Motivation is what causes us to act. Many of us feel that we would like to be healthier, lose weight or be more fit. If only we were more motivated, we think. But how do we become more motivated?
There are many different kinds of motivation, and different people respond to different kinds of motivation. What motivates me might not work for you. Some motivations are intrinsic, coming from within us. Other motivation comes from an external source.
I’ve been thinking about motivation lately, and just like when you learn a new word and start to see it everywhere, I’ve been noticing different forms of motivation.
One day at the gym, I saw a new sign, prominently displayed in bold colors and large print.
” The Ultimate Boot Camp: Work with a trainer who will kick your butt, make you sweat and force you into shape!”
Though I would like to be in better shape, my first thought is that I wouldn’t want to be a part of this boot camp. The thought of anyone yelling at me and forcing me to do something physical makes me want to cry.
A day or so later, I saw a sign at my doctor’s office. It was a little milder that the one at the gym, but still offered the drill sergeant mentality.
“Baby Boot Camp for New Dads: Prepare to Face the Tough Challenges Ahead”
I started thinking about other types of motivation I have seen and used related to health. Here are 6 types of health related motivational practices:
Boot camp: You are lead by a drill sergeant who will whip you into shape. The examples of boot camps at the gym and clinic above follow this model. You would respond well to this type of motivation if you want dramatic results, like to follow authority and just want someone to tell you what to do.
Competition: Many people like to win, and whether involved in team sports or solo activities and they will strive to beat out others. This is often observed with leader boards, such as on Dancing With the Stars, or with statistics and records displayed on gym walls. When I had my knee replacement, there was a board on the wall where we kept track of the number of times we walked around the unit. The therapists, who wanted us to walk, clearly understood that some people are motivated by competition. Though there was no official “winner” or even a contest for that matter, several people were very competitive about keeping ahead of others.
Support: Some people are motivated when working with others. My gym also offers a bridal shape up program where brides- to- be sign up with their bridesmaids and friends to get in shape for their wedding. Friends who walk or run together offer each other social support. Weight Watchers has a built in support system. Most hospitals and clinics offer many social support groups for patients with similar needs. If you value time with others, this is a good form of motivation for you.
Data Driven: Do you wear a Fitbit and track your data? Some people love to fill out spreadsheets and charts, tracking repetitions, times or distances. They also monitor health records such as weight, blood pressure and body fat. They may keep meticulous food diaries or chart their progress towards goals. If you are a data junkie, try using apps to keep you motivated. That graph of upward progress might be just what you need to keep going!
Encouragement: Some people respond well to gentle coaching or encouragement. One of the receptionists at the front desk at the gym always smiles and tells me to have a great workout. I hear trainers at the gym telling clients “one more set, you can do it” and “great job today.” Think also of a midwife, a Lamaze coach, or a lactation mentor encouraging new moms. If you like encouragement, find or hire someone to encourage you.
Self-driven: This is the lone wolf, who comes into the gym quietly, does his or her workout and leaves, no talking, no groups, no notes or records. This person likely works out daily or adheres to a very regular schedule. These highly self-motivated people know what they want, and do what they need to do. They are intrinsically motivated, answering only to themselves. They seem to have found the internal motivation mother lode. They are informed and proactive towards their and thus tend to be very healthy.
I wish I could say that I am among the self-driven, but I am not quite there yet. I still need encouragement, whether it is a word from someone else or the thought that my clothes are getting too big. I aspire to be as self-driven with exercise as I am in other areas of my life. In the meantime, I will use whatever works.
What about you? What motivates you to be healthier? Are you motivated in one of these ways, or do you have some other way to stay motivated?
I’d love to hear your ideas about motivation!