Defining Motivation & 6 Tips On Improving Yours
What the heck is motivation?
According to Google’s definition motivation is: the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
Ever felt that way about exercise?
Here are some ways you can increase exercise motivation.
Stop Beating Yourself Up
The self-deprecating thoughts and feelings of failure are not helping you. I know it feels like a slippery slope that if you show yourself love and compassion that you’ll eat more carbs or candy or whatever without thinking. Actually, thinking positively about yourself will empower you to decide whether or not you want to eat the food, drink the drink, or actively exercise. You are an intelligent and a graceful human and you deserve to treat yourself that way.
Set Effective Goals
This is a biggie for motivation so I’ll spend some time on it:
Setting goals that restrict calories and activities that you generally enjoy is the definition of deprivation.
Have you ever decided to give up sweets to lose weight? Restrict carbs? Drink only juice? Exercise at high intensity, every day for an hour? All of the goals are based on avoiding something – in these cases the motivation is around minimizing weight gain. Of course, motivation can come from other things like exercising for your health, your intention to live a longer life, to be mentally more resilience, to be happier, stronger.
These goals make something you enjoy become negative. Sweets = bad. All carbs = bad. Anything but juice = bad. Less than an hour of Tabata = BAD!
Is this really true? Of course not, so why set your goals up this way? Deprivation and a generally negative-focused goals are not sustainable or heck, enjoyable. Reframing your goals where positive outcomes are emphasized will help your healthful goals become habits.
Reframe goals like this:
- “I will savor dessert when I have a craving that doesn’t go away.”
- “I will eat 90% of my daily carbs in the forms of whole foods: fruits, veggies, beans, and 100% whole grains.”
- “I will supplement my diet with healthy juices, especially when whole foods are not available.”
- “I will be active for two hours each day.” (this is a personal goal of mine and my parameters are loose – it’s important to me just to move each day so if this time is made up of a dog walk, standing outside, and a yoga class, so be it!)
Also lose the abstract goals like “changing my habits for life.” Instead plan for this week, then the next, and the next until the goal becomes a natural response.
Learn Your Triggers
Boredom? Daily stress? Relationships? Work? Commute? Money? Or a combo of it all? What is your weapon of choice? Carbs, gallons of ice cream, laying on the couch for 3 hours watching TV? Figure out what your trigger is and address the root cause. If you eat to fill a void or immediately park yourself in front of the TV, weight loss has probably been a struggle for you in the past. But now, spending time with your subconscious habits will give you the awareness to change your motivations.
Create Your Ideal Reactions
Are you an emotional eater? When work is stressful, do you head right for the drive-thru? Or do you have time-management problem and put off exercising until you completely quit going to the gym?
These are root causes. Spend some time creating your ideal reactions. These are how you wish react to your triggers. You have the power to create strategies for the times that have challenged your resolve in the past and to move forward with your goals.
Stop Doing What Is Not Working
Hate that hot yoga membership you signed up for? Ditch the membership and save some money. Obsessing over the paleo diet? It’s ok to stop what’s not working. Have compassion for yourself during this process – it’s ok that you started something and didn’t “finish”. Mindfulness and moderation have different meanings for us all. Find what’s authentic, enjoyable and comfortable for you.
Understand Your Lack of Motivation
“Your resistance is a sign your system is reconfiguring itself towards success.” – Todd Herman, Author, Life Coach and Owner of ThePeakAthlete.com
Paraphrased summary of Todd Herman’s Theory on the Biology of Change: When you first make a positive lifestyle change your body is flooded with feel-good endorphins. As your brain goes back to normal (day 3-4) your new habit becomes harder to maintain. The lack of motivation you feel is a sign that your body is changing. This is actually positive! Give your body time. The first 16 days are the toughest. Understand that it’s your body making the necessary changes for your new habits to last!
What Else Can You Do?
What else do you do to increase your motivation? I find that working out for stress-relief and my health (I will share why that is in an upcoming post) are my single greatest motivators. But sometimes the above are just as important to making me feel on top of the motivation game!
Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to set up a coaching session to talk about motivation issues!