World-Famous Fitness Expert on How to Find Your Motivation

She's trained thousands of clients and sold millions of DVDs, so Jillian Michaels knows a thing or two about sticking to those healthy goals

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What do you think the number one question a "fitness guru" is asked? Do you think it's about calories? Crunches? If you think about this long enough you'll probably come up with the answer, because it's likely a question you have too. The number one question I am asked is how to get and stay motivated. Kind of amazing, no? So many people struggle with this. And here's why – we confuse inspiration with motivation.

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Inspiration is easy. It's a jump-start from an outside influence. A catalyst, if you will. It's the book you read, the TV sow you watched, the song you heard that moved you. You identified with it and likely said, "Hey, if they can do it I can do it. Why not me?!" And that is wonderful.

Motivation is the exact opposite of inspiration because it comes from within you.

However, inspiration without motivation is like working out while you eat fast food. You don't get very far. Motivation is the exact opposite of inspiration because it comes from within you. It's your personal reason to push through the pain to get to change and transformation. And don't get it twisted, anything worth having in life does not come easy. In most cases, it requires a tremendous amount of hard work.

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Finding your 'why'

Work without a purpose is punishing. But work with a purpose becomes a passion. And this is why motivation is so important. It's your why that allows you to tolerate any how because the end result is far more appealing than any immediate gratification.

The key for you is to figure out what healthy means to you. And this answer is different for everyone. For some it's wearing skinny jeans, for others it's living to 100. And it doesn't matter how profound or how superficial your why – as long as you care about it.

Ironically, when I ask these same people who come up to me looking for motivation what healthy looks like in their lives they don't have an answer. They just look at me quizzically waiting for me to tell them, as though it was a trick question. Have you ever actually sat down and written out all the things you want for yourself when it comes to your health? Have you contemplated all the ways in which your life will change for the better? I bet you haven't, but you need to.

When we get stressed and overwhelmed it's easy to talk ourselves out of working out – because it feels like work and we need ways to nurture ourselves. Planting your bum on the couch in front of the TV with a pizza sure sounds a heck of a lot more comfortable than the treadmill in the moment. However, with a little perspective,feeling good in your skin, wearing a two piece on your beach vacation instead of a sarong, walking your daughter down the aisle, living to see your grandkids graduate from university… those things are all far more appealing than pizza.

New ways to nurture yourself

You must begin to appreciate that there are ways to nurture yourself that are life-affirming and there are ways to nurture yourself that are destructive. And when you focus on the results of those healthy behaviours that are less than pleasant in the moment, you'll start to see some real change. And success begets more success. Once that work begins to pay off it's easier to stay on track because you have something tangible to hang your hat on.

So the next time you are debating whether or not to have that doughnut for breakfast or if you should or shouldn't catch that spin class, stop and contemplate how you will feel after. How will you feel a week from now if the behaviour continues, and then a year from now? And then ten? Go back and look at that list you wrote down of all your reasons why you want to be healthy and let that motivate you into making the better choice.

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