What is your intrinsic reason for working out? If it’s all based on the scale, a size of clothing, or a personal record, you could be at risk for never finding your sweet spot and always needing to find another motivator.

Know what drives you inside as well as what drives your external vision.

The “Inner Game”

The ref hands you the ball. Inching your foot up to the free throw line, you eyeball the clock: mere seconds left and your team is one point behind. Your coach has that look; he’s counting on you.

Taking a deep breath you’re innervated by the stomps, whistles, cheers, claps, air horns, and cowbells. It electrifies you. You spin the ball in your hands, fingering the line your palm knows best. One soft squat, a lift and a hand stretched out over the hoop…SWISH.

The score is tied. Another banked shot and it’s yours. Your teammates edge out space in the key, claiming defense.

Electricity shoots through you and even the chanting in the stands disappears as the myopic view of the rim fills your brain. You’re in the zone and it all comes down to you. That second shot clears the net flawlessly and the crowd goes wild.

You found your sweet spot.

Psychologists call this “flow,” your ability to become so engrossed in an activity that your body actually goes on autopilot. You’ve probably experienced it before – the feeling that nothing can stop you, that you got this.

This is why we train, the natural high, being most inside our bodies, expecting a return on what we invest in the effort. No matter the activity you love, you demand payback. And when you reach a goal, it fuels your intensity and desire for more.

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What keeps you training?

What keeps you training? New personal records, competition, the challenge of a new workout, social support, losing 50 pounds or putting muscles on what used to be twiggy arms and legs?

You’re already dedicated to sweating-it-out, but what happens when you’re “off” your game?

Understanding your inner motivation is paramount to longterm success. Motivation can be either extrinsic (the carrot hung out in front of you), or intrinsic (settled in your gut, the certainty that you will not back down for any reason).

I think that both are helpful and either can be too extreme.

Why not external motivators only?

Workouts and diets are innumerable. Experts abound, each telling you they have exactly what you’re looking for. Letting somebody or something else be your regular motivation can leave you frustrated.

If you chase one option after another, looking for the “perfect fit,” you could always be looking for your personal sweet spot.

Developing a relationship with your intrinsic motivation requires you to get alone with yourself long enough to know what “makes you tick.” As a personal trainer, I find that this is more difficult for people.

It’s easy to be deceived by the idea that our yearnings for health are enough to make us stronger. But what happens when you get tired, your trainer moves, or your workout partner blows out his knee?

Know what propels you when you aren’t on fire. Me? I need one thing in life where I connect to my inner beast. I have to rule that. I need a few things that I can do pretty well. I need something that I’m learning, a place to explore.

And outside of that, I need a balanced life—if it doesn’t fit inside of balance, I downgrade the priority, letting it be fun.

What about you? Do you know what motivates you when you lack outside inspiration?

  • Quiet Time This can straight up suck for many people. But, learning when to decompress and when to push hard will help protect you against losing momentum altogether when you experience a shift in life.
  • Locating your “Rarrr” – For me this is the key to intrinsic motivation. I thrive on adventure and intensity. Think through the times you’ve been completely lost in an activity, confident to the point of egotistical. Nobody could stop you.
  • Limit Extrinsic Rewards for a Time What will you work for without any reward whatsoever? Look for things that would get you out of bed at 5am and build a balanced program around them!
  • Identity  My consultations with clients start out the same —“I want to get healthier, lose weight, and tone up.” Their ideal picture of physique, and the way I program them toward that will be unique for each client.
  • Getting Real  The older we get, the more likely that we have emotional or psychological hang-ups standing between us and what we want. The more you’re okay with calling crap what it is, the less time you’ll waste.

The ref hands you the ball. You nervously take it from him and eye the clock. You’re haunted, knowing that with only seconds left and down by one, you have to own this.

The crowd is terrifying, and you wish that the noise would stop so you could concentrate. The ball feels awkward in your hand and you just want this moment to pass. Teeth gritted, you jump a little too high, the ball falling flat against the backboard to a hushed silence.

It all comes down to you. Will you crack or will you know what brought you to this point?

Stronger U Fitness

Exercise.com would like to thank Kristi Fox, Owner of Stronger U Fitness for sharing the “Inner Game” with our Exercise.com Community!

Stronger U Fitness is a multifunctional training studio that helps create a lifetime of fitness through a well-rounded program. Kristi’s primary specialty as a trainer is corrective exercise.

She works with clients who have gone through breast cancer, overcome stroke or heart attacks, deal with joint replacements or physical debilitations.  Many of the clients who come to her have been to traditional gyms and were hurt or intimidated.

They come to her looking for a trainer who will empathize with them and program according to their needs.

You can find Kristi on Twitter: @StrongerU and like us on Facebook to keep up with the latest updates!