In order to adhere to a habit and build that habit into one’s lifestyle; whether an exercise habit, a professional habit, or a relationship habit, I think it’s critical to surround yourself with a myriad of sources of motivation. Pertaining to exercise and fitness, we are wise to constantly cultivate the motivation needed to sustain fitness behaviors. However, it’s imperative to separate the motivation (or perhaps, inspiration) from the actual methodology or tactics (what we do and how we do it).
Three examples from my personal life:
1. I love Rocky movies. I have seen Rocky 4 more than 500 times. Since I was eight years old, watching a Rocky movie makes me want to exercise. However, for the last 20 years I’ve been acutely aware that Rocky’s approach to exercise and training was about as dangerous, ineffective, and anything but evidence-based. I will not emulate his workouts but I will cultivate his mindset and example. Rocky inspires me.
2. I love watching the Olympics. However, reading more about the training practices of so many Olympians, I would never adopt the training or nutrition methods of an Olympic athlete because so many of these practices are again, dangerous and unproductive (training folklore supported by an athlete who is truly a genetic anomaly). Usain Bolt ate a steady diet of chicken nuggets for both lunch and dinner leading into his most impressive Olympic performance. Clearly, I’m not going to mimic this practice. None the less, the Olympics inspire me.
3. I love reading books. About a year and a half ago I was surprised and inspired after reading “Titan” the biography of John D. Rockefeller and learning about his steadfast commitment to regular exercise (in the late 1800’s!). I recently read, “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins detailing his journey as a Navy Seal, Army Ranger, and accomplished ultra-endurance athlete. I was inspired by Goggins’ mental approach to exercise. However, I’m not about to emulate either Rockefeller’s or Goggins’ workouts; to be clear, both are completely misguided in their tactical approaches. Reading these books have contributed to my consistency and fervor for my workouts. Rockefeller and Goggins inspire me.
Of course, we are all motivated by different people, books, examples, movies, and music. Our take home message is to surround ourselves with sources of inspiration in order to cultivate and sustain the fervor and commitment to our workouts while concurrently, abandoning any exercise tactics that are unsafe and counterproductive.