What’s Your Motivation?

Today I want to talk a little bit about finding your motivation; what is it that drives you to eat healthfully and work out? Is it purely for vanity, is it for health reasons? Maybe its a mixture of the two, maybe it’s something else entirely. I recently overheard a couple of conversations while at the gym which made me stop and think a little bit about this. The two conversations are so drastically different that it got me thinking about the goals that we all have for ourselves, and are there some that will help to drive more intrinsic motivation than others?


First, the conversation that left me a little bit bewildered. While I was torturing myselfย foam rolling one day post-workout, there were a couple of girls sitting next to me pretending to do an ab workout. (You know the type, 5 crunches, then stop and talk for a while, than maybe a few more crunches… Really beneficial, obviously). Their conversation went something like this:

Girl 1: Why can’t I lose weight?

Girl 2: I don’t know. Probably those french fries we ate last night. What if we just ate salads for a week?

Girl 1: Yeah, how much weight do you think we could lose if we JUST ate salad for a week?

Girl 2: Probably like 10 pounds, we should try it next week.

Obviously there was more said than this, but this was the general gist of what they were saying. They were talking about legitimately only eating salad (raw veggies, no dressing) for an entire week. Every meal. Every day.

How successful do you think they would be at this? If I had to bet, I’d say they’d both be off of the salad wagon within a day. Not only that, but even if they did last a week, they’d be so devoid of nutrients and most likely ridiculously starving, that their bodies would put the weight back on in a flash once they started eating normally again.

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Now, I don’t really care if these girls want to go on a raw veggie diet, because honestly, it’s none of my business. But what I am interested in is the motivation behind all of this. If their motivation were to be healthier, this plan would never be on the table. Missing out on vital nutrients, doing this for a one-week period, only focusing on how much weight could be lost in that time period: it all screams vanity (and some serious miseducation about nutrition). ย The question is, is pure vanity alone enough motivation to stay disciplined on an ultra-strict diet such as this one? Is it enough to motivate people to continue with diet plans or is there something else we need to stay motivated for the long run?

Motivation !!!! Motivation !!!!

Moving on to the second conversation I overheard. (I know what you’re thinking — and No, I do not make a habit of eavesdropping… but I can’t help it if my iPod battery died and your conversation is the only thing I can hear besides my own breathing). This conversation was also between two females, but this one left me with an entirely different feeling. You’ll see why:

Girl 1(While lifting weights): I wish I could lift like you do, my arms are wobbly because they’re not strong enough yet.

Girl 2 (Also lifting weights): I started out lifting 12.5 pounds, and now I’m lifting 22.5! You’ll get there, you’ll get stronger.

Girl 1: Yeah, I guess so.

Girl 2: I love being strong! It feels so great. Since I’ve been lifting weights my family asks me to help them carry heavy things instead of the boys. I feel like if I were to get attacked I could protect myself. I just love knowing that I can take care of myself and that my family can depend on me to help out when they need me.

WHAT?!?! I know it seems like I made this conversation up, but I promise you I actually overheard this. I seriously wanted to give this girl a hug. It was one of the best things I’ve heard in the gym in a long time, and she went on for a few minutes about how much better she feels in general now that she is stronger than she used to be.


Clearly, this girl had motivation that went far beyond vanity. Sure, she probably likes the way she looks a little bit more since she’s been working out, but it’s the other things that seem to really push her: Being able to help her family, being able to protect herself.

If I had to place all of my life savings (which, lets face it, isn’t that impressive) on one pair of these girls on which will be healthier one month from now (heck, even one year from now), I would, without a doubt, place all of my money on the girl who is motivated by far more than vanity.

Granted, I’m pretty positive that all of us are motivated by vanity at some point, but I really do feel like there has to be more than that. Maybe you want to be strong so that you can run around with your children, maybe you want to be healthy so that you can still run around with your children years from now. Maybe you want to be strong so that you can be independent and not rely on others to do things for you; Maybe you want to be healthy so that you are able to do things like hike mountains, go kayaking, or learn how to surf.

Whatever your motivation is, even if vanity is part of it (and be honest, because if you say vanity has nothing to do with why you work out, I’m calling you a liar), keep it in mind as you go about your daily life. Yes, the motivation provided by vanity may be all you need to stop yourself from reaching for that afternoon treat, but finding what it’ll take for you to really work hard toward reaching your goals is what will help you in the long run.

What motivates you to eat healthy? To get regular workouts in? Do you think that vanity is enough to sustain a long term health-living plan? Or do you need something more to help you through the inevitable challenges that can be presented when trying to live healthfully?

20 thoughts on “What’s Your Motivation?

  1. Love this! My motivation is to be healthy, both inside and outside. Eeeeeven though vanity is a nice confidence boost too heehee ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Isn’t it though? I’m with you on the healthy inside AND outside… Fit feels good!

  2. I love this post! I overheard a similar diet conversation in the locker room at the gym the other day. The two girls were talking about how they couldn’t have any carbs after breakfast, but they had to have salad cream (I don’t know if you have this in the states but it’s disgusting and so fatty!) on their vegetables so they ‘didn’t feel deprived’. And then they were talking about how much they drink and eat on the weekend, but it’s okay because they barely eat during the week! Yikes. I always wonder whether I should step in during those conversations, but I know it probably wouldn’t do any good.

    1. I’ve never heard of salad cream but just the name makes me gag a little bit.. I know what you mean about stepping in, sometimes I want to but then I don’t think it’ll do any good either!

  3. LOVE IT!! Part of my motivation is vanity, naturally, but my favorite thing ever is to have to move a heavy exam table at work and be able to do it myself… or be able to move without needing friends or family to help because Max & I can handle it all ourselves. I love being functional! haha!

    1. Yes! Will and I moved ourselves without any help and that is definitely priceless!! I can handle a heavy piece of furniture with the best of ’em ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Thanks so much for this post! I had a gain on the scales this morning and was beginning to feel sorry for myself when i read your blog. Three years ago when I lost about 30-35 lbs and was doing work outs, training at the gym and beginning to run, I was on top of the world. My initial motivation was health. Diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol. My daughter gave me a package with a trainer at a local gym. I wanted to kill her! Anyway, it was successful and I realized I liked it. My trainer moved away, but actually knew I couldn’t afford him much longer. I was nervous about working out on my own. I did end up with a tiny knee fracture and plantar facillitus on the other foot. So I was injured, looking for a trainer. No complaints. It was a setback. I saw a fantastic chiropractor who has helped me immensely. He also studies clinical nutrition. I found a new trainer at a new gym. Just after starting up, I had a brain aneuryzm rupture and was down for a while again. All I wanted while I was on those meds was potato chips. I ate a ton of chips over about 6-8 week period. The point is I get your point. Vanity became a part of it after I became healthier and went off insulin and did some 5ks. I felt great, but like Aristotle says, it must become habit. My successes came before working out alone, at home, in the early morning and just reporting back and listening to my trainers. I want to take hikes with my grandkids! I want to take care of my aging husband. I want to carry and unload groceries. I want to work.
    I want to play. It all takes good health and STRENGTH! I may copy your Aristotle quote for my blog when I figure out how :/ THANKS AGAIN!!!!!!!

    1. So glad you enjoyed this post!! It makes me happy to know that I am affecting peoples lives in a positive way, so thank you so much for your comment! I know that it can be very discouraging when you have setbacks such as your aneuryzm, but look at you now, motivated and willing to work hard for the things you love (your grandkids, husband, family, etc.) Just keep your eyes on your goals, keep taking steps to meet these goals (baby steps are all that you need!) and you’ll get there. Again, thank you!

  5. great post. the motivation is both for me. Vanity because i loved it when i could get into two dress sizes smaller. when in a store i would just try on clothes because now a greater variety of clothes looked good on me. Health because at my age my body is still flexible and supple, so less prone to injuries and aches and pains. feel great and get the bonus of glowing skin…

    1. I think that vanity is an excellent motivator, and it’s a huge part of my own motivation! I just find it interesting to hear what else keeps people going in the long run, such as the things you posted here. Thanks for your comment!

  6. onehealthymunchkin April 23, 2012 — 11:03 am

    Awesome post! My motivation originally was vanity because I wanted to lose weight. But since then it has morphed into a motivation of feeling healthy, having energy, and feeling accomplished. Vanity is obviously still a factor though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. Thanks Chelsea! It really seems like that is what happens to many people… A motivation to lose weight and look better eventually morphs into being motivated to continue being healthy and increase quality of life.

  7. Oh my god! I bet you could make a blog solely on the conversations people have at the gym. It is so funny to hear some of those misconceptions such as “lets just eat salad and get super skinny.” Great post.

    1. Thanks! And that would be a great blog, there are some crazy things overheard/seen at the gym!!

  8. love this! i had an eating disorder for a long time and used working out as a way to “stay thin” – needless to say, i did a lot of mindless cardio and crunches. ten years and two rehabs later, i’m in LOVE with lifting and running because they make me feel so incredibly strong. and even though it may be small-minded of me, i totally get satisfaction from the “bro nods” of respect i get from the guys on the weight floor when they see a 5’3″ girl slinging 45-lb. plates on to a bar for squats. : )

    1. First off, Congrats on being in recovery! And Yes, I love the looks of acknowledgement when people realize I’m not there to use the 5 pounders!


  10. Only been reading your blog for one week, and I’ve already stopped lifting 8 pound weights and moved up to 12. I realized it’s okay to take baby steps sometimes, but lots of times, you really need to challenge yourself. Thanks for the truly healthy inspiration.

    1. Awesome, Beth!! I’m so glad you found my blog and that it has given you some inspiration! Baby steps are Absolutely OK and encouraged! I used to use 8 pound weights too, and now I’m doing DB chest press with 35’s. Be patient and keep working hard, and you’ll get there. I really do believe that challenging yourself (mentally and physically) is truly the only way to improve, and you’re doing just that! ๐Ÿ™‚

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