Ways to Stay Motivate
Motivation is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but staying motivated is one of the biggest challenges people face. Chad Buck, Clinical Psychologist at Work/Life Connections-EAP defines motivation and provides a comprehensive list of strategies to stay motivated for the long term.
Marissa Wertheimer: Welcome to this edition of the Vanderbilt University Health and Wellness Wellcast. I am Marissa Wertheimer with Health Plus. Today’s Wellcast is on motivation. Motivation is crucial for maintaining healthy eating and physical activity for the long term, but staying motivated is one of the biggest problems people face. I am here with Chad Buck, clinical psychologist at Work/Life Connections-EAP. Thanks for joining us today Chad.
Dr. Chad Buck: I am glad to. Thank you.
Marissa Wertheimer: So, how would you describe motivation?
Dr. Chad Buck: When it comes down to it, it is what makes you want to do something. So, what about a task or an activity is making you invest in it, engage in it, and want to stay with it. So, you have both extrinsic and intrinsic reasons why you might want to do things. Extrinsic would be you want to be able to fit in a certain type of clothes or you want to focus on your appearance or even if people are kind of requiring you to do it like your doctor is saying you need to lose weight in order to be healthier which is a good motivator in a lot of ways, but at the same time, intrinsic motivation is much more motivating, for lack of a better word, and that would be “I want to feel better.”, “I want to be able to do certain tasks with my family.”, “I want to be able to achieve a certain thing that is important to me based on my values.” So it is more about what you would really want to move yourself forward as a person as opposed to what other people or other things would put an influence on.
Marissa Wertheimer: Then, it sounds like intrinsic motivation is really the thing that keeps you going.
Dr. Chad Buck: Yes. The more you can find those things that are more about just what is purely your drive, the better it will be.
Marissa Wertheimer: What are some strategies for staying motivated?
Dr. Chad Buck: One of the things you want to do, you sort of think about what you have done in the past and what has been successful because we have all had success in the past with different things or different tasks like you may have made an A on a certain test or something and so how did you study. So, you would want to kind of do those sorts of things and so you are not reinventing the wheel every time. You also want to possibly have a buddy that you work with. So, if you are going to work out, it is good to have accountability which is sort of extrinsic, but you also get an intrinsic value of having connection with your friend and spending time with them, which is something that you really want. You want to have variety in your tasks, the physical activities that you might get involved in or the different diets that you might look at in terms of ways of eating. You do not want to eat the same thing every day. You want to vary it up or try new recipes, or try new approaches, new ways to prepare things. If you are doing Zumba and you love Zumba, well, you probably should keep doing Zumba, but you might want to throw in Hula Hoop or some other type of thing that will keep you interested and engaged. And I think one of the most important things is to know that you are probably going to have a slip or a time where you just do not want to get up and go to the gym and that is fine. That is really normal and so you want to plan for that and know that you are not going to beat yourself up if that happens. You are just going to restart. So, every hour is a new opportunity for something different and so you are not completely defeated and that is what happens to a lot of people where they lose motivation. They think, “well, now I have screwed it up so I can’t do it at all,” and so, you kind of have to change that mindset and kind of think of it in a more positive way.
Marissa Wertheimer: So, you are saying the key is to get right back on track and that it is normal to have slips but recognize that and then get right back on track as soon as possible.
Dr. Chad Buck: Absolutely.
Marissa Wertheimer: Well, those were some excellent strategies. Is there anything else that you would like to add or anything that you can advise us to do when we notice our motivation is dropping off?
Dr. Chad Buck: Another thing that is probably important to keep in mind is to keep you goals manageable and not too vague. So, if your goal is “I want to lose weight,” that’s great, but is there a reason why you want to lose the weight? You kind of make it a little more specific. So, if your goal is that you want to be healthier and be able to do activities with your family, then you are going to be more likely to do it than if you just set this giant amorphous goal of I want to lose weight.
Marissa Wertheimer: So, making that goal specific…
Dr. Chad Buck: Make the goal specific but also make it manageable. So, within a couple of months, I am going to lose a certain amount of weight based on… You know it is probably best to lose 1 to 2 pounds at the most a week rather than I am going to lose 5 pounds,10 pounds. You want to try to do it gradually and not force yourself into a pattern where you are not going to be able to sustain.
Marissa Wertheimer: That is wonderful advice. And with the New Year coming up, I know a lot of people are setting goals regarding their health and weight loss and physical activity. This is a quote that I found really helpful for people when I do coaching.
You have the power to choose what you eat and to decide how to be physically active.
You have the power to control your surroundings, the power to say no, the power to make time for yourself, the power to make the best of what you learned, the power to prevent negative thoughts, and the power to change.
So, thank you for proving these strategies to help people stay motivated and some tips of things that we can do when we notice our motivation dropping off. So, to summarize you said to recognize your success, things that have worked in the past, add variety, find a way to be accountable to someone else, set realistic and specific goals that you feel confident that you can achieve, and be kind to yourself and remember that slips are a normal part of the process, and the important thing to do is to get right back on track.
Dr. Chad Buck: Yeah. That is it.
Marissa Wertheimer: Thank you Chad.
Dr. Chad Buck: You are welcome.
Marissa Wertheimer: Thanks for listening. Please feel free to leave us any comments on this Wellcast on the form at the bottom of this page. If you have a story suggestion, please email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can use the “Contact Us” page on our website at healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu.
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