Motivation 101 Getting Psyched For Results

June 21, 2013
by ASP Admin

If you’re a working individual, then finding time to work out on a regular basis can often pose a challenge. With the amount of work and extracurricular commitments we tend to have on our plate, it is no wonder that so many of us find the most convenient excuses when it comes to exercise.

For the growing minority of health and body conscious individuals, going to the gym has become a set routine several days a week. While regular workouts are commendable, performing the same circuit of exercises repeatedly (whether it’s a weights or cardio based program) can often see you hit a plateau. The lack of further progress can get quite discouraging, and this represents the main reason why gym goers lose motivation, give up and quit altogether.

Whichever category you are in and whatever stage you’re at with your training, here are some tools that will see you thrive in the long haul, and keep you pressing on towards your weight loss, muscle gain or performance goals!


The title says it all – planning is essential should you want to get clear vision of what you want for yourself.

Objective and Measurable Goals – The first rule for planning is to list down objective and measurable goals for yourself. This means rather than forming a subjective ideal (e.g. I want a body like Halle Berry or like that guy on the cover of Men’s Health magazine), list down something specific like clothing size or bicep circumference. If you are training for athletic performance, aim for measurable goals such as target lifts, sprint times or vertical leap height.

Objective goals are not only easier to monitor, but they also help prevent against subjective body image illusions. Some of us are overly harsh on ourselves and are never satisfied with great results because of our own self-perception. For example, a person suffering from ‘Biggerexia’ will always see himself as smaller and weaker compared to everyone, even though this may not be the case. As such, objective evidence of muscle growth and progress helps ease these subjective perceptions. On the flipside, some lazy underachievers may ‘feel’ like they’ve lost weight after one workout session and overly reward themselves. Objective evidence serves as a reality check and tells you exactly where you are at.

Realistic Timeframes – The second rule of planning is to set realistic timeframes for your objective goals. False expectations can often lead to being left disappointed and discouraged. Because every person differs physically with regard to training years, muscle composition, diet, etc., it’s important to understand that some workout programs may work more efficiently for others than for you. Consult with a health professional, strength coach or personal trainer to get a better idea of what timeframe is likely for a typical person of your health, age or gender.

Divide and Conquer –  Rule number 3 is to divide and conquer. That is, breakdown your timeline and set goals (which may be a 6-month or year-long endeavour) into fortnightly targets which you can review as you go along. Short-term goals are essential to keeping motivational levels high and regular monitoring of progress will also give you a better idea of how well you are tracking. If you want extra motivation, take monthly pictures of yourself to track your progress. Seeing the visual evidence for yourself can be a strong source of motivation!

Reward Yourself – The fourth and final rule of planning is to reward yourself when you meet your short term goals! Rewards act as a form of positive reinforcement and can be a great motivational tool. Caution: Make sure the rewards are appropriate. Don’t go undoing all your hard work by over-indulging in a 2000 calorie meal if you’ve only lost a kilo!


Be honest with yourself. Why are you doing this? What exactly fuels your motivation to exercise? Whether it’s looking good, to excel in your sport or other health reasons, you need to know exactly what you stand to gain. List down all the things that motivate you – the aesthetics, the health benefits, getting into that wedding dress, making sure the abs appear before that euro trip in summer, etc. Having this written clearly and pasting it up so you can conveniently see it every day will act as an constant reminder – a great motivational tool. Try putting yours on your bathroom mirror!


Sometimes, things just don’t go to plan, or we slip up. But hey, that’s part of the journey and being down on yourself won’t improve the situation. Refocus and set your eyes on the prize. With any problem, there is always more than one way to overcome it.

For instance, I find that with many of my bodybuilders who have to be extremely strict when dieting for a show, the urge to binge on sweets can sometimes be overpowering. Those that give in tend to consume ridiculous amounts of sugary foods that can set their progress back by a few weeks, and beating themselves up for this setback will only lead to more binges and guilt trips throughout their competition preparation. Many individuals have and will give up because of this roller coaster ride of emotions.

My solution? An unorthodox approach adopted from regular visitor to us at ASPC in Melbourne, Coach Poliquin – give them some heavy cream and cinnamon powder whenever the sugar cravings hit. Delightful to the taste buds, this little maneuver satisfies sugar cravings and in fact reduces their further desire for sweets – all whilst maintaining a low sugar intake.


Visualisation is a technique used by many coaches to achieve success for their athletes. It follows the logic that you would be more motivated and thus likely to succeed once you can perceive what succeeding feels like. One of the ways I like to use this tool is by getting my athletes is to use all their five senses to embrace what it feels like to have already achieved their goal. These are some of the questions I commonly ask:

  1. What can you SEE during your moment of success? Is it the crowd screaming or are you looking at gold medal in your hands?
  2. How does it FEEL to have achieved it? Do you feel invincible, My break washing
  3. on top of the world, or speechless, emotional perhaps?
  4. Describe what you TASTE? Is it the celebratory champagne after the victory, or the sweat just after the winning try?
  5. What can you HEAR around you? A cheering crowd after you lifted your PB, or
  6. curly.
    fans screaming your name?
  7. Is there a familiar SMELL? The smell of rain on the tarmac after your winning sprint or the scent of chalk on your hands after a successful lift.
  8. Similarly, you can always embrace your personal success story by envisioning it. Make sure you embrace the sense of victory, the way your body feels and looks, the confidence levels and the satisfaction of success. By doing so, you lock a real experience of success within your sub-conscious. This establishes a pathway that will actively guide your conscious actions towards making your goal a reality.


To make this a successful tool, ‘Anticipating your Pitfalls’ is best practiced as a 3-part process:

  1. Acknowledge your downfalls and make sure you write them down. This may be your love for beer or sweet desserts, or even a busy schedule which always serves as a valid excuse for skipping a workout session.
  2. Anticipate the situations that will put you face to face with these vices, and stay far away from them. If it’s there, you are more likely to give in to it.
  3. Replace that anticipated vice with a positive action. For example, when going out clubbing with mates on a Friday will lead to drinking, make the effort to go out and watch a movie instead. By taking the pitfall out of the picture, it does not become an option. Here’s another: If you know you tend to procrastinate and skip workouts, then find a gym partner to keep you accountable and set yourself a fixed time for each gym session. If you prioritise it just like you would a hot date, you’ll never miss it!


It is said that you are the product of the 5 people you hang around most with… so if you are constantly around people who encourage negative actions, or persuade you to lose sight of your goals, you are more likely to give into them than you are to push through and succeed.

Aim to surround yourself with people that will support you in your quest for your goals. Choose your gym partners wisely – aim to workout with people who are also dedicated to working hard, rather than chit-chatters who stand around talking for 5 minutes between each weights set.


May 8, 2013
by ASP Admin

“I’ll have a sparkling water, please.”

It has been a long week filled with deadlines, meetings and presentations. It is 5:30pm on a sunny Friday evening. “What a welcome to the weekend!” everyone is thinking.

Terry, an office worker (whom you often see queuing up for a large coke and popcorn at the cinemas) has just arrived in the beer garden and is about to order 2 pints of cider. There is a two-for-one offer from 5pm to 7pm and he is hoping to get as many in as possible. Not far behind in the line, is Terry’s colleague Jake. Jake, a well built athletic 40 something (who loves Saturday morning runs) is ordering 2 sparkling waters with a squeeze of lemon.

So what prompts people like Terry and Jake to make the choices that they do? What prompts us to make decisions that help or hinder us? Why do we sometimes feel like we are making progress one moment and the next, it seems like a slippery slope?

“Why can’t I seem to get a six pack/toned tummy no matter how many times I go to the gym?”

“Why can’t I stick to eating well?”

Sound Familiar?

It all comes down to what you value in your life. What means most to you and how much you are willing to do to fulfil this value.

Values steer us to a specific direction on where we want to be, how we would like to be and why it is important to us.

Someone once said to me “Gym goers are wasting their lives away, they aren’t living!”. The argument was that the gym junkie’s life revolves around the gym. They can’t head out on a Friday night and go on an alcoholic binge. They can’t eat anything they want. They need to set their alarms at 5am on weekday mornings to go to the gym.

But to label this as time wasted really depends on perspective.

The gym fanatic might value looking lean/toned. They might value feeling strong, healthy and confident in their appearance. This same gym fanatic will see the value in investing $30 in a bottle of fish oils, rather than a $30 bottle of wine. They might value waking up feeling fresh on a Saturday morning and going for run.

Values are integral part of how we perceive the world; they are the internal compass that guides us to make conscious decisions, decisions to whether something does or doesn’t suit us. Values influence the way we speak, our behaviours and also our social circle.

Values are what separate the office worker running on the treadmill from the fitness model standing on stage (who also happens to work behind the desk).

Define what you value.

If you want to be committed to a positive change in your health and fitness goals, a great way to start is to identify specifically what you value, what you specifically want and why you want it.

STEP 1 – Ask the right questions.

“What specifically do I want?”,”Why do I want it?” etc.

STEP 2 – Visualise it and own it.

Believe without a shadow of doubt that achieving this is possible. Start visualising that you have already achieved it. Think of this experience as creating your own movie/picture in your mind. Be in the moment and know deep inside that you will get there.

STEP 3 – Focus on what you want rather then what you don’t want.

The mind does not recognise negations. Negations such as don’t, won’t, can’t, not etc. For example, consider the statement ‘I don’t want to be fat’. The mind disregards ‘don’t’ and only focuses on the subject. The mind interprets it as ‘I want to be fat’.

Start choosing empowering statements of possibility rather than lack.

“I am getting stronger with each repetition”, “I am losing that weight” etc.

Be kind to yourself. Be positive!

Many people stare at their own reflection and only see their flaws, they see the weight they are not losing (especially in the areas that they want to lose most). Try focussing on the other areas of your body and notice the changes that are happening. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back for each step forward.

What if exercising meant that you were going to be cured from heart disease? What if eating unprocessed and organic food was going to prolong your life if you had cancer? What if being positive living healthily was going to prevent you from having depression? How would you then act? What would you start doing differently?

When you value your health and specifically state what you want, then other factors such as being lean/toned, having more strength and energy, fitting into clothes perfectly and being confident in the way you look, just become by products of the journey.



March 28, 2013
by ASP Admin

Thought, action, reality and the power of visualisation.

Remember Aladdin, and the genie granting his three wishes? Imagine that you had the power to get an infinite amount of wishes granted. Imagine that you had the ability to start changing your life and achieving your career & health goals from today. Imagine a life of abundance, happiness and health.

The ability lies in the power of thought, the power of visualisation; a technique that can be used by anyone at anytime to achieve any desired goal.


Visualisation is the act of creating an image in your mind with a desired outcome. Just like a tape or a rehearsal before a play, the image is replayed over and over again in the mind’s eye, and rehearsed as if the desired outcome has already been accomplished.

The image/scene is replayed repeatedly in the minds eye involving:

  1. Sight: What do you see?
  2. Sound: What do you hear?
  3. Touch: How does it feel?
  4. Smell: What does it smell like?

The idea is to make the scenario as vivid as possible, almost like you are actually there experiencing it. In doing so, you tap into your subconscious mind to make an imprint of the outcome. This imprint results in the necessary thoughts/actions in your conscious mind to allow for the desired conclusion.


Think of your subconscious mind as a library of information, an infinite database of information and life experiences. Just like the operating system on a computer, it runs in the background while you are surfing the net, playing games, on Facebook or writing a document. The subconscious is active whether you are awake or asleep.

The transition between the subconscious and conscious mind can be related to driving a car. When you first learn how to drive a car, your conscious mind is focussed on your driving environment. You are aware of the sounds the engine makes when you step on the accelerator, when to change the gears, whether you are driving too close to the car ahead of you, you are extremely cautious of your environment.

As you gain more experience in driving, your subconscious mind takes over your driving ability. Your conscious mind is now focussed on where you need to go, which is the best route to take to avoid peak hour traffic and what radio station you enjoy listening to.

The subconscious mind governs the way we think, the way we act and the way we perceive the world. It is a force that we should learn to tap into on a regular basis.


In basketball, a player will run through in his mind the perfect shot. The feel of the ball in his hand as he flicks his wrist and makes a three point shot from the half court mark. In his mind, he hears the sound of the half time buzzer going off and the roar of the home crowd. The shot goes in the basket with a huge ‘swoosh’. The scene is replayed over and over again in his mind to train muscle memory, increase his confidence and accuracy in each of his shots.

In a study done on visualization in sports, a group of soviet athletes were split into four focus groups. Group 1 focussed 100% on physical training. Group 2 focussed 75% on physical training and 25% mental training. Group 3 focussed 50% physical training and 50% mental training. Group 4 focussed 25% on physical training and 75% on mental training. The group that focussed most on mental training came out on top.


Imagine that you are going for a job interview tomorrow, for a job that you really want. In your mind’s eye, you visualise walking into a brightly lit office looking your best, the interviewer greets you with a warm smile. You imagine the smell of the cups of coffee on the table as you perform your best sales pitch ever. The interview goes well with you feeling confident that you have gotten the job. The interviewer offers you a firm hand shake saying ‘welcome to the company’. You run through this scene over and over in your mind visualising the desired outcome. When the interview finally happens, you are confident and articulate during the whole process as if it was second nature to you.

Alternatively, on a cold and wintery night you visualise yourself at the beach. The sound of the waves, the feel of the soft sand on your feet. How perfect that white bikini fits you without you having a muffin top. The envious looks of other women around you thinking ‘wow I wish I looked like that!’ as you walk to the shoreline. It is this image that you play constantly in your mind as you contemplate whether you should go to the gym at 6:30am the following morning.


The more vivid and the more creative you can be with each visualisation, the better. The more you think or visualise about something, the more likely you are going to get it. Start thinking about what you really want and imagine yourself getting it, feeling a sense of accomplishment once you have attained it. In your mind, start each day in your mind visualising exactly how you would like it to be and guess what, it will unfold just the way it was meant to.