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Forget bikini bodies and big arms: Here’s the real secret for getting motivated to transform your body: By Emily Beers

Forget bikini bodies and big arms: Here’s the real secret for getting motivated to transform your body.

By Emily Beers


The magazines got it wrong. Sure, the promise of “six-pack abs” might be motivating at the airport newsstand. But as soon as your flight’s delayed, it’s an easy goal to forget. Because stress, frustration, and… a conveniently-located Smashburger. (Same as every day, really.) There is a fix, though. If you’re willing to ask—and answer—some hard questions, you can discover a much deeper purpose for change. One that’ll ignite passion and drive you to get the results you want—no matter how badly the airline screws you.


I could already see the pain in Michelle’s eyes as we sat down to talk.

“What are you hoping to achieve by hiring me?” I asked.

Michelle shrugged. “I just want to lose some weight and get fit again.”

After 10 years as a fitness coach, I knew there was more to the story. There always is.

“Have you always been overweight?” I asked.

She looked surprised at the personal question. I didn’t flinch.

After a moment, Michelle told me she’d been fighting her weight for more than 15 years. Now she has prediabetes.

“How does that make you feel?” I asked.

She hesitated again, but then said, “Scared. My mom was overweight and had diabetes, and I feel like I’m following in her footsteps.”

At this point, Michelle stopped holding back; tears trickled down her cheeks.

“It all hit me two weeks ago. My daughter said she didn’t trust me to be alone with my granddaughter because I’m too overweight and immobile to keep up. I was so devastated. So embarrassed.”

Many of us are like Michelle: Ashamed to talk about what’s really bothering us.


But since I started encouraging my clients to dig deep into their pain, their results have skyrocketed.

Why? Because to achieve real, lasting change, many people have to confront the emotional pain that’s making them want that change.

Once they do, their true motivation is crystalized. And that’s often far more powerful than any single exercise plan or diet approach.

The challenge is uncovering it.


You never start with the pain.

When it comes to goals, people usually talk about losing fat or moving better or getting healthy. All fine aspirations, indeed.

But for many of us, these goals aren’t very meaningful in the context of our everyday lives. They’re more like health and fitness clichés.

Our true motivations run much deeper than having a “bikini body” or “sleeve-busting arms” (as the ads and coverlines promise).

That’s the surface level stuff we think we want.

Sure, these types of goals might inspire you to show up for six weeks of training and cut back on alcohol for a while. But for most people, how much do they really matter? How easy are they to give up on?

On the other hand… you know what’s way more motivating?

Michelle wanting to be able to take care of her granddaughter so badly that months of new habits, tiring workouts, and saying no to cupcakes in the break room seemed like the only choice. It wasn’t just a “look better” fitness goal—it was her burning passion.

Discovering why you really want to change gives you resolve.

A wise person (okay, it was Tony Robbins) once said: “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

There’s just one problem: A lot of us never actually get to the root of what’s bothering us. We don’t face our pain because it’s uncomfortable. As a result, we’re much more likely to stay the same.

Find your pain… to stoke your passion.

Sometimes, pain will be obvious: divorce, a scary diagnosis, the loss of a loved one. This kind of pain is easy to identify. It’s right there in front of you, flagging you down.


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