All or Nothing Kills Motivation

Here’s the commercial: Average man, or woman, gets out of bed at sunrise.  They slowly eat there breakfast, go outside, and start working out.  As the music picks up, so does their exercise intensity.  By the end of the commercial, they’re lying on their backs and can hardly move. 


Perhaps you have seen this commercial, or one like it.  Don’t get me wrong these are super-motivating to watch, but is it really the best way to go about your workouts?  Are these people even able to function the rest of the day?

This type of “all or nothing” mentality is popular in many gyms, but it’s also common in diets as well.  Instead of eating slowly developing a tolerance to new diet guidelines, we find ourselves diving right in.  This sounds great, but it can quickly lead to failure to adhere to your program. 



The truth is that most individuals aren’t, and will never be, ready to handle such program intensity in the long run.  You may be able to eat 0 carbs or workout to the point of collapse for a week, but what about the next week, month, or even decade?

Your goal should be to make fitness a lifestyle, not just a short-lived fad.  If your theory on health and fitness is all or nothing, then you are setting yourself up for failure in the long run.  Your journey will be filled with ups and downs that are unexpected, but you need to accept them.

Fitness For The Long-Haul

Let’s go back to our ultra-motivating commercial.  That person clearly had no shortage of motivation for that one day.  Do you think that motivation carried over to the next day when their body was aching, they were even more tired, and still haven’t recovered yet?

They probably did what most of us would have done the next day when the alarm clock went off—snooze!  Now, if they would have trained at a much more moderate pace and finished their workout exhausted, but not debilitated, they would still have some of that motivation left for the next day, week, or year. 

You Don’t Need Motivation

As backward as it sounds, a common motivation technique is to say that motivation isn’t real.  I wouldn’t go that far, but saying motivation is short lived and won’t be enough to keep you on a relentless pursuit of your goals, sounds more realistic. 

A better approach would be to focus on mental-drive.  Motivation may get you through a couple workouts, but being driven is what will get you to the workout day after day.  Even on those days when you become hyper-motivated and go a little hard in your HIIT class, drive is what will keep you coming back for more. 

The all or nothing mentality sounds good to consumers, sounds even better to marketers, but it will kill your motivation and leave you back where you started; out of shape and looking for a reason not to go to the gym today.

Using a more moderate approach that lets you recover well and deal with setbacks will be a healthier, and safer, approach to fitness.  Or you could save the motivation for a rainy day and focus on being driven to keep you adhering to your fitness program.

Megan Cooper