Cure Laziness Find The Right Movitation
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m lazy.
But you’re lazy too. It’s okay. We’re humans, we’re made that way.
We’re wired to be efficient with our energy. We prioritize things that give us short term pleasure over things that we know we should do (ice cream vs salad, anyone?).
But instead of fighting our nature what if we worked with it? Is there a way that we can make the things we should do ALSO give us the short term pleasure that our neurology craves?
Yes, there is. It all comes down to motivation. But not just any motivation. Intrinsic motivation.
Every able bodied person has the ability to exercise and knows about its myriad of associated physical and mental benefits. However the fact still remains that most of us Americans fall short of an active lifestyle. And for most Americans, whether it´s exercising more or exercising at all (the CDC reports that only half (52%) of US adults meet the minimum physical activity requirement) what it comes down to is that we have the wrong kind of motivation.
Not all motivation is created equal. Research says that extrinsic motivation doesn’t stick.
This population that persistently fails to exercise enough is primarily driven by extrinsic motivation, which refers to doing an activity for reasons that are separate from the activity (Tiexiera). In terms of exercise this is typically related to appearance, to gain social approval or avoid social disapproval, or some other external tangible reward. For this population exercise is a chore; an activity motivated by thoughts of “have to” and “should” much more than “I want to” (Ryan). But the research shows that this extrinsic motivation doesn’t stick because it isn’t autonomous (i.e. it lacks volition). Exercise is seen as a means to an end instead of being intrinsically valuable or enjoyable (Markland).
The beauty of intrinsic motivation – it’s self sustaining.
On the other hand we have the people who are dedicated to their physical activity because they value the intrinsic enjoyment, sense of accomplishment, excitement, and challenge it brings (Tiexiera). In other words, they have intrinsic motivation.
This is a person who is a regularly practices yoga because they love the way they feel during and after the practice. Or the marathon runner who loves the thrill and challenge of the race. Or the weightlifter that loves the sense of personal accomplishment that comes with his lifts. All these populations find personal value in their activities and therefore their motivation is entirely self-sustaining. You don’t have to tell these people to get out of bed and exercise; in fact you’d probably find it difficult to stop them (especially the weight lifter).
When you are intrinsically motivated for a healthy behavior it is no longer a chore. You WANT to do it. Your inherent laziness is now no longer a problem because it’s working for you instead of against you. Sounds nice, right?
How do you get there? Here’s five steps to build intrinsic motivation.
I’ll be honest, it takes extrinsic motivation to get you to the point where intrinsic motivation will sustain you. That’s why you start your behavior change with the greatest secret to extrinsic motivation: accountability.
It’s simple; all you have to do is put stakes on your decision so that when your motivation lags you have a secret stash of backup motivation to get you through. What does that look like? Maybe you want to begin exercising for thirty minutes each day for sixty days. You announce to your spouse and your kids your goal, post it on a sign on your fridge, and tell them to keep you accountable.
Even better, put stakes on it. Give them each a check for $50 dollars and say that they can cash them if you don’t follow through with your commitment. Now when it comes to that day when you just feel like grabbing a beer and watching TV instead of exercising you’re going to get your butt off the couch and workout because there’s a few hundred dollars on the line.
It’s so simple. But it works
If your body isn’t ready to exercise because you have pain talk to a chiropractor or physical therapist. If you’re not sure how to exercise hire a competent trainer; not only do they have the knowledge to get you started properly but it also gives you another layer of accountability.
- Tie it to your larger goal.
Sure, maybe the workout itself isn’t motivation at first. But if you can tie small actions like your exercise to your larger goals then you have a deeper, stronger, more personal motivation to tap into.
Ask yourself, why do I want to ______? Why do I want to exercise? Maybe it’s to get healthier. Why? To feel better. Why? To be a better role model for my family. Now we’re on to something.
The next time you think about not putting on those gym clothes you’ll remember…it’s not about this workout itself. This workout is just one small step towards being a positive role model for my family. Now it’s not about the workout, it’s about this overarching goal that’s deep and true to you. Discipline builds discipline, so every time you overcome your own excuses you’re making it easier to continue with your positive habit of exercising.
- Celebrate your victories
Now that you’re exercising consistently because you’re held accountable and you’re keeping your larger goal in mind it’s time to start internalizing that motivation. After a few weeks of exercise you’re going to start noticing small victories. Increases in strength. In energy. In coordination. Celebrate those! Knowing on an intellectual level that something is good for you is much different from experiencing the benefits firsthand. Notice these improvements and celebrate them!
When working towards a new goal it is so easy for us to lose sight of what we already have. Practicing gratitude with every workout helps you celebrate and accept where you are. Accepting your current situation doesn’t mean that you aren’t working towards your goals; that’s complacency. Rather it shifts the entire process of behavior change into a positive framework and builds intrinsic motivation.
Try keeping a daily journal and writing five things that you are grateful for. Or take ten breaths at the end of each workout session to be grateful for the time, energy, and health to do something good for yourself.
- Find your activity and your community
Not all exercise is equally motivating. I have yet to ever hear anyone say that working out on an elliptical machine while counting calories was particularly inspiring. Yet people find huge inherent value in activities like yoga, spin, Pilates, sports, hiking, etc… Not only that but plugging into an activity that motivates you will also plug you into the community around that activity.
Explore different styles of exercise and activities until you find one that you really enjoy. Then commit to it! Once you connect with your activity and the community then it becomes so easy to continue with it. Ever heard someone identify themselves with their activity? Someone who identifies as a cyclist or a yogi or a hiker doesn’t have trouble motivating themselves to do that activity. It’s part of who they are!
Go get the right kind of motivation and start moving. Your body will thank you!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Indicator Report on Physical Activity. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Atlanta, GA, 2014.
- Ednie, A. J. , & Stibor, M. D. (2016). Extrinsic Motivations: Relevance and Significance for Exercise Adherence. Journal of Physical Activity Research, 1(1), 26-30
- Ryan RM, Williams GC, Patrick H, Deci EL. Self-determination theory and physical activity: The dynamics of motivation in development and wellness. Hellenic Journal of Psychology. 2009;6:107–124.
- Markland D. The mediating role of behavioural regulations in the relationship between perceived body size discrepancies and physical activity among adult women. Hellenic Journal of Psychology. 2009;6:169–182
- Teixeira, P. J., Carraça, E. V., Markland, D., Silva, M. N., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: A systematic review. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9, 78. http://doi.org/10.1186/1479-5868-9-78
Now get out there and get moving!
Movement is Health,
Dr. Christian Barney D.C., D.A.B.C.O., C.C.S.P., ART
How can Performance Health & Wellness help you?
- Active Release Technique (ART) to the soft tissue structures to restore normal function, decrease stress to the injured area, reduce scar tissue, and promote healing;
- Stretching and Exercises to prevent condition from returning;
- Chiropractic adjustments to restore proper motion;
- Cold laser to help reduce inflammation;
- Kinesio taping to allow an athlete to continue to particpate in his sport plus augments the treatment.
- Functional medicine with extensive nutritional based consultation, individualized nutrition programs.