Everyone wants to experience optimal health in their lives, and for many people, this means losing weight.
Wherever you look, you’ll find different ways to achieve your weight loss goals, and many of us try all kinds of different methods to try and stay motivated. For most though, our motivation falls flat just days or weeks into our progress.
It’s my experience as a Fitness and Mindset Coach, that there are two types of motivation – extrinsic, and intrinsic.
One of these types of motivation is superficial and only works temporarily, and the other one, the one that comes from within, has proven lasting results. This is the one that I encourage you to strive for, because all of my past clients who have truly grasped this concept, have achieved incredible results. I myself am proof of the results of finding the right type of motivation, as I have managed to keep off the weight I lost for over 20 years now.
Let me explain more about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, to help you understand how can you can apply the right type of motivation to your life, to help you lose weight easily, and finally achieve optimal health.
Extrinsic motivation is something that comes from outside of us. For example, if you are working for a company and your boss gives you a project deadline of 7 days, that deadline is your extrinsic motivation. You are motivated to finish the project by next week, or else you’ll hear it from your boss!
Another example of extrinsic motivation, is losing weight for a special summer vacation where you’ll be spending time on the beach or at the pool. The pressure you put on yourself to fit into a bathing suit by the time you go on vacation, is your deadline, which motivates you to lose weight for the couple of weeks leading up to it.
I’m sure you’ve heard about this extrinsic motivation program: Contestants pool their money, and whoever loses the most weight in 30 days, wins the whole pool!
Extrinsic motivation works, there’s no doubt about it, but the results don’t last, because you can’t keep it up over the long term. This is why you’ll see people lose weight for vacations or weddings, but within a few months they’ve put it all back on. We’re all amazed at what people can achieve in fitness competitions, but as soon as they get the money home, they start putting the weight back on!
I recently read a story about extrinsic motivation that I wanted to share with you to make another point.
‘An old man had an empty lot next to his house. Every afternoon, the neighborhood children played baseball in the lot. The old man, annoyed by all the yelling and commotion, developed a plan to stop the children from using the lot. One day while they were playing, he told them that he would pay each of them $5 every day they came to play in the lot. They thought he was a little nuts but were thrilled to be paid to do something they did anyway. After a few days, he told them he couldn’t afford to pay the $5 but still wanted them to play in the lot, and asked if they would accept $1. They grumbled a little but agreed to take the $1. A few more days passed, and he approached them with an apology telling them that he wouldn’t be able to pay them anymore, but hoped that they would still play in the lot anyway. The children responded by refusing to play in the “stinking” lot if he wasn’t going to pay them.’
Now that’s extrinsic motivation – it only ever lasts as long as the reward is in front of you.
Intrinsic motivation is a little different for every individual, and often takes some time to discover for yourself.
Intrinsic motivation comes from inside of you. Just take a moment to pause, and really think about this. It comes from inside of you – so this means that it can never be taken away or come to an end, like the motivation that money, a vacation or a special occasion can.
Because intrinsic motivation comes from within, it’s something to be celebrated, because it’s something that you’re in charge of. It means that you can always use it to stay motivated, and you can stop relying on things outside of you to motivate yourself.
My intrinsic motivation to exercise every morning, is that I feel great afterwards. I have so much more energy, and feel so much more ready to take on the day once I have exercised. I focus on how i feel to motivate me, and not on having a great body or killer abs. These things are just a plus, a side benefit, that comes from staying consistent. The muscles and abs are never my main motivation.
You may find that your intrinsic motivation is to be healthy so that you can be around to meet your grandchildren one day. It may be that you’d like to set a good example to your children of what a healthy life looks like. Or maybe it’s that you always want to be able to say yes to new adventures, like a hike or bike ride, without having to worry about whether you’re fit enough or not.
Now that you know the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, I invite you to take some time to discover what your own intrinsic motivation may be, and to be aware of when you’re relying on extrinsic motivation to motivate yourself.
Creating lasting health and fitness results always comes from intrinsic motivation. Once you discover what drives you from within, you’ll feel motivated to keep up the routine regularly, for years to come.