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How to (better) motivate yourself to exercise

‘I am going to help you piece together your very own motivation puzzle,’ writes life coach Sarah Doyle.

'Motivation is what drives you to take action.'
'Motivation is what drives you to take action.'
Image: Shutterstock/Giorgio1978

ARE YOU STRUGGLING trying to find motivation to exercise? Or are you wondering how you can stay motivated when you don’t feel the same enthusiasm you did in the beginning?

I am going to help you piece together your very own motivation puzzle. With every piece of the puzzle you put together, I hope to help you strengthen your exercise plan to the point where your action, desire and need is understood and fully met.

Motivation is what drives you to take action.  And your current motives (if any) may be the reason you are not succeeding.

Motivation can be divided into two different theories known as intrinsic (internal) motivation and extrinsic (external) motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is driven by a personal desire to explore and satisfy ones own interests, preferences and knowledge. For example, joining a basketball team because you find playing sports challenging and fun.  It originates in the person.

Extrinsic motivators rely on external demands and rewards (such as a reduction in body fat, increase in muscle mass, a competition or cheering crowds).

Intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are both powerful motivators and are linked to a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is associated with wanting, liking and positive reinforcements. Most types of rewards increase the level of dopamine in the brain and make you feel inherently good (and for some cause the activity to become addictive).

shutterstock_234153280 Source: Shutterstock/Production Perig

However, the thing with exercise is that it is not a short-term endeavor to just enhance your physique or guarantee you first place in a competition. It’s an incredible tool to boost your well-being and should be viewed as a long-term commitment to your happiness and health. And therein lies the problem with pursuing external motivators.

This reward/punishment approach of chasing external goals means that you are not concerned with whether the action is enjoyable or not because you are only motivated by a reward, or to avoid a negative outcome (I don’t want to be fat, come last, fail etc).  This is not sustainable or fun.

…and last time I checked, exercise was supposed to be fun!

Intrinsic motivation is so powerful because it can be long lasting and self-sustaining. Internal motivation means that you are the focus, not the potential for external reward, the avoidance of punishment or other negative consequences.

For many of us, our incentives to exercise is externally motivated but now, imagine performing an action or behaviour because you simple enjoy the activity itself, how it makes you feel and what you can learn about yourself.

The inspiration for acting on intrinsic motivation might the key to your motivation puzzle.

Sarah Doyle is a life coach, motivational speaker, positive body powerlifter and host of Better Life Project TV. For more information, follow her on FacebookInstagram or check out Sarah’s website here. 

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