by Alex G
Have you ever looked back on a time when you were lazy, unmotivated, unwilling, and then looked at your current beast-like attitude towards training and wondered how you managed to transition from that unfit human you once were to the machine you have become?
or, are you currently feeling unmotivated and wondering how you can get to the point where keeping fit and healthy, and putting in work feels fun rather than a horrible chore?
What’s the difference between the person who savours the grind and the person who struggles to to put in the time?
The mind plays a pivotal part in every aspect of your life, and in calisthenics that’s exception. your mind is what stops you from starting, distracts you from continuing and keeps you from getting up when you fall.
What motivates us to train?
Motivation can be defined by Vroom’s Expectancy Theory which breaks it down as a formula:
MOTIVATION = EXPECTANCY * INSTRUMENTALITY * VALENCE
Expectancy is the expectation that you can do the thing
Instrumentality is the thought that doing the thing will yield a positive outcome
Valence refers to how much the outcome is worth to you.
So according to this, if there is an outcome you desire, you believe you will get it, and you believe you can get it, you’ll be motivated.
For example, you may REALLY WANT(valence) to get fit and look good and KNOW THAT PUTTING IN WORK WILL GET YOU THAT (Instrumentatlity) but NOT BELIEVE YOU CAN BECAUSE YOU’RE TO UNFIT, OR TOO OLD ETC (Expectancy), your motivational equation won’t add up and you won’t feel the desire to spring up off the couch and do 20 burpees.
One thing i learned early on in personal trainer school was to show people how to get their feet wet, just to build the habit of exercise, before taking them to the deep end. If you’ve never exercised in your life, build a habit of walking every day first, then start adding in something you’re capable of like maybe jogging, then maybe some pushups; what’s happening here is you’re building up your expectancy – your belief that you can which is what often stops people before they start. Then so long as the outcome outcome is still worth it (valence), you should start to enjoy smashing goals to get to it.
This applies to learning new moves too. Want to do a human flag, but find yourself struggling to put in the time to train it? Do you believe you can put in the effort? Do you believe putting in the effort will get you that flag? Is that flag worth it for you? Find your mental weak point and address it.
My summary advice on getting motivated is to listen to Nike and just do it. If it’s worth it to you, then shut off your mind from all doubts and excuses, make a plan and just do it. And once you’ve been doing it long enough (usually about 30 days) and your mind has established the habit of exercise within it’s neural networks, that’s when you can start to enjoy the thing that once seemed so hard.
The Monday that never came
Here’s a story I’ve seen a thousand times: A person gets started, establishes the habit of exercise, trains everyday like clockwork, craves it, loves it…then a few months later they skip a few days of training, eats some bad food, so they write off that week..”I’ll get back into it next week”…then next week they have a conference out of town and can’t find time to train or eat… “ok…I’ll wait til I get back, then start fresh”…then they get back on a Wednesday but they’re too tired to train… “I’ll start again next Monday for sure”…but Monday never comes.
This is common, I’ve done it myself, and once again the culprit is mindset.
I consider this a relapse. As an ex-smoker I can tell you the feeling is the same. When you quit smoking you start to replace the habit of smoking with healthy habits that don’t involve smoking. Then one day you’re out at a party with a drink in your hand and you decide, I’ll just have this one cigarette, the next day, just one more, you tell yourself you’ll quit again Monday and once again Monday never comes, and you’re a smoker again.
Likewise, when you replace your unhealthy habits with healthy ones, the old version of yourself remains in there waiting to relapse if you allow.
How to avoid falling off the wagon
The truth is there will be circumstances that are out of your control that will prevent you from training. And it’s even good sometimes to take a bit of time away from training for full recovery and for your own mental sanity. What we don’t want is to allow our two week break to become two months, which becomes two years, which becomes “I remember when I was fit and healthy”.
Avoiding this involves bringing yourself back to the mindset that got you started in the first place and not letting yourself fall too far before doing so. When your two week vacation ends and you feel rejuvenated, its’ time to hype yourself back into the zone. Don’t ever wait until Monday. Remind yourself that you love this. Remind yourself that how you feel after you workout will be completely different to how you feel before. Remind yourself that it’s still worth it, that you have goals and you can achieve them, that the struggle is your friend and that you love the challenge. Remind yourself that the longer you wait, the more difficult it will become, so don’t wait until Monday, there’s no time like the present.
ACHIEVING BEAST MODE
So you’ve gotten past the challenge of starting toward your goals, you’ve cultivated a habit and a mindset that prevents you from staying down when you fall. But there are still some more mental barriers to overcome. Maybe you can’t get that shrimp flip you’ve been trying so hard to get, your fear is stopping you from unlocking that alley oop, you’ve entered a competition but you don’t think you’re ready…
This section is here to tell you to believe in yourself. You are capable of so much more than you think. You ever see these kids with amazing talents doing flips and planching at the age of 3? Or writing concertos at the age of 10? This is not a magical talent, they were just never told where to stop, or what they couldn’t do, they only saw what they could.
The challenge with being a teenager or adult is you have years of expectation programmed into your mind. You have been told that certain things are difficult so you approach them with too much caution, you have felt failure over the years and it’s compounded itself into a fear of trying. So when you walk up to a bar to attempt something, you approach it with the demons of your past on your shoulders.
I believe a big part of truly unlocking beast mode is to zen the f*** out. Bring yourself to the present. Practicing mindfulness can help but even if you don’t want to go that far, appreciate the value of bringing yourself to the moment and focusing purely on what you are about to do right now: this move, this rep, this moment. Appreciate the opportunity that you have right now, while letting go of the fears, failures and expectations of the past. Do this for long enough and you’ll form the habit of maximum effort and focus in every element of your training.
If you have any questions or thoughts comment below or message me