when it comes to motivation and willpower

Hi friends! How are you? Hope you’re having a wonderful week so far! Sorry for disappearing on you yesterday. It’s been an exciting couple of days -I’ll share more in Friday Faves- and a usual busy summery week. The girls continue to be fascinated with the constant rain,

Rainy day

and in between downpours, we’ve been making trips to the pool, and going through the Chick-Fil-A drive thru for ice cream cones. Summer life. I taught barre the other night (so fun!)

Barre socks

and we had a little celebration date.

Today, I thought it would be fun to talk about motivation and willpower. This is something I’m often asked about, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and perspective, too.

So, first of all, let’s talk about the difference between motivation and willpower. Motivation is your “why” and willpower is your dedication to make it happen.

Tips for motivation and willpower

MOTIVATION: your reason for wanting to succeed. When it comes to motivation, I usually think about the “why” behind my workouts. Why am I dedicated to working out most days? Why do I want to continue to eat protein and produce instead of chocolate all day? Why am I focusing on whole foods, and working on getting better quality sleep?

I want to be healthy and energized for my family.

I want to be strong enough to protect my bones over time and engage in everyday activities. (<— aka hoisting my toddler kettlebell around all day)

I want to continue to see improvements in my fitness over time, so I want to continue to challenge myself. 

Some of my tips for motivation: 

Have a concrete reason for why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you feel like you feel like you need to run this morning, take a second to think about why. Do you need the endorphins? Are you training for a race? Do you want to increase speed? Think about the why behind your workout, and that will light that motivational fire. Write down your “why” and keep it with you for the times when you might not be feeling like it.

Create a balanced fitness plan. This will help to keep things exciting, help avoid workout dread, and enable you to hit the important aspects of training (strength, cardio, flexibility, intervals, and rest). If your workout motivation is general health, it’s important to have a balanced plan so you can avoid overtraining and promote results from your hard work. (Results also lead to increased motivation! When you see it working, you’re encouraged to keep going.)

Think of how it makes you feel. This alone can be a good enough reason for why you’re doing what you’re doing. Eating well and exercising doesn’t just promote fitness gains and overall health; it can also dramatically increase energy and make you feel GOOD.

Enlist buddy, group or virtual support. These people can help to remind you of your reasons, and also provide a little kickstart or push when you’re feeling blah. There are a ton of online groups, plus this little site right here. 🙂 If you’re looking for more group support, stay tuned for Summer Shape Up which will be launching July 17. 

WILLPOWER: this is your dedication to take the steps to achieve your goals, even when it’s challenging. With willpower, it’s urging yourself to make the smarter choice, even when you may not feel like it. I feel like willpower has a negative connotation, especially when it comes to refusing treats and the YOLO mentality. “Ohhhh, I could never have that willpower!” Willpower is not about deprivation.

Some of my tips for willpower:

-Get enough sleep, hangry, and hydration. These two things can have a huge impact on how we fill, and our ability to tune into our intuition. If you’re exhausted, thirsty and/or hangry, it can be much harder to make choices that align with your goals.

-Practice mindfulness. Meditation practice can help us to tune in with our intuition, and it can reduce stress and promote overall health. If you need some tips on meditating, here ya go!

-Just do it. Sometimes you may not feel like working out or meal prepping, but just do it. If you start and realize it feels terrible, you can always stop. Usually it’s the waiting or procrastination that makes things worse. 

-Make it worth your while. It’s important to exercise moderation in all things so you don’t feel deprived. If you’re exhausted and need an extra off day from the gym, make it worth your while. Foam roll, take a bath, do some gentle yoga or stretches, and give your body the restoration it needs. If you need a decadent dessert or extra large glass of wine, do it, and enjoy it!! If you regularly treat yourself, you won’t feel like need to go buck wild each time. Sometimes I want a couple of bites of dessert and other times it’s two donuts. Listen to your heart and intuition.

So tell me friends:

What helps you with motivation? Any tips for willpower?




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  1. Emily @ Pizza & Pull-ups on May 24, 2017 at 4:40 am

    These are great tips! When it comes to fitness, for me it’s often a combination of just doing it, and finding workouts you enjoy. Getting started is often the hardest part. I have had clients ask me what kind of workouts they should be doing. We talk about benefits of different forms of exercise, but also that the workout you will do is often the best one for you. So if you are looking for cardio, but absolutely hate running, maybe it’s time to try Zumba, or swimming, etc.

    • Fitnessista on May 24, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      YES. this is so, so important! you won’t be very likely to stick with something if you hate it

  2. Josie on May 24, 2017 at 6:10 am

    I had no idea how much I needed this! For my motivation, I ask myself where I want to be in 5 years physically. When I think about the future and what I hope to be doing, it gives me the motivation to get back to the gym. Willpower is lacking! I love what you said about ‘Just Do It’! It’s been a slogan for years, but you defined it in a way that finally clicked with me. Thank you!

    • Fitnessista on May 24, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      that’s such a great way to think about it <3 happy to hear it was helpful, too!

  3. Caitlin on May 24, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Great post! Motivation is so important, and I agree that switching up your fitness routine is so helpful. When I’m training for a race and doing a lot of the same workouts, it can be hard to motivate. During the times where I’m trying different classes, I find it easier to motivate myself!


    • Fitnessista on May 24, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      i totally agree- variety is the spice of workout life

  4. Stephanie Prause on May 24, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Sleep is so huge for my willpower, as is being sure to not overtrain. It sounds counterintuitive…but if I am on day 5-6 in a row of working out, I often find I have less willpower than if I would just take a rest day!

    Also motivation: being a busy working mom, I know I have certain days I can fit a workout in and others it’s harder….so that definitely motivates me if I’m not feeling it – I may not get another chance for a few days!

    • Fitnessista on May 24, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      yes! i feel like being a mom really encouraged me to make my workouts count, because gym time is limited now 😉

  5. Tracy on May 24, 2017 at 8:06 am

    Dying to hear about your exciting week!

  6. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on May 24, 2017 at 8:29 am

    I love how easy and clearly you defined these for people to understand.

    • Fitnessista on May 24, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      <3 <3

  7. Audrey on May 24, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Did you mean to include a link with tips for meditation? I’d love to read them! Thanks for your help 🙂

  8. India on May 24, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I want to know what you were celebrating!! 🙂

  9. Bethany on May 24, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    For me thinking about the future impact of my choices now is huge! Like hey I want that whole cake…..but I know I’ll feel like crap for a day or two if I do. lol

    • Fitnessista on May 24, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      same! i would LOVE to eat a whole cake.. but i’d feel like death afterwards

  10. Jen on May 25, 2017 at 3:08 am

    I really love how you at distinction between motivation and will power. I feel like nowadays people say that they’re motivated, but lack the will power to execute. Your tips are absolutely spot on! My thing to do for motivation and will power is to commit to something in the near future that is outside of my comfort zone. This allows me to develop a plan and holds me accountable. Great article and I’m so excited to stay connected!
    xoxo Jen

  11. Juliette | Namastay Traveling on May 25, 2017 at 3:37 am

    Getting into my gym clothes helps me the most with motivation. Even if I’m just wearing them around the house, I ultimately think, eh, I should at least go for a little run. I’ll even sleep in them if I want to get to an early morning class!

  12. Jennifer on May 26, 2017 at 6:33 am

    It is so cute seeing kids react to different weather/environments! I remember being asked by a little girl why the the ground was so sandy in the woods, but I grew up hiking in parts of New Jersey that were in the Pine Barrens (they have sandy soil) so I never thought about it. How are they handling that awful southern humidity?

  13. kelli @ hungry hobby on May 26, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    something to think about – I think you need motivation and willpower to get you going, but once you build a habit you don’t need motivation and willpower. Just like I used to HAVE to work out in the morning to make sure I got it in, now I can workout any time of the day and know it will happen.

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