Inspiration, Motivation and Willpower

Track finish line from above Athletics 2000 Sydney PG

Inspiration, motivation and willpower are funny things. You need all of them to succeed. Many people may focus on just one of these when they are working toward a particular goal, but I think they work better as a team. This is especially true with weight loss and fitness because these goals take time to reach and sometimes you need something to hang on to while we’re waiting for success. Let’s break it down and I’ll show you what I mean.

Inspiration is that spark of arousal; that hint of hope that initiates change or, at least, thinking of change. It can be something as simple as a picture of Jillian Michaels, Tony Horton or even an old photograph of you. Inspiration can also be also be how you feel when you do something positive. For example, I love that soreness after a workout. That soreness can last a day or two so even when I’m not exercising, I am constantly reminded of my progress and potential success. I can’t express just how empowering that feeling is; it’s wonderful. You might be inspired by the numbers of calories burned after an exercise or the feeling you get from turning down a doughnut at the office. Inspiration comes in many forms and it’s okay to accept any and all of them if they help you achieve your healthiest best.

Motivation is that thing that gives you a reason to move. It’s actually very similar to inspiration in that both make you want to do something. However, in terms of diet and achieving a flat tummy, or whatever you want, motivation is closely related to incentive. For example, if I exercise, I will burn fat or if I strength train, I will build muscle. A motive is something that causes you to act; it is a goal that causes motion. In short, it leads to action. You can sit and look at a picture all day long but what makes you want to move? This is where the goal comes in… You need that goal, that motivation, to get up and make the move.

Willpower is the another link in the chain. Some will tell you it’s the most important aspect of any goal because it requires control. For that reason, it is probably the most complete aspect because control can be hard at times. However, it’s not impossible. It’s hard to pass up cheese dip at family functions. It’s hard to turn down pizza in social situations when everyone else tells you to eat up and enjoy. Chocolate goodies at the office are the devil but everyone wants you to eat one. Yeah, it’s hard and that’s why willpower is so important. You cannot live without it and inspiration and motivation make it easier. When you are aware of how strong your mind actually is, willpower might even become a powerful weapon.

When you put the three together, it becomes easier. For example, if you’re in the office and someone wants you to eat a doughnut and your arms are sore from yesterday’s workout, you might be more inclined to pass. If your butt is burning and hurts you every time you get up, those cookies look like the devil because they represent all the reasons why you have to workout in the first place. If you can change the way you look at cookies, pizza and beer, you can see them as motivation and even inspiration. How many minutes will you have to workout to burn off that pizza? Or how about thinking of sacrificing your last workout for a candy bar. Really?

If it takes a lot for you to get up and exercise, you should look at your temptations as an opportunity to say no. Why? Because you know it isn’t worth it. If you’re feeling the burn in your triceps from yesterday’s workout, you’ll easily pass on the cookies because cause you don’t need them. Does the taste of food trump your hard work? No.

It’s all connected and the thing you can never lose sight of is your goal. Inspiration, motivation and willpower are some pretty important tools to help you get there. Don’t ignore the tiny voices in your head urging you to greatness – those burning muscles and tight abs did not happen for nothing and the question you need to ask yourself is if the pizza is worth negating all that work.

The answer is no. Use your inspiration and motivation, whatever they are, as your source of willpower and allow them to motivate you to say no – an act that moves you closer to the finish line.

Photo: Australian Paralympic Committee/Australian Sports Commission

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