A few months back, I received an e-mail from someone who was inquiring about online personal training.  While she had questions about how training online works, costs, etc., it all came down to this for her-“How can you motivate me to make time to get to the gym?”

Maybe it was the weather.  

Maybe I was tired.  

Or maybe I was feeling extra forthright-y that day, but after I answered her initial questions, I wrote this:

“I see my role as someone who supports my clients and gives them a ton of encouragement as well as a road map to meet their goals, but if they aren’t willing to make time or do the work on their own, I can’t help them.”

Blunt? Yes.  

Too blunt?  Possibly.  

Considering this could have been a new client, I probably should have taken a different approach to answer her question.  But what I said is 100% true.  

I’ve seen it many times.  A client comes to me and puts all their hope in me to keep them on track, make them come to the gym, force them to eat well, remind them of their reasons for coming to me in the first place and make them work hard.  While I definitely do all of those things, it’s a complete waste if a client wont accept that, ultimately, the responsibility for their health and well being rests on their shoulders.

It comes down to motivation…and where it comes from.

There are two types of motivation-intrinsic and extrinsic, or internal and external.  Put simply, intrinsic motivation comes from within the individual, while extrinsic comes from outside sources.

Ever watch The Biggest Loser and hear a contestant say that their going to get healthy for their kids?  That’s extrinsic motivation.  That’s also what the woman e-mailing me was looking for.  She wasn’t finding it within herself to be motivated so she was looking to me to do it for her.

I will admit that any motivation is better than nothing, but extrinsic motivation can be a dangerous and disappointing thing.  

The bottom line is that if you don’t have something within you that says you are worth being healthy and well, no amount of extrinsic motivation will keep you on track long term.  Yes, it can work for a bit, but if you don’t have the “want to”, it wont keep you going when things get tough.

I try to not get too “self-help-y” on this site, but if there’s one “take-away” from this post, it’s this:

If you’re lacking the willingness to invest in yourself and your own health, then no amount of extrinsic motivation will replace it.

If you’re reading this and are identifying with it, I would strongly encourage you to do whatever you need to do to find motivation from within, because until you do, you will struggle to take control of your life.

If you are currently intrinsically motivated, then do what you need to do to keep it going.  Foster it, love it, pet it, feed it scraps from the table, whatever you need to do to hold on to it, because it’s absolutely critical to your health.

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