Start with emotions if you want to motivate yourself … or anyone else

September 26, 2013 by Joshua
in Blog, Fitness, Nature

I find Americans try to get precise and scientific about food and exercise, in contrast to how incredibly unfit the country is. I write “try to” because I don’t think they succeed in being precise or scientific.

The term carbohydrate, for example, used to have a specific scientific meaning. I think it still does, but I think in standard American usage it means “bad” or “evil,” like the term fat used to. But I don’t think people know what carbohydrate means, but it sounds technical. Same with Omega whatever fatty acids, free radicals, and so on.

Same with exercise. People throw around terms like anaerobic, cardiovascular, and VO2 max like candy, rarely knowing what they mean.

Jargon devoid of meaning.

More than devoid of meaning, distracting from what actually does get you eating healthy and exercising, which I’ll write about below.

As best I can tell, there seems to be a correlation between people talking jargon and being unfit. Sure, some fit people use those terms, but I suspect they got fit other ways, like what I write about below.

There’s probably a connection between spending money on exercise gear, clothing, and equipment and lack of fitness too. I hear people have already found dieting correlates with poor fitness.

Meanwhile, this people of this country rank among the least fit on the planet and probably since humans came to exist. Illiterate people far from our culture are probably overwhelmingly more fit on average.

An alternative

If you know me or my Model and Method, you know I don’t bother with learning all that stuff. Frankly, I wonder if one of the greatest lessons of learning science wasn’t recognizing what isn’t science when I hear it.

Start with emotions and motivation

If you want to exercise more, don’t start with learning pseudo-science or even science. You know plenty of exercises that will make you fit. You don’t even need to exercise, you can just play games and sports and walk places and up stairs.

Your problem, if you don’t exercise, is you’re not doing those things. Jargon and reading studies doesn’t make you do them. What does? Emotions do. If you like playing sports, you’ll play sports. If you don’t you won’t.

Start with emotions.

Emotions motivate you. Or discourage you if you don’t know how to use them.

It’s that simple. Filling yourself with information and jargon will only distract you from things you know will help you.

Same with food. You know what’s healthy. Your problem, if you don’t eat healthy, is that you don’t eat healthy food.

If you want to exercise, find or create ways to enjoy it or get reward from it. Then live your life and you’ll find yourself exercising more. If you don’t find or create ways to enjoy it, no matter how much willpower you have, you’ll eventually stop.

Start with emotions.

Same with food. If you don’t find ways to enjoy healthy food or get reward from it, no matter what you do, you’ll eventually stop eating healthy. If you enjoy it or get reward from it, you’ll eventually eat healthy.

Start with emotions.

All that jargon-y pseudo-knowledge doesn’t connect with emotions at all. Equipment isn’t fun or rewarding. It’s just equipment. Few fit people in the history of humanity got fit from equipment. They got fit from living healthy lifestyles.

You know what’s fun and rewarding?

Here are some examples:

  • Playing sports on a team
  • Achieving more each time than you did before
  • The wind in your hair
  • The sun on your skin
  • Lying down thoroughly exhausted
  • Realizing your body can do something you thought impossible
  • Flexibility
  • Feeling proud of how your body looks
  • Talking to other fit people
  • Hiking in nature

Likewise, facts about food don’t taste good. They’re just facts. They won’t get you eating healthy.

You know what will? How about

  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Cooking for yourself
  • Finding highly processed food unappetizing
  • Picking food off the plant
  • Talking to the person who planted your food
  • Closing your eyes and noticing the complexity of a food
  • Anticipating a food about to come in season
  • Gorging on a food in season
  • Eating as much as you want of something, knowing it’s still healthy

You don’t have to count calories when you eat carrots. Have you ever noticed how sweet carrots are? I just ate two. They’re full of super-sweet carrot juice. You have to suck the juice out, which ends up being fun and makes you feel like a kid.

Counting calories and joining gyms doesn’t sound fun at all. It sounds like work. Figure out how to make something fun and rewarding.

If your life doesn’t let you to do things you find fun and rewarding — like you don’t have time to play sports or cook — look at your life. What are you here for? What can you change to allow more fun and joy in your life?


A caveat anyone who knows the Method knows I have to add. When I write to start with emotions, I mean choose what emotions you want before acting.

Before emotions, start with awareness. Always start with awareness. If you don’t know where you are, you can easily move in a counterproductive direction.

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