Do You Really Need Motivation To Lose Weight?

Do You Really Need Motivation To Lose Weight? August 9, 2018Leave a comment

‘I wish I had the motivation to go to the gym all the time’.

‘I wish I was motivated to eat healthily’.

‘I just can’t seem to stay motivated to stick to my diet’.

‘Motivation’.

The seemingly magical cog in the fat loss machinery that appears to elude millions of people across the world.

It’s the one aspect of dieting and fat loss that people can’t seem to get a firm grip on, yet it’s often coveted as the secret ingredient to success.

Is motivation necessary though? Hell, what even is motivation? Do we really need it to see results? Or is it another fleeting craze in the chasm of fat loss terminology fitpros like to fling around to seem cool?

Let’s dig deeper into the world of motivation and find out what on earth is actually going on…

What The Hell Is Motivation?

Motivation, at its core, is the driving force that gets you off your ass to do something you need to do, even if you really don’t want to do it.

It’s powered by desire and ambition.

It’s why people want to be motivated to go to the gym or eat healthily. Because most of the time they simply can’t summon up the drive to engage in such tasks.

They know they should be doing the things that will help them shed a few pounds, but they just can’t seem to get them done.

If they were motivated however, these tasks would become a lot easier.

So, ask yourself the question: why am I trying to lose body fat?

Answers such as ‘because it’s important for me to look and feel better’ or ‘I’ll feel terrible if I don’t lose the weight’ or ‘I want abs’ may surface. And these are all fair reasons.

Whatever your response, your motivation to do something will fit into one of four categories:

Extrinsic Motivation – This type of motivation is driven externally. A reward, or punishment, will be the driving factor behind trying to shed a few pounds.

Introjected Motivation – This type of motivation is only endorsed by you. Despite you choosing to do it, it’s driven by guilt or ego.

Identified Motivation – This type of motivation is valued by you. You’ve decided to lose body fat because you genuinely want to achieve the goal.

Intrinsic Motivation – This type of motivation is driven internally. Because you want to master the art of staying lean and because you enjoy the process.

Whatever category your answer slots into, ‘motivation’ will be a requirement for whatever you want to achieve.

It’s the impulse that causes you to act, and continue to repeat those acts.

So Do We Need Motivation?

Yes. We need motivation. And anyone who tells you otherwise, or claims that something like ‘discipline’ is the answer, is lying.

Motivation is the spark that gets you excited.

It’s the initial push down the slide that spurs you into action and is something you can turn to when times get tough.

The thrilling nature of setting yourself a new goal, or rekindling that initial feeling six months into your fat loss journey, is when ‘motivation’ – the stimulus to act – is at its peak.

Most people will claim intrinsic motivation sucks and you just require ‘extrinsic motivation’, or relying on extrinsic motivation sucks and you just need ‘intrinsic motivation’.

The answer is neither; you need both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation at certain points in your journey to keep you taking the necessary steps closer to your end goal.

Some people require more extrinsic motivation, whilst others require more intrinsic motivation.

Similarly, on some days we’ll necessitate more extrinsic motivation, while on other days we’ll necessitate more intrinsic motivation.

The trick is to unearth what works best for you, and how to ignite those feelings at the appropriate time.

– Why We Need Extrinsic Motivation

You’ll notice most personal trainers or health and fitness blogs preach the word about #intrinsicmotivation.

The need to do some for you. That solely chasing the goal of abs or a thigh gap isn’t going to get you results.

And while intrinsic motivation is certainly a requirement for long term success, in order to move your mind and body into gear, a little dose of extrinsic motivation is necessary.

Remember, extrinsic motivation is driven externally, usually by a reward. When fat loss is concerned, abs and toned arms and Beyonce-looking thigh gaps are usually are the go-to forms of incentive.

Extrinsic motivation is often what you need to get you started.

Nobody starts exercising or eating well because it’s going to make them ‘healthy’ or because they’re going to ‘live longer’; they start exercising or eating well because they have a vision of what they want to look like.

We’ll look further into how we can acquire that vision later, but you need some form of reward as an initial factor to getting you started and keeping you going when times get tough.

This is why scrolling through your Instagram page gawking at the unbelievable physiques on show can light that fire up inside you and get you ‘motivated’ to get to the gym.

It’s the ‘end goal’ or ‘reward’ that is spurring you into action.

– Why We Need Intrinsic Motivation

The main problem with extrinsic motivation is that it’s fleeting.

If motivation can come from the outside, motivation will disappear when that outside disappears.

This is why intrinsic motivation – engaging in a behaviour because it is personally rewarding – is also important in mastering when it comes to fat loss.

If that motivation is constantly within us, we shouldn’t find it vanishing so often as it should always be nearby.

Research has found that people who are more intrinsically motivated, or ‘autonomous’, are more likely to lose more weight.

By being more intrinsically motivated, we can find enjoyment in activities regardless of the outcome. That inner confidence eludes the desire for external validation, and allows us to keep going even when things are seemingly at a standstill.

– Use Both

This is why we need both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

Sometimes we need that picture of the hot girl in the bikini glaring back at us on our phone screen to get us pumped for a gym session, while on the other hand we sometimes need to remember why we enjoy going to the gym and eating well.

Motivation will allow you to stick to your goals, prioritise what you want to achieve, and keep you on track when things get tough.

Why We Can’t Always Rely On Motivation To Lose Weight

Despite its necessity when undertaking an arduous fat loss journey, we shouldn’t rely on motivation all the time.

Because motivation – wanting to do something – is a fleeting emotion.

You’ll notice in this pretty graph I made, that you will never be motivated all the time, nor demotivated all the time. Motivation fluctuates constantly.

There’ll be periods of time when you feel on top of the world that will last longer than others, just like they’ll be periods of time when you feel like packing it all in that will last longer than others.

When you attempt to thrive on motivation, or that sudden dopamine hit, alone, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Putting all your faith in using motivation as an implement for success is flawed; there’s not always that foundation to fall back on when you ‘don’t feel like it’ or ‘can’t be bothered’.

The trick is to understand that these changes will happen and you can’t stop it.

Riding the storm of these periods of demotivation is essential; understanding and appreciating that there’ll be times of increased motivation just around the corner will be the key to making sure you stick with it through the tough times.

The common assumption is that we must feel motivated in order to do something. As we’ve learnt, however, those periods of intense motivation don’t happen too often.

This is why developing your habits – the behaviours you complete without even having to think about it – and your discipline – adhering to your own fat loss rules – is important for success.

Because when motivation is at an all-time low, you’ve already got the behaviours and discipline in place to keep going, even when it’s the last thing on earth you want to be doing.

So How Can We Use Motivation To Lose Weight?

We know that we can’t use motivation as a long-term tool for fat loss success. Its finite resources limit its ability to be used as a legitimate fat loss marker; however, there are certain aspects of motivation’s powers that we can use to keep us on track when it comes to losing body fat.

We’ve established motivation will never accompany us through our journey the whole time. This is why having go-to forms of action, or things we don’t need to even think about doing, are the key to making sure we keep persevering.

– Pain

Motivation rests upon the bedrock of the pain and pleasure principle.

We either take action moving us towards pleasure or away from pain.

Herein lies the secret: for you to ‘get motivated to lose weight’ you need to be more willing to move away from pain than you are to move towards pleasure.

The pain of covering up in the changing room because you’re too embarrassed at the way you look, or avoiding the buffet because you think people are going to judge you, or anything that makes you shudder with the thought of being overweight, should be one of your go to forms of motivation.

Stirring up pain may well be the motivation you need to get going, and keep going.

In order to utilise the concept of pain, you need to ask yourself questions that will provoke feelings of discomfort. Think of the way you feel about yourself, and the behaviours that are creating those emotions, and ask yourself:

– What is this behaviour costing me physically? Emotionally? Mentally? Financially?

– What is this behaviour costing me in terms of the goals that I would like to achieve?

– What will continuing to indulge in this behaviour cost me in five years’ time?

– What regrets will I have over the next five years if I continue to indulge in this behaviour?

Magnifying your pain-pleasure response in order to create a little more desperation and/or inspiration that will provide you with the sense of urgency you need to make better decisions moving forward, could well be the motivation you need to succeed.

A harsh dose of reality, and the realisation of what will happen if you don’t achieve your goals, will soon turn into a long-term motivation tool.

– Action

The problem with most people’s view of motivation is that when they feel like doing nothing but sit on their butt with a big bowl of popcorn binge watching another season of Game of Thrones, they do nothing but sit on their butt with a big bowl of popcorn binge watching another season of Game of Thrones.

They’re waiting for motivation to knock on their door, comfort them, and tell them that everything is going to be alright; that it’s there now and all will be fine with the world.

The problem is, the more you look for motivation the less motivated you actually become; namely because you end up not actually doing anything.

The solution is to take action.

Action begets motivation.

It’s what you do, not how you feel about it, which matters. When you do something – anything – you ultimately feel like you’ve accomplished something; even if it’s not very good.

If you’re consistently turning up to the gym, even when it’s the last thing you want to be doing, or consistently tracking your food, even when you really don’t want to, you’ll eventually be rewarded.

You can’t wait for motivation to surface; you have to coax it out of its hidden cave yourself.

Don’t do something because you’re motivated; do something to become motivated.

Start with the smallest task possible – finding a new gym plan, buying a new pair of shoes, ordering some more protein powder – and you’ll soon find the momentum will start to build.

In order to take action we’re going to need to fight through a certain degree of resistance; the lack of ‘motivation’ or energy we require to complete a task.

Our energy and drive is going to fluctuate dramatically and so the solution is to initially focus on activities with the least amount of resistance.

These activities – such as cooking one healthy meal or just completing the warm up of your gym session – require less time and effort to get things done and often necessitate fewer excuses to skip the required activity.

The more we get done, therefore, the more likely we are to become ‘motivated’.

– Curiosity

When people bang on about ‘intrinsic motivation’ they’re talking about doing something for the ‘hell of it’. And it has been consistently found that if we can manifest this type of motivation, we’ll be better set up for long term success.

Being internally driven is a symptom of curiousness.

The people that manage to continue with their fat loss journey, even when they really couldn’t think of anything else they’d rather be doing, are constantly probing.

They’re constantly fascinated by what their body can do, how they can make themselves feel, and what boundaries they can push themselves towards.

They’re not driven by the end goal the whole time, but predominantly by the fascination that the future is novel.

Unearthing your very own levels of fascination about your fat loss journey, your body, and your mind, will manifest deeper levels of motivation within you.

So how can we create curiosity and make the most of it?

Making the most of curiosity pertains to having a deep and insatiable desire to master the unfamiliar, which of course requires stepping outside your comfort zone and into a world filled with uncertainty and doubt.

Try something new. The stimulation curiosity creates can come from the interest of continually wanting to challenge yourself.

Novelty makes us want to explore further.

So fashion yourself a new ‘goal’, or a new training programme, or a new outlook on your fat loss journey.

– Find Your Why And Who You Want To Become

The concept of ‘finding your why’ is a conception banded around by fitpros like it’s going out of fashion.

Why? Well, because it works.

Defining your ‘why’ makes the discipline, motivation, and consistency required for sustainable fat loss a hell of a lot easier.

Finding an external meaning for the reason you want to drop a dress size or lose 5kg is the difference between succeeding and failing.

You’re going to need to plunge into the depths of your inner self and find out what’s really driving the thought behind wanting to lose a little bit of body fat.

When motivation inevitably hits rock bottom, revitalising those feelings of why you started this journey in the first place will kick-start your desire to keep going again.

This ‘why’ often arises from creating a vision of who you want to become. That future self is the motivation for your current self.

Unearthing that future self can be a painful experience – discovering your fears, hopes, and what you think you deserve – but, defining these values means you won’t have to constantly rely on being motivated to take action.

Once you’ve discovered your ‘why’, you won’t need to go searching for motivation. Simply reviving your why, and who you want to become, will be enough to get you started.

– Find Something You Enjoy Doing

It’s common knowledge that the more we enjoy doing something the more we’re going to do it.

So, if we enjoy a particular type of training, or way of eating, it makes sense to focus the majority of your attention around that thing.

The idea of being ‘motivated’ to get something done won’t be as much of a struggle as if we hated what we were about to do.

This boils down to enjoying the process.

Focusing on extrinsic motivation – the body you want – is occasionally less important than focusing on the intrinsic motivation and the person you become – the type of person who has the body you want.

Concentrate on enjoying the process of training, eating well, and changing your lifestyle and you won’t have to rely on motivation the whole time.

– Self-Herding

‘Herding’ is what happens when we follow what others are doing. ‘Self-herding’ occurs when we allow our previous behaviours to dominate our current behaviour.

In the instance of motivation, many of our small, daily decisions are controlled by our emotional state in the moment.

Each decision, therefore, has the potential to establish a habit, which in turn could help or hinder our long-term goals.

If, for example, you find yourself in a good mood, or heightened positive emotional state, and you decide to go to the gym or eat a healthy meal, the next time you’re in this particular mood you’ll probably find yourself more inclined to repeat this behaviour.

Similarly, if you find yourself in this ‘good mood’ and reach for a piece of chocolate cake to celebrate, the next time you’ll associate that good feeling with chocolate cake; which isn’t going to fair too well for those love handles.

Using your previous actions will fashion a template for what you should do next and the behaviours you engage in when you find yourself particularly motivated.

The small, seemingly unimportant decisions we make in the moment can have far-reaching consequences for the kind of people we become and how we utilise the fleeting feelings of motivation that we find.

To Conclude

Motivation, at its core, is the driving force that gets you off your ass to do something you need to do, even if you don’t really want to do it.

We need motivation.

The problem arises when people claim we need just extrinsic motivation or just intrinsic motivation.

We need a dose of both.

Extrinsic motivation is often what you need to get you started.

Nobody starts exercising or eating well because it’s going to make them ‘healthy’ or because they’re going to ‘live longer’; they start exercising or eating well because they have a vision of what they want to look like.

Intrinsic motivation – engaging in a behaviour because it is personally rewarding – is also important in mastering when it comes to fat loss.

By being more intrinsically motivated, we can find enjoyment in activities regardless of the outcome.

Despite its necessity when undertaking an arduous fat loss journey, we shouldn’t rely on motivation all the time.

Because motivation – wanting to do something – is a fleeting emotion.

This is why developing your habits – the behaviours you complete without even having to think about it – and your discipline – adhering to your own fat loss rules – is important for success.

We know that we can’t use motivation as a long-term tool for fat loss success. Its finite resources limit its ability to be used as a legitimate fat loss marker; however, there are certain aspects of motivation’s powers that we can use to keep us on track when it comes to losing body fat.

Using pain, curiosity, action, your why, activities you enjoy, and the concept of self-herding, will enable you to utilise motivation at the appropriate times to keep you going.

Motivation is a funny concept, but one that is neither as essential or non-essential as people make out.

How To Win At Fat Loss

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Download my FREE eBook on How To Win At Fat Loss and you’ll learn…

  • Why everyone usually fails when it comes to trying to shed body fat
  • Why you should be lifting weights
  • Why calories are so important
  • Why weighing yourself is a no-no
  • Why mastering nutritional habits are the key to success

All so you can…

  • Finally stop failing and start winning at fat loss
  • Finally shed inches, drop dress sizes, and actually see a change for once
  • Finally transform your body and mind so you’re not constantly battling those dieting demons
  • Finally figure out how to lose the fat, keep it off, and flaunt the figure you’ve always dreamt of displaying
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