This is a topic that has stumped me since even before getting into the wellness field. Why are some of us able to get up at 6am for a run and some of us not? What is it that causes some of us to prep all our weekly meals on a Sunday and others of us to lie on the sofa in front of Netflix all day?
Motivation. It’s that magical and often elusive ingredient to a healthy, disciplined lifestyle. It’s that drive that gets you out of bed and sends you to early morning yoga class. It’s what helps inform your choices in every area. It’s the missing link for those of us lost in complacency, knowing what we should be doing to improve our lives but not doing it.
How do we conjure up the power of motivation? So many of us are depressed about our bodies and how we are not caring for them. We know we need to eat better and exercise but we just don’t have the drive to do it. That spark that lights a fire under our butt just isn’t there.
The key lies in our belief system. We have to truly believe that the efforts will be worth it. When I’m lying in bed struggling with the thought of going to pilates class, I picture how I will feel when the class is done. The sense of accomplishment I will feel for doing something to contribute to my well-being. The same applies when I make myself a healthy meal instead of ordering out. I think a big part of motivation is visualizing the end game and truly BELIEVING in the positive feeling your actions will generate.
When it comes to making healthy food choices, it’s a matter of body awareness. Making choices that will leave your body feeling nourished, light and satisfied instead of heavy, gassy and tired. Sure it might taste good going down but pay attention to how your body feels in the hours after you eat that cake or greasy pizza. Notice the signals that your body is giving you and equate that to those foods. Next time you’re craving garlic fingers think about what it will do to your energy levels, digestive system and your skin. Decide if it’s worth it.
Accountability is another key component of motivation. I decide the night before that I WILL go to morning class. I put out my workout clothes and set my alarm. That intention is set so when I wake up, I feel as if I need to hold myself accountable to my word. Maybe you agree to work out with a friend, so that you can’t bail as easily. Getting up early enough to exercise and prepare some food for your day requires a lot of motivation, but it is such an expression of self -care and love that you will feel so good about yourself for doing it.
It’s a matter of breaking yourself out of the state of inertia. Inertia is when an object at rest remains at rest until acted on by an outside force.
The two main types of “force” that can change our daily patterns are intrinsic force and extrinsic force. Intrinsic force is the pure enjoyment of an activity that comes from within. You are motivated by the pleasure the activity inspires. Extrinsic force comes from seeking a reward or avoiding punishment, examples could be getting a hot body, money, social standing etc.
I’ll be honest. When I first started caring about nutrition, I was 100% motivated by vanity. I was starting to get that freshman fifteen and I didn’t like it. I adhered to a strict meal plan and started hitting the gym because I wanted a tight slender body. As time went on I started recognizing how much better I felt physically and mentally because I was caring for my body. That lightness and strength is a much greater motivating factor for me now, and my appearance is just a bonus.
The point being, that while extrinsic force might seem superficial, it is still a motivating force to shake you from your intertia, and the extrinsic force could eventually turn to intrinsic force and you will make choices motivated by how good it feels to care for your body and its well being rather than any external rewards to be gained.
In conclusion, change your beliefs, know that you will always feel better about yourself when you make choices towards your well being. Hold yourself accountable. Set intentions, write it down, work out with a friend. Use rewards as a motivating factor until the pure joy of feeling well and balanced becomes your motivation. The hardest part is taking that first step. Shaking off the inertia and finding the motivation to be a better you. You can do it. I believe in you, and you should too.