Mindset, Not Motivation

I grew up in the era of movies with dramatic training montages; Rocky, Karate Kid, Bloodsport, etc.  Rocky was one of my favorites.  I would get so hyped up every time I heard “Gonna Fly Now”, and would imagine myself knocking out single arm pushups and running in Chuck Taylors and gray sweats.  In fact, I even set a goal as a kid that I would be able to do single arm pushups along with the movie.  That hyped feeling would last until around 5 minutes after the final note of the song, and I had fallen flat on my face at least 3 times.

The problem with training montages is that, while they are very motivational, they are just a 3 minute clip of work that takes weeks or months to accomplish.  They are great motivation, and they last about as long as typical motivation.


Motivation is Fleeting

Motivation, while very powerful, is very fleeting.  It is there one minute and gone the next.  How many times have you gotten hyped up to accomplish something (New Year’s weight loss?) only to lose motivation a short time later and go back to your old habits?  It happens to everyone.  And that’s the problem with motivation.

Imagine that your fitness journey is a long road trip.  Motivation is you putting your key in the ignition and starting the car.  It is great that you’ve started the car, but that alone is not going to get you anywhere.  Getting to your destination takes planning, fuel, time, discipline, and occasional pit stops.

When it comes to fitness and diet changes there will often be a catalyst that gets someone seeking motivation.  They get told by a doctor they need to lose weight, they have a friend complete a Spartan Race, they watch The Biggest Loser.  This catalyst drives them to seek motivation (watching more motivational Youtube videos, seeking weight loss information or stories), which then leads to them take action. They put the car in drive, get out of the driveway, and their journey stops at the first stop sign.  Something in their schedule changes, they miss a workout due to a kid’s basketball practice, and any number of change-ups that life tends to through us.

Most folks who are relying on motivation will quit at this point because the motivation has faded.  Others will seek more motivation and keep going for a little while longer.  The problem with seeking more motivation is that like any drug, the more you use it the less effect it has.

Mindset: The Key to Lasting Change

The folks that really make change are the ones that completely change their mindset towards their goal.  They realize that fitness/weight loss is a life-long journey; a marathon, not a sprint.  True, lasting results take months, if not years, to accomplish.  They don’t allow any of life’s obstacles to derail their journey; rather, they adjust as necessary to keep on track.

Those adjustments may mean waking up early or staying up late to insure you get your workout in.  It means taking advantage of any opportunity to get work in rather than using a busy lifestyle as an excuse.  It means keep your head down and trudging along in your fitness journey no matter what comes your way.

This type of mindset change almost requires a person to become obsessed with their goal.  Fitness needs to become as second nature a routine as brushing your teeth and putting on deodorant.  You need to have the mindset that your just don’t feel right unless you’ve gotten your training in for the day.

Mindset also requires you to realize that the journey takes time.  That means not getting upset when the scale numbers aren’t dropping as fast as you would like.  It means not losing heart and giving up when your weekly body-comp pictures don’t look as dramatic as the before and after pics on all of the Jenny Craig and Total Body Gym infomercials.

Like any long road trip, as long as you have a plan, determination towards your destination, and patience you will get their, but if you count every single mile marker you’ll feel as if you’re going nowhere.


As we come upon the holiday season and the New Year closely examine yourself.  Do you have a fitness or wellness goal?  Did you have a goal at the beginning of 2020, but find yourself not even close?  Take time to be real with yourself.  Don’t sugar coat it; be harsh.  Mindset stems from realizing the truth, not from a fluffy, politically correct hint from someone that you should probably, maybe, if you want to look into working out.

Look at yourself in the mirror and be real.  Then figure out what it is going to take to be the person you desire to be.  Where do you need to start?  Do you need help getting started?  What obstacles do you foresee derailing your goals?  What has derailed them in the past?  Be hard on yourself and hurt your own feelings.  Only then, will your mindset change; when you scream at yourself that you’ve had enough of the old, and the new HAS to HAPPEN!

Once you’ve done that do whatever it takes to get that ball rolling, and once it’s rolling do whatever it takes to not let it stop.  Confront yourself daily until taking steps towards your goal becomes so habitual that you feel off if you haven’t done your work for the day.

If you need more discipline methods I highly recommend reading David Goggins’ book, “Can’t Hurt Me”.  Now THAT’s a journey in discipline!

You CAN be the change that you want as long as you set your mind and don’t rely on motivation.  Let motivation be that key that starts the car, but don’t expect it to drive you the whole way.