Are you working out for the wrong reason?
In the New Year, many resolutioners start off great, but about a month in they slowly start to fade away and stop going to the gym or veer off their nutrition plans. And not even just resolutioners, but anyone working out can easily be side-tracked away from it–especially if they are working out for the wrong reasons. I’m going to briefly go over the top 3 wrong reasons, and why. I want to preface this by saying that I am a firm believer in people bettering themselves at the gym, and I am all far whatever can get people to start going–even if it is one of these reasons. However, as you’ll read, all 3 reasons are extrinsic motivations, which if not transferred to intrinsic motivation, over time can cause people to easily drop off what they were doing for a number of reasons (more discussed below). So if the reason you started or continue to work out is one of these below, do not feel bad or ashamed–be proud that you’re doing something! But instead try to work on refocusing your goals intrinsically/internally so that you will have a greater chance for long-term success and making it part of your lifestyle!
1. Solely focusing on looks
Up first is probably the most common: working out for the sole reason of focusing on looks. Whether that be being upset at how your own body looks, being jealous of someone else, or wanting to be as insanely ripped, toned, muscular, skinny, etc. as someone else looks. And while this can provide a good spurt of motivation at the beginning, it can quickly tire and fade out. For example, if after certain amount of time, you;re not seeing the results you had expected or hoped for, it can feel discouraging and be easier to quit if you’re only focusing on your outer looks. Or especially in today’s society with social media, it can be so dang easy to look at someone else and start comparing yourself to them, which again can make you feel discouraged with your workouts, your progress, your life, etc. and make it easier for you to just give up and quit. Even if you get great results at the beginning, over time it is harder to make progress and easier to plateau. And even if you get the body you think you want, it really doesn’t automatically change your happiness level or anything–trust me I’ve been there when trying to lose weight. So if you have started to work out focusing on your looks that’s okay, but instead work on finding the enjoyment and benefits of working out such as feeling better, more energy, more strength, being overall healthier, etc. to continue to motivate you rather than appearance.
2. out of hate
Next up, sort of goes hand-in-hand with the first one, but a little different. This reason is when you work out (just as it sounds) out of hate, whether that be for your body, yourself, your lifestyle, etc. Again while this may motivate you to get to the gym for a little while, if you’re going out of hate, ultimately you’re going to start dreading it. And we all know that it is so so so much harder to continuously commit to do something we dread/hate. Plus, the mind is a powerful thing. If you continue to fill it with negativity, hate, and bad thoughts, more than likely your physical actions and life will reflect that. Now I’m not saying you have to love everything about your body and never want to change–that’s unrealistic. But you should work on getting to a place of gratitude for what your body has done and keeps doing for you such as keep you alive, allowing you to move and enjoy your hobbies. Learn to love your body, and then work on changing certain things, not out of hate, but out of love and a desire to become your healthiest, best self ever.
3. for someone else
Working out, creating the best you and the healthiest lifestyle should be for you and you only. This doesn’t mean that you can’t want to get healthier in order to play with your grandchildren better, or so that you can be your healthiest for your significant other. But it does mean that you’re validation for continuing to workout should not come from someone else nor should you workout in a way you dislike because someone else thinks you should. For example, you here all the time that girls are only doing this or that to impress a guy. Well, what happens when that guy isn’t interested or moved on? Well their reason/motivation disappeared so they stop working out. When you only work out for someone else, then if that person isn’t impressed or doesn’t have the same reaction you expected, it can again get discouraging and you fall off the fitness train. Instead, find those intrinsic motivations such as the benefits and experiences that come from working out, to keep you going. You can still want to do it for your grandson, but change your thinking to working out to become healthier so that you can play outside with your grandson–not solely for your grandson, daughter, etc.
To wrap up, I’m not saying that starting for any of these reasons is terrible, but in order to have the most success, and long-term sustenance, studies have shown that intrinsic motivation is key. Instead of getting down on yourself, work to change your mindset and goals away from the externality of other people, looks, etc. Find the fire inside yourself to motivate and keep yourself going!