As we enter into 2017 there will be a flurry of people that decide once again or once and for all that they want to get back on track with some sort of fitness program. The reasons will vary: To loose weight, to feel more healthy, to look better, to gain muscle, to alleviate stress, to get off a certain medication, to build strength, just to name a few. If anyone of you have ever started and then stopped participating in some sort of fitness program you will be familiar with this scenario. So what is it that creates this pattern of starting than stopping vs the pattern that some people are able to form which is creating a fitness program for life? Research supports numerous studies around behavior change and the strongest indicator for people sticking with a fitness program is intrinsic motivation vs extrinsic motivation. If your not familiar with these terms intrinsic motivation is when your motivated from within. Examples of this would be that you exercise because it helps you elevate stress or anxiety, it gives you a feeling of peace or accomplishment, you like how your body feels during or after and/or you like the setting your in while your exercising. Extrinsic motivation would be things like wanting to loose weight, look a certain way, be healthy, follow someone else’s recommendation or suggestion.

While there is nothing wrong with extrinsic motivation as a starting point it is not enough of an incentive to see you through once you have accomplished your goal, come to a plateau, get bored or are just not feeling it! So how do you move from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation? Here are some ideas.

  • If your initial goal is to weight loss exercise should be under your control. This means you decide what your going to do to move your body, how long you will be exercising or moving your body, at what intensity you will be doing the activity.  There is no right or wrong way to exercise. Some ways will bring different results and it is key that you decide what your program will look like.
  • Pick things you like to do. You don’t have to love them but if you don’t at  least like them you will have a very hard time staying the course.
  • Create a menu of activities. It is best to explore all the ways you enjoy moving so that you have options for your moods, energy level and other life situations that happen on a day to day basis. If your not in the mood to go to the gym fine take a walk.
  • Everything counts. Do as many random acts of fitness that you can over the course of a day. These all add up and will raise your mood and energy. That’s right mowing the lawn, gardening, house work, taking the stairs all contributes to you being off the couch and moving your body.
  • Embrace your fitness choices and work towards incorporating fitness into your life because you know it makes you a better parent or partner, it gives you a sense of satisfaction, you enjoy being outside, you like the feeling you experience once your done etc!!

It is not uncommon for people to need an outside element to get started on a fitness program. Just remember that you need to be in control of what it looks like. Ultimately, if you want fitness to be a healthy habit and/or  successful lifestyle change you will need some internal reasons to keep it up. Even things like wanting to experience life fully, being able to do what you want when you want are great reasons to reap the benefits of a strong, fit and healthy body. One other consideration. If you have limiting beliefs about exercise should or should not be you may want to look at that. Things like: it needs to hurt, I need to be sweating, it needs to be for a certain amount of time, it can’t be enjoyable, I need to be out of breath. These types of attitudes can get in your way of creating fitness that is fun. It is OK if some of these actually work for you but if they create a miserable experience get rid of them! It is possible that you are functioning under an old paradigm that needs to be updated in order for you to stay active from here on out!
Here’s to your success in 2017 with whatever form of exercise program you choose to do as long as it supports a long term, long lasting change . Keep it fun! I am here for you .