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Motivation for a Mass Detonation

Motivation seems to be a huge issue for a lot of people I talk with. They often ask me how I stay motivated. Even more often, both men and women tell me they want to lose weight and/or gain muscle, but they just can’t find the motivation to exercise and eat right on a regular basis.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am usually pretty blunt, which some people appreciate and others, not so much. My response to those  who tell me they “can’t get motivated” to work out or eat well is this:

“You don’t want it badly enough.”

Some readers even may have been on the receiving end of that message from me in the past. As you can imagine, the shock caused by it typically triggers a defensive mode. They insist that they do want to lose weight or gain muscle, but .… From there, a litany of excuses follows that will include things like, “I don’t have the time,” “I don’t have the money,” “My spouse is not supportive,” “My job is too demanding,” and, “I have kids to take care of.”

Not to belittle any of those common reasons offered up as to why someone can’t achieve his or her fitness goals, but they are all bullshit. How dare I say that? Sorry, but it’s true.

If you want anything in life badly enough, motivation is never a problem. Obstacles won’t stand in your way. Here’s an example that men will understand from their prime reproductive age of roughly 16 to 25. When you were that age, your sex drive was ridiculously powerful. That’s because it was, literally, a biological drive to reproduce. You didn’t need motivation to seek out sex. In fact, you would have done pretty much anything to get it—traveled outrageous distances, stayed awake for 48 hours or more, spent every cent you had. You wanted it so badly that absolutely nothing was going to deter you.

Those of you who are a bit older might remember the late Mr. America Steve Michalik, best known for his “Intensity or Insanity” training of up to 100 sets per bodypart. A teenager named John Defendis approached him in his Long Island gym in the late ’70s seeking his help as a coach. John wanted to be Mr. America too. As legend has it, Steve told John to meet him at the beach early the next morning. Once there, they walked out into the surf. To the teenage Defendis’ horror, Michalik then tackled him and held his head under water for a full minute. When he finally let him up for air, he told the kid this:

“When you want to be Mr. America just as much as you wanted that one breath of air, I will train you.”

Defendis went on to win the Heavyweight and Overall Mr. USA title in 1988 and became an IFBB pro bodybuilder. My point? Any goal you have in life is something you want, right? The difference between goals you achieve and those you don’t almost always comes down to your level of desire and passion for reaching that goal. If you don’t want it that badly, you probably won’t ever really try to reach it. You’ll make excuses and even though in the back of your mind you would still like to do or be something, it never happens.

Now think about the things in your life you’ve wanted so badly that you were willing to do whatever it took to have them. You worked hard and long and never gave up. Even when you ran into obstacle after obstacle, you persevered and found ways to keep going after your goal. Nothing could stop you from getting what you wanted because failure simply was not an option.

I was a skinny kid who dreamed of being muscular. Countless people told me that there was no way I was ever going to look anything like a bodybuilder. Did I let that discourage me? Not at all. If anything, it got me angry and more determined than ever. “You’ll see,” I would tell them as they rolled their eyes and replied, “Okay, sure.” Many pointed out just how average my genetics were. They were correct, and it is true that genetics do dictate your ultimate physical potential. Most people only see the negative limitations of that fact. No, you can’t look like Mr. Olympia unless you were born with very rare genetic traits, but what if you truly maximized what you have by training as hard as you can and eating tons of good food over a period of many years? Most people quit long before they ever begin to approach their ultimate genetic potential. Those who don’t are rewarded with outstanding physiques. Do I look like a pro bodybuilder? Maybe not quite, but I’m much closer to looking like a pro than 99 percent of the guys who lift weights in gyms, and it’s because I refused to give up and never lost my desire to look that way.

So what do you want to do? Be very specific in your answer. Write it down and tell people about it. More important, how badly do you want it? Do you want it so badly that you won’t let anything get in your way? Just about all of us have busy lives with work, kids, keeping up a household and all that goes with it. You can either let those things deter you from your goal, or be creative and find ways to use your time and money more wisely so you can attain it.

Before any of you e-mail to tell me what an insensitive bastard I am, save it. The people who coddle you, sympathize with your plight and accept all your excuses aren’t doing you any favors. At the end of the day, are you going to do it or aren’t you? If you are, start now! The people who say they are waiting until the time is right or this or that to be in place never get started.

Again, it all really just comes down to how badly you want something. Only when you want it so badly that you will get it no matter what, will you start moving closer to your goal. Until then, you’re just another one of the billions of people on this planet who talk about what they want but never go after it.

—Ron Harris


Editor’s note: Ron Harris is the author of Real Bodybuilding—Muscle Truth From 25 Years in the Trenches, available at


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