Most people tend to be pretty motivated when they start something. You decide you want to lose weight so you change your diet, and for the first few weeks, maybe even a month or so, you are super …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to Episode 188, of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners and today, the cycle of unstoppable motivation. So most people tend to be pretty motivated when they start something.
So you decide you want to lose weight. So you change your diet. And at the beginning, maybe the first few weeks, the first month or so you feel super motivated. You’re tracking your food every day, you’re sticking to the plan perfectly, and you feel good about yourself. You think, man, I’m crushing this.
But then over time that motivation begins to fade, you kind of stop tracking your food every day, you cheat on a few meals, which leads to a few more and a few more. And you just no longer feel motivated to keep going. Have you experienced this? I know I have.
This is the same reason why in January, all the gyms are full, but then in March, they’re empty again. Because people lose their motivation. So today, I’m taking a look at why that motivation fades, and what you can do to keep it going. I’m calling this the cycle of unstoppable motivation, so that you can actually crush your health and fitness goals.
But first, listen, when it comes to coaching programs, there are basically two main types of coaching out there. There’s group coaching, and private one on one coaching. Group coaching is something I do in my program where I lead a group Zoom call a couple times a week. These group calls are beneficial for a couple of reasons.
First, you get more opportunities for coaching to be held accountable, to ask questions and get answers. Second, you get to hear from people in the group who share similar goals and experience similar struggles. It’s very helpful. And third, having the support of the group is one of the main reasons why so many people are successful in my program, because they never feel alone. Right?
They always have this group of people who get it who are right there to help them and support them every step of the way. So that’s group coaching.
And then also, there’s private one on one coaching, this is probably the most powerful part of any kind of coaching relationship. This is where you and I develop your personalized plan, we make sure you’re sticking to the plan. That’s the important part. It’s one thing to have a plan, it’s another thing to stick to it, right?
And then that’s also where we make changes to that plan if necessary. One on one coaching is where you specifically are held accountable for your actions. Did you do what you said you were going to do? Yes, no, why? Why not? Losing weight and keeping it off for good requires a lot of knowledge, support, encouragement and motivation, feedback, accountability. That’s why I created my program the way that I did, because it delivers all of this and more.
If you’re interested, you can learn more about the Running Lean Coaching Project. This is my unique weight loss coaching program for runners. Just go to runningleancoaching.com and click on Work With Me.
And if you want a little bit of help getting started with all of this stuff that I talked about here on the podcast, I created a pretty comprehensive training program that you can check out. It’s a video, I think it’s about an hour long.
It’s called Five Simple Steps To Becoming A Leaner, Stronger Runner. Just go to runningleancoaching.com and click on the Free Training link to get started with that. Cool. Okay, so today I’m talking about the cycle of unstoppable motivation.
So when people set out to do something to make some kind of big change to their health or fitness, you know, like, people will join a gym or they’ll start running or they’ll change their diet. Early on in the process, they feel really motivated. They got all these positive vibes happening. They’re pretty excited.
But over time, something happens. They begin to lose the motivation to keep going. And eventually, they give up and they quit. I know you’ve experienced this in some form or fashion because I think everyone has at some point in their life, right?
Here’s the thing: we use all sorts of external excuses, and reasons why we stopped doing the thing and why we lost our motivation. People will say well, I had a bad week at work and you know, or, you know, the scale just stopped moving or it was really cold outside, so I couldn’t run outside or it was too hot outside, so I couldn’t run outside or whatever.
The bottom line is people lose their motivation and they quit. And they justify quitting with all these excuses, you know, and then they’ll say to themselves, like, why should I even bother, it’s too hard, it’s taking too long, the results aren’t coming fast enough. I don’t think this is working for me. And all of those are just excuses.
Even something like this isn’t working for me, it isn’t working, because maybe you need to change something. So instead of going off track, giving up and quitting, if you want to get results, if you want to improve your health, your fitness, if you want to change your body composition, if you want to lose weight, if you want to gain muscle, if you want to get faster. The only way to achieve this is to keep going, you can’t quit, there’s no quitting, right?
You’ve just got to keep going until you finally succeed. There’s this quote that I love. It’s like,
“Every success is built upon a big ol pile of failures, right?” So even though you think you’re failing, you gotta keep going. But people don’t keep going because they don’t feel motivated to keep going.
But here’s the thing, motivation is one of those things, and I’m gonna explain a little bit more about this in a minute here. Motivation is one of those things that we are responsible for. It doesn’t come from outside of us. It’s something that we create ourselves.
Okay, so if you want to accomplish anything, let’s just say that motivation helps, but it’s not the answer. Like you don’t have to be motivated to go run. I’m telling you what, here’s a good example: this morning, I woke up, I was tired, I didn’t sleep well last night. And for whatever reason, I woke up, and I was really tired.
And I did not want to go to the gym, I had zero motivation for going to the gym, and it was leg day, my least favorite day at the gym. And I was like, I do not want to go to the gym today. And I was saying that to myself, as I was putting my shoes on and as I was brushing my teeth and getting ready to leave the house to go to the gym.
I didn’t have the motivation. But I did it anyway, because it’s something that’s kind of become a habit for me. And while on this topic today, I’m not really talking about habits, that is kind of where we want to get to with a lot of this stuff, we want to build good habits.
Listen, if you want to lose weight, you have to stick with your food plan consistently, you’ve got to develop good habits around that. If you want to get bigger muscles, you have to continually lift weights, you got to get into a good habit around that.
If you want to run faster, you got to practice running faster, and you got to do it consistently. The problem is that most people won’t accomplish what they want for themselves, what they really want for themselves. Because it takes time, it takes time to lose weight, it takes time to get stronger, takes time to get faster.
And the road to getting there is hard. That’s why most people don’t do it. It sucks. Sometimes, today at the gym, I gotta tell you, I did not feel good. That was not fun. But I know that this is a means to an end, like I know that I suffer for an hour at the gym in the morning. And the rest of my day is amazing.
And I’m getting stronger, and it’s improving my running, and it’s improving my body composition. So we just have to understand that those things that we want for ourselves, we have to do them consistently, we have to stick to them. And that’s where this conversation comes in here.
Because how do we stay consistent? How do we stay motivated? How do we keep our head in the game, even when we don’t feel like it? That’s kind of what this whole topic is about tonight. Okay. So the goal of this talk today, this episode, is really to teach you how to make motivation a habit, how to stay motivated, how to stay on track, how to stick to the plan, how to keep taking action, even when you don’t feel like it.
When you get to that place, then there isn’t a question of whether you’re going to go to the gym or not, whether you’re going to stick to your diet or not, whether you’re going to do your speed work or not. You’re going to do it because you’ve created good habits around that. And you feel motivated to do that because you’ve created that motivation for yourself. Okay.
So here’s what I want you to visualize. I teach this to my coaching clients and I’m sharing this with you guys here today. So just so you know, this is one of those things that I teach to my clients but I thought pretty strongly about sharing this with you today.
And one of the things I can’t really show you here, but if you can imagine a visual of a circle with arrows, you know, circling around, like, you know, clockwise arrows circling around the circle. And in the circle, there are four quadrants basically.
And the first one is action. The next one, action leads to progress, which leads to confidence, which leads to motivation, which leads to action again, okay? So just, I want you to be visualizing this, you know.
I have a slide that I, when I teach this to my coaching clients, I have a slide that I use, and it shows this and it gives you a good visual, but just imagine a circle with the words action, progress, confidence, motivation around that circle, okay. I’m gonna explain what all that means here because I think it’s important to understand each one of these steps.
Okay, so the first part of the cycle, the cycle of unstoppable motivation is action. An action is everything that you do. So it’s your behaviors, your routines, your habits, it’s your plan, it’s like making a food plan and sticking to the plan, that’s taking action.
It’s like maybe abstaining from alcohol. So that’s actually something you’re not doing, you’re not taking action, but I’m going to consider that an action as well. Abstaining from alcohol is an action.
Running, you know, sticking to your running schedules, sticking to your resistance training schedule, going to bed early, so that you get a good night’s sleep. So you go, you can hit your workout at four o’clock in the morning, because you gotta do it before you work.
Reading a self help book every day, doing your morning routine, maybe some meditation, yoga, journaling. All of these things are actions. And what’s specific about these kinds of actions is that when you take these actions consistently, you start to get, you start to make progress. And you start to get results.
And the important part of taking action is that you are taking aligned action. So aligned action is actions that are in alignment with your goals. So if you take no action, you’re not going to get any results. I think we can all agree on that. Right? If you take misaligned action, so eating cake for dinner, instead of the salad and the chicken that you had planned, that’s called misaligned action, you’re going to get misaligned results. Results that are not in alignment with your long term goals.
Aligned action will give you aligned results, this will give you the results that you do want. So when you stick to your food plan, and you do this consistently, you will start to lose fat weight, you’ll start to improve your body composition, you’ll start to sleep better, you have more energy, running will improve, all those things, right. So we want to stay in aligned action.
I think we can all agree that this is pretty basic stuff right here, right. But this is where a lot of people will fall off because they stop taking that aligned action because they’re not motivated. So remember, in our circle, we have action, progress, confidence, motivation, which leads to more action and the cycle continues. Okay.
So we need to be taking consistent aligned action, that’s how we are going to make progress. So once you get started with a certain behavior, it’s much easier to just keep going and keep doing it.
It’s much harder to stop and start, stop and start. So for example, let’s say you want to eat healthy and you kind of created a healthy eating plan and you’ve stuck to it for a few weeks but then you went back and forth for a week you went and did you know back to the way you were eating before and then you decide oh, you know what I better go back to eating what I was before.
That’s a lot of work to get back started doing something like that same thing when you take a break from running . It’s much easier to just continue running and keep your fitness level up all year long. Yeah, we train in cycles.
Yes, it’s okay to take some time off here and there, but if we take an extended period of time from running because we just hate it or we don’t feel like it. I’m not talking about being injured but that can apply to you know, but that’s something you may not have as much control over.
So if you take a break from running, trying to get back into running again is really hard and I talk to people about this every day they’re like I just can’t get back into running again. It’s so hard. I took a year off because you know I got injured but then I got better but then I just didn’t feel like running, I wasn’t motivated anymore.
So keeping up and just maintaining your fitness is much easier than stopping and starting. Maintaining your good eating, your diet, your nutrition plan is much easier than starting and stopping. Okay, so we want to stay in action mode, we want to be taking a wind action. And we want to make sure that we are not relying on something like willpower to keep us going. Okay?
Taking action, taking consistent aligned action requires more than willpower, because willpower is like, it’s like a fuel tank, it gets drained as it’s used. So think about this, at the beginning of the day, you have lots of willpower, like you feel pretty, pretty strong and confident that you can stick to all your plans.
But by the end of the day, you’re like you’re tired, you’ve had an exhausting day, you’ve experienced all this stress. And that willpower has been drained that willpower tank is like empty by the end of the day. That’s why so many people just plopped down on the couch with a pint of ice cream and Netflix instead of working out when they said they’re going to work out in the evenings.
And I encourage people to, you know, work out in the mornings, if you can do it first thing in the morning and just get that out of the way, if you can do that. If you can’t, then you got to have more than willpower to get you going. And that’s kind of part of what we’re talking about here.
So really the secret of like creating and starting the cycle of unstoppable motivation is to take aligned action. And you got to take aligned action, even when you don’t feel like it. Example me this morning, putting my shoes on and going to the gym, even though I was like, not excited about it, not motivated, not feeling it. No good vibes happening at all, but I took aligned action, because I know, that’s what I want for myself. Okay.
So number one action, take aligned action, even when you don’t feel like it. What happens when you take aligned action, you make progress. And that’s kind of the second part of the cycle of unstoppable motivation, progress.
When you take consistent aligned action, you make progress. When you don’t take action, you don’t make progress, right? You can’t like lose weight by just thinking about losing weight, or listening to a podcast about losing weight or reading a book about losing weight, like you have to take action, right.
But here’s the thing, once you start seeing some progress, you start to feel good about things, right. Most weight loss principles adhere to the idea that we want to get you making progress from the very beginning and continually keep that progress going. Because that helps you to stay motivated.
Because once you start seeing progress, that progress will lead to the next step, which is building confidence. Okay, but once we see some progress, we want to keep going. We stay motivated when we’re making progress. So when we take consistent aligned action, we make progress. And we stay motivated to keep taking more because of consistent aligned action. Right.
When you make progress, you build confidence. When you make progress, you get results, even though they might be small, like little baby steps. You know, if you start lifting weights at the gym, and you expect to like grow some big giant muscles, it’s going to take some time, like, honestly, if you want to get big, like bodybuilder big, like it may take a couple of years to get there for you.
Which you just have to like understand that that’s the way these things work. And like you just have to commit to that. But progress, even if it’s minimal, we want to celebrate that and continually take action that’s going to lead to more progress. So you take more progress, you create better results, and that cycle just keeps going right? We want to measure our progress, right? So you can’t you can’t track something you can’t improve something that you don’t measure. So make sure you’re measuring progress.
Track your runs, are you getting faster? Track your weight loss, are you losing fat and gaining muscle? Track your strength training, are you getting stronger? Track your sleep, your productivity at work, everything that you want to improve, make sure you’re keeping track of this, okay?
And then also when we’re talking about progress, don’t focus on where you’re not, so don’t focus on well, you know, I really want to run a sub two half marathon. But you know, gosh, I’m at a 2:30 right now. I’ve got so much to go like it’s gonna be so hard to get there.
If you keep focusing on where you’re not though, oh man, you’re just going to be, that’s depressing. You’re going to be very unmotivated, if you’re focusing on where you’re not okay, so focus on the gain. That’s the progress that you’ve made. That’s why we track our progress, because we want to celebrate that and focus on the gains we’re making, even if they’re tiny.
And don’t focus so much on the gap. So let’s say you want to be 150 pounds, but you weigh 200 pounds, you know, you’re gonna be concentrating on that 50 pound gap. And that feels terrible. 50 pounds, oh my God, I got 49 pounds today, oh, my gosh, I got 48 more pounds to go. How about, you know what, I’ve lost a pound a week for the last three weeks. And I feel good about that. Oh, my gosh, that’s great progress, right?
I mean, that’s a very different way of looking at this, okay. So take consistent line action. When you do that, you start to make progress. Making progress helps to build confidence. That’s the next step in the cycle of unstoppable motivation, which is confidence. So confidence is a feeling, it’s an emotion, motivation is a feeling too.
Both confidence and motivation are created by you. These things are not out there. They’re not something that you get from someone else. You know, you might be inspired by somebody else. But you don’t get motivated. Motivation comes from within, you don’t get confidence from looking at what other people are doing, you get confidence because of what you do.
When you do something and you stick to your plan, you build confidence, you build trust in yourself, making progress helps to build confidence. So when you see things moving in the right direction, your confidence builds, you see that things are working, and this feels good. And you’re like, oh, you know, this could actually work, you know, I’ve started losing weight, I’ve started running a little bit faster, oh, man, I might be able to do this, oh, I might be able to hit this weight loss goal. Right.
So just the act of being consistent and taking consistent line action will create a little bit of progress and help to build your confidence. And again, we want to celebrate the wins, we want to focus on the gains, not the gap. So celebrate those successes, celebrate the progress that you make, that helps to build more progress, more confidence. And the longer you stick with something, the more confidence you create.
So keep making your plan and sticking to your plan. Keep planning on your workouts and stick to those workouts, keep planning your food and stick to that food plan. Just the act of being consistent with your plan will help to build confidence. Because honestly, that’s the only way you’re going to make progress and get results.
You don’t get results by being confident you don’t get results by being motivated, you get results by taking consistent aligned action. Okay? Again, confidence is a feeling it’s like this inner knowing that you’re on the right path.
Even if you aren’t getting much in the way of results, but you just know you’re on the right path. So building confidence is one of those things that will keep you in the game, it will keep you on track.
And one thing a lot of my clients have told me is that having somebody there like having me as a coach or the other people in the coaching group there helps them to get through some of the tough spots, helps them to stay on track.
It helps them to make progress and helps them to build their confidence. So having somebody there to hold you accountable is key to like gaining and maintaining confidence to keep you going okay? So you have all this confidence, and this is going to dramatically improve your motivation. Confidence leads to more motivation.
So now you’ve taken aligned action, you’ve made significant progress. This is building your confidence and trust in yourself. An inner knowing that you can do this, which keeps you motivated. Right. So motivation is like a general willingness or a desire to do something. It’s a feeling that drives actions and behaviors in a positive way. So now you feel like taking more aligned action. And then the cycle just continues.
So this is a beautiful thing, this cycle of unstoppable motivation, continually taking aligned action, continually making progress, feeling more confident, feeling more motivated, which leads to wanting to take more aligned action. And that’s it the cycle continues and continues.
And when you’re motivated, when you’re taking consistent aligned action, when you’re making progress, you create momentum. Momentum is what keeps the cycle moving like we want to stay in momentum, we want to keep the momentum going because momentum creates more motivation, which creates more momentum.
So you’ve heard this phrase, probably, “An object at rest remains at rest, while an object in motion remains in motion.” This is Newton’s first law of motion or inertia. So in other words, another way of saying this, and I kind of said this earlier is that it’s much easier to just keep going than it is to stop and start, stop and start, stop and start. Don’t do that.
Get into momentum, and keep the momentum going. Because once you stop, again, it’s really hard to start again. So we want to stay in the cycle, stay in the cycle of unstoppable motivation, which is you’re taking consistent aligned action, you’re making progress, you’re building confidence, you’re, you’re creating motivation to take more aligned action, making more progress, and on and on and on. Okay.
Now, there is sort of a dark side to this, this is the dark side of motivation. And I call this the cycle of demotivation, okay? The insidious cycle of demotivation. So this is where you don’t take action, or you take a misaligned action. What happens there is that it creates a lack of progress, or a regression of backwards progress, negative results, which destroys your confidence.
It creates a lack of confidence, self doubt, uncertainty, pessimism, which leads to a lack of motivation. you’re discouraged, you’re demotivated, which means that you are not motivated to take action. So you don’t take action. And you don’t make progress. And you feel less motivated and less confident. And that cycle just continues and continues, right?
Sounds depressing even talking about it. This is a terrible cycle to be in. So stay out of that cycle. How do you stay out of the cycle of insidious demotivation? Well, the first step is to never get into it in the first place. So, consistently do what it takes to stay in aligned action and consistently stick to your plan.
Just remember that when you’re in this cycle of demotivation, it’s like a whirlpool. It spins faster and faster. Like, especially in the middle. So stay out of the vortex. Like if you’re on the outskirts of this thing, and like you find yourself being pulled in a little bit. Just shut that down as fast as you can.
So that’s like, Oh, I missed a workout. Okay, well get out of this. Get out of the Whirlpool, get out of the vortex. Oh, you know, I had a cheat meal. I just couldn’t give up this donut they had in the break room at work like, okay, next meal, you get back on track, you skipped a workout. Great. Next workout, you’re back on track, stay out of the cycle of demotivation. Right?
Just because you screwed up once it doesn’t mean you’re done. Right? Stay out of that get back into align action as soon as possible. Failure is never final. Just because you screwed up. It doesn’t mean you are done. Right? You pick yourself up again, you look at what you did. Think about what you could do differently next time, and then get back on track as soon as possible.
We never miss two workouts in a row. We never have two cheat meals in a row. Okay, be consistent consistency beats perfection. You’ll never do all this stuff perfectly. Nobody’s expecting you to. I don’t do it perfectly. Nobody I work with does this perfectly. But yet, we all get amazing results. Because we do these things consistently. We are not after 100% perfection. We’re after 90%. Some days 95%. Some days might be 100%. Whatever it is, we want to be just taking consistent aligned action. Okay. So don’t get out of control.
Just, you know, another way of thinking about this is like divide your day up into four quarters. So we have like, early morning, late morning, afternoon, evening. And if you give into temptation, eat some cookies at lunch like okay, you lost that quarter. You lost your afternoon, quarter. No big deal. Now your goal is to win the next quarter. You might lose a quarter, no big deal. Don’t lose the day. Get back on track ASAP when the next quarter.
Losing a quarter will happen. It happens to all of us, okay. Never, ever lose two in a row. Never ever lose the day. Okay. That is how you stay in the cycle of unstoppable motivation. Take consistent aligned action, make progress, get results, feel confident. That increases your motivation to take more consistent aligned action and on and on and on that’s where I want you to be.
You do that, you’re golden. Cool, alright that’s all I got for you today. Love you all, keep on Running Lean and I’ll talk to you soon.