Many people struggle with motivation to improve their health and wellness. You know you need to start working out, eating cleaner, drinking less soft drinks, but you just don’t have it in you. This is the majority of the people in the United States. So it would seem that “motivation” is an internal issue. Either you have it or you don’t. After all, if we can’t motivate ourselves to get in shape, then who can? Possibly there is an underlying issue. Maybe there is a big, huge, smelly pink elephant in the room that no one is paying attention to, but is the source to all of our “motivation” issues. And maybe it begins with you putting your phone down.
The fitness industry is full of hardcore, no-nonsense go-getters that want to jam health down your throat until it comes out the other side (sounds painful, right?!). And, although it may not seem so, their intentions are pure (for the most part). That personal trainer who takes a picture of his six pack is simply trying to convince you that “I’m in shape and you can be, too”. The supplement ad of the girl who is shredded wheat (not the cereal…wait for it…) is simply trying to show you “this is how you’ll look if you take our supplement”. For the most part, these are all pure intentions. The trainer is hoping to sell you on his looks and the supplement company is hoping to sell you the models looks…plain and simple. But our psychological intuition runs much deeper than that.
The issue is not that a trainer is trying to sell you services or a company is trying to sell you products or that a girl on Instagram is just trying to show everybody how good her legs look that day. The issue is, as beginners in health and wellness, those who are trying to get started believe that is how they need to look to “succeed”. Walk with me and I’ll explain……
“Success” in health and wellness is all relative. For the personal trainer, success is having a six pack. For the girl on Instagram in yoga pants, success is having a nice butt and tone legs. But these are very vein goals of success and are in no way related to “success” for the average person. However, that’s not what our minds tell us. What the picture on Instagram tells our mind is that you have to be “PERFECT”.
I am not saying that people who work hard for their bodies should be ashamed of them and hide away. On the contrary, being proud of your body is one of the most important aspects of mental health. What the average person has a hard time understanding or seeing in these pictures is all of the fake. There is very minimal authenticity in the fitness industry. 99% of the images you see on social media, in ads or in magazines are of people on their PERFECT day, at the PERFECT time, in PERFECT lighting, wearing PERFECT attire. THIS, my friends, is what leads most to believe that we must be PERFECT in order to succeed in health and wellness. And the pursuit of perfection, or simply the thought of it, is what can lead to failure, denial or not trying at all.
Luckily, there are things that you can do to help keep your mind at ease when you’re getting started or your pursuit stalls out:
1) It’s All Relative – Where you are on the health and wellness continuum is different than where the six-pack trainer is. It’s also different than where you were in high school. So don’t think that you have to start where the trainer is or that you have to be in high school shape by next month. All that matters is where YOU are NOW and where YOU want to go.
2) Live by the 80/20 rule (or 90/10 if you’re just getting started) – Perfection is impossible, plain and simple. When we are in pursuit of perfection and “fail”, we tell ourselves and we can’t do it and give up. Instead live by 80/20. If you can nail your training and nutrition 80% of the time, the other 20% can be your choice. For those who are just starting out, this should be closer to 90/10. Habits need to be ingrained in the beginning until it becomes second nature.
3) Be PATIENT!!! – We live in an instant gratification world. Therefore, we expect instant results when it comes to losing weight and toning up. Sadly, it didn’t take you 6 weeks to get out of shape, so it won’t take you 6 weeks to get in shape. It will be HARD. There will be STRUGGLE. You will have DOUBTS. And if you’re PATIENT, you will PERSEVERE. Remember, the goal is the goal, so keep the goal the goal!
Thanks for hanging in there. Fighting the urge to pursue perfection is something that takes time. Take everything one day at a time, building 1% a day. All of those 1 percents will add up quick!