The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between

Two Main Desires

The other day I was reading an article with an interview from a pretty well known trainer (John Romaniello) and he said something that really resonated with me.  He said, we mainly do things, especially in the realm of fitness for two main reasons, Sex or Self-Actualization.  Now, obviously these may not be the thoughts that you have in your head when you walk into the gym for the first time and decide to work out, but in the end, everyone I’ve seen that continues on an exercise plan does it for those two reasons, albeit in different shades. 

Think about it.  Why do you want to lose weight?  To look good?  Sure.  To fit into those “skinny” jeans?  Absolutely.  But what are those reasons for; to “feel better about myself.”  Again, sure, but the bottom line is that an increase in confidence leads to better sex with your spouse, mate, and/or hook-up buddy OR it at least helps you have more potential opportunities to have sex with someone who could one day be your spouse. 

Sex is such an under-rated motivation for action, especially with exercise.   The bottom line is that everyone in their adult lives want to be considered “Sexy.”  And as such, you can often find that extra motivation to either get to the gym or push yourself a bit harder when you’re there, because of either “eye candy” (yes, it’s linked to sex, even if you don’t want to do anything) or because you can imagine your partner enjoying your body that much more.  It doesn’t have to be the central tenet to your motivation, but it can play a part in giving you that extra “umph,” that extra motivation when you need it most. 

The other reason is self-actualization.  Who are you?  What are you capable of doing, of accomplishing?  We may not all be Bill Gates or Oprah, but we can still take direct control over our lives and build something that can be called uniquely ours.  We don’t have to be controlled by our genetics, but can take control.  We don’t have to be controlled by our past events, but can shape, literally shape the body that we have.  We don’t have to be controlled by our current situation, but can change it by changing our bodies into something which, when we look in the mirror, we realize is of our doing and our doing alone.  Of course, you may read books or received inspiration from other people, but in the end, no one else did the movements that created your body.  No one else didn’t dive into the carton of ice cream, but instead resisted the urge to not buy it in the first place. 

Too often, we shade these deep desires with weaker versions of themselves and they lose the tenacity, the rawness and visceral touch that moves us to not only take action, but to reach further, go harder and give our best each and every time.  It’s these desires that reach to the core of who you are and help you “see” what you can become.  These desires help us to hope more, to desire more, to reach into yourself and achieve what you want, more so than allowing yourself to stagnate.   

You know, if you read self-help books, they are always telling you to “visualize” what you want, but they always say to do it before you take action.  I think they’ve always gotten that part backwards.  You don’t visualize what you want without taking some action beforehand.  If you can combine that small action to your inherent hope and desire for what you want, then you’ll automatically start to see what is capable.  When that occurs, you start to “see” or “visualize” what you are capable of doing and becoming.  It is then, that you’ve got momentum on your side and the only thing that can derail you at that point is your previous limiting beliefs.  The more you do and the more results you see, the more you are allowed to hope and the more you hope, the more you can “visualize” what you want.  This can all occur without negating the work that you’ll actually have to put in in order to get your desires (because you’re taking the actions necessary).   

So then, how do you allow yourself to be free enough to actually start towards self-actualization?  Keep it simple.  Why do you want to start to exercise?  Write down at least 10 reasons.  What is holding you back?  Write down everything you think.  Now go back and count how many reasons that you want to start exercising.  If you have less than 10 reasons over what you think is holding you back (aka, you have 15 reasons to exercise and 10 not to), you better come up with more and stronger desires.  If you don’t research has shown that you will most likely stop exercising as soon as an obstacle or two comes up. 

With that said, I would also say to start a journal of those reasons to exercise and combine it other small wants and action plans.  List every reason to a specific action you can take now in terms of exercise.  I want to lose 50 pounds.  Behavioral goal – to workout 5 days per week.  Just one behavioral goal.  Get started on that one behavioral goal and typically you start to build momentum towards that larger goal.  If you want better relationships, then confidence typically helps.  To garner more Confidence take a  Behavioral Goal of,  Working out 5 days per week (and don’t forget to brush your teeth).  The bottom line is that almost everything you want can be positively linked to exercise.  Want to become rich, be healthy?   Those that are healthiest in this country are also the wealthiest (probably a reverse causation with that example, but whatever).  Want more self-confidence?  Lose weight and feel great that you’ve taken control over your body.  That increases your self-efficacy, or the trust you have in yourself, which directly increases your self-confidence.  Want to have better sex?  Workout.  Want to see what you are physically capable of doing?  Working out will help get you there.  Want to shop for nicer clothes?  Workout and those clothes will look even better on you.  Want to raise a good family?  Workout and show your kids that you care about being a positive influence on them by sticking to something that increases not only your lifespan, but the quality of your life. 

Anything you can possibly want, can be started or improved with an exercise routine.  The power you gain over yourself has the ability to spill over to EVERY single other aspect of your life.  So take 30 minutes or even a whole hour and do the exercise above.  Use those two main desires, Sex and Self-Actualization, to give you that extra motivation to stick to your exercise program and get closer to achieving both of those desires.  Be honest, be open and be ready to get momentum on your side.

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7 comments found

  1. What if I exercise because I’m terrified of dying early? Or because I’m surrounded by people who don’t and I don’t want to be like them?

  2. Anyone who exercises to improve their sex live will find it’s about as useful as cleaning the floor. Apparently doing chores improves your sex life, but has no measurable effect for most people. Ditto exercise.
    And as for financial success being linked to fitness? Please! You’re moving into snake oil territory with this post, and THAT is another thing that puts people OFF exercise and fitness – claims that cannot be substantiated.

    1. Well, if you read the whole sentence, then you will have noticed that this is what I said, “Those that are healthiest in this country are also the wealthiest (probably a reverse causation, but whatever).” Which means that those that show the best indicators of overall health are also the wealthiest in this country. The reverse causation, means that the wealth came first, and then the health. The reason for this is most likely that those that have enough money can see the doctor more often, see more specialists, etc. They also will typically have less absolute money issues and can afford to take more vacations. Both of those aspects decrease stress levels which has been shown to decrease the incidence of almost all chronic diseases. All of those above claims have been substantiated.

      With that said, the context which I made that comment, was under the premise of convincing yourself of the benefits of exercise for yourself. In other words, when trying to find the reasons to exercise, you don’t have to be completely logical…and in fact, we rarely are.

      Those that are the most “logical” are typically the most pessimistic. In other words, they are best at seeing “reality as it is,” but achieve less than those that are optimistic and strive to go further than what “reality says they can.”

      As for the sex and exercise comment. I honestly don’t know where to start. Let’s see some ways that exercise helps with sex and sex appeal. 1 – Exercise, and the results of exercise, typically improves one’s self-image. Self-image improvements help with overall self-confidence, which has been shown to increase the attractiveness of that person. 2 – Even when obese people don’t see dramatic results, studies have shown that working out makes that person more attractive than someone that doesn’t work out, at the same obesity level.

      3 – For males, exercise increases vasodilation factors and improves one’s hormonal profile. Which means, that the rigidity and incidence of one’s erections are increased, due to exercise.

      You know what, I would continue, but for what? The bottom line with exercise and sex is that it has the potential to improve one’s sex life. After responding to your comments, you remind me of one of my acquaintances in college. This guy would complain that he could never “get with women” then insulted them when he talked to them. For him, exercise truly didn’t help his sex-life. He also did this with every other aspect of his life, from picking a career to working out. He would try something and when it didn’t give him the satisfaction he was looking for, deride that said thing and bitch about it. The bottom line being he didn’t have much luck improving his own life, no matter the lives of those around him.

      With that said, you have had a bunch of pessimistic comments, which is fine.
      My question then is, what do you have to say about improving one’s sex life? If exercise and proper nutrition and supplementation aren’t the keys, I would truly love to hear about you think works. You’ve added your two cents, but absolutely no solutions to any of the questions you have towards my philosophy of life.

      In other words, if you have a better philosophy as to how I would improve my life or those around me, I would love to hear it. If not, then so be it.

  3. The physiological effects of exercise wrt sex are NOT in doubt – that it will improve your sex life is based on inductive reasoning – it has these effects, these effects are involved with sex, ergo it must improve sex in a relationship. The same is true of the idea that if you do more housework / chores, your sex life improves. If you do more chores, your partner has to do fewer, feels less taken for granted and percieves you as caring. Having less work, feeling valued and being cared for are correlated with sex, ergo doing chores gets you laid. There are some anecdotal studies that suggest it happens some of the time for some of the people, but this is far from “do X and Y will happen”. You are taking facts and extrapolating beyond the data – which isn’t bad in itself, but in this case you are far out beyond the screaming edge!

    1. Where, in that post, AT ALL, did I say that sex will empirically improve your sex life? The post was about MOTIVATION, not one’s sex life. If you think doing chores will get you laid, then do chores with all the f’n enthusiasm you can muster. If it works for you, “Bravo.” If it doesn’t and you want to cling to that belief, in order to actually do things you may not necessarily want to do, then personally, do it. It’s not hurting you or your partner (or probably the cleanliness of your house).

      I said exercise and the results seen from exercise increase your confidence, which betters your sex life. That increase in confidence comes from the physiological effects produced by exercise. If you’re a male and your “man” doesn’t get hard very often, but if when you start to exercise, it does, will you be more confident next time you have sex? If you don’t want to believe that, ask any woman about sex with the lights on vs. off. Sex with the light on? They are feeling good about their body. (Aka, confident) Sex with the lights off? They feel bloated and/or simply not very confident about their body.

      If that woman’s partner is a man, who as a male has higher cortical region for visually appealing stimuli, then holy shit; he can see the woman he is sleeping with, and that increase in the woman’s confidence has just made sex better for him.

      Now, my screaming over the edge, will be this comment: Relationships boil down to 5 umbrella terms, which are all interconnected.
      1- Good Communication ~ Can you share your utmost feelings with this other person? Does this other person keep you mentally stimulated?…And so on.
      2 – Good Sex ~ Good sex is about trust, communication, physical attractiveness (exercise does help with that, doesn’t it?), pheromones, confidence (earned or feigned…obviously earned is better) and the ability to “become one” during the moment…or simply be on the same page.
      3 – The ability to have fun together ~ Do you or are you willing to share common interests that you both individually had before you came together in a relationship? And if not, are you willing to be able to allow the other person enjoy those things, without making the other person feel guilty?
      4 – Trust ~ It’s a slow building process, where your actions, words and intentions are in alignment and true or they’re not. Either way, the more earned, and not feigned, trust you have, the better the potential for the relationship.
      5 – Shared Vision ~ Do you want to have kids and your partner doesn’t? Do you want to live in the suburbs and your spouse in NYC? This is rarely determined beforehand, but without a shared vision, your relationship will struggle.

      Now, with that said, you may be right and say I did make the jump and concluded all on my own that working out and the results from working out, increases one’s confidence and hence potential to have better sex.

      I also made that jump with listing what I think is the 5 most important aspects in any relationship that includes sex. Where did I draw that conclusion from? Did I spend the last 2 years in a research library looking up studies on relationships, on sex, on how to build trust? Or have I tried with my utmost, to be an astute observer of life, of people and pay attention to the relationships that I did have?

      The bottom line is that if you read the “Who is John and what is this blog?” page it says, “So not only will you get the ‘lessons’ I’ve learned, but my opinions on them.”


      Do you want to know the reason why? Because Science, when it comes to health and fitness or psychology is only about 1/2 accurate (and that’s being generous). The scientists in health and fitness are just finally catching up to what many bodybuilders have known for over 40 years. So when you say, that I am extrapolating beyond that data, I can only say, “No shit, Sherlock.”

      I work in the field, day in and day out, combined with reading endless physiological and psychological journals, and if you possibly think that because exercise may have not improved your sex life (or doing chores for that matter), that it doesn’t mean that for the majority of those individuals who I see and are working out, that it doesn’t, you would be gravely mistaken.

      In other words, if you don’t believe me, go to your gym and pick 100 people who work out consistently and ask them about their sex lives and it’s correlation to their confidence levels since they started exercising. Then go to a Wal-Mart or any other big supermarket store, take a survey of 100 people who don’t work out and ask them about their sex lives and I can almost guarantee you, that the more confident the person is, due to the changes brought about from exercise, the more frequent and better the sex.

      And if you don’t get that result, I’ll just have to think that you freaked the people out so much that they didn’t want to talk to you about their sex lives.

      If that’s far out beyond the screaming edge, then you are fucked, and not literally!

  4. “…if you possibly think that because exercise may have not improved your sex life (or doing chores for that matter), that it doesn’t mean that for the majority of those individuals who I see and are working out, that it doesn’t, you would be gravely mistaken…”

    No, but neither does it mean it is universally true either. I don’t dispute that it helps some of the people some of the time. What I DO dispute is your IMPLICATION that it will help all of the people all of the time.

    1. I believe that almost no human behavior is universally true. I am saying that what is true, is that there are physiological benefits of exercise, especially when you see the results you have been looking for. If you see those results, and other physiological benefits from exercise, this should help with your confidence. Should being the key word. Is it absolute? No. Is it more likely? Yes.

      Increased potential does not mean I am implying an “all of the time” concept.

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