated and engaged in the activity. The more you create deep personal meaning in your exercise, the more likely you will stick with it.


Working out begins in your mind. It’s what you’re thinking. The link is what you think. Too many people focus on changing behavior. Real commitment comes from digging deep into your self and becoming a person whose very being sees value in physical activity and has values that create the purpose for leading a healthy and active lifestyle.


In the end it’s how you think of and define yourself. Someone once observed, “It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” It’s really both.


Dr. Michael Mantell

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has been providing psychological and coaching services for nearly 5 decades and continues to empower positive change among his global clients to enhance life in every way. He is a highly sought-after healthcare professional coach, an executive and team building consultant, and a longtime specialist in cognitive behavioral coaching.

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