How to ride the motivational wave and create habits to ensure longterm success.

While editing The Beginner’s Guide to Fitness, I stopped to think about what motivates me to wake up at 3:30, read and hit the gym by 5 every weekday morning.  Yea I could say it is some internal motivation that compels me to get up on Friday mornings after watching Thursday Night Football at B-Dubbs (Buffalo Wild Wings) but I’d be lying. 

My internal motivation is to keep my ass in bed as long as I can. 

But week after week, I’m in the gym on 4 hours of sleep every Friday.  It’s clearly not motivation that is getting me up, it’s habit.

So with that, I’ve decided to breakup with motivation.  If I were 15 years younger that scenario might play out something like this:

Me (through text obviously): Motivation, I’m breaking up wit u.

Me: It’s not u its me.

Me: On second thought its u not me.  Your not what I thought u were.

Motivation: … you’re an idiot.

See I can text like the cool kids in their bastardized version of English.  I’m hip, I’m with it.


We’ve all had those people in our lives that were around when things were good but when things get tough, they were nowhere to be found.  Yea, that’s motivation.


Whenever I listen or see Arnold talk about lifting I get hit with the motivational wave.  (BTW, if that video doesn’t jack you up; check your pulse – you might be dead.) 

For other people it’s seeing movies like Wolverine or 300, or seeing some model on Instagram that motivate us to eat better and hit the gym.

Then 2-3 days later the motivation fades and you’d rather watch re-runs of The Big Bang Theory than go run. 

This is what motivation looks like for me.



When the wave hits, we ride it out and take action for a few days.  Then when the wave passes us we’re stuck in this lull until the next wave hits us.  But who knows when that happens?  Could be tomorrow, could be next year. 

Once the motivation goes down, the old habits roll in.  The sitting in front of the TV, the fast food, the cocaine.  Maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.


Think about your day and you can probably come up with 3-4 different things you do every day because of habits. 

Check Facebook every 35 secs.  Habit.

Check your fantasy football team every day.  Habit.

Checking Snapchat every day to see what the new selfie filter is.  Habit.

You weren’t born needing to check the new selfie filter every day.  Mainly because it wasn’t around when you were born – but it was a learned habit over time to want to check it to see how you look with bug eyes and a flower crown on.

So how can we use the same learned habit of checking Snapchat every day to working out and eating healthy. 

Get ready, this is why they pay me the big bucks.

…just kidding, I don’t get paid for this.


Rather than waiting for the next big wave, I’d rather make my own wave machine.  In other words, creating habits.  It might not be the emotional surge of motivation, but it’s enough for me to get up at 3:30 on 4 hours of sleep.  I can handle the rest. 



By giving yourself little waves, it helps to keep you moving forward rather than sitting in the same place or worse, going backwards.

Let’s glance into the life of two people – creepers, calm down:

Non Aesthetic Physiques Reader Looks in the mirror and sees he grew a second chin this year. Congrats! Throws on some gym shorts and runs for 3 miles. On day 2, he runs for a mile. On day 3 work gets crae and he skips it. On day 4, he puts on his shorts and rationalizes watching The Walking Dead marathon rather than running. By day 5, he blames a lack of motivation and waits for motivation to come back.

Aesthetic Physiques Reader: He looks in the mirror and sees he grew a second chin this year.  Congrats! He then immediately spends 30 mins to create his wave machine. He packs a gym bag and lunch for the next day.  He commits to running only 10-20 minutes of cardio a day after he leaves work to avoid the rush hour traffic. He blocks off 20 minutes at lunch to go for a walk and recruits a co-worker.  He then signs up for the next Spartan Race nearest to his house. 

Who do you think is more likely to lose that extra chin? 

Yes, the Aesthetic Physiques reader because he isn’t relying on that initial wave of motivation (seeing that extra chin).  He put things in place and created his own wave machine. 

Here’s how he did it if you missed it:

Added accountability (recruiting co-worker to go for walks at lunch)

Change his environment (prepped his gym bag and lunch the night before)

Low criteria for success (10-20 minutes of cardio a day)

Set a deadline (signed up for Spartan Race)


So how can you apply this to your life?  Here’s a few solutions:

I want to eat better:

Prep a week’s worth of healthy lunches and snacks. 

Pack your lunch the night before. 

Keep junk food either out of the house or somewhere out of sight. 

Have a dinner plan for every day.

I want to work out more:

Sign up for some kind of race/competition or get a personal trainer.

Pack your gym bag the night before.

Commit to a set time to hit the gym.

Commit to two workouts a week.

I want to get up earlier:

Have your alarm across the room.

Go to bed earlier.

Do something in the morning that you really want to do.

I want to read more:

Find something that interest you.

Aim for 1 page a day.

Set a time, preferably early morning or late night when there are no distractions.


Next time the motivation wave hits you, don’t be like the non-Aesthetic Physiques reader and go running for 5 miles and quit 2 days later. 

Be the smarter Aesthetic Physiques reader and set up your wave machine.  The tips I listed above will keep you going when your brain tells you to stay in bed. 


What motivated you in this post and what specific action are you going to take to create your own wave machine?  If you need motivation, check the Arnold video out. 

…great now I want to go lift something.