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Intention Versus Motivation


When it comes to changing your body, ideas are cheap. Execution is the hard part.

By Thomas DeLauer

So many of us get inspired daily. We look on Instagram and we see the physiques that we admire and we tell ourselves that is precisely what we want out of life and exactly what we want to look like. We spend the next few hours riding an emotional high that is created merely from the idea of starting something that may create a desired outcome.

You see, we as humans are excitable. We love to get fired up about an idea and not think about the actual execution of that idea. In fact, it is more fun to embrace the idea of something than it is to actually take the steps necessary to make it a reality.

In the world of social media, we deal with this more than ever. Why? Because every single day we are flooded with images and status updates that remind us on a surface level of what we want to achieve. Crazy enough, since the advent of social media, obesity rates are continuing to climb and more people are suffering from metabolic diseases, depression, and anxiety than ever before.

Now I’m not a clinical psychologist, nor do I even play one on TV, but I can say that chasing a constant stream of ideas and never executing on them could certainly allow you to feel depressed or anxious. This is why it’s important that we learn the difference between an idea, a goal, and a solid intention, especially when it comes our fitness endeavors.

Let’s take a look at each of these concepts (or at least how I view them) and how they pertain to fitness.

The Idea

We see a post on Instagram. It’s a guy with a shredded six-pack, and he’s holding a slice of pizza on a boat preaching the world of flexible dieting (aka, If It Fits Your Macros).

Suddenly we are filled with joy and enthusiasm because for a brief moment, on an unconscious level, we think that we can eat pizza while lounging on a boat and achieve a six-pack. We get excited about the process that we will undergo, and we start planning (in our heads and only in our heads, never on paper) how our workouts will go and what our diets will look like.

It’s probably safe to assume that the neurotransmitters that make you happy are firing like crazy right now and endorphins are beginning to surge. This is typical for the idea phase, and it can sometime precede a bit of action, but most of the time, the short-term high of “an idea” wears off before we ever take solid action.

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The Goal

After the “idea phase” we often establish a goal. Sometimes it is written, sometimes it is not, but the concept is the same. We are taught that by giving ourselves tangible goals we will find a clear path to reach them and ultimately feel happy and become successful. We then get excited about said goal and that leads us into more euphoria, sometimes even disillusioned euphoria that causes us to binge. Here’s an example:

“I’m so excited to start my flexible eating diet in two days! I’m going to get stage-ready in 10 weeks and because I feel so happy about it right now, I’m going to eat two whole pizzas to kick it off.”

Two days goes by, the music stops and you’re not as excited. It’s just another day. Then heck, you may turn to unhealthy ways to reach your goals.

The Intention

The intention is what truly needs to be in place. I have learned this the hard way that it’s the only way to truly commit to yourself to make a change for the better. If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “living with intention,” it refers to what I am about to describe.

Having a clear plan of action, rather than just a goal, gives you a tangible strategy to execute. The important thing is to live with a plan of action for each and every day that you are on this Earth. You see, a goal is ambiguous in many ways, it’s your destination, and that can change; your intention is your GPS signal that tells you where you are and where you need to go. You are in control of this.

The most tangible way that you can live with intention is to make a written plan. I’m not just referring to your workout or your diet, but to your daily life. What are you looking to accomplish with each step of the day? Every action has a reaction, and you need to be aware of that.

Step 1: You get out of bed right on time. (Your action is led by the intention of getting to the gym first thing.)

Step 2: You grab the egg whites instead of the Cocoa Krispies. (Your action is led by the intention of shedding body fat.)

Step 3: You walk in the gym and go to the squat rack instead of the preacher curl machine. (Your action is driven by the intention to not have chicken legs anymore.)

You can see where I am going with this when it comes to intention. It is micro-level planning that is dictated by your higher-level thoughts.

So at the end of the day, this isn’t meant to scare you away from the bits of inspiration that you get from social media. It’s simply a reminder to be conscious of your patterns, aware of the ideas and concepts that float into your mind so that you can ascertain which ones are worth executing and which ones are just making you high. IM

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