A quick scroll through my Instagram feed will net me a lot of -tion words. You know the ones I mean. “Motivation.” “Inspiration.” “Transformation.” Even shudder “fitspiration,” and worse yet, “thinspiration.” And it doesn’t end with hashtags, either. Daily, comments under my photos, messages in my inbox, repeat these words. Sometimes followed by exclamation points, sometimes with questions marks, but always, always, these -tion words.
First, let’s start with the two completely made up bullshit words. STOP USING THEM. Please. For the love of language. Thinspo is damaging on every level, promoting disordered eating and body hatred, no matter how you spin it. Stop spreading this. Stop feeding (sorry, that was a pun, and poorly timed) into it. The same can be argued about fitspo, though typically the girls in these photos show a little muscle definition, so they get to be “fit” rather than “thin.” Still. STAAAAHHHHHPPPP. Stop aspiring (there we go again- “aspiration”) to be some manufactured ideal. That’s not your body, it’s someone else’s. Create your aspirations around what is realistic for your body!
This is a word I see everywhere I turn. My inbox is flooded, every day, with this word. What is your motivation? How can I keep my motivation? You are my motivation!
Now I’ve typed and thought that word enough times that it has ceased to be a word. I’ll try to carry on as though it still exists, though.
I really struggle with the idea of motivation, because I think it’s total horseshit. Literally, it means whatever motivates you, whatever pushes you forward. I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes my motivation flags.
And then I promptly disregard that feeling and I do whatever it is I set out to do anyhow- go to the gym, get out of bed, go to work, whatever. Sometimes it’s out of obligation- if I don’t go to work, I might not have a job to go to the next day- sometimes it’s just because I know that motivation simply cannot be relied on. If I skipped the gym every time I didn’t feel “motivated,” I would probably have a much different physique. No amount of pre workout can fix it some days, and yet, I drag my grumpy ass to the gym, and I begrudgingly wrap my perfectly manicured fingers around the barbell, and I make grouchy faces in the mirror, and I lift. Does it result in the sickest pump ever? Not usually. Do I sometimes skip my accessory lifts those days? Yeah, sometimes. But do I regret the energy I spent? No. Never. Because rather than relying on “motivation,” on excitement, on thrill, I relied on my knowledge of consequences- both positive and negative.
Positive consequences of going to the gym when you don’t feel “motivated” include:
- the potential to fix your mood
- staying on track with your programming
- not feeling as though you let yourself down, or even self-satisfaction at having stood by your promise to yourself
Negative consequences of skipping the gm because you don’t feel “motivated” include:
- having to rearrange your schedule to make up the lifting day later in the week- annoying
- feeling like you let yourself down- compounding your lack of motivation
- not getting to eat Oreos (if you’re me, anyhow- lifting days have high enough carbs to allow this, while I keep my carbs low on non-lifting days, and Oreos don’t fit my macros. Some days, that’s all it takes to get me to hit the gym- bribing myself with cookies.)
Some would argue that weighing the consequences is a form of motivation. You’re motivated to go to the gym, or to cook dinner, or whatever it is, because the positive consequences are preferable to the negative consequences. I disagree. You can uphold your obligation to yourself begrudgingly, and not be motivated to do it, but still do it.
The point is, motivation is a liar and can’t be trusted. Some days you just don’t feel like it, but future-you is going to be happier with today-you if you just do it anyway. You’ll find that you actually make much more progress in life, in the gym, in whatever, like this. Screw motivation. Think bigger. Motivation is selfish and short term. You are bigger than the motivation you feel in this moment.
This word KILLS ME. I find it in my Reddit inbox, posted under my IG photos, even here in my blog comments sometimes. I understand that it is a kind word, something to be proud of, for someone to say you inspire them… but it would be a pretty shitty thing to just sit back and bask in it.
Ohhh, I’m soooo inspirational!
Ohmigohd no, I’m a jackass.
No. I never set out to inspire anybody, and honestly, it strikes me as completely insane that I could. How is losing weight inspirational? How is lifting weights inspirational? These things are superficial- ANY person can do these things, if they choose to. This word is just tossed about… why are we busy throwing it at fitness models and naked girls on social media, when people who do truly inspiring things exist? Honestly, I’d rather be told this at work than in the gym. If one of my students would say to me, “Miss Stephanie, you inspire me,” I would melt into a puddle right there on the spot. I don’t have abs to inspire people, and truly, I don’t think that does inspire people. I think people aspire to have abs, and confuse this with being inspired.
Inspiration comes from YOU, my darling! Not from me! Not from fitness professionals, or worse, self-proclaimed social media “fitness models!” Not from TV chefs! These people have no bearing on you as a person. YOU inspire you.
Do you know what inspires me?
GAH OMG I’M SO VAIN!
I go to bed every night with the intention of becoming better tomorrow. Every single day I learn something. Maybe from the internet, maybe from a friend, a stranger, a student, an experience. Every day, I do something to better myself. Maybe it’s just that I went to the gym that day, even- that totally counts. Maybe I read a book, or took a class, or edited my resume. I will be better the next day because of it. And this tiny, tiny growth, is cumulative. If every single day I improve myself in one tiny way, and then look back, I can see change, improvement, growth. Maybe it’s too small to see after a day, or a week, or even a month, but after two months, six months, a year, I’ll see it. So every day, that’s what I do. I’m inspired by who I was yesterday, and who I can be tomorrow.
Is this to say I don’t look at other people and think, Wow! I’d like to be like/look like/do/know that! Absolutely not. But I also don’t rely on those thoughts to be my inspiration. Perhaps I use them as launch points for setting my own goals. But again, that act is mine. Inspire yourself. YOU are inspirational. YES YOU!
So, let’s maybe be a little more conscientious about our use of these -tion words, what do you think?
Oh, and I’m well aware that I didn’t discuss the last -tion word- transformations. That, my darlings, is a post of it’s own.