Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You've Got the Power!

In the world of fat loss and fitness program compliance, "keeping yourself motivated" is one of the main challenges that many people are struggling with.

You know the New Year's Resolution or January effect. After the New Year, so many people (and probably the same people) vow, yet again, to lose 20 pounds by changing their lifestyle, exercising regularly, eating healthy and staying in shape. They are super-charged for a few weeks.

By the end of January, the gym traffic is down significantly. Half people quit after six months. These people know that health and fitness are important. But they just cannot stick with an exercise program. They find themselves seemingly justifiable excuses: too tired, no time, business traveling, family and social obligations, long driving to the gym or simply lack of motivation.

Only gym rats, hardcore buffs and those really self-motivated people are still around and all year round. You can tell who they are and you can see the results.

So what separates the successful people from those habitual quitters? What's the driving force behind the successful people? What do they make it throughout the year and after years? Is it really just motivation?

What is motivation?

How do you get motivated and stay motivated?

Why do you want or need to work out?

Do you have the power to change your habit and behavior?

Why don't you have the burning desire to achieve the body you've alway wanted?

What's stopping you from achieving your goal?

Let's take a look at human behavior and self-determination theory (SDT). The SDT goes by that the more self-determined we are, the more we're doing what we want to do and aren't forced to do; therefore the happier and more successful we tend to be. Sounds logic and reasonable?

How Motivated Are You?

Five levels of motivation and type are categorized in the following.

Level 1: You have no particular reason for working out.
Motivation Type: Amotivation
No external or internal factors influence your activity, so no activity occurs.

Level 2: You work out because other people like you better when you're in shape.
Motivation Type: External Regulation
The mind responds to outside stimulii, though no internal motivation exists.

Level 3: You work out because you would feel bad about yourself if you didn't.
Motivation Type: introjected Regulation
Internal motivation begin to form, but limited positive outcome occurs.

Level 4: You work out because you believe it's important and beneficial for health and lifestyle.
Motivation Type: Identified Regulation
Motivations become more positive, resulting in prolonged positive behavior.

Level 5: You work out because you simply enjoy it.
Motivation Type: Intrinsic Motivation
Positive activity is performed for extended periods because of pleasure response.

So what's your level of motivation?

The less intrinsic your motivation for exercising is, the more you're working out because you think you should and because you really enjoy it - the less likely you are to stick with it.

If you accept this behavorial model, the next question is how do you transcend to the next level, eventually to Level 5 and stay at it?

Find the Good Reasons to Drive You to Succeed

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it. Not all the tasks have the good reasons to do them seen at first sight, but if you take just a few moments to analyse them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all - we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

But if you’re ever stuck with some task you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons. This applied to working out and eating healthy. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some. This will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

Too many people have the quick-fix mentality partly due to inaccurate weight-loss infomercials. They quit exercising when they don't see results in two weeks, 21 days or 30 days. Health and fitness is not a 12-week program. It's a lifelong commitment.

What's Really Driving You?

Material reward? This is quite often. You will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all. External rewards and punishments do influence our behavior.

Personal gain or pleasure? You will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way. When we're kids playing baseball or any games because it's fun, not because we can put on muscles or stay healthy. We're driven to do things simply for their own sake.

Sense of accomplishment? At least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.

A step closer to your bigger goal? Even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

Once you find out the good reasons and clarify your goals, follow these 10 steps by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS to keep yourself motivated.

10 Ways to Stay Motivated (by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS)

1. Take it down a notch. Many beginners, in a combination of enthusiasm and impatience, wind up overtraining -- doing too much, too soon, too frequently. That results in sluggishness, soreness, exhaustion and a general meltdown -- in other words, lack of motivation. Cut back on the intensity and go for a walk instead. That will save you from burnout.

2. Schedule your workouts in advance. Make appointments with yourself (or with a buddy) for a specific time and place. Treat the appointment as you would any promise. If you make time in advance and plan on keeping your word, you're more likely to keep that appointment. It helps when you share the commitment and speak it "out loud," to a workout partner or a cyberbuddy.

3. Whenever possible, schedule morning workouts. You get it out of the way, and you start the day feeling that you've already accomplished something positive for yourself. Plus, a morning workout can have an energizing effect that lasts for hours.

4. Concentrate on finding personal measures of improvement. Are you feeling better? Are you breaking through barriers? Are you learning something about yourself and your ability to keep your word to yourself? Is your endurance improving? Chart these benefits, no matter how small they may seem, and a pattern will soon emerge that can get you through the tough times.

5. Keep a journal. You'll be hearing a lot about this in future columns. It's the one thing nearly every weight-loss expert agrees on, and as you know, we don't agree on too many things. At the very least, a journal can help you see patterns between food, mood and energy levels. Used thoughtfully, it can teach you important things about yourself and your relationship with food, sex, comfort, body image and weight.

6. Understand that the voice in your head that constantly criticizes is only one of many possible voices. You can't shut it up, but you can balance it with one that cheers you on and raves about your good points. Try giving your "cheerleader" a voice and you'll understand. If you don't have a cheerleader, create one.

7. When you feel like doing nothing, do a little. Many programs are abandoned because the hour workout seems like too much and you bag it altogether. On days like this, change your goal to 15, 10 or even 5 minutes. Consistency breeds success. Doing even 10 minutes consistently is ultimately far more important than doing an hour every once in a while.

8. When you're getting stale, change your workout. If you workout at a gym, try using the park. If you normally run, try the rowing machine. Add some weights or change the weight exercises you normally do to spice things up a bit. happy.

9. Make it fun. Many people feel a drop in motivation when their workout becomes yet another obligation. Ask yourself what kind of activity that requires moving around might also be fun. Maybe it's dancing in front of the stereo for a half-hour while listening to your favorite CD. Great. That's your workout for today. Do it and be happy.

10. Get a buddy or, if possible, schedule a session (or three) with a personal trainer. The input of another person can inject a tired routine with new juice, and you may learn some really cool stuff in the process. Never underestimate the power of a new voice.

Yes. You've got the power to change. It's all inside you!

Copyright 2007 by C. Carey Yang.
All rights reserved.

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1 comment:

Carey Yang said...

This article was included in Blog Carnival of Personal Power hosted by pinkblocks.

Thank you.

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