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Turbocharge bodybuilding motivation with hypocrisy
Yep, I was wrong … again. One of the hardest things for people when it comes to gaining muscle or losing weight is motivation. Both getting muscular and getting ripped abs thru nutrition are very slow and very difficult processes with huge investments in time and work required before there is any glint of results whereas the instant gratification of drinking beer, delicious fast food, and watching TV are immediate. Its no wonder that one of the most common genres of fitness videos are the “bodybuilding motivation” type videos.
NOTE: Please comment if you have suggestions about how to make this article better and more useful. I will incorporate your suggestions into this weeks video.
My world was turned upside down recently in regards to motivation and its forced me to face the fact that I was wrong all along. I listen to self-improvement podcasts and I recommend that others do as well. Learning does not end when you get your diploma, that’s when learning actually starts. As of Sept 2023, I would say that the best two podcasts are “Hidden Brain” for life and “Hard Fork” for your career.
Since I started making fitness videos in 2004, I have been preaching that if you set your goals properly you do not need motivation - something that I no longer believe. Proper goals I said were internally motivated rather than externally motivated. An example of an external goal that would virtually always fail is lifting weights because you want to be popular and get lots of dates. An example of an internal motivation that will always succeed is lifting weights because it helps you relieve stress and feel better. I still believe these things will work for some people but for many, it will not be enough.
Advancement in fitness knowledge can come from the unlikeliest of places as it did with me. I guess in retrospect its not so strange because as many advanced lifters know that much of lifting is as much a mental game as a physical one. A successful life is about how to use your brain to trick yourself into accomplishing the things you want to achieve.
I’m listening to a “Hidden Brain” podcast entitled “Outsmarting Yourself” which was basically about how humans have an amazing ability after making a decision to create a story in their head that proves they made the right decision, no matter how bad the decision actually was. Cognitive dissonance is fascinating. Then the podcast got into a study about inducing hypocrisy as a method of changing behavior, in other words, outsmarting yourself. There was a study done in the 1980s about how to get people to use condoms to protect themselves from STDs and AIDS. The problem they found was that billboards, posters, and commercials worked for a week or two but what they wanted was for people to permanently change their behavior. What they did was to get student volunteers to advocate for condom use but the study was not about the success of this outreach, it was about the volunteers themselves. What they found was that the rate of condom use of the volunteers even 6 months after their outreach ended was way higher than for any public service announcement program tried previously. Why? “Induced hypocrisy”. Its really icky to be preaching one thing but doing another, makes it difficult to sleep at night. Because these young adults were advocating that others use condoms, it would be really, really hypocritical if they didn’t use condoms themselves. It was at this point that I had an “Aha moment” about my personal fitness motivation.
Yes, using internal motivation rather than external motivation is still really important but its not enough. My fitness journey started in 1981 in the pre-internet era. Because the bodybuilding and nutrition information was so bad, it took me 20 years to reach my genetic max but during that 20 years, the slow gains kept me motivated. Its quite easy to stay motivated when you see gains in strength and mass, even if its slow. Coincidentally in 2001 when I hit my genetic max, I started advocating fitness with friends, family, and anyone who would listen. I started my website and started making videos. Without realizing it, I had entered a new phase of motivation. I struggled in helping others with their fitness motivation because I was not self aware enough to understand my own source of fitness motivation. I had stumbled upon the exact thing discussed in the podcast - “Induced hypocrisy”! Since I was preaching far and wide about the importance and benefits of doing daily cardio and consistent weight lifting, it would have been REALLY hypocritical had I not followed my own advice so it was really, really easy to stay motivated to eat clean, lift weights, and do daily cardio even though I had no hope of ever adding another ounce of muscle. I outsmarted myself for twenty years! How many people could lift 3-5x a week and do 7-15 hours of cardio every week since 1981? Not many! That is the power of induced hypocrisy!
There are a lot of studies how volunteering often helps the volunteer as much as the person receiving the help. I now realize that induced hypocrisy is part of the reason. When I started my YouTube channel I was already retired and didn’t need to make money. I started making videos in 2004 it was because I wanted to give back to the fitness community and help others. Only today in 2023 am I realizing that in giving, I got more benefit than my subscribers did because they helped me stay motivated.
Harness the power of induced hypocrisy to turbocharge your fitness!
Here are ways you can harness induced hypocrisy to boost your fitness motivation, here are some ideas:
Promote fitness on social media. Not everyone is going to get hundreds of thousands of followers, I was just in the right place at the right time but you still can use the same motivation method that I did because I suspect that the motivation promoting fitness publicly is independent of the numbers of followers. Find your fitness niche and post away promoting exercise, nutrition, or healthy lifestyles. Lead by example and become more motivated by doing so.
Mentor someone. Take someone who is not as far along in their fitness journey and take them under your wing. Once they start depending on you, you wont want to disappoint them.
Advocate for healthy food. Workplaces and schools are flooding with junk food, advocate for healthy choices. Once you have advocated for apples and carrots, you would look pretty silly eating cupcakes at break time.
Does this make sense? Sorry :( I know that as an engineer, writing is not always my strong suit. PLEASE COMMENT if you have suggestions about how to make this article better and more useful. I will incorporate your comments before I make my video.
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