Have you decided to make a healthy lifestyle change? Congratulations! Devoting time and attention to your health and fitness is quite possibly the most important investment you’ll ever make. But before you take the first step on your health and fitness journey, you’ve got to dig deep to determine your true WHY — why are you making the decision to prioritize your health?
KNOWING YOUR WHY IS ESSENTIAL FOR GOAL SETTING
Why do you want to improve your health and fitness? Take some time to really think about your specific reasons for starting down this path. Don’t do yourself a disservice by being vague — go deep, get specific.
Instead of “I want to lose weight,” think about why you want to lose weight — does diabetes run in your family? Do you want to stave off chronic disease? What about keeping up with your kids? Or feeling more confident in your skin?
Work to bring your underlying reason into crystal clear focus, because ultimately, that’s what allows you set concrete goals. If peeling back the layers behind your why feels difficult, that’s okay!
USING YOUR TRUE WHY AS ONGOING MOTIVATION
Once you really understand your true why and develop an emotional connection to it, it will serve as your intrinsic motivation throughout your health and fitness journey. But don’t confuse intrinsic motivation with extrinsic motivation, its frequently fickle cousin!
Intrinsic motivation doesn’t fluctuate based on external factors. When you operate from a place of intrinsic motivation, you engage in healthy lifestyle activities because they’re deeply and personally rewarding to you. Essentially, your intrinsic motivation fuels your behaviors because those behaviors are the reward.
Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is fleeting. It can fluctuate based on an endless variety of factors. When you use external rewards as motivation to exercise and eat healthier, you lack a deep emotional connection to your end goal. Essentially, you end up “going through the motions” to either get something positive in return or to avoid something you perceive as unpleasant.
That’s why attaching your health and fitness goals to external motivators won’t serve you well on your health and fitness journey.
USING YOUR WHY TO MAINTAIN YOUR LIFESTYLE LONG TERM
Understanding your why helps make your healthy lifestyle choices enjoyable, and, by extension, sustainable. And that’s the key to maintaining your new lifestyle over the long term.
If you know you want to improve your health because chronic disease runs in your family, ultimately, that will never change. You’ve chosen to take an active role in improving your health because maintaining your long-term well-being is deeply satisfying to you. There’s no time frame for completion, and no dissonance between you and your goal. Sustaining your healthy choices becomes far easier because you know they’re necessary to enjoy long-term well-being.
Essentially, your intrinsic motivation forms the basis for the development of the traits that build true success: dedication and commitment.
But, let’s say you tie your motivation to an external factor — maybe something like looking good for your high school reunion or getting back to your “happy” weight on the scale. While these goals sound like perfectly reasonable motivators to exercise and eat healthy, when used as a sole source of motivation, ultimately, they offer a pretty shallow reward. You don’t necessarily engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors because you deeply want to; rather, you end up doing these things as a means to an end.
Realistically, however, there’s no end point when it comes to your health! Your body is the one and only body you’ll ever have, which means long-term maintenance of your healthy lifestyle is a must!