Rob was my young adults’ pastor many years ago and I’m excited to have this opportunity to write a guest post for him. When he ask me to write about staying motivated with a fitness program, I had a chapter from my upcoming book on fitness for parents that addressed this exact issue. Here is a modified version of it that I hope you will find it helpful.
One of the biggest keys to success in training (as with most things in life) is consistency. Sure, there are people who look great because they were born with amazing genetics, they use drugs or they recruit the aid of a talented plastic surgeon. However, these exceptions aside, when you see someone who is very “fit” you can accurately assume that this person is that way not because of some magical 3 week program, but because he or she has put their time in. Day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade this person has consistently gone to the gym and gotten the job done. In short, this person was able to stay motivated and focused on their goals over the long haul.
If you are like most people, you are busy. You have a lot on your plate and trying to squeeze in time on a regular basis for exercise can be a big challenge. However, there is a secret to staying motivated over the long haul. It has helped me to train consistently for the last 20+ years and it can work for you. The secret is simply this: think big picture.
As a trainer, I am constantly asking people what their goals are. Most of the time, I get the typical responses such as:
- “I want to lose a few pounds”
- “I want to bulk up a little”
- “I want to tone up”
- “I want to have bigger arms/chest/shoulders/calves”
- “I want to have smaller waist/hips/thighs”
- “I want to jump higher”
- “I want to run faster”
Now, please do not get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with any of these goals except for one thing: in the big picture of life, they are drastically insignificant. Does it really matter if you go through this life with your arms one inch bigger? Will your life be more meaningful with a smaller dress size? Will you be worried about having had a six pack when you are lying on your death bed?
While these goals are all nice and will bring temporary satisfaction, they all lack lasting significance to consistently pursue. If you really want to get and stay motivated, you need to keep the big picture in mind.
To start thinking big picture, I would like you to stop reading for a few minutes and reflect on one or more of the following “big questions”:
- What is your big dream?
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you feel God is/has called you to?
- What is your purpose in life?
- What really matters to you?
Note: all of these are basically trying to get at the same thing, but you may find that one question more than the others gets the answer you want.
After you have had a chance to think through this, it is time to make a thought-paradigm shift. From here on your answer to why you train or what your goal is has to be:
“To help me with (fill in the blank here with your answer(s) to those big questions).”
Now, of course you can still have those smaller goals that I mentioned above (they can be helpful for determining the most appropriate training program for you), but from now on, you must continually make the connection between training and the big picture.
To help get you thinking big picture, please allow me to get personal and share my big picture reasons as to why I train. Yes, one big one is that I work as a strength coach and trainer. For me, fitness is in part an essential part of my ability to make a living and put food on the table for my family. However, in addition to this reason, here are some other reasons why I train. Feel free to steal any that will be helpful for you. These may be totally different than yours and that is fine. You may think I am crazy and maybe I am. However I just want to get you thinking:
- I believe my body belongs to God and I am responsible to take care of it.
- I believe that my work is a calling from God and being fit is an essential part of fulfilling this calling.
- I want to be strong and fit to protect my wife and children should the need arise.
- I want to be a better and more effective leader and I know that the better I lead myself, the more credibility I will have leading other people.
- I want to lead by example so I can help as many people as possible get fit and healthy.
- I want to model (not preach) a healthy lifestyle for my children.
- I want to be a disciplined person so I can maximize my effectiveness. I know that the discipline I learn from training will carry over to other areas of life.
- I think my wife is the most beautiful woman in the world and I want look as good as I can for her.
- I have two daughters who inherited their mom’s beauty genes and I want to strike a healthy dose of fear into all the young men who come their way.
- I want to be able to train with my kids (if they want to train with me) when they get older.
- I want to be able to get on the floor and actively play with my children and future grandchildren and great grandchildren.
- I want to live with vibrant health and good functioning until the day I die.
Now, I will be honest with you. I really do enjoy training. I know that you may not. However, as much as I like it, training is just not fun enough to have fun be your main motivation – especially for the long-haul. I have been able to consistently train for over 20 years because I have been able to see the big picture. It has worked for me and it will work for you!
Andrew Heming MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Andrew works at Trinity Western University as the Head Strength Coach and an Assistant Professor in Human Kinetics. He also coaches clients in person and online. He specializes in training athletes and people that want to look and feel like an athlete. He publishes a blog at www.AndrewHeming.com and is author of Athletic Training for Fat Loss.http://www.andrewheming.com/2013/11/athletic-training-for-fat-loss-ebook.html