Motivation and Your Health Journey

by Aimee Wojtowecz

There are generally two types of motivation, intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is when a person (that’s you)  is internally motivated to do something because they enjoy it, find it interesting, or find it personally rewarding. To different degrees, recreational sport and exercise and even working on your nutrition can certainly be performed for the pure enjoyment or for the challenge of participating in an activity. 

Extrinsic motivation is when a person is externally motivated to do something because of external rewards such as weight loss, a desire to do what they think they “should be” doing, recognition or to obtain some outcome separable from the activity. For example, when a person engages in an activity to gain a tangible or social reward or to avoid disapproval. 

Both types of motivation can be beneficial when trying to achieve goals, but it is important to recognize the differences between them and understand how they can be best utilized. Finding the balance between the two types of motivation is key to achieving long-term success. Most people think that they just need external motivation to get started. They need more accountability, they need someone to just tell them what to do. While extrinsic motivation can be helpful in the short-term to get you started, it can lead to decreased motivation and engagement over time. Intrinsic motivation on the other hand, is generally more sustainable and long-lasting. What most people really need is someone to teach them how to build their own intrinsic motivation so that taking care of their health becomes something they want to do because they find it interesting and personally rewarding. 

So how can you build your internal motivation? Here are 4 tips!

  1. Set achievable goals – Setting achievable goals can help give you something to aim for, and you will feel a sense of accomplishment when you have achieved them. Continue building on these successes! 
  2. Focus on the process, not the outcome – Shift your focus to the process of exercising, rather than the outcome. Enjoy the experience of exercise, and relish the feeling of being active and healthy. How does improved fitness improve your quality of life? 
  3. Reward yourself – Give yourself something to look forward to after you have completed your workout. This could be a new piece of workout gear or a massage. The reward will help keep you motivated to continue exercising until you solidify your intrinsic motivation.
  4. Work with a coach- A lot of people will say they “know what they should be doing and they just need to buckle down and do it”. Maybe what you need is to work with someone who can help you move past the barriers and roadblocks that you’ve been putting up and teach you to find the value and reward in the journey. 

When you’re looking to build a healthy lifestyle that works for you, you don’t forever want to be reliant on someone or something else to help you do that. When you can walk into any situation regardless of what’s happening and make choices that support your goals at the moment that is freedom, that is success.