Written by: Nem
Motivation is the drive or desire to make a change. As we explained in one of our previous articles, we don't need the motivation to act. We can still go about our day and do things that we are not really motivated to do.
We go into more detail about this in our article on commitment vs motivation. I would suggest reading that blog posts first since it complement this blog post perfectly. Also, make sure to read our blog post about finding your true "Why" which talks about deep emotional reasons behind your health and fitness goals.
Despite the fact that we don't need motivation to act, having motivation certainly helps to stick to healthy habits. Everything moves with much less resistance when motivation is high. Thereby, knowing how to motivate yourself and how to keep your motivation high, can be a very valuable skill to have.
Before we talk about ways how you can work on your motivation, it's important to make a distinction between two main types of motivation:
Intrinsic motivation represents our internal drive to act. We exercise and healthy because we want to do that and not because we care what other people might think. We are exercising and eating healthy because:
On the other hand, extrinsic motivation represents a drive to act primarily to get a reward and avoid punishment. For example, we exercise and eat healthy because that's what other people expect from us. We want to achieve certain health and fitness goals so that we can get approval and recognition from other people. We don't want to let our friends or spouse down or be disappointed.
Another example or extrinsic motivation is to engage in healthy behavior for financial incentive or status recognition. For example, losing X amount of weight to win the fitness competition at work. Or, improving how you look, so you can achieve certain social status and benefits that come with it.
When it comes to health and fitness, there is no good or bad motivation. It's important to recognize this and also figure out what motivates you, so you can use that to fuel the desirable behavior that will help you achieve your goals.
Ideally, yes, we want to find and nurture primarily intrinsic motivation since this type of motivation produces a long-lasting commitment to exercise and healthy eating. However, extrinsic motivation can be a great short-term solution since it can provide an initial push or temporary boost in motivation to get us started. You have to remember though that extrinsic motivation is not long-lasting and it likely won't help you stay consistent over the long term.