Creating a positive mindset and finding exercise motivation can be really hard, especially as we get older. In fact during perimenopause women can feel like they may never be motivated again! I hear this ALL THE TIME. Well do not fear, on this weeks episode I speak with Dr. Lisa Lewis a licensed psychologist and her jam is helping YOU finding motivation.
What is motivation?
Dr Lewis states that motivation exists along a continuum and there is a spectrum of ways for you to find motivation. When your trying to feel motivated again, it’s important to remember that you know the journey is an evolution not an ending. When it comes to exercise, there are a variety of different ways we can be motivated.
You will find there a times in your life when what you are doing isn’t intrinsically (naturally) satisfying. It can be a downer not feeling focused and excited about things. Well this is completely normal, and if you feel like it may never come back, then this explanation of different transitions may be helpful.
If you are intrinsically motivated, it means you are doing something because of the internal state it creates and not for some external reward. Essentially for the body, mind enjoyment. I feel like as a fitness trainer I fall into this category, as exercising is part of my being, but this isn’t everybody!
Maybe you are motivated externally? External motivation gets a bad rap because it usually is accompanied by a reward, but this isn’t always a bad thing. External motivation is an entry level motivation. You do something like go to the gym because you get something at the end of it:
For example, after my workout I am going to eat a big, fat, chocolately cookie! Providing a carrot it OK!!! But this is a short-term measure that needs to be progressed.
Self-Regulation: The 3 Psychological Needs
External motivation always comes from an outside source. In order to develop and maintain this motivation, it’s essential that 3 basic psychological needs are met.
Autonomy:We are the boss of our lives, and make our own choices
Competence: Feedback that helps us learn and get better
Relatedness: We keep going because of something greater than ourselves, maybe you are part of a movement and get a connection to other people.
By giving yourself the opportunity to select something you will enjoy and avoid situations where you look incompetent, we can start to harness these 3 needs.
Other forms of external motivations include introjected regulation, identified regulation and integrated regulation.
Catholic guilt anyone? If you are doing an activity because you want to maintain self-esteem or pride or to avoid guilt or anxiety, this is referred to as introjected regulation. For example, I really don’t want to work out but I know it will make me feel fabulous. Or even feeling pressure from workout friends who they don’t want to disappoint.
Introjected regulation is placed on us by the “shoulds” societal expectations. It has some grit and ability to direct behaviour so it can be useful, however there is always an expiration date on this. We often see “Big Box” gyms play on this in their marketing campaigns; think to lose weight for the holidays or New Years Resolutions.
Introjected regulation can provoke feelings of guilt and shame, but no lasting power.
This is partially external and partially internal. It can help you maintain your motivation by doing the right thing, even when you really don’t feel like it. You understand the long term benefits and value of exercise, you want to be a healthy grandma and maintain your health. So you exercise despite how you feel because you understand the value.
A majority of women during menopause will fall into the introjected and identified set. It’s basically how I fumbled through with my exercise program during the most symptomatic part of perimenopause.
This is probably the most autonomous kind of external motivation. What you do is part of your identity, part of being you. A great example of this is Tough Mudder or Ultra-Distance running. An experience that was really hard and sounded awful, but people can’t wait to do it again (eer-hum this is totally me! it’s very annoying). I completely understand the way these people think. They want to do these extreme activities again, not because it was awful and hard, but rather their relationship to it was very positive. But for somebody getting started or who may have lost motiviation this is not usually a place where they are.
Integrated regulation is the best kind for persistence of healthy behaviors, but needs a lot of skill practicing autonomy, competence and relatedness.
Now you have a deeper insight about how motivation can be developed, it’s important to keep in mind, there is no bad way to be motivation. If it gets you to the gym 3x per week then that is a win. If it is fulfilling, then that would be great, but maybe that isn’t always the case. It could be like a motivational menu, one day you don’t want to go but you go anyway because it adds value, another from guilt, another because you want to go. You should be able to identify why you are motivated and autonomously chose.
You motivation can and will grow, it is a skill you can grow and enhance..
How to start
Sit down in a clear moment and determine what are the reasons you identify going to the gym as being important and why does that matter to you. In the moment, you might say you don’t care, but truth be told, you likely do care and can make a valid list of why you should go.
Now make a plan and give yourself reasons for sticking to the plan.
Manage your expectations and give yourself small wins, which will help build motivation and self-esteem. Check mark for you!!
Ask yourself , what is fun? It doesn’t matter what that is, just start wherever the juice is, yoga, tap-dancing etc Then actively seek out opportunities to get into that habit and moving. If you enjoy it, you probably have competency so will do it again. You don’t have to go from zero to hero, start with what you know and what you like. Then BINGO!
Human nature is a wonderful thing. Once you get into the gym space, the practice of that happening over and over again, will help increase familiarity with the space and natural curiosity takes over. Maybe it’s helps motivate you to try some free weights, maybe it helps you feel less intimidated in that environment. Also helps you think, what’s next? So something else will eventually happen.
Dr Lewis tells us that, building motivation demonstrates you can do it, even when times are difficult, that’s how you build resilience. Persisting despite barriers that occur. By engaging in a habit you prove that you can keep going through this. It’s so good for your body, but it’s even better for your psychological health, as we see improvements in self-esteem and
and biological functions like sleep and appetite, with a decrease in depression and anxiety. Once you find a reason to persist it will help you in every way imaginable.
If you are a trainer and are interested in learning more. Lisa was part of a team who created The Complete Trainer’s Toolbox and is offering you 33% off the regular price. Simply use CXO2Ql at checkout.
Would you like a FREE copy of my 12 Week Core Program, ABS ON FIRE? All you need to do are 2 simple steps: To claim, simply leave a review on iTunes or Google Play Email me directly [email protected] to grab your free workout plan. . Much Love, Amanda x