Selfish Motivation

The Parent Athlete by Ben Murphy

Quick question, why are you trying to get healthier?

Eating better or working to lose weight because “it’s a good thing” or “my doctor said I should” is a commendable, altruistic reason to start getting in shape. But for a lot of us more pragmatic folks – especially those of us who are already overloaded with busy jobs and families – it’s probably not a very tangible reason to get moving. And by tangible, I really mean selfish. After all, there‘s never enough time in the day, so there has to be a good answer to the “what‘s in it for me?“ question. “Because it’s nice” often doesn’t resonate terribly deeply.

So allow me to suggest something that sounds a little crass, but might just be the motivation you need to stick with your wellness plan and see it through to completion. Dig down deep and find that selfish reason, that trigger, that motivator you’ve really always needed to get healthier. You might want to just prove wrong the naysayers who say you can’t look good after having kids. Or there might be that guy in your basketball league who you’d just really like to run circles around to make him look bad. Or maybe you just want to fit back in those jeans from your skinnier days.

Selfish reasons? Sure. Motivating reasons? You betcha. Regardless of the very objective, health-related reasons behind you working to improve your health, sometimes it really just helps to have a goal that’s emotionally tangible. Something that drives you and gives you some fire. With all due respect to those in the medical profession, knowing that lowering one’s cholesterol will make their doctor happy isn’t quite the same motivator as totally showing up that cocky guy from down the street at your next 5k.

For me, I was never terribly athletic as a kid. Actually, that‘s an understatement. I was that kid who was picked last for most sports. Not exactly the fastest or the strongest. Minor things in retrospect, perhaps, but certainly formative when you’re a child. I’ve discovered since then, however, that it’s not because I’m not athletic. It’s just that I hadn’t found the right athletic venues to showcase my strengths. Turns out I’m still not the fastest guy out there and probably never will be. But I sure as heck can run for hours at a time and think nothing of it… which, as it turns out, isn’t all that common a trait. My selfish reason? To prove that I’m athletic. May have started as a selfish motivation, but it ended up changing my life for the better. It also, ironically, ended up giving me a less selfish view of the world around me.

Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely need to lose weight for all the right reasons. Health, wellness, more energy in our day, lowered risk of various diseases, not dying a preventable death, etc. but sometimes there’s nothing wrong with finding that selfish motivator deep inside of us that is just the extra push we need to achieve our wellness goals. the end

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