What is Motivation exactly? Motivation is the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way, or the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
Everyone is self motivated to some degree. Whether it’s a little or a lot, positively, or negatively it depends on where it comes from. “Motivation is a much maligned, over franchised, over promoted, and misunderstood term.” Lasting motivation must come from within. Motivation moves us to take Action, but only if we want to.
I use to hear this all the time. “I need someone to motivate me, or I can’t get to the gym unless I’m motivated otherwise I’ll just sit my butt at home.” External forces will only motivate you for the short term, especially when it pertains to fitness and nutrition. Relying on your personal trainer or group fitness instructor to keep you motivated won’t last for long. You have to find your “Why”. Sure, they are motivating and upbeat, and keep you coming back for a good while, but what happens when they don’t anymore? Do you just throw in the towel and go back to old habits? External motivation (outside influences) is what gets us started, but it’s not what will keep us going. Internal motivation or lasting motivation comes from within. Engaging in exercise for your own sake will have lasting effect. We have to find Pleasure and Satisfaction from physical activity and better eating. There are 5 internal motivated behaviors that can help you to have long term success with health and fitness.
- Enjoyment- Do you find the activity enjoyable or do you enjoy the foods that you eat? If you don’t enjoy the way you move you won’t continue to do it – the best exercise program is the one that you’ll actually do. Is your food enjoyable or does it taste like cardboard, and you have to choke it down? Nutrition is the number one driver for fat loss and weight maintenance, so if you don’t like how you eat, #lovehowyoueat, you’re more than likely to go back to the old ways of eating. Your nutrition plan should be enjoyable, satisfying, and not restrictive- no black or white eating nor good or bad food lists.
2. Well being- Your well being is an important factor as well. We tend to get extreme in nature when we embark on a lifestyle change. We try to change things all at once or quit things cold turkey. Most of the time it won’t work, and burns us out. When we are consumed with thoughts of how much we ate for the day in terms of calories or how many calories did we burn, it will take up tons of mental space, leaving you exhausted and drained. Fitness and health should enhance our lives, not hinder it.
3. Interest- Try a few different things that you think you may like- try a group fitness class, sign up with a personal trainer for few sessions. Try Zumba for all I care, just find something that is of interest to you. Again, if you don’t enjoy the activity, you won’t do it, the best program is that one that you’ll actually do!
4. Fun- Don’t forget this one! Is it fun!? If it’s not, then again you probably won’t do it long. Now don’t get me wrong, I know at first it might not be as much fun in the beginning, especially if you have been out of working out for sometime now. So, if you really aren’t enjoying after a couple weeks or so, find something else that strikes your fancy.
5. Persistence- It may be difficult at first, but remember your “Why” and stay the course, even when times get rough.
Your “Why” needs to be something intrinsic to you – not an externally motivating factor. Find something that benefits you as a person, that you value for motivation. Then, make sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing. In this day and age, the options for a healthy lifestyle are nearly limitless – if you don’t like one method of fitness, give another one a try. In fact, variety is the spice of life!
Would love to connect with you. I send out a weekly newsletter with my best stuff and you can sign up here—> Beauty of Strengths Email Newsletter!
References: Waitely, Dr. Denis (1979) The Psychology of Winning