Saturday, December 3, 2011

Motivation - The Driving Force Behind Everything.

Motivation is the driving force behind human beings. It could be summarized as simply as the basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, personal desires and goals. It's very hard to have a set formula for motivation, as many different people are motivated by different things. There's 2 basic types of motivations.
  • Intrinsic. This type of motivation exists within the individual, and requires no external pressures. Intrinsically motivated people find it easy to motivate themselves to achieve desirable results. Intrinsically motivated people also tend to believe they have the skill that will allow them to be effective agents in reaching desired goals. They also are interested in mastering a topic, rather than just role-learning to achieve good grades
  • Extrinsic. This type of motivation comes from sources outside of ourselves. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money, grades and competition. Competition encourages the performer to win and beat others, not to enjoy the intrinsic rewards of the activity. A crowd cheering for the individual and trophies earned are also extrinsic motives. 
It's not uncommon for someone to be both intrinsically, and extrinsically motivated especially when it comes to fitness. Some individuals are in it purely for themselves, while others love the competition which makes them strive to push themselves. Once you determine what you're motivated by, it's easy to set realistic goals and motivate yourself towards them. Here's some easy ways to help you stay motivated and working towards your fitness goals year round.
  1.  Set Realistic Short and Long Term Goals. This is very important because without goals, there's less motivation to stick with a routine. Long term goals could be anything from running a 5k, to something more significant such as losing 50lbs. It's best to break large goals down into smaller, more easily achieved short term goals like running 3 times this week, or going through this whole week without cheating on your diet. Once these things are established as habits, they become a staple of your daily routine. 
  2. Reward Yourself. I'm not going to go into great detail here. If you're new to starting a diet and exercise routine the hardest part may be giving up all the comfort foods you've come to enjoy. This is true for everyone, myself included. I still have craving for chocolate milk, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. So what do I do when the cravings kick in? I splurge on them after a particularly grueling workout session, or after I've accomplished a certain goal I was shooting for. One or Two cheat meals a week is acceptable, reward yourself when you feel like you've earned it. This will motivate you to work hard to get the things you really want. 
  3. Communicate with People with Similar Interests.  This is going to be particularly important for people motivated by competition and the social experience of working out in a group. Many gyms offer classes that you can attend with other people, such as cycling, yoga, or dancing. You can join internet forums and websites as well. There's many fitness websites and blogs out there just like this one you can subscribe to. The goal is to meet people you can talk to, and share experiences with. There is infinite knowledge that can be gained this way. 
  4. Break your Workouts into Shorter, Higher Intensity Ones. If you're a busy person and have trouble making time for workouts you can utilize this option. You can get the same hormonal response in 2-5 minutes of training that you can in a 60 minute session. A good rule of thumb is to do as much quality work as possible, while remaining as fresh as possible. This option also allows for multiple training sessions per day as your body becomes more accustomed to exercise. 
  5. Start a Collection of Motivational Quotes and Videos. I'd like to think this is pretty self explanatory. Find quotes that speak to you on a personal level, and commit them to memory. When you're having trouble motivating yourself repeat the quote in your head and see if it helps. Here's a couple good examples worth sharing. "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not a act but a habit" - Aristotle. "Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you." - Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Success must be felt within before it can be seen on the outside." - Anonymous. "There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don't allow yourself to become one of them." - Ralph Marston
  6. Have fun with it. This is probably the most under-rated motivator of them all. Find sports or exercises that you enjoy and create plans around them. You'll be much more likely to stick with a plan that you find interesting and fun to do. There's many forms of exercise out there, it should be easy to find something you enjoy doing!
I really hope this article helps you stay motivated and on track with your fitness goals. Remember to look at how you're motivated to better understand how to get yourself up and moving. Everything is about making small, consistent changes over time. This will yield great results in time, all you have to do is stick with it. Experiment with different workouts and exercises to determine what you enjoy doing, and allow yourself to enjoy the comfort foods you miss from time to time. All of these things will help you along your fitness journey.

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