Sunday, January 31, 2010


When working towards your fitness goals, having the proper motivation to help you along the way can be a huge help. We are only a month into the new year, yet many people have already become discouraged and have given up on their health and fitness goals. Different people are motivated to change for different reasons, so it is important to realize what motivates you.

Some people are motivated by a positive reward or "the carrot" held out in front of them. They have a goal they are looking to accomplish by a specific date. It might be getting in shape for a wedding or reunion, or they imagine what they will look like when swimsuit weather arrives. Others are more easily motivated by negative consequences or "the bear" chasing them. This could include one's inability to function like they want, fear of present poor health or developing more serious health conditions, and may also include what they will look like when swimsuit weather arrives.

Visualization is one way to stay motivated. You may want to put up a picture of something that represents or reminds you of your goal on your mirror or fridge. For many people, this is often a photo of how you'd like to look or how you used to look. (I caution people to be realistic about this. I will be doing a post on realistic goals and body image next week). Visualizing yourself making the changes you need to make is a very powerful exercise.

Rewards are another great motivator. If you drop 5 pounds you should reward yourself by doing something fun (it's probably not the best idea to reward your hard work with an all you can eat pizza and ice cream bar). It doesn't have to be a big or expensive reward, but I'd encourage you to set up several small rewards for yourself along the way as you make progress towards your goal.

One thing that originally inspired me to get back in shape over 10 years ago was seeing other people's before and after pictures. I was amazed at the progress people could make in a relatively short period of time. I never realized how forgiving and resilient the human body could be, and it was encouraging to know how many others have made dramatic changes when it came to their health and physique. The picture I have included above is of Fred and Renee Scurti who were Body For Life champions back in 1998. That transformation was accomplished in just 3 months.

Another motivation technique I used last year was buying a pair of pants that was a little too snug in the waist. I had wanted to lose some excess fat around my waist, but had not done anything about it. I decided I was not going to buy another pair with the larger waist size, so I bought them an inch smaller. They were snug and uncomfortable and the muffin top feel was a constant reminder to me when I wore them. They served as a reminder to help me make good food choices. It only took several weeks before they fit just fine.

What motivates one person may not motivate another. Find what motivates you and use those methods. Ideally, just living a healthier life may be enough of a reward and motivation, but for most of us who are human , we often need something extra to motivate us. Make sure you define your goals, then determine what inspires you, and set up some rewards for yourself along the way as you make progress. You can do it!

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