Motivation Won’t Do It…

“You are SO motivated!”

I was breathing hard and staring down that damn Smith machine when she said it. I broke my glare at the assembly of cables, pulleys, sliders, and chunks of heavy iron and turned toward her. The glare wasn’t working anyway.

Protip: You cannot intimidate heavy iron, especially by staring at it.

I smiled at the PYTtm (Pretty Young Thing), evaluated her for a half-second, and decided she was looking for a conversation, not just a nod or platitude. I’ve learned, that in the fitness game, many folks don’t really want answers when they make comments or indeed, ask direct questions. Especially if the answers aren’t what they want to hear.

“Sometimes,” I cocked my head, “not always.” I pondered a little more, “Occasionally I suppose I am. Why do you say that?”

She was taken aback, “Well, you’re here…” she indicated the little fitness center at work, “a lot. And you work hard at it. I can’t seem to keep going. I lose my motivation.”

“Ah.” I glanced back at the Smith machine. It’s a nemesis really. And a benefactor. At least 3 days a week, usually 4, I spend time on it rehabbing my shoulders. It tries to be a ‘jack of all trades’ so there’s a lot of things it’s not very good at…but its arrangement of cables and varying handles and finely adjustable weight-loads makes it ideal to work a maddening array of motions for my shoulder recovery. That’s AFTER some cardio and whatever else I subject myself to that day to try to whip the rest of me into some other shape than “round”.

EIGHTEEN months of it now on the shoulders…around three years on the overall quest. I wondered what she’d think if she knew the REST of my fitness schedule…which involves multiple “elsewhere” workouts, a professional trainer/coach at his studio, and a “big box” facility I spend time at multiple times a week.

“Thing is, it’s not motivation,” I struggled to articulate it, “I’m not motivated at all today. I’m discouraged and tired and pissed off and really disappointed with some folks and frankly feel like eating an entire pizza and spending the rest of the day in bed.” I smiled a bit to soften the statement. “NOBODY can stay motivated all the time.”

“How do you do it then?”

I almost said, “Habit.” but hesitated. No. It’s not habit. Habit is the easy way…most folks arrange their lives around habit, doing basically what they must…to the minimum standard required. The easiest way. The least responsibility required. I “must” go to work, so getting up is habit. Paying the bills is habit. Going through life dealing with the mundane is habit. It’s the default. The minimum. No thought required. No real decisions. The easiest way.

I know this. Regarding my physical condition I did it for decades. It almost killed me. THAT’S the legacy of habit.

…and that simply won’t do.

There’s nothing default, minimum, or easy about the transformation I’ve undertaken.

The answer was already there, and popped into my head…and I hesitated to tell her. See, it’s an unpalatable word, as it simply and directly sticks the responsibility for “doing the thing”, whatever that thing may be, right where it ultimately belongs…with and on each of us.

It’s the choices. What you require of yourself. A lot of folks don’t want that responsibility and don’t like to hear it. Especially as it regards fitness. Doesn’t matter…they’ve got it anyway.

So I said it, “It’s discipline. Nothing less will do. Ya gotta OWN it…and do everything you can do…every day.”

“Oh.” She seemed disappointed. Many are when I get into the “meat” of this quest…they’re looking for the magic bullet. The shortcut.

There ain’t one.

“I just don’t have that.”

I grinned at her, “Sure you do. Discipline’s a choice. No more, no less. So is a lack of it. Doesn’t mean it’s easy,” I shrugged, “ya just gotta choose. A coach can probably help with that. I sure wish I’d figured it out about 4 decades ago…” I winked and turned back to the Smith machine.

Damn iron wasn’t gonna move itself, even if I returned to glaring at it, and the shoulders weren’t near sore enough for today yet.

Like most of life…it can be tackled at any level. It’s not what you CAN do…it’s what you WILL do.


I’ll see you on the road.

You can read more about my fitness journey here.

Daniel Meyer

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