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How to Find Your Motivation to Exercise

Discovering Your “Why”

In order to truly reach your potential and stay motivated for a sustainable amount of time, you must understand your “Why.” Why do you want to better yourself? What motivates you? It’s hard to stay motivated just by telling yourself that you should do better or be better—sometimes that can even be harmful. Instead, strike to your core and feel the reasons why you are doing what you are doing.

You need to allow your emotions to get involved in this process to get the maximum results. We are driven to do things by emotion. You need to understand the emotional reason you aren’t attaining your goals. Then you need to give yourself a strong emotional connection as to why you want to change your behaviors. Then justify continuing those replacement actions through logic.

Ask Yourself:

• Who was your role model growing up? And why?

• Who is your role model currently? And why?

• What makes you feel the most positive about yourself?

• What makes you feel negative and unmotivated?

• What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

• With what kind of people do you associate yourself?

• With whom do you want to associate yourself?

Stories of “Why”


As a personal trainer, I’ve heard a lot of people’s reasons why they want to get in better physical shape. Sometimes finally coming to terms with making their bodies healthy is also a process of working through emotional issues so that they are mentally healthy. I’ve had several clients like Jim, who said he was made fun of in school as “the fat kid.” That experience created insecurities that he noticed had transferred into other aspects of his life as he grew into adulthood. Jim felt like he was coming up short in life. He noticed his eating habits and life habits were a form of self-punishment for not living up to what others—and he—thought he should be. He wanted to make a change in his life and that is “why” Jim asked for help.


Karrie grew up in an extended family of which many members were obese. Heart disease, diabetes, and joint pain were common ailments in her family. Karrie was moved to action by watching her family members deal with poor self-esteem due to their poor physical health. She recognized how obesity negatively affected every aspect of her family members’ lives. She decided that she wanted to stop the trend by watching her own health carefully. She wanted to be a good role model to her children, as well as to her family members who were struggling with their health. This was Karrie’s “Why.”


When Jennifer came in for her first appointment with me it was clear she had lost hope in her life and herself. Her husband had filed for a divorce, she had a teenage daughter, and she was more than 100 pounds overweight. She said that she felt helpless and came to me because she needed help and wanted to get control of her life again. Jennifer said she wanted to train with me, but in the middle of the meeting, she suddenly told me she couldn’t afford a personal trainer and walked away.

I felt really bad because I could see the pain in Jennifer’s face and I desperately wanted to help her achieve her goals. I wanted to help her get her life back. The next day Jennifer came back into the gym. With tears in her eyes, she said that she could afford to work with me but that she was scared to commit because she was afraid to fail. What an emotional moment it was for both of us as she let out so much of the sorrow and frustration that she had kept bottle inside. “I want to start personal training with you, though, because I don’t know what else to do,” she said.

What I told her, I tell you: You deserve to take care of yourself. You deserve the time that you will spend on your health. And I believe in your ability to achieve your goals. You can better your health and your life. Let’s work together as a team.

Jennifer and I took some time to discover her “Why”. She wanted to prove to herself that she could accomplish this goal of getting back into shape and rediscovering herself. She not only wanted it for herself but for her daughter. She wanted to be a good role model and be sure that her daughter had healthy footsteps in which to follow. As Jennifer and I worked out together, I listened as she talked out some of her issues and began the process of healing. I gave her encouragement every day to believe in herself. She got back into hobbies that she had once loved, and over time, Jennifer reached her goals.

Jim, Karrie, and Jennifer are parts of my “Why”: why I love this job. To see people make changes that increase the vitality, health, quality, and, probably, length of their lives, is why I do this job. It is also why I wanted to write this book. I want to be here to tell  you  every day that you deserve to be happy and you can achieve your goals. And I want to break down the process so that I can help you figure out how to do it.

Greg’s Tips

Discover and define your “Why”

Study positive attitude and thinking daily

Keep a detailed fitness journal to log your workouts, nutrition, and feelings

Define what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy

Write a detailed page on what you want your life to be

Have fun with your journey and keep things light

When you feel like you can’t do it, just remember your “Why”.

This is more than just fitness, this is your life.

Like the article? We bet you’ll love this book:

From the personal tragedy of a stillbirth to an Ironman and beyond, author and stay-at-home mom of five children Mette Ivie Harrison learned life lessons about accepting herself, moving forwar…


Mette Harrison

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Greg Marshall has helped more than four thousand clients reach their fitness goals through his unique personal training programs. His experience includes large chain gyms and private programs. He publishes the daily fitness blog www.fiture.co and… Read More


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