Saturday, June 13, 2009

Revisiting Motivation.

After visiting my weight tracker, I realized I have been sitting in the 150s since August of last year. Creeping up on a year of maintaining the same weight, I'm both proud and frustrated. While I have certainly tightened and toned in that year, the scale has been taking a break.

I will readily admit that I am not in the same place I was a year ago. I was ultra-motivated by my previous successes with Weight Watchers in dropping some 30-40lbs, and I wanted to keep going... but I relaxed. I celebrated... with food. I decided it was ok to be less strict, and while I still feel that way, I'm ready to be focused again.

When I originally joined Weight Watchers in December of 2007, my motivation was driven by exhaustion, chronic illnesses and the horrible idea of moving up YET another size. It wasn't that I was embarrassed by my ever-expanding ass, but more that I just needed to gain control before it took over the world.

Now that I am healthy and fit, my motivation has changed. Today, the goal is simply the goal. I started something and I MUST finish. I am confident with my ability to maintain my weight, so I simply need to shed the last 15lbs that are just hanging on for dear life.

I feel as though I've armed myself with tools that motivate me.

There are so many different factors for motivation. I ran across this interesting article about motivation theory.

Another way to search for common motivators is by taking a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is a motivation model developed in 1943 whose premiseis that we all have a common hierarchy of needs from hunger to self-esteem. Ifwe aren’t satisfying the lower-level needs (hunger, thirst, bodily needs), thanwe’ll never be able to reach our goals at the next level (self-esteem /self-awareness). Using this model in our fitness motivation puzzle, you can seewhere materialistic rewards are good for short-term goals only. But sooner orlater, your fitness motivation goals will need to be based on a solid foundationof self-improvement and that vision you have of a better you...


There are many other motivation theories out there that get more into the human behavior aspects and the drivers behind them. One of them, McClelland’s Theory of Socially Acquired Needs, implies that based on our individual life experiencesand socialization, we’ll each focus on one of three basic needs: achievement,power, or affiliation. Other motivation theories will separate the “spark” intointrinsic and extrinsic awards. Intrinsic rewards are a defined achievement,while extrinsic rewards are more along the lines of self-satisfaction.Ultimately it comes down to…What is it that you ultimately want? …a finisher’smedal from a marathon may get you that foundation of confidence and self-respect that you’re looking for …or involvement in a intramural league or club may be help you fill a social void in your life. No matter what path you take to betterfitness and health, you’ll increase the quality and quantity of your life – butyou’ve got to want it to get it. Find out what will spark your fitnessmotivation energy and get out there and try it! In the words of Garth Brooks,“How you ever gonna know if you never take a chance."


Fitness motivation is a complicated puzzle that we each must solve if we want to get and stay fit. There have been numerous studies and theories developed, but there’s not one right answer. Just as some workers are driven by salary and others by a sense of purpose, we all have a unique set of drivers that can propel our fitness motivation levels to the point where we not only reach our goals but we change our long-term habits and perhaps even motivate those around us in the process.

If you want more information on motivation theories and studies, look into the work of Maslow, McClelland, Herzberg, and the management studies regarding goal-setting. It’s an interesting topic and one that holds a lot of promise to drive not only ourselves but those around us. Good luck!



When I think about the ways I've "armed" myself to speak well to my motivation, I feel as though I've gotten it right.
  • I've buddied up with a friend for added accountability as well as a sense of belonging. Everything feels easier to me when I know I am working with someone towards a common goal.
  • I've accepted that it's ok to not like the gym. There are plenty of other ways to exercise, like taking Jack to the Minnehaha Dog Park and hiking for miles and miles, swinging on a pole at Flex Appeal, Hoop dancing in the yard and riding my bike are some of my favorite non-traditional forms of fitness. It is better to do something I enjoy, that I can maintain, rather than force myself into an activity I will likely just drop out of.
  • Both the achievement and power portions of the above theory relate to why I speak about Weight Watchers so frequently in public. a) because I've achieved so much. b) I can transfer that power and hope and motivation to someone else who maybe can't believe they can do it.

There is so much to be excited about right now. The weather has finally returned to warm and sunny, I am upholding my goal of tracking every single little thing and I generally just feel amazing.

What really motivates you if you are losing weight or simply just trying to live a healthier lifestyle?

2 comments:

antgirl said...

That being healthier helps me do the things I love. That's what motivates me. That and I am ready to meet life's adventures because I train for it. That's been very powerful.

I just keep trying. I'm in the same place as you ... maintained for a year and now looking to shed the last 15 or so.

I put my chips in with strength training ... we'll see. It has taken a 1/2 inch off since end of feb.

Miz said...

I LOVE THIS POST.
And am a big fan of the concept of the hierarchy of needs (psych masters here).
For me, right now, 100% of my motivation comes from wanting to stick around and see my daughter grow up.
Im not a young mom and HAVE to stay healthy to do that.