The Cynical PT: Calling Bullsh*t On Motivation

December 4, 2017 • Featured, Sport, UK • Views: 846

On Monday I text my sister. “What’s your plan for exercise this week?”

“Eating cake.” She replied.

With a successful career as a GP and a University lecturer, she also has three young children, likes a neat and tidy home and enjoys bread, cake and wine. She is one of the cleverest, most determined people I know. But, she has ‘lost’ her motivation to exercise.

The ‘M’ Word


I hear it everywhere. The M word. ‘I don’t know where it’s gone, but I just can’t find it.’ We wait for ‘her’ to sweep in, flicking her illustrious mane of productivity, energising us to jump off the sofa ready to release our endorphins and make us motivational warriors once more.

She’s a flaky ally though. In summer this year, I sat on the sofa solidly for nearly two weeks. I was having what I shall refer to as a ‘life blip’. Everything and nothing was wrong, but I just couldn’t deal with life. So instead I hid. I stopped contacting people, refused to listen to music or watch the TV and spent far too much time in my jammies with the blinds down. My motivation had deserted me.

A couple of years ago I cycled the country for charity. 876 miles in 6 days. Six men and me. Having not ridden since I was a child, I bought a £300 bike from Halfords and spent a year training for the event. I suffered blisters on my bum, had fits of hysteria at the side of a busy road when my energy drained and the miles became too much and got through too many tubes of chamois cream to remember. But throughout the gruelling months my friend, motivation, remained. Steady and loyal in my pursuit of the challenge.

Motivation – The Good, The Bad and The Perfect Ponytail


A girl runs past my kitchen window most mornings. I often imagine her as motivation personified. She is one of those fitness fashionistas, always in matching leggings and crop top, a headband more for styling than catching beads of sweat and a perfect ponytail that swings daintily from side to side as she gracefully glides past.

I watch her as I wait for the kettle to boil, my hair on end, sleepy dust in one eye and a little crusted dribble smeared somewhere on my face. And I ask, motivation, what makes you abandon us without a backward glance, elusive and cold or stand by us steadfastly as you coddle us in your temporary nest of enthusiasm and willingness?

And the more I ponder the question the more I realise that, like every single one of us, you cannot do it on your own. You need us as much as we need you. When I lie in bed with my cuppa each morning pondering the day ahead and the exercise I’m about to get up and do, it is not motivation that makes me do it. It’s fear.

Embrace The Fear


The fear of a reprise of those two weeks in the summer. I don’t want to go back to the hole of hell I allowed myself to fall into, having lost interest in even those I would do anything for. And exercise helps. It allows me a release, ensures the irrational voice doesn’t get too loud. Or when I cycled the country, I announced my upcoming challenge to the world on social media. This was an intentional move.

I knew my ego would not allow me to fail if the world was expecting me to. I wanted to soothe it by being able to tell people I’d raised thousands for the AIDS orphans of South Africa. So my bloody-minded determination pushed me out in all weathers, clocking up the training miles and peddling like a scared hamster on a wheel.

Motivation – Calling You Out!


Motivation, today, right now, I’m calling you out. I’ve thought of you often and the more I do, the more I realise I don’t want or need your eccentric ways in my life. You’re a liability and, much like the girl with the dainty ponytail, you have the ability to inspire or make me feel bad.

I claim allegiance to the ever faithful fear of an anxious person who doesn’t wish to collapse into the trenches again. I claim allegiance to my ego, which I keep in check but needs reassurance every so often and makes me grit my teeth in sheer determination as I plunge full steam ahead to prove my worth.

From this moment forth, I shall pull the blinds down on you motivation so I can ignore your fleeting visits past my window. Instead, I pledge to make friends with my fears. The fear of anxiety, the fear of failing, the fear of not being good enough; for they have remained constant companions through the good and the bad and they push me to keep going, stay focused and keep achieving.

Feed The Ego


Those fears are our egos making themselves heard. From a young age we are taught that ‘ego is bad’. Egotistical people are annoying and full of themselves. And in the general sense, I agree. But, the ego is ever present, it gives rise to our pride and pride will push us to our goals.

So, to my sister, who did three HIIT classes a week solidly for six weeks to feel more confident about her figure on an upcoming date with her hubby, but currently is so dog-tired she is struggling to stay awake throughout the day. Your motivation may be ‘lost’, but your ego is not. Through the tiredness your ego cannot shout very loud at the moment, but it will and when it does we will battle again, together, with three HIIT classes a week. Until then, don’t worry… sleep, rest and call me, let’s eat cake together.

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