The Chicken or the Egg, or is it Motivation or an Obstacle?


Recently, I have had difficulty, not wanting to get up and workout – AGAIN!  I have felt uninspired and unmotivated to exert or hurt myself (a cycling term for a really hard workout).  I just wanted to stay in bed and skip the workout, while questions and thoughts run through my head in regards to why I feel compelled to push myself physically as hard as I do.  Questions such as: “what am I doing this for?” “What am I trying to prove?” “Could I spend my time elsewhere?” “I need more sleep!” etc, etc.

In fact these feelings, of not being motivation, have been so pervasive I truly had thoughts of throwing my bike(s) away!  These negative feelings are confusing since I really should be SO motivated right now.  I am the strongest I have ever been on the bike, since starting to ride over 4 years ago.  My weight is floating around 215-218lbs, down from 245lbs, when I started, my body fat is between 5-7%, down from 12-15%.  I am currently at my high school/college weight at the age of 49.  Thank you Dr. Phil Goglia of Performance Fitness Concepts ( in Santa Monica!

I made a serious commitment to cycling, putting in the time and working with people who are so much better than me, with many more years of experience.  This has enabled me to improve at a much faster rate than if I had tried to sort out this sport on my own.  Then again, I do have to give myself credit since when I pursue something, doesn’t matter what it is, I always do it at 100%.  I personally feel that if I pursue something it is at 100%, otherwise what is the point?  If the motivation is not there, I should then look for something else to do, interesting and demanding enough to allow me to be fully motivated and engaged.

There are no short cuts. I always open myself up to learn as much as possible about whatever I am pursuing.  Listening is an important skill I have developed (the older I get the easier it is for me to do that).  When starting something new I try to open myself up and become a sponge.  I actively seek out mentors, and coaches, experts in an activity I am learning, while quickly sorting out the “talker” from the “real deal.” I have met so many snake oil salesmen along the road of personal development…

As I continue to transform my body to become more efficient on a bike (hard to do for someone who is 6’7” and naturally built more like a rower!).  There is a balancing act required, of losing weight while maintaining strength and power.  I have strategically lost weight slowly so my body could adjust to the physical changes in order for it to produce the same power output with less weight.  This is what gives me the ability to go faster year after year.

Anyway, I am digressing.  These cycles of de-motivation appear quite frequently in my life (I would say that would be true for everyone who engages in doing something that is mentally or physically hard).  Although, when I have a down swing, as discussed above, it is sometimes confusing because there are so many positives surrounding my sport and workout.  Of course, I have to always remember, there are many possible reasons/influences that affect motivation…including stress, over training, low energy, work, a bad diet, lack of sleep, booze, etc. it takes serious commitment to identify and correct the causes and also requires total honesty.

On a side note, I do understand that the body and mind needs some down time, for adequate recovery, as well as being able to stay mentally motivated.  I routinely take off a few days here and there, whether it’s taking time off the bike, or giving myself an easy workout week, cheating on my foods once in awhile, or whatever.  However, it is important to remember that there is a time to reengage again, and not become too comfortable doing nothing or consistently taking the easier route…which all can lead to the beginning of a very slippery down hill road.

In regards to addressing the mental aspect of motivation, particularly the lack of it, I have developed a simple personal thought process/formula to positively adjust my mind set to overcome a lack of motivation.

In order to get back my desire and motivation, I think about the following things:

  • If I stop working out I would just become an average 49 year old – with the potential of becoming unfit, unhealthy, unhappy and overweight.  I do not want to be average!
  • I understand that living a healthy lifestyle helps me get more out of life, including laying the foundation for happiness since, from a physical standpoint; I can participate in so many more fun activities.
  • There is something so wonderfully primeval about being able to athletically outperform younger athletes.  For me it a HUGE motivator.  However, I totally understand I can only do this if I put in the training time, watch my foods, and get enough rest…but it is the choice that I alone make and can control.

These things scare and inspire me enough to get me out of a funk and ass out of bed to workout!


As in sports there are always situations in life that take some effort.  I don’t’ necessarily feel like going to work every day, making a presentation, sitting through a performance appraisal, going to jury duty, and so on….we all encounter things we don’t want to do but have to, unexpected unpleasant situations we are forced to deal with.

I have come across many people who do not push through something that might be outside of their comfort zone, or are too lazy to see a task through because it requires considerable effort.  To my mind this group of people, form a high percentage of the general population and fall in the category of “average.”  When I come across someone like that it in fact motivates me, since I do NOT want to be average…

Working for a company, or doing any kind of job/project, is like being in a marriage.  How I assess whether things are ok is by determining the bad, or not so fun things, and match (list) them against the great and interesting things that are part of the same universe. If the positive things overshadow the negative things, then things are going well.  I am constantly looking at the negatives and thinking about how to make them into positives.  So, even if it takes a while I always give myself a fighting chance.

Part of living life and learning along the way, is by overcoming obstacles.  Only by overcoming obstacle and hardships will I learn and grow.  So, when I hit a bump along the way I can ether try to avoid it, thereby not learning anything other than maybe the art of avoidance, or meet the obstacle head on gaining whatever learning and experience that will result.  The resulting knowledge and experience adds to the foundation for overcoming obstacles in the future.

Finding motivation, overcoming obstacles and challenges, are for me the same thing.  Not having or loosing motivation is like coming up against an obstacle which needs to be addressed quickly and head on.

“Having a strong desire or being successful does not mean that you are going to feel great all the time. No matter how enlightened I become, I will not be positive all the time. You have to understand the swing of the pendulum. It must swing back and forth. The only other alternative is to sit still in neutral, which is precisely what most people do.” ~ Thomas D. Willhite


~ by Jens Wallrabe on June 18, 2012.

4 Responses to “The Chicken or the Egg, or is it Motivation or an Obstacle?”

  1. Your strong mind and body outweigh anything else. You have done remarkably well. Go to it!!!

  2. Very inspiring, Jens! See you next week!

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