This blog was written by Sarah Harriman. Meet our blogging fitness specialists at the NIFS website.
A quick glance around the fitness center and you’ll see dozens of people, each with a different goal drawing them in to exercise. What motivates these people to come in the door and keep them coming back day after day?
Motivation can be both extrinsic (“My wife made me come to the gym”) and intrinsic (“I want to go to the gym”). While both may be effective short term, someone in it for the long haul needs to tap into his or her inner self.
If you feel like you’re lacking that inner drive, try these ideas:
- Healthy competition: Make bets with friends and family. Who can lose the most weight in a month? If you’re an athlete, find local events or races. Or, make bets with yourself. How many days in a row can you be physically active?
- Specific goals: Not seeing improvement can be a leading contributor to lack of motivation. Take a look at your goals and make sure they are specific and measurable. Instead of “I want to lose weight,” try “I will lose 10 pounds before December 1.” Or, modify “I want to be a faster runner” to “I will decrease my 5K time by 10 seconds before September 30.” With clear goals you’ll feel like you’re making progress and you’ll be less likely to be discouraged.
- A vision: Where do you see yourself as it relates to your goal? Keep track of how your actions contribute to that vision. Be honest and record your thoughts daily on a notepad or in a journal.
- Motivation loves company: Sharing your goal with a friend can help build your confidence and build on successes. Finding a buddy to partake in your goal not only adds a psychological boost, but ensures accountability. Or go high-tech with your goal by updating your Facebook status, posting a tweet, or blogging about your progress. With a post like “Heading out for a three-mile run!” or “Five pounds down, three to go!” you’ll likely be encouraged and may gain some followers.
Set Fitness Goals
Intrinsic motivation is fueled by our human desire to be competent, to belong to a group, and to establish control. At the start of the NIFS Go Girl Triathlon Training Program, we encouraged our participants to write down their goals and actions to achieve their goals. Some of the more original responses included:
- Meet other ladies who enjoy triathlon!
- Beat my husband’s sprint triathlon time.
- Pass more people than pass me.
What’s your goal and how do you stay motivated?