I am a huge note taker. Over the years I have filled up countless notebooks on my experiences in working with people. I have worked with 100's of people over the years. One of the catalyst that shows up over and over again is the word motivation.
The single defining term that determines if you will hit your goals or not is motivation.
I'm not talking about if you are motivated or not. Because we all are at some point. That isn't what matters on a deeper level. What are you motivated by and the type of motivation will determine how far you will go and sustain your progress.
Current weight loss trends would have you to believe that you must be miserable to achieve optimal results.
I found a quote that pretty much sums up what people think when they come to me for health and fitness advice.
Mark Twain once said, "The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not."
Psychologist have dove into this topic heavily over the last 40 years. Research in psychology has shown that the type of motivation you have is more important than the amount of motivation you have when pursuing a weight-loss goal.
Take a moment and answer a question for me.
I am losing weight because...
1. I feel like there is no other choice; other people are making me do it.
2. If I didn't lose weight I would feel bad about myself.
3. It is personally important to me to reach this goal.
4. It is important to attain my goal and I feel it will be enjoyable.
What type of motivation did you have?
1. This type of motivation is 100% external. I like to call this type of motivation the scare tactic. You feel like you have to embark on a weight loss journey because the doctor told you that you are pre-diabetic. Your partner told you that it was time for you to drop a few and get back to the weight that you were at when the two of you met.
2. This type of motivation is the unconscious adoption of the ideas or attitudes of others. It's introjected motivation. Partially you want to achieve better health but mainly out of guilt or ego. Your clothes do not fit anymore, and sometimes you feel like people look at you weird. They are all external reasons to change. Societal norms and the pressure you may feel from others are the reason that drives change. It's pursued in order to get a reward at the end or avoid a negative consequence.
3. You've made a decision to lose weight because it is something that is precious to you. You value the choice. This is called Identified motivation. The view that you have on weight loss is positive and the decision to take on the goal was yours. Maybe you want to experience things you've never been able to do before. Things like hiking, wearing a bikini, walking up and down stairs without being exhausted, or wanting to be around for your kids. You experience a strong sense of personal responsibility and importance in the task.
4. This type of motivation is Intrinsic Motivation. The motive behind you wanting to improve your health is for you. You understand that there will be benefits that you will reap. But this is a journey that you are traveling on for your own sake. You intend to make good nutrition choices and engage in some sort of physical activity for the pleasure and because it is important to you.
Improving your health and fitness already requires tons of effort on your part. Changing your nutritional habits and beginning any new fitness routine can be challenging in itself. You might as well take a deep look into the driving force behind you wanting to improve your health. Because if it is for extrinsic reasons it will only be a matter of time before you are searching for ‘more motivation’. And we all know how that ends.