Updated: Jun 6
Why is it all about “how I lost fat” or “how to lose weight”? Why has it geared so far towards being and looking a certain way, that we derived away from the why and the real reason of eating better, being active, and striving for emotional and mental wellness? It’s time we look beyond the “weight loss” movement and learn how to stay motivated in the thick of it.
The Problem with the “Weight Loss” Movement
There’s nothing wrong with weight loss, if that’s your goal. Granted, much of the American culture could probably benefit from losing some unhealthy fat. However, if your reasoning for weight loss solely surrounds looking like someone else or looking how society depicts we should look, it won’t be fun and chances are it won’t last because that extrinsic motivation is unsustainable.
The movement has uncontrollably spiraled into something that has caused many of us to lose sight of the real thing we should strive for: Health. And by health I mean mental, emotional, and physical health that comes from moving your body and feeding it nutrients to maintain it functioning properly and efficiently. If that remained the focus, the body, the clear skin, and shiny hair, those things would come. Depression would be a little more controlled.
How to Change the “Weight Loss” Movement into the “Healthy Living” Movement
To change the movement, you have to change your mindset and completely forget everything you’ve “learned”. One of the simplest, but hardest ways for many, is to absolutely delete social media. Stay off of it! It’s toxic. The fitness and weight loss industry has consumed and bombarded any type of social media with dangerous, unhealthy, and even downright false, information and products. There is no quick fix, there is no easy fix. If something is easy or quick, I guarantee it will not be sustainable. Be careful, even when you think you’re okay, one day you may be like I was and wake up and realize you have Binge Eating Disorder or some other type of eating disorder. The number of women and men with Body Dysmorphia, yes it’s real, is insane. It all stems from the toxicity passing before your eyes daily, but only YOU can stop it.
How to stay motivated: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation
I talk a lot about staying motivated and how to stick with your health, fitness, even professional journey. It comes down to two things really: 1)Defining your intrinsic versus extrinsic motivational factors and 2)Finding something you enjoy and want to do to exercise. Let's look at number 1 first.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation
Research has shown that intrinsic motivation can lead to higher levels of engagement, persistence, and creativity in various domains such as work, education, sports, and hobbies. When individuals are intrinsically motivated, they are more likely to experience a state of flow, where they are fully immersed and absorbed in the activity, resulting in a deep sense of enjoyment and fulfillment.
Intrinsic motivation refers to engaging in an activity or pursuing a goal for the inherent satisfaction and enjoyment derived from the activity itself, rather than for external rewards or incentives. When someone is intrinsically motivated, they are driven by internal factors such as personal interest, curiosity, a sense of accomplishment, or the desire to learn and grow.
Extrinsic motivation is a bit more superficial. Extrinsic motivation refers to engaging in an activity or pursuing a goal for external rewards, incentives, or pressures rather than for the inherent enjoyment or satisfaction derived from the activity itself. In contrast to intrinsic motivation, which is driven by internal factors, extrinsic motivation relies on external factors to stimulate and sustain behavior.
Extrinsic motivation can be effective in driving behavior and achieving short-term goals, particularly when rewards or incentives are desirable. However, it is generally considered less sustainable and may not foster the same level of engagement, intrinsic satisfaction, or long-term commitment as intrinsic motivation.
Think of intrinsic motivational factors including playing with your kids and having the strength and energy to pick them up. Or you might have an autoimmune disease and better nutrition and increased physical activity improves that.
Extrinsic motivational factors could include things such as weight loss, or preparing for a competition, or aesthetic rewards. These are short-term goals and once you achieve them, then what?
If you're always chasing short-term goals, it gets exhausting. I recommend you to make a list. Tak a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Label one side "Intrinsic Factors" and the other "Extrinsic Factors". Now write your motivational factors in each column and regularly look back at this.
How do you find an exercise you can actually enjoy?
The second thing was finding something you enjoy. You'll run into some people who swear up and down that they hate all kinds of physical activity. I find that hard to believe. Who hates moving whatsoever? Without pain or limitation? I truly believe those people just haven't found an activity they enjoy.
I used to run. Ya'll, I HATE running. It's miserable, I have shin splints, it's rough on my joints. I would loathe the idea of getting up or coming home to "have" to go run. Then I tried experimenting with lifting. Hated it. Guys, I'm not as big of a "gym girlie" as ya'll might have been led to believe. I am quite particular, I get bored easily. Yoga is great, but I get bored with the same flow concept and it's too slow-paced for me. I crave feeling strong and doing fun things and working up a sweat.
So when I found kettlebells that was my "ta-da" moment! The light bulb exploded (you know how when lightbulbs burst? That was my moment). I LOVE the strength, efficiency, kettlebell flows, don't even get me started on juggling.
I found my THING. The thing that had me saying "I can't wait to do this tomorrow" or on my off days, "gosh I really wanna swing some bells." You CAN find that. I hope it's in kettlebells, but maybe it's not. Maybe you are a runner (more power to you sug). Or maybe you like to jump rope (samsies!). You have to find the thing you enjoy so that you can stop thinking in terms of what you have to do, and begin getting excited about what you get to do.