How to find your why for exercise and reach your fitness goals

Are you engaged or just interested? (Photo: Getty Images)

One of the frequently asked questions for anyone who exercises regularly is “how do you stay motivated?” – and almost always the answer is “I don’t”.

As anyone who exercises knows, motivation is temporary. This is true whether you train competitively or for fun.

Instead, discipline is what matters, especially when you’ve been in the game for years and the rookie buzz is gone.

But discipline doesn’t come out of thin air; it’s cultivated. And to cultivate any real discipline, you have to find your why.

For Steph Murray, a personal trainer and mixed martial artist from Manchester, knowing your ‘why’ is ‘crucial’ as it will show the difference between simply being interested in something and being committed to it.

The Importance of Finding Your Why

“For me, understanding your ‘why’ will help you decide your level of commitment to the process and the inevitable challenges you will face to achieve what you want,” he tells

Psychologist Dr. Josephine Perry agrees. In her book, The 10 Pillars of Success, “purpose” is one of her key pillars to achieving your goals.

“The purpose consists of three elements; the direction it sends us, the need to contribute to the wider world and the ability to behave consistently,” she tells us.

“It becomes a kind of scaffolding [that we can use]so instead of avoiding difficult situations, we approach them with intention.

She says people with a strong purpose—or “why”—are known to have above-average health, feel a sense of mastery, have higher quality relationships, greater resilience, and can develop coping mechanisms to cope with stress and distress.

“Knowing our ‘why’ when exercising is important to our motivation as it gives us the strength to overcome all the useless excuses we give ourselves: it’s too cold, I’m too tired, I’ll never get better,” adds Josephine.

“With a loud ‘why’ we hear the excuses, but we still want to train, even in spite of them.”

But what exactly is your “why” and how can you find it?

How to find your “why” for exercise

Everyone’s reason for exercising will be different, but as Steph points out, it shouldn’t be one-dimensional and should be part of a bigger picture of personal development.

Carly Rowina, founder of wellness app Moodment, backs this up and stresses the importance of digging deep as you try to find yours.

“A great exercise is to write down the first goal that comes to mind [when you think about your reasons for exercising]she tells

The key is to not stop at your first reason.

If your “why” is because you want to be in shape for the New Year, ask yourself why that is.

If it’s because you want to look good for a certain party, ask yourself why again.

Maybe to feel confident – ​​but why do you want to feel confident?

Essentially, introspection is key.

“Keep asking until you get to your root cause,” says Carly.

“It may take a few tries before you can be completely honest with yourself.”

How to find your “why”

Questions you can ask to help you find your “why”:

  • how you want to feel
  • who are you doing it for
  • How can you measure your success?
  • How does this version of you look, feel and behave?

Thought Experiments to Find Your Why:

  • Put all your points of what might be on one piece of paper and rewrite and rewrite until they coalesce and become more compact.
  • Write your own ideal Wikipedia page – what you would like it to say about you.
  • Imagine being in the rocking chair at 80 years old – what achievement would you like to be proud of?
  • Look at the photos on your phone. is there a topic What do they tell you about what’s important to you?

Carly Rowina and Dr. Josephine Perry

It is important to continue to be introspective over the years.

“Ultimately, as you progress closer to your goals, you’ll need to keep evaluating in order to make progress,” Carly says.

“As in life, we all have milestones that are important to us, and the same is true in fitness – you grow with your goals.”

Maybe your “why” when it comes to fitness is something as simple as making new friends or getting out of the house more. You don’t have to be a competitive athlete to commit to a goal.

But finding your “why” will be the difference between whether or not you end up achieving that goal.

As Steph says, “If you can find your why, something that really resonates with you to the core, that has multiple layers and transcends interests, I have nothing but confidence in your ability to achieve your goals.”

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