Motivation and How to Increase It

Did you know, according to 2014 U.S. Gym Membership Statistics the annual number of people who have a gym or a health club membership is 58,000,000?  SERIOUSLY! Wow! That’s a great statistic to read! Unfortunately, of these millions of people, 67% NEVER USE THEIR MEMBERSHIP. Think about it. They don’t even step inside the gym.  67% of those brave enough to consider changing their lives by increasing their fitness level quit before they ever pass through the door.  Why?

Taking care of oneself — physically, mentally, and emotionally — is essential.  Self-care increases our ability to enjoy a long, healthy life.  Tending to these different aspects of wellness: the physical, mental, and emotional parts of ourselves, gives us more than a few extra rotations around the sun.  Self-care allows us to deepen our relationships by being more present in the company of our partners, gives us energy to play with our children and grandchildren, deepens our drive to accomplish our career aspirations, and invites us to experience our bodies in a more profound way.

Today’s journal focuses on self-care through physical activity and offers insight into how you can cultivate the motivation needed to nurture your body.

One of my favorite books right now is Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being; written by Michael W. Otto, PhD and Jasper A. J. Smits, PhD.  The title may lead you to think you need a mental health diagnosis for these strategies to be applicable; not the case!  Everyone has issues with motivation at some point in their lives and since everyone probably has the goal of enjoying life, this book is for you too!

Here are some excerpts from Exercise for Mood and Anxiety to get you started on the path to a more physically active self (and let’s be honest – an overall healthier, happier person!):

Motivation: Internal vs External. The truth is, sometimes we just don’t have it inside us.  Sometimes when the alarm clock rings, our inner self screams “STAY IN BED!”  I’m telling you this--even as the empowered, strength-based clinician that I am, it might do you good to ignore (OMG…yes, I just said “ignore”) your thoughts and feelings and JUST MOVE IT!

Dr. Otto and Dr. Smits state “research shows that motivations are influenced by others—if a friend states a motivation (“I really want to get in better shape”), you may find similar motivations moving to the top of your list.”  This can be accomplished through workout buddies, joining a running group, or by hiring a personal trainer.  I would like to invite you to take it one step further.  Put yourself in the way of anything and anyone that inspires you to self-care—manipulate your environment.  Pick friends who make healthy choices.  Create a home environment that has fresh food and motivational quotes.  Pick a window at the café where you can see people walking.  Drive to work along a running route.  Give yourself as many cues as you can to reinforce your chosen form of physical self-care. 

Mood, mood, MOOD!  Your motivation is also influenced by your mood.  Think about, how often do you not workout because you don’t feel like it?  Does an irritable mood, stress, or feelings of depression interrupt your ambition to exercise?  Probably!  Now I want you to consider how often you regret working out when you’re done?  Hardly EVER!  That’s because you have all those lovely, wonderful, inspiring endorphins pumping through your system.  Aaaaah…makes me happy just thinking about my post-workout highs.  Research shows that exercise reduces our vulnerabilities to anxiety and depression.  This is because of neurotransmitters, the chemicals responsible for communication between brain cells.  Exercise also increases the production of serotonin; a hormone responsible for creating a balanced mood!

Personally and professionally, I find knowledge to be empowering and inspiring.  I hope this journal helped give you new insight into your ability to own your experiences, and to live life to the fullest.  Please feel free to give comments or ask questions below.

Take care and self care,
Jessica, BeYOUtiful Minds & Fitness Owner