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Ted Talk 178: Lost Your Motivation To Work Out And Get In Shape? Here’s Why (And How To Get Back On Track)

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Ted Talk 178: Lost Your Motivation To Work Out And Get In Shape? Here’s Why (And How To Get Back On Track)

Are you struggling to find motivation to work out and get in shape? Do you often tell yourself that you’re just lazy and lack discipline? If so, you’re not alone.

In our fast-paced, ever-evolving world, taking care of our well-being has never been more crucial. We all know that regular exercise and healthy nutrition come with an abundance of benefits. Yet, so many people find themselves struggling to muster up the motivation for these essential lifestyle changes.

Now, here’s the thing: It’s easy to point fingers at laziness and lack of discipline as the culprits behind our reluctance to hit the gym or opt for healthier meals. But what if we told you there’s something deeper at play? What if there are underlying issues that are quietly holding us back from reaching our fitness goals?

Our modern lifestyle is out of sync with nature, and this is taking a toll on our health. With so many distractions and competing priorities, finding the motivation to exercise and eat well can be a real challenge. To make things worse, chronic stress can put us in survival mode, making it even harder to prioritize our health.

But don’t despair!

In today’s Ted Talk episode, Ted explores the psychology and neuroscience of motivation and shares practical tips for getting back on track with your health and fitness goals. Listen now!


You’ll learn:

  • What is the underlying issue preventing people from getting fit?
  • Why is modern life out of sync with nature and how is this affecting our health
  • What are the primary drivers of motivation in today’s world, and how can they negatively impact our health?
  • What makes it challenging to find the drive to exercise and get in shape?
  • The reason why so many people go for extreme diets or quick fixes
  • Living in survival mode: How stress affects your motivation to get in shape
  • Effective tips to manage your stress
  • What is the neuroscience of motivation
  • And much more…


Related Episodes:  

531: The Simple 5-Step Framework To Creating Unstoppable Motivation in 2023 (Follow This And Never Lose Motivation To Exercise Again) with Ted Ryce 

Ted Talk 155: Motivation Is A Lie (Here’s What Actually Works) 

540: Unlock Your Potential: How to Motivate Yourself Without The Negative Self-Talk 


Links Mentioned 

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Podcast Transcription: Lost Your Motivation To Work Out And Get In Shape? Here’s Why (And How To Get Back On Track)

Ted Ryce: Have you ever told yourself that you’re lazy for not exercising and eating right? Or maybe you’ve told yourself that if you just had more discipline that you’d be able to get in shape and stay in shape and it’s really this lack of discipline that is your problem? 

If you’ve said anything like that before, then I want you to listen to today’s episode, because you’re wrong. I’ll just straight up and say it. You’re wrong.  

There are things that you don’t understand about human psychology and maybe even the neuroscience of motivation. And that’s what we’re going to get into today.  

What is up, my friend? Welcome to the Legendary Life podcast. I’m your host, Ted Ryce, health expert and coach to founders, CEOs, and other high-performing professionals. And we put this show on for two reasons.  

Number one, I’ve been in this business for 24 years. I made a lot of mistakes, went down a lot of roads that I want you to avoid because you can waste a lot of time with health information on the internet. So, I want to give you the best information that I’ve learned from 24 years in the business. 

The second reason is if you are an entrepreneur, a CEO, an executive, and you’re looking to take your health to the next level, you want to feel better, look better, perform better, and you want someone to help you fast track your success with your health. I want you to think about me.  

So, let’s get into it; this idea that we’re lazy or lack discipline. And here’s what I want to tell you. This is not true, especially if you’re in a high-performing career, if you are an entrepreneur, if you’ve built companies and sold companies, if you go to work and crush it 8 hours every day or 40 hours a week or 50, 60 hours a week, there’s nothing lazy about you, but you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the problem is.  

What is the problem? Really simple. It’s our environment. I want to bring you back for a little bit.  

If you’ve ever wondered why the Paleo movement is so—there’s something about that narrative, about how things used to be and how we acted in sync with nature that just feels, you know what? There’s something there. And I was part of that movement way back when, before it was called Paleo. It was named Ancestral Health.  

And what I will tell you is this: We’ve learned that basically, modern life is out of sync with nature. And no, I’m not going to go on a rant beating up modern life. I love the fact that I’m talking to you from Lisbon, Portugal, on my computer, and I flew here in 10 hours direct, and I’m going to be spending a week in Rome and visiting Positano. 

I love modern life, but we have to understand that it’s out of sync with nature. And the programming that our brain and body have is ancient. It’s hunter and gatherer DNA. We have DNA, we have the programming to go and hunt and gather. But we don’t do that anymore.  

We don’t even farm. Just think about it. Imagine that civilization ends as you know it. Imagine that Whole Foods shuts down. Imagine that you have to go hunt for your food. Imagine that at first you don’t hunt, you stay at home wondering what to do. But then the food you have runs out. Let’s say all the electricity shuts down so you can’t refrigerate things.  

And you’re cool for a little while. And perhaps if you’re a bit of a prepper, you’ve got things stored away. But let’s say eventually it runs out. You’ll get to the point where the motivation to get up and do something will come from hunger. 

As hunger levels increase, you get really motivated. You don’t even think about, “Oh, gosh, I’m not motivated to go hunt and gather.” It becomes almost obsessive. Then you go out, you hunt, you gather, and let’s say you end up getting a deer and gathering some berries and nuts and bring it back and cook it up, and then it doesn’t last. You have to go back and do it again.  

So, hunger used to be the big motivator, not just for food, but also for exercise. We didn’t have to worry about exercise because you had to do movement. You had to move your body just to go find food. And the real issue was hunger and the threat of starvation.  

And think about how things are now. Are you worried about starving to death? I hope not. You might be one of those people… Hopefully you’re not one of those people who on a flight from Miami to LA, you’re like, “Oh, my God, if I don’t get the peanuts, I’m going to starve to death.” 

So, listen, that’s the situation. Think about what the big motivator is right now. How do we survive now? We don’t hunt and gather. We don’t farm. Most of us don’t grow any food at all. You might have some spinach and tomatoes in the backyard. You might grow some herbs, but you’re not exactly a farmer, are you? What’s the big motivator? 

Well, it’s money. It’s the economy. It’s going to work or running a business, creating a business. It’s the biggest motivator there is. Now, if you have a family, that’s a big motivator, too. But what do you do with your family? Well, you get your children to go to school and they perform well in school to get ready to work in the economy.  

And I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I like the fact that I don’t have to trade chickens for a pair of shoes. I just have to pay some money for it. So I’m not saying it’s bad, but it’s just important to understand the main motivators are not getting in shape and eating healthy and making sure you’re not overweight. 

Those can become motivators eventually, and we’ll talk about that, but in the short term, it’s not the motivation. The big motivation here is to go make money. And of course, if you run a business like me, my main motivator is not money. 

I would be in a very different business if it was just money. I would be doing sales, or I would be doing something different if I was super money motivated. I want to make money with my business. This is part of my business, what you’re listening to right now. 

But I also want to make a difference. So of course, it’s not all about money. But at the end of the day, money is how we judge the success of our business. It’s how we pay for things, it’s how we pay our bills, go on vacation. 

And that’s the big motivator. Now, in fact, if you think about why people say they don’t have time to exercise, why is it? Well, because I work a lot and then I have to take the kids and pick the kids up. 

Or maybe you feel you’re running a business, you’re an entrepreneur and you feel guilty, a bit guilty for not spending more time with your kids. So at the end of a long day, you don’t want to go to the gym, you want to spend time with your family. 

Especially if you’re in your 40s and 50s and you spent a lot of your time when you were building your business. You didn’t spend it with your family, you missed some years and you feel a bit guilty for that. So those are the main motivators. 

Now do you see how there’s not a lot of motivation to get in shape from the way that modern life is set up? Especially if your parents didn’t teach you this, which most of our parents didn’t. Actually, my dad kind of indirectly inspired me to get into health and fitness—story for another time. 

But I wasn’t planning on getting into this business. I was going do something else. I was going to go in to neuroscience or medicine again so I could be part of the economy. So what happens is this: the trajectory for an average client that we work with is, in their 20s, they’re in shape because they’re single. They don’t have kids.  

They have a lot of energy, the energy of youth. They’re in college, maybe an advanced degree, start a business, maybe in their late 20s, early 30s, or maybe they get a professional degree. We work with a lot of doctors and attorneys, accountants, auditors, veterinarians.  

And then the pressure is, instead of having a great social life, hanging out with your friends and exercising, it becomes excel in your career. And that means a lot of sitting, a lot of working, a lot of stress, too. And I don’t mean stress in a bad way, but it is stress. It’s stress to excel in your career. You’ve got to be on to push things ahead. 

You’ve got to be on to grow your business. And what do we do afterward? Well, we usually especially since we start making more money, I don’t know about you, but I go out to restaurants. I go on vacations, too. It hard to go on a vacation every week.  

Now, I do something a bit different. I’m not always going to restaurants, but I’m in restaurants a lot. I’m in restaurants several times a week, and it’s one of the ways that I reward hard days work or hard weeks work. It’s normal to do that. So that’s kind of what goes on.  

And for a lot of clients in their 40s and 50s, most of our clients, not all, but most of our clients are in their 40s and 50s. Yes, we have clients in their 60s. Shout out to you, Cindy, if you’re listening. We’ve got clients in their 30s. Shout out to you, Kinu, if you’re listening.  

But our clients in their 40s and 50s, they feel like it’s my metabolism that’s working against me. It’s my age that’s working against me. But the reality is none of those things. It’s not a physiological problem. There’s nothing wrong with your metabolism unless you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and then you can get medication to bring that level up. 

And even if you did have hypothyroidism, it’s still not the problem. The problem is our lifestyle. It’s hard to get the motivation to get in shape. It’s easier to get the motivation to exercise. And one thing I’ll tell you right now, if you are struggling with eating right and exercising, the first thing I would tell you to do is get exercising. 

It’s the number one thing that you can start to help you with your health. Don’t focus so much on nutrition. Again, this advice isn’t for everyone, but generally speaking, focus on exercise first. Now, why am I saying that? Because exercise is super powerful.  

Besides all the health benefits, the reduced stress, the improved cognitive function, improved cardiovascular fitness, the muscles, the endorphins, the endocannabinoids, all those things that happen, the reality of is this: you can have kind of a bad day and go to the gym, and you’ll feel better afterward. 

You can have a stressful day, go to the gym, you feel less stressed afterward. You can wake up feeling kind of tired, go to the gym, you feel less tired afterward. In other words, it gives you that immediate reward. 

And what happens is you get hooked on that. If you stay consistent enough with exercise, you will get hooked on it because there’s an immediate payoff. Again, you’re not feeling good, you go to the gym, you feel better. 

And many of our clients actually are exercising already when they come and work with us. Some of our clients aren’t, but most of our clients—probably 70% of our clients, maybe 70% to 80% of our clients, they’re already exercising when they start working, when they join my coaching program. 

The problem with nutrition is this you can go to the gym and get an immediate payoff from it, but nutrition is trickier. Nutrition, you don’t eat a healthy meal and feel a big difference. Now, maybe you feel better about eating the meal psychologically. 

Maybe you have more balanced energy levels, but you’re not going to see that big of a difference from one meal or from one day. It takes longer to get the payoff. In fact, you need to be…Now, I have some strategies that I use with my clients when they first join my program to get them quick results. 

We call it the Phase One, and our clients lose four to six pounds in the first ten days in our program. And I’ll tell you know why I do that, is to give them a quick win with nutrition. But in general, if you’re not using something like that, which I don’t recommend you do, because the problem is, yeah, you can do a juice fast, or you can just do water fasting for a couple of days, you can lose some weight. 

But then what most people do is they don’t know how to transition. So, what people do is they’ll do a water fast, they’ll do a juice fast, they’ll do a strict diet, whatever, and then afterward, they just gain the weight back. 

I remember an entrepreneur who was talking with me one time. He ended up not joining our coaching program, unfortunately for him. Because he told me he did Walter Longo’s Fasting Mimicking Diet, which is basically a low- calorie diet for five days. 

And he said, “I lost weight and it was great, but then I gained it all back.” So anyway, I’m off on a little bit of a tangent like I sometimes do, frequently do. But the thing that I’m telling you is I think there are two lessons here. 

Number one, in general, it takes longer to get a payoff from nutrition. We’re talking a week of doing the right thing, and you’re losing maybe one to two to three pounds, depending on how much body fat you have to lose. 

And the more body fat you have to lose, the bigger the drop in your weight will be. So that’s the first thing. It takes longer to get a payoff from nutrition, to get a reward from doing the right things nutritionally. 

The second is that is the reason that so many people go for extreme diets or quick fixes is because they want that fast payoff. Otherwise, it’s hard to maintain motivation. So, are you starting to see the issues here with laziness? It’s not laziness.  

If you’re running a business, if you grew a business, if you’re an attorney and you’re a busy attorney, a busy doctor, you’re not lazy at all. It’s just that you have a lot of motivation for this one area of your life, and you just don’t feel as motivated for the other areas of your life or for this particular area of your life when it comes to taking care of yourself. 

And it’s easy to get that fast reward to start to get motivation, right? Because humans are not complicated. It feels complicated, but humans are not complicated when it comes to motivation. What I’m telling you here is positive reinforcement. 

If you go to the gym, you get an immediate payoff. You feel good from going to the gym. Your brain makes that connection. And then you start—like me. I’m like, man, I’m not feeling good today. I need to go to the gym. So, I feel good because if I don’t feel good, I’m not going to do great work. And if I don’t do great work, then I’m not going to move my business ahead.  

So that’s what we’re talking about here. And then the motivation to eat right is a bit different. We’re more motivated to reward ourselves with food and eat something delicious going out to restaurants than to eat something that is not delicious, chicken breast and broccoli. So, this is really a brain issue. 

Part of it is how we’re wired, and part of it is our culture, and that’s kind of it. So, the issue becomes—you want to see someone motivated when people have health issues. Have I heard some crazy stories? Luckily not from clients. But let me tell you this. I had a client, her husband had a heart attack while we were working together. And he wasn’t that focused on his health until he had that heart attack. 

I mean, he was kind of active, but he was obviously slipping because he had a heart attack, right? He was obviously not doing something right because he was a bit on the young side for a heart attack. He was in his 60s. But let me tell you, you think he lacked a motivation after that? No. He ended up losing a bunch of body fat. He started exercising more. He was determined to take better care of himself. 

And I know other people, they got a diabetes diagnosis. It motivated them. The issue is we don’t want that level of motivation. Let’s try to find it somewhere else. And one of the things I try to do with this podcast is try to tell you, try to inform you so you get the motivation. 

Because the thing with—it’s almost like this, focusing on your health in today’s world, it’s like investing, and then spending all your time with work, it’s kind of like having a job. If you know that if you have a job, you go to work, you work 40 hours a week, you’re going to get paid for that week. 

Obviously, if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a bit different, but in general, you know you’re going to get paid, but investing is a bit different. You have to invest, and the money comes back later, sometimes years later. 

And that’s what focusing on our health is like. And so most people, they’re focused on the short term. One thing that I think is also important to point out here is that stress is a big driver of this as well. 

What does stress do? It puts you in survival mode. And when you’re in survival mode, are you concerned with the fact that the way you’re eating might lead to a heart attack in ten years or diabetes diagnosis in ten years? 

No. You’re focused on survival. So, overeating, I look at that as survival behavior. You may not even have a survival threat because you’re making a lot of money, you’re doing well with your career or your business, but it is short term thinking. It is survival-based thinking.  

It’s that going to work and trying to make money through work instead of investing. It’s hard to invest when you’re in that survival mode because you feel threatened now. 

Do you see how this works? This is huge. Now, hopefully I’m doing a good job of explaining it, but this stress component, when someone says that they’re lazy or they lack motivation, the first thing I ask them is, well, how stressed are you? 

Someone asked me this the other day on Twitter. They’re like, “What do you do when you’re not motivated?” I’m like, “Well, first thing I do, if someone tells me that what you’re telling me, what’s your stress level?” 

And you know what they said? I asked, “What’s your stress level on a scale of one to ten?” They said, “Yeah, well, it’s an eleven, ha!” But that’s not really the issue. They totally didn’t get it. It’s like you just told me your stress level is at eleven. 

Do you think you care about the fact that you’re going to have a stroke in ten years if your stress level is in eleven? You’re focused on surviving every day, even if you’re not really under threat. In other words, you’re not from a sabertooth tiger. 

You’re not worried about war breaking out in your neighborhood and a neighboring faction taking over your house and threatening your life or your family’s life. You’re not worried about that stuff, you’re worried about: is the banking issues with this Silicon Valley bank, is that going to affect the economy and affect me personally? That’s the threat.  

Or maybe you have some other people that you work with, a business partner or partners in investing, they’re operating in survival mode, and that’s kind of stressing you out and causing you to be in survival mode. 

Too much stress equals survival mode. So those are the issues now. We’re not running from sabertooth tigers. We’re worried about violence. We’re worried about our mortgages, our businesses, our kids, how they’re doing, is another source of stress. 

So those are the stressors these days. And even though you don’t feel like, well, I’m not really afraid of dying, but it doesn’t matter. Again, we go back to that hunter-gatherer wiring that we have, that hunter-gatherer DNA, and it pushes us into survival mode. Survival mode is all the same.  

We’re focused on the short term; we forget the long term. That’s what too much stress does. And in the past, it was super effective because stress is very motivating as well. But it’s just out of—we have a response to stress, the stressors don’t go away. Like, either you get eaten by the sabertooth tiger or you get away and you’re fine and the stress levels come back down. 

But when you’re worried about the economy, when you’re worried about politics, when you’re worried about the housing market, those things, those don’t get resolved quickly. Those change over weeks, months, even years. 

So it’s not that you’re lazy when it comes to health and fitness, you’re probably in survival mode. That’s the motivation to go to work and work as much as possible while getting out of shape in the process, survival mode. Trying to take care of your kids and making sure that they’re doing what they need to do, and you’re being worried about that, survival mode.  

Now, I don’t want to just talk about the negatives here and the stress here, but I don’t have time to go into a long conversation about what to do when we’re stressed, even though I’ve talked about it a lot on the podcast. 

But just understand this: we have a lot of control over stress, and there’s two ways to deal with stress. One is to deal with the underlying stressor. For example, if you’re in a bad relationship, you can meditate, exercise, take your supplements, do neurofeedback, whatever you want to do. 

But you’re still in that toxic relationship. You’ve got to get out of it, because none of the other things are going to solve it. Or to use an actual example, I had a client, an entrepreneur, she was running a business, and she told me she meditated every morning. 

I said, “That’s great, but why do you feel the need to meditate every morning?” She said, “Well, my business is such a mess right now. I’m having problems with my staff.” And I said, “Well, it’s fine to meditate in the morning. 

Just understand, meditation isn’t the way to solve the problem. The way to solve the problem is to meditate to lower your stress so that you can actively find solutions to your staffing issues.” 

Okay, so what I can tell you right now is if you feel like you’re lazy, it’s probably a stress issue. You’re probably operating, without knowing you, of course, you’re probably operating out of survival mode.  

And the way to bring yourself out of survival mode is to lower your stress by either solving the underlying stressor. Or if it’s a more ongoing thing, let’s say you’re worried about the banking crisis, the economy, etc, you can’t really solve that underlying problem.  

But what you can do is you can manage your stress levels so you can think more creatively about what you should do or your business should do to navigate the challenges. Because I’ll tell you this: people will always come out on top in times of crisis.  

I love what Warren Buffett says. He says, “Never bet against the American economy long term.” And I don’t know as much as he does, obviously, it’s not my wheelhouse or haven’t been around as long as him. But I love that faith, right?  

So how do we manage our stress levels until the times get easier again? How do we come up with creative solutions until the times get less chaotic? That’s what I want to leave you with today. What can you do, after listening to this episode, what can you do to start to lower your stress, start to bring yourself out of survival mode and feeling lazy, and start operating in a way where you’re investing in yourself? 

Because the chances are you’re going to be around in 10, 20, 30 years. Even if you have poor health, we have drugs to keep you alive. But is that really what you want? You want to be in your 70s and be out on the slopes, skiing and traveling the world, playing with your grandchildren? 

Or do you want to be in a wheelchair using a cane to get around, having to take like 20 different pills, trade out all the supplements you’re taking for medications just to keep your organs functioning so you don’t have a stroke, heart attack or something else? 

Of course, that’s what you want. You want to be in good shape. You want to be doing the things that you want to do in 10, 20, 30 years when you’re in your 70s and 60s. And so, what I want to ask you is, after listening to this today, what action can you take to start to get out of survival mode? 

Start to slowly – what small action, right? If you’re in a place right now where you’re not currently exercising or doing things to proactively lower your stress, what can you do? What small action can you do to start to bring yourself out of that place? 

And if you’re in a position where you’re actually working out quite a bit, but you’re not getting the results you want, or you want to take your results to the next level, then you and I should chat. 

And the way to do that is to go to and hop on a 15 minutes call with me. That is it for today. I hope you enjoyed today, and I hope you have a little bit more of an understanding about why saying you’re lazy is a bit lazy, it’s probably the only lazy thing about you. 

We’ve got to think about this deeper. We got to understand our psychology and even the neuroscience of motivation a bit better. And that way we can make better decisions, we can isolate the problem, see what it is that we really need to do, and get better results in our life. Simple as that, folks. Hope that helps. Speak to you on Monday. 


Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, celebrity trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 24 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and hundreads of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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