So the great news about this first installment is that all you have to do is sit there and think. But if you really want this to be effective, really take some time to think about the items in this post. It will really pay off later.
1. Understand What Is Really Going to Motivate You
Let’s do a little exercise (a mental one – no weights needed…yet). Think of 1 thing that you’ve accomplished in the last year or so that you’re happy about.
A graduation, having a child, rekindling an old relationship, buying a house, trying a new activity…anything that you put effort into and saw it happen. Now, what was your motivation behind what you did? Did you get a new job to make more money? Try a new type of food to switch up the routine? Quit an old job to be less miserable?
The surface reason for whatever you accomplished is probably different in all cases. However, at the core, they all have a common theme: to make you feel happier, more fulfilled, increase your self-esteem – something along those lines.
Smart people with a lot of degrees like to call the former extrinsic motivators and the latter intrinsic motivators. You may want to make more money because you can buy more things and appear more accomplished (extrinsic), but the end goals may be to boost your confidence or increase your happiness in life (instrinsic).
So, the point is that with your health and fitness goals, you can start with extrinsic motivators to get you going, but you eventually need to arrive at the intrinsic motivation to keep you going. In one study, it was found that an extrinsic motivator (money in this case, like winning The Biggest Loser) was enough to make people lose weight, but the people that kept it off were the ones with an internal/intrinsic motivation.
For myself, I started working out because I wanted to look better (I’m constantly working on my lower body – my legs get redunkulous!) So I started going to the gym. Once I kept going, I found that I loved how it made me feel – both during and after my workouts. Over time, my confidence grew, as I felt better about my body.
Think about this: How you can drive toward an intrinsic motivator for fitness goals?
2. Sit Down and Identify Your Fitness and Health Goals
After you understand what motivates you, come up with a solid goal. It could be to lose 10 pounds, to lose 1 inch off of your waist, to run for 10 minutes without stopping. Make it a real goal, that you think you can achieve. If you’re not familiar with S.M.A.R.T. goals, the American Council on Exercise has a good article on them here.
3. Recognize Your Roadblocks
The third piece to this puzzle is understanding what stands between you and what you want to achieve. I really want to increase my flexibility, but I haven’t made the time to stretch more or go to a yoga class. I would also like to better control the nutrients that go into my body (less salt, more vitamins) but I end up going for quick meals which are the opposite of all of that. Time is basically the common roadblock for both of these examples.
So what could I do to resolve both of these? Well, if you read this post about the 15 minute workout, then I could easily squeeze in 15 minutes for stretching a couple of times each week. (In fact, between the time I wrote this post and the time I published it, I’ve stretched for about 10 minutes on 2 different days!)
One more thought on roadblocks. Sometimes, we don’t take action on something because it’s not bothering us at the moment and doesn’t have a major effect on our life. However, if you’re still reading (as I’ve been going for some time now) you’re probably above “out of sight, out of mind” as a solution. There’s something you can do. Even the smallest effort to eat better will help – swapping out a soda for water for one meal, walking around the block if it’s a nice day, turning down dessert at the next meal. Don’t let your roadblocks beat you. There’s ALWAYS a solution.
4. Do This Homework
So now you have the info, you’ve got some thoughts in your head, here’s where you put it all together:
- Identify one health or fitness goal (lose weight, add definition, eat fewer calories, run a 5k). Active.com has a great article on setting S.M.A.R.T. goals
- Pinpoint your extrinsic (surface reason that’s clearer to others) and intrinsic (what it means for you internally) motivators
- Identify what’s holding you back
We even have a neat little worksheet at the bottom of this post to help with that.
And if you’re open to sharing, we would love to hear some of your goals, motivators, and roadblocks in the comments below or on our Facebook page.