Goals.. Internal and External Motivation

Your dedication should be commended. You wake up before work three mornings a week to work hard, sweat and hear me yell at you, if that isn’t internal motivation, I don’t know what is. Sometimes your own motivation isn’t enough to get you over the plateau. Sometimes you need something outside yourself to put a fire under your butt to push a little harder, do one more push up, one more sprint.

I have always been an active person, but sometimes my motivation isn’t all it should be. The demands of everyday life have gotten the best of all of us, next thing you know, you are in a rut, just going through the motions. You are putting forth effort on your job, or your workouts, but is it maximal effort? You are putting effort into your grocery shopping and meal preparation, but are you consistent?

Its is no easy task to put your all into something for extended periods of time, one could even say its impossible. With all the curve balls life can throw at you, its just a matter of time before you fall off your horse during this journey towards living well. When this happens, we have to make sure we can find a good reason to get back on the horse and keep going.

When I tell someone I am a personal trainer, they think I have it all figured out, I never miss a workout, I am always motivated to go and stay in the gym for hours… WRONG. I am a human being as well. The same vices and life events that affect you, affect me. My wife and I are planning for our first child, which is a job in itself. I have a huge sweet tooth, I LOVE twizzlers, I like to have a beer or two or five when I watch football on Sundays. While I preach to eat clean majority of the time and have a 36 hour cheat window, I am guilty of falling off track here and there. I follow those guidelines more time then not, but I have had to press the reset button due to carelessness.

One way I stay motivated, through the tough times in life is to always have a fitness-related event to work towards to keep my training regimen on point. In the past, I’ve used 5Ks, obstacle races and triathlons as external motivators. My most recent and most challenging external motivation came in the form of my first physique competition. This event required me to pay a lot more attention to nutrition than the others, sticking to a strict diet for about 8 weeks. There were also lots of days when I didn’t want to go to the gym and workout at all, but I had to keep my eyes on the big picture, as I increased the intensity of my workouts for about 4 months before the event.

Below you can see my before pictures where I was at 12% bodyfat. I weighed about 175, and while I still lifted weight 4 times a week, and lived a very active lifestyle, the fruit of my labor was not ripe until strict and deliberate changes were made to the type and amount of calories I took in. For this show, I dropped down to 7% body fat as a result of cleaning up my diet and allowing one-two cheat meal per week. This external motivation was what kept me on track during all those Carb-less nights and helped me place 3rd in my first competition.

B & A Front b and a side back

In order for success, you need a good mix of internal and external motivation to stay on track. What is the something outside of yourself that will put the pressure on you to strive for you absolute best, be it daily, monthly or a one time event? Do you want to drop you body fat percentage to a certain number? There are a few 5k runs coming up over the next few months, is that something you want to conquer? It could even be something as simple as reaching a set amount of steps per day.

Extra shoutout to Anne Hedian, her external motivation is getting 10-12k steps in per day in addition to class workouts. As a result of her chasing that goal, she has lost an additional 5 pounds!

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