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This is a post from Dr. Berardi of www.precisionnutrition.com

When it comes time to do something — like go to the gym or choose a healthy meal — people often ask themselves, quietly:

Should I go to the gym today?
Should I eat protein and veggies now?

And they think that when you’re ‘motivated’, the answers are:

Should I go to the gym today?
HELL YEAH! Nothing else I’d rather do!

Should I eat protein and veggies now?
CAN’T WAIT! Bring on the healthy food!

They think motivation is a resounding positive ‘YES’ to the question of whether they should do something good for them, necessary, etc.

Of course, this leads to the parallel notion that if there ISN’T a resoundingly positive yes, they aren’t motivated.

And maybe they’re right. Maybe that’s what motivation means for them.

But I see that as a problem. Because it means that they think a momentary, temporary feeling should be driving their choices (which have lasting consequences).

In other words, if they feel “hell yes” they should act. But if they feel “hell no” they shouldn’t.

And that’s why I think the conventional idea of motivation is crap. And we need to eradicate the notion that motivation is somehow important to our actions in the world.

My recommendation: start to dissociate the transient feelings of “hell yes” and “hell no” from the subsequent action. It’s okay to feel “hell no” and do something anyway. Or feel “hell yes” and totally avoid something else.

But you might wonder: If I sometimes feel “hell no”… is there something wrong with me? Of course not. Join the club.

I probably only “feel like” eating well and exercising half the time. Maybe less. But I still do it closer to 90% of the time. Even in the face of a lot of “hell no”.

When you start practicing this, for the first little while, it’s confusing. Dissociating a long-held belief system (hell yes = go to the gym, hell no = don’t go to the gym) is tough and feels weird.

But you eventually learn that ‘not feeling like going to the gym’ is irrelevant. You just go and get started. And here’s the magic…

Once you get started, it’s amazingly easy to finish. And once you finish, you feel good about what you just did. And that makes it easier to go next time. And so on…

Of course, feel free to use motivation tips like music, workout partners, workout variety, etc. They can give you a much needed boost.

But also realize some important truths:

  • You won’t always feel the “hell yes” — in fact, you might feel that only rarely.
  • You will sometimes feel the “hell no” — in fact, a lot more often than you think you should.
  • If you feel “hell no” it’s OK — it’s totally normal and nothing is wrong with you.
  • Regardless of whether you feel “hell yes” or “hell no” the only response is to go to the gym or eat the right food anyway.

Regardless of how you initially feel about it, starting the right action makes it easy to finish it. And once you overrule your “hell no”, it gets easier to do it the next time.



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