Since I work on motivation, I’ve read a ton of diet and exercise books. They generally try to fill you up with information. While filling your head with information doesn’t necessarily hurt your fitness efforts, it won’t likely help either. And any book claiming any latest and greatest methods can’t get over that countless people before that book created fit, healthy bodies for themselves.
Information doesn’t make you fit. Behavior, and only behavior, does. Information can only influence your beliefs, which can influence your motivations and behavior, but that connection is indirect and weak.
Working backward gives effective answers.
First, figure out the body you want
The first step was simple.
For the body you want, do the behaviors that create it
Only the behaviors that create that body will create that body. No other behaviors will.
You may say this step is hard, takes too much time, or whatever. That doesn’t change that only doing the behaviors that create that body will create that body. If you want a runner’s physique you have to run. If you want a weight-lifter’s physique you have to lift weights. If you want to be more fit than you are you have to behave more fit than you do. That’s it. That’s all there is to it.
If you don’t want to do those behaviors you can’t create that body.
You don’t need a book full of information to know what behaviors to do. When you know what body you want, you can find all the information you want on the internet or from people who succeeded at what you want to succeed at. Information doesn’t make you do the behaviors necessary for your desired body type.
As hard as some think doing this step is, it’s the only thing you can do. So if you want that body and you want to do those behaviors, you better do the next step.
To do those behaviors, find out how to like doing them
If you don’t like doing those behaviors, you’ll stop doing them. That’s all there is to it.
If you don’t do this step, you will fail at the behaviors step. You must do this step to succeed. That means acting on long-term motivations. New information does not motivate you. Motivation, on the other hand, will lead you to seek out information you need so you don’t need any new information to start with.
The world is filled with people who started the behaviors based on willpower instead of enduring motivations and gave up. If you don’t develop long-term motivations you will become one of them.
If you already like doing those behaviors, your desired body will come in time as long as you don’t get distracted
If you like playing on a team and the sport will get you in shape, you’ll get in shape. Keep in mind, deviating from the behaviors that work will lead to failure, so playing that team sport and drinking tons of beer after does not constitute behavior that will create the body of someone who doesn’t drink all that beer.
So how do you find out how to like doing those behaviors?
To like doing those behaviors, find enduring, powerful emotions within you and motivate the behaviors with them
You have powerful emotions in you. You are unlikely to create new ones from scratch. You can use emotions to motivate different behaviors than they do now.
Therefore, you must identify emotions within you that you can relate to your desired body or the behaviors that create it. If you don’t, you may succeed in the short term, but you will fail in the long term. That’s all there is to it.
Yes, that’s it.
Fitness, athleticism, or whatever body type you want comes through behavior which comes through motivation, which means emotional awareness and skill, at least in the emotions relevant to fitness. I don’t mean you have to become the Dalai Lama or meditate. You just have to know what emotions will lead you to do the behaviors that create the body you want. Any steps that deviate from the above are wasting your efforts. Steps consistent with them help. I suppose you might get lucky starting a workout regimen and find some passion in at after you start, but that’s a long shot. You’re more likely to give up and decrease future motivation.
But in general, you have all the information you need to start. If you haven’t started, you don’t lack information, you lack motivation. If you’ve already read fitness or exercise books, you won’t likely find motivation in a new one.
You find motivation inside yourself. If you can’t, work on that, not on pushing yourself to exercise or skip meals. Emotions win out over willpower so if your emotions aren’t there you’ll give up. By contrast, if your emotions are there, you’ll find all the information, recipes, and so forth you need.
How to start
If you want to find your emotions to start the whole process, I recommend trying the exercise in my post “How to make someone feel understood: the Confirmation Cycle,” specifically having someone do it on you.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees