Finding Motivation for Getting Fit: Your Mindset Is Half the Battle

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Bigger Leaner Stronger" by Michael Matthews. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Does your enthusiasm for nutrition and exercise tend to wane over time? How clear are you on your reasons for wanting to be healthy?

Inconsistency equals zero. If you’re going to make any meaningful, lasting change, you have to stick with it. When it comes to your fitness journey, your mindset is half the battle. Enthusiasm and willpower will help you keep the commitments you make to yourself.

Find motivation for getting fit with the following tips from personal trainer Michael Matthews.

Get Motivated For Your Fitness Journey

Transforming your health and physique takes commitment, and you must get in a good mindset first. Let’s look at Matthews’s advice for finding motivation for getting fit—and for strengthening your willpower so that you have something to lean on in those moments when your motivation wavers.

Identify the Reasons for Your Fitness Journey

To stay motivated throughout your fitness journey, you must clarify the reasons you want to get stronger and healthier. Do you want to feel more confident or more energized? Do you want to enjoy more sports or get active with your family? Whatever your reasons are, Matthews suggests you write them down so you can always be reminded of them.

(Shortform note: In The 10X Rule, Grant Cardone agrees that defining your reasons for achieving particular goals is important. Cardone suggests you write them down twice a day—once in the morning and once at night. Regularly writing down ambitious goals and the motivations behind them will help you make better decisions and act in ways that move you toward your health and fitness goals.)

Next, imagine what your ideal physique looks and feels like. Find and save images of the body type you want. These images can serve as inspiration and remind you that your goals are real and achievable. 

(Shortform note: Some experts warn that viewing inspirational fitness content can actually decrease your motivation to exercise. Several studies have found that people who want to exercise to achieve a certain appearance rather than to achieve a state of health tend to feel less motivated and more dissatisfied about their bodies after viewing this type of content.)

Boost Your Willpower

Now, you likely have some motivating reasons for getting stronger and healthier. However, immediate temptations, like craving your favorite junk food or skipping exercise to play video games, can still derail your fitness efforts if you’re not careful. To make long-lasting progress, you must strengthen your willpower and avoid temptations that can undermine your fitness efforts. Matthews gives some tips on how to deal with temptations when they arise:

  • Use the 10 minute rule. Wait 10 minutes to act on your cravings rather than try to suppress them. Suppressing cravings only makes them stronger. Matthews argues that you’ll find that the temptation often becomes more manageable after 10 minutes simply because the urgency is gone. Similarly, if you’re dreading a task (like exercising), force yourself to do it for at least 10 minutes. You’ll likely find it easier to continue once you’ve started.
  • Take precautionary measures. Matthews suggests you remove sources of temptation that might derail your fitness journey so it’s harder to give in.
  • Avoid justifying bad decisions. Matthews writes that people often succumb to moral licensing, which is thinking you’ve earned the right to do something bad because you’ve done something good. To avoid moral licensing, Matthews recommends that you stop labeling your actions as good or bad and remind yourself of the reasons you want to get fit.
Finding Motivation for Getting Fit: Your Mindset Is Half the Battle

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Michael Matthews's "Bigger Leaner Stronger" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Bigger Leaner Stronger summary:

  • How to get the physique you want without trendy diets or brutal workouts
  • A simple and scientific approach to nutrition and exercise
  • How to plan a workout program based on progressive overload

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, and philosophy. A switch to audiobooks has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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