Every time I meet a new client, I begin with the same question: “Why are you here?” Usually, it is followed with answers such as, “I want to lose weight,” “I want to improve my health,” “I want to be able to play with my kids,” “I want to look amazing in a bikini,” and so forth.
These are the answers that most people give, but they are cursory responses. They do not reflect the mind-set that leads to long-term change. If you want fast results and results that last, we need to tap in to something much deeper. The first answer is great — and still important — but it leaves you with an incomplete puzzle. Once you learn how to fully understand your “why,” that’s when change becomes a habit and a lifestyle.
You see, there are two types of “whys”: the why that comes from extrinsic motivation and the one that comes from intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is external. It stems from wanting to get in shape for a vacation, attend a high-school reunion and look fabulous, fit into a wedding dress or rock an attention-getting bathing suit, or attain other appearance-inspired goals.
Extrinsic motivation is often an effective motivator when you are getting started on a diet, but it can be fleeting as events pass and the results become temporary. If you rely solely on extrinsic motivation, it will be very difficult to possess the discipline needed from day to day, month to month, and year to year to maintain your new body.
Think about what I’m saying: what happens when the vacation is over, the reunion has ended, the wedding ceremony has passed, and it’s no longer summer so who needs to fit into a bikini? I think you know the answer, because you’ve probably lived it. Extrinsic motivation is simply not enough to sustain a healthy (and hot) lifestyle.
Intrinsic motivation is different. It comes from within. It’s the desire to be the healthiest you can be, for yourself and for your family. It is the desire to live longer and with a great quality of life. It is a willingness to prepare every day in order to maintain your full health potential while also experiencing your life at its fullest potential!
People exercise intrinsically, meaning they love what working out does to their state of mind, energy, and drive as much as how it changes their body. They are thriving on feeling strong versus just looking the part or following doctor’s orders.
How can you get fired up to keep your weight off?
Right out of the gate, I need you to do some soul searching and establish baseline goals for yourself in order to resuscitate the “why” in your life: stamina to play with your kids and grandkids, climbing a simple flight of stairs without producing major huffs and puffs, improved heart health, greater energy, ability to concentrate, and a crowd favorite, extending your life.
Second, extrinsic motivation can turn into intrinsic motivation if you stick to your plan of healthy eating and exercise consistently over time. It did for me, so I know it can for you, too.
People who are successful in maintaining their weight have a sense of investment in themselves, they want to stay healthy for life experiences, and they’re doing all the right things for genuinely deeper reasons. That’s where I want you to be.
Jen Widerstrom is committed to helping people understand and implement a holistic approach to health and wellness. Formerly a star of American Gladiators, she is now a trainer on NBC’s The Biggest Loser and the Reebok global women’s brand ambassador.
This is an excerpt from Diet Right for Your Personality Type, courtesy of Harmony Books. You can pre-order it on Amazon.
Originally published at medium.com