I have a soon-to-be-sixteen year old boy that LOVES extreme sports. Which means I am a soon-to-be-gray-haired mom who worries every time he heads out of the house with his helmet/skateboard/longboard/bike/lacrosse stick…. You get the picture, right?
When this child is excited and motivated about something, there’s pretty much nothing I can do to stop him. Case in point. He broke his collarbone a week ago while he was out longboarding with friends. I’ve included the clip of the accident if you care to watch. But after the crash, you may want to stop it. He drops a “bad” word…I wish I knew where he learned it!
He’s going to be ok, but unfortunately for him, he’s sidelined from the lacrosse season, and as a captain, he’s heartbroken. So my next challenge—how to motivate this teenager to stay motivated…focused…and inspired to still be a part of the team even though he can’t play.
Can you TEACH motivation? Why is it that some of us are motivated to do the very best in all we do—work, school, the gym—and others can’t motivate themselves to get off the couch? Children and adults alike have to find that inner “something” that motivates them to try harder, study longer, get up earlier, stay later—to be the best.
There are actually two kinds of motivation. INTRINSIC motivation comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards, such as money or grades. EXTRINSIC motivation comes from outside oneself and usually involves rewards which provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task itself may not provide.
Which one will help YOU meet your fitness goals? I’ll bet a little of both. You may motivated to simply feel better in your clothes, and losing 15 pounds is important to YOU and only YOU. Or that 15-pounds has to go before your best friend’s wedding, so you and your husband wager a “friendly” hundred dollars you can lose the weight. (Yeah, and is that ever really friendly?)
So while intrinsic motivation is probably the best for “lighting a fire” within yourself, I have a few ideas how to give yourself the nudge you might need to reach your goals.
- Start slow. You can’t train for a marathon in one day, so break your training, or your goal into little pieces. If you think about losing 50-pounds you’ll get discouraged, but I’ll bet a pound-and-a-half a week isn’t too bad!
- Eat your Frog. Remember? It’ll be the worst thing you do all day—so get it done early.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s a learning opportunity. So you overate your “calorie budget” today–isn’t tomorrow the chance to try again? This time, however, you know you have to track what you are eating.
- Remember and celebrate your successes. If you dwell on what IS working, and how you’ve succeeded, you’ll be more motivated to repeat it.
- Develop a mantra. I tend to tell my female clients “you are a warrior!” which sounds odd in day-to-day conversations, but when you are lifting weights, it seems to help them work harder. Make your mantra positive, of course—and repeat it often throughout the day!!
- Find a friend. We know they hold us accountable, and they push us. Plus, they get mad if we don’t do what we say we’re going to do.
As a personal trainer, I work hard to give my clients extrinsic motivation. I’ll do the same for my son as he heals. No one said it was going to be easy.