Friday, June 14, 2013

Motivation for a Healthy Lifestyle

This blog begins a 3 part series on motivation—internal vs. external motivators, changing desires, and basing motivation on truth vs. myths and lies. There's no doubt that the most motivated people in the N.E.W. LIFE programs are individuals motivated by fear after they have had a heart attack or other health scare.  But how much better is it to become motivated to exercise and eat a healthy diet before we have a problem?  I do realize motivation to exercise can be a challenge, especially for individuals who have been sedentary for awhile, and eating habits can be hard to change.  Often people start with very good intentions and begin  making changes, but soon they begin to struggle with motivation.  A key to becoming and staying motivated to exercise and eat right is to switch from external motivators to internal motivators. . .
External motivators rarely last longer than a year (if that!), and when they do they often keep people in bondage (to the scale, exercise, diets for a “worthy” body image, other people’s opinions, etc.).  Although external motivators may have some value initially, they motivate only inconsistently and rarely last.  The key to lifelong behavior change is to switch from external motivators to internal motivators.  Focus on establishing your internal motivation while you are initially highly motivated to change and have more energy and desire to do so!

EXTERNAL MOTIVATORS                   
(these work short-term, but lack lasting value; motivation is based on "shifting sand")
  • Cultural message of "worth" based on body image
  • The scale
  • Family, friends, co-workers comment on weight-loss
  • Clothes fit better                                                                 

(these support long-term motivation and lifelong behavior change) 
  • feel good
  • Understanding why this is good for me (understanding how healthy habits prevent lifestyle disease and support optimal health and energy, i.e. seeing a ream of fat being pulled out of an artery on video)
  • Good stewardship (responsibility) of the health and body I have been given

It takes motivation to both change and to overcome the barriers to change that often become apparent after we begin with good intentions.  So check in with your motivation and make the switch from any poorly based external motivation to internal motivation that stands the test of time.

Best of health and life to you!
Diane Preves, M.S., R.D.

N.E.W. LIFE I/copyright 2009

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