Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Health & Fitness Challenges. Do you rise to the challenge or find yourself falling short? Do you celebrate accomplishments or beat yourself over failed attempts? What are your biggest challenges in maintaining a health & fitness routine?
Each of these questions can offer insight and demonstrate the challenges we often face when starting something new as well as maintaining key motivation that empowers a long lasting routine (aka healthy lifestyle!).
Did you know that there are different types of motivation that feed us as we work toward our goals? Studies show that we gain the best outcomes when utilizing a program that incorporates both intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) motivational tools.
Even more, studies have found that when folks incorporate both of these components they not only improve outcomes, but maintain greater focus, find more value on efforts, and overall significantly increase the odds of both short and long term success.
What is motivation?
Let's start with our 2 main types - intrinsic and extrinsic. Each plays an important role in helping us to reach our goals and sustain those results over the long term.
Intrinsic motivation comes from doing something we find personally rewarding and enjoyable, basically doing it for the pure pleasure of doing it. Examples of this might be taking a walk outside because you enjoy being out in nature or participating in a sport because you find it challenging and interesting.
Extrinsic motivation comes from doing something in hopes of gaining a reward or to avoid a negative consequence or perceived punishment. Examples of this might be changing dietary habits in order to help lower your blood pressure or cholesterol or studying for an exam in order to get a good grade.
Most of us use both. Why? Because our motivational needs ebb and flow and what works well one moment may not be as helpful to us as in the next. For example taking a walk outside can help you appreciate the moment - sights, sounds, smells, etc - and we appreciate the feeling of doing something good for our mind, body and spirit, however we also want to see, feel or experience some sort of notable payoff for making healthy choices and the efforts we are putting forth (ie, the "reward").
Motivation is ever changing.
As we grow and develop and get closer to meeting our goals what initially motivated us can change. Someone who started eating healthier to lose weight was focused more on the external (extrinsic) reward, but later this often becomes internally rewarding (intrinsic) as they begin to feel better and notice their weight loss, supplying them with new motivation to help keep them on track.
Motivation will rise and fall.
Because you are influenced by both internal and external factors, which can feel encouraging or discouraging in the moment, derail or support you, and can cause even your best efforts to fall short.
The key to maintaining motivation is to rely on both internal and external rewards and know your "why power." Knowing you're going to feel stronger, more energized or happier by making a healthy choice is a great internal (intrinsic) reward. Having others around you notice improvements, such as, "hey you have great energy today!" or "wow, you look great!" are examples of external (extrinsic) rewards.
Should you find yourself off track or lacking those feel good feelings, bring your focus back to why you started. Do you want to achieve a weight loss goal, fit into a favorite pair of jeans, feel confident in your day-to-day, enjoy doing physical activities again with family and friends, improve your overall health? That's your why power. Focus on the pay off for living healthier and let that remind you why showing up for you is so important.
Different things work on different days. What was motivating on Day one may not be as motivating on Day ninety-one. Your why power might even change over time as your health and fitness evolves. Ask yourself: what will living healthier and happier give me? What is the short term gain? What about the long-term gain? Use that to remind you of your why and keep you moving forward.
Bottom line: motivation can be like the cheer squad at the big game. They'll get you pumped up, boost enthusiasm, and give you a ra-ra cheer just when you need it. And even the best cheer squad will need support from time to time to keep the energy going. Especially when the game gets tough. The healthier and happiest people I know have a few key things in common: they practice gratitude and celebrate wins (big and small), they surround themselves with support and community to keep them moving forward, and they enlist accountability to problem solve and keep them moving forward. When you know what you need and how you're best motivated, you'll give yourself a success boost for both the short and long term game.
Are you an ambitious man or woman who's ready to feel strong, live healthy, and get fit? Discover how to take small steps to get healthy & fit without cutting out the foods you love or spending countless hours on cardio. Come join me inside my online Facebook Community - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where ambitious folks go for the tips, tools and support they need to eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!