Motivation is Bullsh*t

Most days I can train without too much resistance. Most days the decision to train is easy. Most days training feels great. Most days training is a necessary release it centers me. Training is my meditation. A time to process, to be present.


And some days it really f*cking hard to do it. Some days I don’t feel motivated to train. Some days I want to stay curled up and nestled in the warm blanket of comfort. Some days it’s a battle against my mind to pick up a barbell or get on a rower.


Today was one of those difficult days. They come infrequently but when they do, the lack of motivation to train can be crippling. Because if I don’t feel like training it’s highly likely that I also have a desire to engage in some other form of self-destruction. It could be eating junk, I’ll eat a whole large pizza on a day like today, or I may attempt to clear my schedule and not move from the couch. I have one of those all in personalities and I never half ass anything. This includes going off the rails and spiraling into a self-induced food/lethargy fueled energetically depressed state.


Today is/was a difficult day to be disciplined when I don’t feel motivated.


I dislike the word motivation because I believe that “motivation” is largely bullshit. Here’s why… 

First, motivation is NEVER there when you need it. Looking for motivation when you’re down is like looking for water in the desert.


Motivation is often external. We want someone or something outside of us to spur us to action. We want someone to call us when we don’t feel like training to ask us where we’re at. We want a pep talk. We wait for the feeling. We wait for something to show up and make our hearts race just enough to get off the couch. The problem is that feeling never shows up for most people.


If motivation does finally show up in your life fleeting at best. You ever felt so motivated to clean up your diet that you purge the kitchen of junk food with every intention of refilling the cabinet and fridge with ONLY healthy options. How long did that last? Did you even make it out of the store without some junk? Did you make it a week? A month?


At some point, you gave up and slid back into the old habits of eating for mouth orgasms and dopamine rather than eating for fuel. Now, not every meal you eat should be boring but if you’re #1 goal of eating is edging, you may need to reevaluate your relationship with food. More on this in another blog.


The reason you gave up is that you ran out of motivation. There is no amount of external stimulus that can solve an internal issue. Motivation is a lot like caffeine. If you didn’t get enough sleep last night it’s a nice pick me up and it can pull you through a day or two. But if you don’t get enough sleep for a week straight no amount of caffeine is going to save you. Your performance is going down the drain.


Rather than looking for motivation, we must lean into discipline. Discipline says “Even though I don’t feel like it, I am going to do it anyway. Even though I’d rather eat a whole bag of Doritos, I’m going to have a salad and some chicken. Even though I’d rather stay in bed, I am going to get up and exercise.”


Discipline is the answer to the problem of motivation because you are going to have days when you don’t feel like it. And if you’re just starting out those days will be more numerous than the days that you do feel like it. Motivation won’t save you on those days.


I still need some help sometimes. That’s when I lean on my coaches and my community or I’ll search and listen to motivational speeches on YouTube for a hit of that sweet dopamine. It feels good to hear others talk about the struggle. They let me know that it’s normal to feel a lack of motivation. At the end of the day no coach, other person, or YouTube video can do it for me. I have to be disciplined.


It’s on me to do it for me, just like it’s on you to do it for you. When you look at the reasons that you train what do you have? Do you do it for yourself? Or are you doing it for someone else? For your spouse? Your kids? Your doctor?


Training for someone else is another form of looking for “motivation”. Here’s the deal if you don’t train your spouse will likely stay with you, your kids will still love you, and your doctor doesn’t really care that much anyway. This also shows up in the person that needs a training partner or a gym buddy to keep them accountable. What happens when that buddy ends up canceling a session because insert excuse here. Both people end up skipping the session that day. Eventually one falls off for good and shortly after both quit going to the gym because neither person started doing it for themselves… They started doing it to not let someone else down.


When I sit down with someone new in a consultation I can tell who will stick out the arduous journey of transformation based on how they talk about their “why”. Nearly every person who told me they want to do it for someone else either doesn’t enroll because it’s too expensive and they’re not planning to stick it out anyway, or they quit within the first 3 months.


The people who stick it out with training and reach their goals do so because 1. They start selfishly. They start for them. Or 2. They start for someone else and spin that into a selfish reason to stay. An example is a father who starts so that he can play pick up basketball with his son pain free and stays because he like the way his body is starting to look when he gets out of the shower.


If you only remember 2 sentences from this blog remember this. Training should be selfish and motivation is bullshit. No one is coming to do the hard work of training for you and discipline is the only way to show up when you don’t feel like it.

2 Replies to “Motivation is Bullsh*t”

  1. So true Cody! Thanks for clarifying this! Nice to hear everyone had those off days. But you just have to be disciplined to do it any way! I will remember Training should be selfish and discipline is bullshit!! Love it

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