What is the key that unlocks the energy, the drive and the incentive from within? What motivates us to get physically active and more importantly, to stay committed to a lifetime of functional exercise and a healthy diet reinforced with natural health products? Why do only 16% of Canadian adults train semi-routinely, while less than 3% workout 3-5 times per day, 52 weeks a year?
Ever wonder why someone you know, perhaps a close friend or a member of your own family, just doesn’t seem to care? Is it because they don’t understand the benefits of training? Why do they need to be convinced? Isn’t the truth ‘out there’? Perhaps they don’t believe in the significance of optimum nutrition or dietary supplements as a defense against disease. Many still believe the lie that environment and lifestyle play little or no role in the disease process. Is it just plain ignorance, or do these people live in denial? How can you make someone appreciate the multiple health advantages of living logically?
Why are some people so apathetic while others appear to be highly disciplined and committed? Whatever the reason, and with very few exceptions, it boils down to choice. Like it or not, your body is genetically designed for physical movement and is dependent on a micronutrient-rich whole food diet. Muscles, nerves, bones, blood and brains function far more efficiently when conditioned through the most powerful medicine known - physical exercise. Let’s put it another way. It’s simply not possible to stay well if you’re not fit.
Exercise and proper diet requires discipline, a unique form of discipline that goes way beyond following orders without question. It’s a special kind of discipline that creates order by living in obedience with lifestyle principles based on the science of wellness. In general, discipline is a very important and necessary thing. Without discipline the mind and body become soft. But balance is the key word here. Too much discipline can rob a person of the joy of living, while no discipline at all causes erosion of mind, body and character.
Influence is a form of power which is able to produce an effect or change without apparent exertion of force or direct command. Positive influence can produce positive changes in an individual. Influence can stir the emotions and stimulate the mind through logic. Influence has to do with association. The people you work with, play with and chum around with ‘rub off’ on you. Are your friends winning in life and pursuing excellence in their own personal development, or do they lack motivation, direction and goals? Be careful how and with whom you spend your time. High-energy people can lift you up and encourage you not to waste your life. The best kind of influence comes from optimistic people who exude enthusiasm and exhibit a natural talent for seeing the best in everyone.
We can define knowledge as a range of accessible information, the condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience, the ability to apprehend truth or fact. Knowledge is associated with logic, numbers and science. It is antithetic to human emotion. We know for example that physical activity and a wholesome diet are essential to the economy and health of the human body. If you don't use it, you lose it. Loss of vitality, energy and life is the result of longstanding inactivity and poor eating habits. So why do so many continue to ignore what seems so obvious?
Knowledge is power, but only when applied. Without application it is limp and powerless. This is evident by the fact that even intellectual eggheads who know exactly what to do may still have zero follow through. Thus it is clear that simply ‘knowing’ what must be done to stay well and free of degeneration throughout life, although essential to the process, involves more than the acquisition of knowledge alone. There is a philosophy in the message of wellness that must be embraced.
State of Mind
Napoleon Hill wrote a fabulous little book called Think and Grow Rich. Throughout the novel, Hill frequently eludes to one of the most important keys for successful living, "We become what we think about."
If we think in positive terms, we will get positive results and likewise, if we think in negative terms, we will get negative results. All action is preceded by thought. If we set worthwhile goals and follow through with action, chances are we will accomplish those goals. On the other hand, if we think about nothing concrete and allow worry, fear and doubt to control our thoughts, our potential to excel in life will be hindered.
Our greatest limitations are those we create within our own mind. If we decide not to work out, eat better or get into shape, so be it, but this decision is not based on a rationale of logic or science. How can it be! Functional medicine is based on a paradigm of health and healing. It’s designed to compress morbidity and save life, not destroy it. Negative emotions can play a powerful role in our decision making process, often they are more an expression of how we feel about ourselves and how we define our purpose in life. Each one of us must find the courage not to conform to convention. Think clearly about your goals and share them with positive people who will support and encourage you.
In Heavy Duty I, author and pro bodybuilder Mike Mentzer describes motivation in terms of value. He explains that value is that which we strive to gain or maintain, and that motivation, which is the inner drive that causes us to take action, is fueled by our desire to keep or gain a certain value.
Mentzer believes that to stay motivated, one must learn to crush negative thought patterns by consciously choosing to focus on the positive outcome of a perceived experience. The key is to achieve mental and emotional harmony by reminding ourselves of the value of the pursuit, and to utilize both our gifts of rationality and the ability to conceptualize. If we study the facts, understand and accept our genetic limitations, avoid the misuse of negative thinking, and set realistic short-range goals, it is possible to stay committed to a life-long fitness and training endeavor.
Abraham Maslow, who wrote Motivation and Personality in 1954, was a U.S. psychologist and philosopher. He felt that everyone functions from a ‘hierarchy of needs’ pattern, which ranges from basic physiological requirements to love, esteem and self-actualization. The needs at one level must be at least partially obtained before those at the next level can function as motives to action. For example, food, shelter and safety are more important for survival than artistic desires. In societies where people struggle for life's basic necessities, scientific and contemplative habits seldom flourish.
Maslow believed that truly healthy people seek to satisfy their highest psychological needs and were self-actualizers, fully integrating the components of their personality, or self. On the other hand, Sigmund Freud believed that most of our actions are determined by inner forces and impulses, which often originate from the subconscious level. Still other experts think our behavior is learned by exposure to the environment, that what we see and experience ultimately dictates our habits of motion. Anthony Robbins feels that each one of us is motivated to action by our desire to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. His books and 30-day personal power audiocassette program describe this concept in detail.
My own theory includes a synthesis of all of the above, plus one which is seldom, if ever considered. For nearly one hundred years now, our society has been living on a highly refined, processed diet. When you compare the amount of sugar and chemically altered fats we currently eat to what we did a century ago, the statistics are mind-boggling. If you can't build a healthy fit body on junk, then how can you build a healthy mind? Our gene pool has been corrupted now for over four generations…that's enough time to cause a serious amount of damage.
Lack of motivation is a form of mental illness, in fact, a type of depression. I believe that it's not only intimately connected with our self-esteem and emotions, but also a function of nutritional biochemistry. In the same way that cartilage and bone are affected by mineral supply... I think our brain, which houses our mind, is enormously sensitive to the presence or absence of essential fatty acids, eicosanoids, neurotransmitters, amino acids, and fluctuating levels of nutrients in our blood.
By controlling our diet and consuming optimum quantities of the correct raw materials, we can definitely change our mental outlook. Of course, the motivation to move your body has a lot to do with the simple process of ‘burning fuel’ in your combustion chambers. Eat the wrong stuff at the wrong time and you'll crash! Unless the food is delivered with precision and a sense of purpose, beyond just filling your gut or satisfying your palate, it's hard to stay well in the game for life and really enjoy the process.
Motivation is a critical factor. It's what keeps us going when everything looks grim, when the rest give up and quit. Behavior therapists believe that motivation cannot exist without a goal. The more strongly one feels about achieving a specific goal, the more apt they are able to achieve it.
Three factors influence motivation in this regard:
1. The degree of wanting
2. Visual clarity
3. The ability to break the goal down into smaller, accomplishable tasks
The incentive to achieve, to pursue excellence and to realize our fullest potential is both a function of body and mind. To get motivated, focus on the benefits: how will you look and feel when you achieve your goal? To stay motivated, read books, listen to educational audiocassettes or CDs and watch motivational videos. Design a high-quality supplement program, and eat as much whole, poison-free organic food as possible. Learn to model other successful people, and don't strive for perfection...it doesn't exist. Strive for improvement day by day. Strive for progress.
Motivated people are happy, high-energy people. They know what they want, and they are willing to pay the price. They understand who they are (relatively) and manifest the confidence and ambition that comes from knowing. Remember, personal power is the ability to take action, to set straight once and for all what it is you want to do. It's overcoming the hurdles and disregarding the doubts and fears, driving onward and upward against all odds...now that's motivation!
The human mind is the last unexplored continent. Besides the computer-like functions of the cerebral cortex, the cells of the brain control emotion, imagination and the creative juices of ideas and invention. Through meditation and relaxation, many athletes get in touch with their subconscious mind and use visualization techniques to enhance their performance. Creating the correct mindset necessary to remain properly motivated takes planning and mental insight.
Think about looking good and feeling stronger. Focus on your goals and let the discipline of training permeate into every component of your life. Read fitness and nutrition magazines and watch less television. Feed your mind with mental protein. As you make progress and incorporate new changes for the better, training and nutrition will become second nature, like a good habit. Physical fitness has to fit in with work, eating and sleeping. It must be practical. The longer you train, the more you will benefit, and believe me; the rewards will be worth all the effort. You’ll create a beautiful, lean body that is highly resistant to disease, and as you age chronologically, your body will remain young biologically.
Remember that our state of mind is always up to us. We can’t always control what happens around us, but we can control how we respond to every situation. What we feed our mind will determine the extent to which our mind can grow and develop. It’s like nutrition for the body. The body loves natural food and the mind loves to be stimulated and challenged. That’s how it grows! Knowing that we can alter our behavior by altering our state of mind is a wonderful thing. We have control over what we feed our mind most of the time. We pull the strings. So feed your mind with the highest quality information you can find, and educate yourself in the art and science of sports nutrition. Become an expert on your own body and personal health.
Sports and athletics build discipline and can teach us much about dedication and the value of persistence. Training and good eating habits will carry you through the times when life is difficult to bare. No matter how tough things get, you can always go to the gym and release the pressure, instead of losing control and destroying the body with prescription drugs and alcohol. Involvement in sport will introduce you to many positive people who will help motivate and show you that just about anything is possible if you really want it badly enough.
On a personal level, my primary source of motivation to train and play sport is very simple. I love to work out. I guess I’m a gym rat by nature. Applied nutrition feeds the machine and provides the fuel the body needs to work hard and recover quickly. That part makes perfect sense and cannot be denied. Fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand, and when used correctly, supplements are an unbelievable asset. Training feels great and helps keep everything in check, including what and when you eat. It’s like a stabilizer. Exercise will add to your self-confidence and keep your anabolic drive alive. This will give you the sensation of power and inner vitality. A strong, flexibility body that is well-conditioned will provide you with a certain quality of living unattainable any other way. Think of it. You give an hour or two a day and in return you receive 22 hours of pain-free, high energy living. Now that’s a better return than any other kind of investment.
Every one of us has tremendous potential and value. It’s been said that each of us has a genius inside, something unique to our existence. It’s important to believe in yourself and to recognize what your special quality is. Part of our design and makeup is dependent on using our bodies creatively in a physical fashion, in balance and with a sense of purpose. Therefore, one can reasonably assume that for total development of personality and self, routine exercise and an optimum natural diet should become a facet of our everyday lifestyle. Embrace training as a gift, learn as much as you can about nutrition and be thankful for the opportunity you have right now to make a difference!
The Optimist's Creed
Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet. Make all your friends feel there is something special in them. Look at the sunny side of everything. Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give everyone a smile. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others. Be too big for worry and too noble for anger.
Motivation is a function of incentive born out of necessity and desire. It is fueled by enthusiasm, driven by passion, governed by positive emotion, compelled by logic and sustained by clarity of vision.
-Cory Holly, DN