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Discover Your Motivation When You Uncover Your “Why”

“Promise me we’ll never let each other get overweight. Let’s never stop trying.”

This was a promise my late husband, Sam, and I made to each other as teenagers. We saw many adults in our lives, our supposed role models, giving up on themselves without even realizing it. They just existed. This Groundhog’s day of gluttony and sloth, one re-run after another wasn’t what we aspired to in life.

We wanted to live, not just exist.

We wanted to thrive.

A few years later Sam, a US Marine Sergeant, was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq during a convoy. He sustained a very serious Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and required nursing care, ongoing therapies, and frequent hospitalizations over the next 13 years. Sam lost his final battle on April 3, 2020, when he was very quickly taken by COVID-19.

Even after his injury, we kept our promise to each other. For 13 years we never stopped trying. Our lives looked immensely different than we expected them to, but despite our circumstances, our “why” hadn’t changed. It was never really about fat; that was just a symptom of a greater disease. On U.S. military bases all over the Middle East, you’ll see the words “COMPLACENCY KILLS”. That’s not a truth exclusive to a war zone.

Our “why” was that we didn’t want to live a life of complacency. To us, that meant taking care of our bodies, continually learning, being open to new ideas and people, and generally looking to enjoy our time on Earth and together…regardless of the circumstance.

That “why” is what drives me to fuel my body with nourishing food (mostly), and honor my body with the movement, exercise, and sleep it needs.

On a subconscious level, I was aware of my “why” from a young age. It’s now in retrospect that I can see these core values and experiences that Sam and I shared. My passion for my “why” drives me to be a better athlete, to be healthy, to keep learning, teaching, and coaching.

But not everyone can identify their “why” when it comes to their health and fitness. It’s a constant cycle of being inspired, starting on a new path, and then the inevitable happens.

The inspiration is gone, and the motivation to get up early to work out, and cook instead of door dashing is gone.

This is because the motivation that people are looking for is an outcome of a larger process. You may be inspired by someone else, but you can only be truly motivated by your own “why”.

You have all you need to thrive in the body you want. Your body CAN be an asset to how you get to live your life.

Once you establish your “why” or your “purpose” behind your desire to be fit and healthy, we can plug that into the motivation formula, developed by Jim Kwik, brain coach and author of Limitless.

With your “why” plugged into the Motivation Formula, you’ll never look for motivation outside yourself again. That’s not to say that you’ll never skip another workout or order takeout, but your motivation to keep striving will be intrinsic. You know your “why”.

Want to know how to find it?

That is your “why”.

Now that you understand your “why”, plug it into the Motivation Formula below.

My client, Claire watched her mom eat herself into an early grave. When she was growing up her mom didn’t take her to amusement parks, or camping, or even to the local zoo, because the physical effort was too much.

She existed on the couch. When she thinks of her mom, she pictures her on the couch. This is not how Claire wants her kids to picture her.

She wants her kids’ memories of their childhood to be a catalog of fun times, adventure, and activities, with mom center-stage.

Her “why” is that she wants her kids to feel loved and experience life in a way that she didn’t get to with her mom. She wants more for herself than what she saw her mom take from her shortened life.

Claire’s motivation formula looks like this:

Motivation to eat mostly nutritious food and work out consistently= showing her kids what a great adventure life can be when you show up x energy x small simple steps.

So where do get all this energy from? And what are these small simple steps?

Decision-making, and fighting with ourselves about what we want to do versus what we know we should do is energy-draining. Take the decision and the argument in your head out of the picture.

Make Plans, not choices.

For example, if the thing you need the motivation to do is to work out 3 times a week, take these small simple steps:

-Write all three workouts on your calendar (day and time)
-Write down or have an app or video that tells you exactly what the workout will be
-Layout your workout clothes or pack your gym bag the night before
-Tell a friend your plan and ask her to hold you accountable

You have your “why”. You have your motivation formula. Now it’s time to make plans, not choices, and execute your small simple steps. What does it mean to you to thrive?

About the Author

Erin Nichols

Erin Nichols is a lifelong athlete, but when her late husband suffered a traumatic brain injury in the war in Iraq, she turned to fitness and endurance sports for her self-care. She began sharing her knowledge and experience in 2018, coaching others to improve their health and fitness despite the challenges they face in their own lives. Erin is passionate about showing people that their bodies can be an asset to how they want to live their lives, so they can thrive at whatever they choose to do for as long as possible. You can visit her website at: