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Weight Loss and Exercise Motivation - It's An Inside Job

Sometimes the most difficult part of accomplishing something is just getting yourself to begin, to take that first step. Plenty of people want to begin a healthy eating program or a fitness program but lack the motivation to get started. The fact is everyone is motivated - in some direction. The key is to shift your motivation to a direction that is useful and that allows you to achieve your goals. Weight loss and exercise programs are long-term goals and require sustained motivation over time.

Motivation EP
Motivation EP (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At times, external events help shift or increase motivation to lose weight or exercise. Being told by your physician that you need to lose weight because you are developing diabetes or heart problems is an example. Aside from these outside motivators, motivation is an inside job. Think about how you motivate yourself. Do you motivate yourself by thinking about all the rewards you'll get when you reach your goal? Or do you get yourself to do something because of the negative results of not doing it? The first method is called "Towards Motivation" because you are focused on the rewards. The second method is called "Away From Motivation" or, as I like to call it, the "Kick in the Butt Motivation". This type of motivation might sound something like this: "If I don't lose some weight I'll keep looking like this. I'll have to buy a whole new set of big clothes."

The focus is on the negative consequences of not losing weight. Some are able to use this type of motivation successfully in immediate, here and now situations such as, "If I eat that eclair I'll just feel bad about myself afterwards." This can be enough incentive to change behavior.

"Towards Motivation" tends to be more effective because it is encouraging and positive. It also works better for long-term goals. "Towards Motivation" gets you to focus on what you want and why you want it. It might sound something like this: "If I eat healtheir, low-fat food and exercise I'll have the energy to hike with my children and we'll have more quality time. I'll feel so much better."

If you have trouble starting that healthy eating or fitness program here is one way to shift your focus and increase your motivation. Think about your personal goal, whether it is to lose weight or start a fitness program. Make a list of all the reasons you want to reach the goal. What will reaching the goal do for you? Perhaps you want to have a healthier body so you can live longer and feel better. Or maybe losing some extra weight will increase your self-esteem. Come up with lots of reasons, large and small.

To make accomplishing your goal more real and compelling create a mental movie of you enjoying all the benefits and rewards of having your goal. Observe what you look like and how you move with ease. Also notice what others say to you as they notice your healthier, fit body. Add to that all the good feelings of reaching the goal. Go ahead. Tantalize yourself! Why wait to experience feeling good about your goal. Imagine what it would be like to be there now. Use this vision of yourself regularly to maintain your motivation.

The idea is to get clear with yourself about what you want and then build a mountain of reasons for achieving your goal. Make it so enticing that getting there is positive and rewarding. Be your own personal coach, your own motivational speaker for yourself. What you think about your goal and how you envision the process can determine your motivation and whether you get to the goal at all.

(The terms "Towards Motivation" and "Away From Motivation" come from Neuro-linguistic Programming. NLP encompasses a wide variety of therapeutic techniques used in business, sports, psychotherapy, and education.)

Sue Stevenson, Ph.D., is a Weight Loss Coach in Tucson, Arizona, who works with individuals and groups to help them reach their weight loss and fitness goals. She uses innovative techniques like hypnosis, NLP, and the Emotional Freedom Technique. Her strengths are in identifying the blocks to weight loss and using techniques to resolve those blocks. For more articles and blogs visit her website:
http://www.yourtucsonweightlosscoach.com
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