Motivation Isn't The Issue

Hi. Can we talk willpower, motivation, whatever you want to call it?

It's pretty common to see clients going ham on 400+ extra calories, not getting movement in, etc due to "no motivation."

Listen... I get it. I really do. You're not alone, and not a single one of us is perfect.

THAT BEING SAID. You will not accomplish anything if you rely on motivation alone to get you where you want to be. I'm talking nutrition of course, but this also applies to your relationships, your career, hobbies, anything. You will not improve if you don't put a little grit into it and stop using motivation as a cop out.

We are not tigers, lions, cheetahs, whatever other animal reference you want to use. We're human. We are designed for movement, and consistent movement. There's a reason why your body feels like a 50 year old dump truck after you've sat on your butt all day. Working out for 30 minutes or an hour is not going to make up for being sedentary for the rest of the day.

Now, I know some of you are a special case, but the majority of us work the ol' 9-5, workout 3-5x a week for 30-90 minutes, then go home and sit on the couch. You have highly palatable processed foods hanging out in the kitchen (which, guess what, the majority of processed foods are designed to make money and get you to eat more, to buy more). You start up Netflix and chill and you're thinking you need some snacks. You have room in your macros for a small snack, so you grab the bag of chips or whatever you're feeling. You have the portion you were planning on having. But MAN they taste so good, and you had a really craaaaazy day, right? So you keep going. Next thing you know you're 5 episodes deep and you reach in the bag and it's empty. Wtf happened?

Your environment happened. We are FAR more likely to over eat while we're distracted. We're FAR more likely to reach for the foods that offer little nutritional benefit when they're around. We're FAR more likely to eat larger portions than we should because "screw it I deserve this!!! Yas queen #selfcare!!!" We're not dogs, we don't need treats for not peeing in the house or biting strangers. 

If you set your environment up for success you are so so so SO much more likely to change your habits. You're no longer trying to force yourself to exert willpower because you're tempted. Some people can still have those processed foods in the home and can weigh it out, sit down, enjoy it, and they're good. Some people may need to stop buying those things for a couple months while they get their habits in place. Some people will even find they no longer want those things in their house, and will limit it during special occasions like birthdays, going out, etc.

So here's how we fix this.

  1. MOVE YOUR ASS! I don't care if you throw some Michael Jackson on the radio at home and have a dance party. Walk outside. Do a yoga flow on youtube. Stand while watching TV. Clean your house (bonus points for a clean home as it's likely to reduce anxiety).

  2. Log things like cakes, cookies, chips, whatever things you like to eat that don't provide any real nutritional benefit (there are no "bad" foods, just foods that are less optimal than others). Put it in at the start of your day. Plan your day around it.

  3. Eat a well balanced meal before going for those less optimal foods. Protein, carbs, fats and VEGGIES! Hello, volume.

  4. Sit that fine behind at the damn table and eat. No, not with the TV on or playing on your phone. Sit there with no distractions and enjoy your delectable meal. If you can, take it out of the Tupperware and put it on a plate.

  5. Chew THOROUGHLY! Your food should be mushy baby food consistency before you swallow it. This is going to make digestion much easier on your body. Saliva contains the enzyme amylase that breaks some starches down into maltose and dextrin.

Yeah, not every day is going to be perfect. But we're not aiming for perfection. We're aiming for healthier habits. Can you expect to get stronger without progressing in weight? Can you expect to play the guitar well without ever practicing? I'm assuming no (if you answered yes we may need to talk in private). So why the hell do you expect to see external changes while neglecting your internal health? Why do you expect to make any changes at all if you're relying on the magical motivation fairy to come sprinkle some "get the hell up and go" dust on you? 

Here's what's going to go down from here on out. We put in the effort. We work on our discipline and do things even when we don't want to (how many of you show up to work even on days you don't want to??). We acknowledge that we will have some days that are less than ideal but that doesn't mean we have to have a pity party and talk shit on ourselves. If you can't be your own hype man, who will?

Author: Emi Mraule, Head Coach, Black Iron Nutrition, @emimraule