Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Motivation vs. Inspiration

One of the things I've been seeing a lot lately are posts by ladies who are struggling with motivation to stay on their meal plan and hit the gym consistently. It's a very common issue, one I've struggled with periodically as well. When I talked with J about, he had an interesting point of view: he differentiates between motivation and inspiration. I want to share the article I wrote for FitnessRx for Women about that difference.


I have a board on Pinterest entitled Motivation. After a conversation with my trainer, Jerry Ward, I think I need to change the title of that board to Inspiration. Jerry explained that inspiration can come from external sources, but motivation can only come from the inside ourselves.

Think about these questions:
  • Why do you do morning cardio every day?
  • Why do you bring your food with you to the movie theatre instead of indulging in popcorn?
  • Why do you give 100% in the gym when you train?
  • Why do you add one more rep to your sets?
You don’t do these things for someone else; you do them for yourself. No one else is motivating you to do work hard and live a fit lifestyle. You’re motivating yourself into action!

Other people can inspire you. For example, looking at a picture of a fit woman can inspire you to motivate yourself to get on the treadmill every day. Reading a quote like, “If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done,” can provide the inspiration you need to motivate yourself to get out of bed at 6 am and hit the gym.

When we rely on others to motivate our behavior, we fail. External sources can only provide a limited amount of assistance or support - the rest is up to YOU! You are the only one responsible for bringing your cooler of prepared food with you to work. You are the only one responsible for pushing through a difficult workout. A trainer, coach, friend, or parent can only do so much. Allow yourself to be inspired, and then use that inspiration to motivate your own actions.

What are some ways you can be inspired?

Think of some things that inspire you. Perhaps looking at images of your favorite fitness celebrity inspires you. Or maybe reading quotes about internal strength and determination, and overcoming obstacles inspires you. Maybe watching someone train hard in the gym, or watching a friend pack her food every day inspires you.

Take that inspiration and use it to create self-motivation to achieve your goals.

What are some ways you can motivate yourself?

In order to motivate yourself, you need to keep your goals in the forefront of your mind. Think about these questions, write down your answers, and look at them every day:

  • What am I trying to achieve?
  • What is my timeframe?
  • What actions do I need to take to reach my goal?
When you’re faced with a decision, think of your goal, think of the things that inspire you, reach deep inside yourself, and take action. Get inspired, find your inner motivation, and you can achieve great things!


  1. Love this! Thank you! I just went through a bad few days after dieting for a long time and still just over 8 weeks to go.... Back on track and feeling much better.
    no one is forcing me to do this! i am doing it because i want to! :)

  2. Great article! Why indeed, because I want to. I want to be the best me I can be and because I'm the only one who can do it for me!
    Thanks much!

  3. I am one of "those" people that have a "motivation" board on pinterest. I have heard the saying about motivation and inspiration and it's sooo true. I've been meaning to change the name of my board but have not done it yet.

  4. Great post, Kari. I believe internal and external motivation/inspiration are very different, and you will only succeed if you find that internal driving force. Looking at inspirational pictures and stories may help in the beginning, but ultimately it's up to you to find that desire to succeed.