So, as of this moment, I weigh about 155lbs. About a year ago, I was up to about 165 pounds. But, it was a GOOD 165lbs. In fact, I was in the best shape of my life I had ever been in. I felt better at 29 years old then I ever felt at 19 years old. I was working out every single day. I did yoga. The chronic lower back pain I had suffered for years had simply vanished. Quite simply, I just felt awesome.
As soon as I hit that awesome peak, I was screwed. Finished.
2 Years ago, I made the pledge to start eating much better. Not just much better, but 100% clean. I went cold turkey. The first few months, the only thing I ate was fresh, homemade fruit and vegetable smoothies, fish, and eggs. All organic. Nothing else. I drank TONS of water. I completely cut out juice and soda. I didn’t have a single bit of anything unhealthy.
My body went through this natural detox. I remember where I had this one week where I felt like dying. Every single muscle in every area of my body had this sharp pain in it whenever I tried to move. It was because all of the chemicals and toxins that had been logged in my muscle tissue for so long was being extracted out and put into my blood stream. I went bathroom literally like every 20 minutes. But, at the end of the week, I felt absolutely UNBELIEVABLE. It was a strange feeling. I felt light. Super light. I just felt really healthy. It was a distinct feeling.
As soon as I hit that awesome peak, once again, I was screwed. Done.
In both of those scenarios, I achieved my goals. I wanted to get in better shape through working out, and I wanted to get very healthy by eating better foods. That happened. I got exactly what I wanted.
And yet, in both of those scenarios, once I got the results I wanted, I stopped. I lost my motivation to keep going and continuing them.
It was getting the great results I wanted that made me lose my motivation to keep going.
“What the hell?”, right?
The fact is, I fell into a classic trap. I unknowingly stumbled right into it. I didn’t know it at the time. In fact, I used to wonder to myself afterwards “Why don’t I want to do this anymore? What’s happened to my motivation?”
I like Elliot Hulse. If you don’t know who he is, he’s a fitness trainer who has become really famous on YouTube through his Strength Camp channel. One day, I was watching an interview he was doing with the London Real when he said something that really caught my attention:
“When we go to the gym with a goal in mind and we just go through the motions robotically, it robs us of the experience of the actual workout. Think about going to the gym just for the workout and not for the goal; not just so that you can put a check mark next to the reps and the sets that you did, but so that you can really become engaged with what your body wants to express.”
Boom. That was it. That was the answer to my question of “Why don’t I want to do this anymore? What’s happened to my motivation?”
The problem, and the reason why I lost my motivation to continue working out and eating well, even after I got the great results I wanted, was simple:
I worked out and ate well for the wrong reasons.
Like most people do, I worked out and ate well specifically for a goal; an end result. I did it just so that I could achieve an outcome. I wanted to get in better shape physically, and I wanted to get healthier internally. Once that happened, and I achieved those aims, my motivation completely drained because the things that were motivating me to work out and eat well had been realized. My main source of motivation suddenly became completely moot.
If you’re motivated by achieving an outcome, then once you achieve that outcome, where’s your motivation going to come from anymore?
Some people might say, “Well, once you achieve that result, then you try to achieve the next one!”
So, I’m supposed to live my life like some rat on a wheel going around and around, constantly just chasing after something again and again? I’m supposed to just let myself get dragged around by results like a cat getting dragged around the house chasing a dangling string?
That’s a terrible approach, for two reasons: One, it would mean my ability to feel happy would be controlled by results and things outside of myself. Two, results are addictive, and once you get hooked on results, then when those results don’t come, massive pain follows.
That was the mistake I made. I allowed myself and my motivation to come from something external as opposed to something internal. I fell into the trap of being driven by results instead of the actual process itself.
This was a profoundly awesome learning experience, and it completely changed my view on results-oriented motivation. It also gave me the answer as to how to prevent falling into the same trap in the future.
I’ve started working out and eating well again. However, it’s not for the sake of reaching a certain weight or fulfilling a specific calorie requirement.
I eat well and exercise because of how much I simply enjoy doing those activities.
My focus is no longer on what I can get out of working out and eating well, but rather how those activities make me feel as I’m doing them. I try to make sure I consciously recognize the fact that I genuinely simply enjoy lifting weights and eating healthy foods.
When I go to lift weights, I get excited about seeing if I can lift 35lb dumbbells. Then, once I plateau there, I get excited about the challenging of moving on to lifting 40lb dumbbells.The challenge of busting through plateaus and moving onto higher weights drives me forward.
When it comes to eating healthy, I’m driven by the challenge of seeing what new healthy recipes I can come up with. I like to conjure up new smoothie concoctions. I’m motivated by finding and discovering new ways to eat better and experience different methods of enhancing my health, such as juicing.
As a consequence, my motivation never dies off. It hasn’t curtailed at all whatsoever. Why? Simple:
I have intrinsic motivation that comes from the process itself, not external motivation that comes from the results. Because my motivation comes from the activities and how much I enjoy doing them, I don’t experience the drain of motivation that comes from being results-oriented. My motivation is always there because I always enjoy doing those things.
It feels infinitely better too. I no longer feel like I have this pressure on my shoulders to need to hit a certain weight or eat “x” amount of calories a day. I’m not constantly weighed down by this bullshit self-induced state of fear where I feel like that, if I don’t hit my weight goals or if I eat a Butterfinger, that I’m a failure or a loser. I just wake up every day, focus on getting really engaged and into the process of working out and eating healthy, and just letting myself feel how much I enjoy doing those things. If I get in great shape, awesome. If I get healthier, fantastic. At the end of the day, I’m still going to work out and eat well, simply because I love doing them, regardless of whether those things happen or not. They make me feel good.
Just do things because you love doing them, not because of what results you can get. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s working out, eating healthy, working on cars, playing the violin, painting a picture, or building a house. Results are always the biggest impostor. How an activity makes you feel is real, and being engaged in the experience itself the most important thing. And, if you simply allow yourself the chance to just enjoy doing the activity, you’ll do it better. When you do it better, you’ll get the great result you want anyways!
And, eat donuts. Donuts are yummy.