Is The Idea of Motivation Merely A Myth?

Is The Idea of Motivation Merely A Myth?

Pilar Sanders, my fit inspiration!

I’ve written about motivation before. I know I have. I’ve written about being “motivated” into shrinking down to fit into a dress. I’ve written about experiences that have compelled me to get my act together – I know I have – but I can’t help but wonder.

Merriam-Webster defines motivation as:

Main Entry: mo·ti·va·tion
Pronunciation: \ˌmō-tə-ˈvā-shən\
Function: noun
Date: 1873

1 a : the act or process of motivating b : the condition of being motivated
2 : a motivating force, stimulus, or influence : incentive, drive

“A positive, motivating force within your life,” right? I guess.

I’m not going to sugar coat this at all. The idea of being “motivated” into some giant whirlwind of fitness… does not work for everyone. Some women are raised in such a vacuum of “focus on being skinny!!!!111!1” that they fall into fitness. Some women are truly raised in such a healthy environment, that proper nutrition and fitness is all they know… and they trust their upbringing enough to not stray too far away from that. Some women can identify that one catalyst in their lives that makes them say “Enough is enough!” and get down to business.

And then… there are women like me. Overweight for all of their adult lives, had all the health risks and reasons to compel me to do what I needed to get on top of my health, and just… couldn’t do it. I don’t know if it was a feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, laziness or flat out “I’m-too-fine-to-focus-on-losing-this-booty”ness… but whatever it was, it wasn’t compelling me to make any changes.

It wasn’t until I had a very heartfelt conversation with the owner of the gym I eventually joined – a conversation about me – that I realized I had every reason in the world to compel me to lose weight and live my healthiest life.

I think about every lull I’ve experienced in my own journey. That point where you slow down and start getting bored, start feeling blah, whatever it may be. “I’m waiting for my muuuuuuuse….. I need to be inspiiiired…. I need motivaaationnn….” as I ate some stuff I had no business eating. I was looking for something outside of myself to solve a problem that could only be solved by looking inside of myself. I wanted something other than me to have the responsibility of compelling me to do what I needed to do for me.

That’s stupid.

I wanted something to inspire me. Something other than me to tell me what I needed to do for me. I didn’t want the responsibility of telling myself to just pick my behind up off the couch and go, for some reason, as if that would’ve been too much ownership of the situation. I needed to wait on my epiphany. I needed to wait. And while waiting, I was doing nothing. Wasting time. Doing what I knew I shouldn’t be doing… while I waited on the thing that would come tell me to do what I knew I should be doing.

Doesn’t that sound silly?

At the point where I knew I needed to eat better, knew I needed to get in my daily activity… waiting for something to compel me to do right by myself is foolish. If you know you need to do it, no matter how thin or overweight you may be, why shortchange yourself? It’s almost like giving yourself an intentional break with the excuse of waiting on inspiration to behave properly.

I have inspirations. My pole intructor? She’s my inspiration to be stronger. Giada DeLaurentis (of Food Network fame) is my food inspiration. Seriously… that woman cooks her behind off and manages to keep her shape. Deion Sanders’ wife, Pilar? She’s my fit inspiration. Her body is incredible, and she’s had like 40 kids. (More like 3, but good grief. Same difference.) No one can make me get up but me.

No person or thing is more compelling than my health. Nothing – no strength, food or figure – is more important than ensuring that I’m around for as long as possible. I put myself first like that. I am my motivation. I own it.

It’s like a change in language is in order. Something else shouldn’t make you act right. YOU make you act right. Those types of women that I mentioned before? Those women were inspired. An outside source inspires you. Preservation of one’s body and one’s health is the motivation. Always. To me, that’s the most important source of motivation – the most compelling reason to live healthily – that there is.

What do you think? Am I off base here? Is there a difference between motivation and inspiration? Is it just word play and semantics? Let’s hear it!

By | 2017-06-10T11:22:52+00:00 October 24th, 2014|It's All Mental|28 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.


  1. Tam July 22, 2010 at 10:54 AM - Reply

    I LOVE this blog!! I stumbled across it on facebook, a friend “Liked” the page so it showed up in their newsfeed so I clicked on it and fell in LOVE!! I have been trying to shed weight gained over a period of about 4 years. I do have a weight goal in mind but am more concerned about how I LOOK and FEEL in my clothing as well as my overall health. I have lost about 25 lbs since I started this journey in January 2010. It is toats refreshing to get advice from someone who “looks like me” because I do believe people have different body types and genetic makeups. I have FINALLY gotten over the devastation of sweating out/messing up my hair working out so there’s no stopping me now!! My next goal is working on cooking (learning how to) and eating healthy. Thank you so much for you MOTIVATION!!

    • Erika July 22, 2010 at 4:30 PM - Reply

      Girl, only YOU can motivate you to do this! I’m just here to talk a little bit and look cute. LOLOL Thank YOU!

  2. Evelyn July 22, 2010 at 11:00 AM - Reply

    *praise breaking all over office* This is SO TRUE…

    I think I may have said this on another post, but I’ve just come to realize that it’s about choices. When I started this journey I had no inspiration or reason to feel motivated at all. I was in such poor health that EVERYTHING exercise wise was extremely painful, I was suffering emotionally and physically and I had no desire to eat healthy food… so it was truly a one day at a time thing.

    29 pounds later, NOW the motivation is kicking in (thank GOD), but for me it didn’t start there.

    • Erika July 22, 2010 at 4:32 PM - Reply

      I love it! Learning the hard way, but learning nonetheless! We have all the reason in the world to be motivated, we just have to recognize it within ourselves. 🙂

  3. cjbrownsc July 22, 2010 at 11:13 AM - Reply

    Hi Erika!
    I think that something or someone that inspires you can also motivate you, but the heart of motivation has to come from within. When I’m sore from working out and know I need to get my booty out of bed the next morning and work out again, the last thing I’m thinking about is being inspired – that’s where my motivation has got to kick in.
    I do have “body she-roes” that I love to look at in pictures, but I know that most of them have not had weight issues in their past. I’m more inspired by women like yourself who started where I am now, and have been successful in making lifestyle changes and have achieved phenomenal results.

    • Erika July 22, 2010 at 4:48 PM - Reply

      Aw!! *tear drop*

      You’re awesome. 🙂

      I understand what you mean. I think the key part of motivation is the element that compels you to move… and nothing is (or should be) more compelling than our own personal health! No booty, no dress, no bikini (and yes, I’m talking to myself with that one!) can make you move. We have to do that for ourselves! 🙂

  4. cyndi July 22, 2010 at 1:20 PM - Reply

    OMG, Ericka get out of my head this was the topic I was wanting to talked about, I just stared on the new found path to eating right,but I went to work out and realized how out of shape I was Icouldnt do more then 15min and begain to cry wondering how did I let this get so far out of control yes I could blame on an illness or lazy a combo of both but I saw it, and said Tommorrow, over and over again, Glad you spoke loudly about this, motovation is always good but in the end it has to be a sucess story for your self I will try again tommorrow 15 more mins (crying now) cause I have to, for me cause I have to be dependent on me and I cant if im dead.I read your post daily they come to my inbox via yahoo and facebook but today was all about me.Yes I have to have a realist goal and mark them off as I go but the sigh I had this morning was anothe excuse. This just put a peroid at the end my why me statment. Thanks, E

    • Erika July 22, 2010 at 5:03 PM - Reply

      Aw Cyndi, don’t cry… sounds like right there, you just found your motivation. Just remember that “how did I let it get this far out of control?” moment, and vow to yourself to never let it get back there!

  5. Ladi Ohm July 22, 2010 at 1:48 PM - Reply

    I personally feel that motivation has to be an internal drive… I do have a fitness inspiration (mine is fitness model Alicia Marie)… but gazing at pictures of her will not get me to the gym. What motivates me to eat right… even if it means bringing a salad to work when I know we’re getting free pizza in the office… and what motivates me to head to the gym… even on Saturday morning when I KNOW my ‘do is fresh to death… is my health. My mom has diabetes, and various cancers run in my family… I don’t want to go down that path and 30lbs ago, that is exactly where I was headed. The desire to be and stay healthy keeps me out of drive-thrus and off the couch. I’m only 10lbs from my goal weight, and I’m motivated to get there!

    BTW… truth be told… if I just wanted to look like Alicia Marie, I could just get surgery, but I want to feel as great as she looks too!

    • Erika July 22, 2010 at 5:04 PM - Reply

      I heard that! If anything, staring at Pilar doesn’t do anything but piss me off! LMAO!

  6. Sarah July 22, 2010 at 2:41 PM - Reply

    First, thanks for this blog. I found it about a month ago, and it’s been one of my daily reads while on this new fitness journey. It helps me to see that I’m not alone in this.

    For me, the idea of motivation comes down to a simple idea gleaned from my Buddhist upbringing: cause and effect. In order to have the effect I desire manifest itself (healthier mind, body, and spirit), I have to make the right cause, and make it consistently. And, for me it has to be in a mercenary way (a.k.a. ruthless, no self-compromise, no excuses).

    So, when I’ve had a long day, and I’m tired on the couch, and just want to stay there for the night, I tell myself that I have to “make that cause” (do my workout, take an extra 30 minutes to make my ginormous lunch salad, etc.).

    If I don’t make that internal push to make that cause for myself, no one else, regardless of how powerful, well-intentioned, or thoughtful s/he is, can do it for me.

  7. Chelle Bell July 22, 2010 at 2:42 PM - Reply

    I think you hit it on the nose! Very well said.

  8. Crystal July 22, 2010 at 6:20 PM - Reply

    I think it starts with some form of inspiration and is maintained via internal and external motivation. And even if it is only hype, I feel good when I’m inspired by someone’s progress. That gives me an extra push sometimes and I make a choice to use it as motivation. You’re site is a resource. So much Info here. You’re an inspiration and a lot of things u write about motivate others to either learn more about it, or challenge themselves to get up and do something.

  9. Jasmine July 22, 2010 at 10:20 PM - Reply

    Well written! I’d also like to add that motivation changes. When I first started I wanted to lose weight and be able to jog a 12 min mile , then it became being strong enough to handle martial arts. I’d also like to add that your motivation doesn’t have be grand at first. Whatever gets you off the couch, use it until you find something else. I was never motivated (in the beginning) to lose weight for health reasons because at every yearly check up, I was internally healthy,even though I was overweight by 100lbs. After I lost 40 lbs, I realized that I did myself a huge favor by getting healthy before I became unhealthy. And that added to my motivation.

  10. Teri July 25, 2010 at 9:02 AM - Reply

    Thank you for this post. I realized awhile ago that I can be my best supporter or my worst enemy, and usually I alternate between the two. I’ve been working out with a team of women since February and have “only” lost about 20 pounds. Some of my team mates have lost considerably more and while I am genuinely happy for them, I can get so down because I’m not “there” yet. Now, I have to also add that I have lost at least 10% of my original body fat percentage, am no longer shopping in the “Women’s” department and recently bought a cute pair of Seven jean capris – and I look good in them! My challenge is to continue to motivate myself by focusing on what I’ve accomplished, not just on what is in front of me. I appreciate your website and blog posts because it is so real. Thank you for caring for all of us on this journey and for everything you do.

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