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Why you might not be motivated to workout

If you’ve spent any time in fitness circles you’ve likely heard the terms “motivation” and “discipline” thrown around more often than a barbell at a CrossFit gym. When new clients come to me, one of the most common reasons for their wanting to enlist the help of a fitness coach is to increase motivation: they want to be more motivated to workout, and to stay in a steady routine. 

And fair enough! Fitness culture makes us believe that we should be bounding out of bed every morning before each workout, excited and motivated (there’s that word again!) to move our bodies. And on the days that we don’t feel like working out, well that’s when motivation’s strict cousin, discipline, comes in to ensure you get your reps in regardless of how you feel. 

But what if you don’t need more motivation, OR discipline? What if you don’t have a “lack of motivation”, but rather a lack of alignment between what you THINK you should be doing for movement, and what you actually WANT to do for movement?

Enjoyment is the biggest factor when it comes to not only staying consistent with exercise, but having a good relationship with it also. Something could be the “most effective workout in the world” but if you don’t enjoy doing it, it simply doesn’t matter because it's doubtful you'll be able to stick with it long enough to reap any of its benefits. Focus more on participating in movement that brings you joy, and less on staying super motivated or disciplined.

And maybe you actually aren't really unmotivated at all, but rather trying to sustain an exercise frequency and duration that may not be realistic for you and your lifestyle, or you're in a season of life where exercise simply isn’t a priority - and that’s ok.

It's also possible that your reasons for working out in the first place are primarily based around weight loss/body changes: research shows that we're less likely to participate in exercise if we use it as punishment or as a tool to change our bodies (Engeln et al, 2018).

Even if you are regularly prioritizing types of movement you enjoy and don't workout for aesthetic reasons, exercise still may not be at the top of your mind and something you want to do all of the time, and that's a good thing! It shows that you value other things in life and are a multi-dimensional person.

Give yourself grace and understanding that it's normal for workout motivation to ebb and flow, and that exercise is not meant to take up so much of your brain space.

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