The elusive « beach body » – is it a legitimate objective?
Countless exercise programs seem to be promoting the beach body this time of year. Their program titles often ask the question, are you « beach body ready » or is your body ready for summer? How do you feel about these titles? Do they motivate you or do they offend you?
Let’s start off by asking ourselves : Why do we work out? Is it frowned upon to be motivated by what happens to the outside instead of the inside? Looks vs health?
Your reasons for working out probably differ from mine. Are my reasons more valid than yours? I don’t believe so. I do however believe that the more reasons you have to work out, the greater your chances at achieving long-term success. As you read on, you will understand why your reasons must not be limited to esthetics or to a number on the scale.
Motivators that truly motivate
In exercise physiology, we learn that motivation is an internal process that initiates, sustains, directs, and drives an individual towards their objective.
In order to better understand what drives us to work out specifically, we’ll cover both types of motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic motivation involves engaging in a behavior because it is personally rewarding; essentially, performing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward. Basically, the behavior itself is its own reward.
Examples of intrinsic motivation :
- For the feeling of wellness that exercise provides
- For the enjoyment of working out with a personal trainer
- For the relaxing feeling of well-being during the workout session
- For the energy it provides, for feeling great and feeling healthy
- For the anticipation of starting a new workout program
- For the dynamic energy conveyed by the exercise class instructor who challenges you to outdo yourself
- For the pride in knowing you made progress, you lifted heavier weights and you increased the intensity of your workouts
Extrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards, either to acquire something pleasant or to avoid something unpleasant.
Examples of extrinsic motivation :
- In order to lose weight, to be thin, to tone, to get that beach body
- For the image or status it projects
- For thinking that being in « shape » will turn heads
- For a boxer, just to win a match – For an actor, just to get the part
- To have pecs and brawny arms
- To please a friend/parent/boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband, etc.
The best reasons to work out
Although legitimate, extrinsic motivators are not enough to sustain the regular practice of physical activity. This is why blending both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, preferably more intrinsic than the latter, is best.
In concrete terms, your desire to lose weight or to trim your waistline can certainly be part of what motivates you to work out, but if you wish to keep it up long-term, intrinsic motivators should most certainly top your list.
What motivates you to stay in shape?
If you find it difficult to motivate yourself to get to the gym, it’s probably because there’s a gap between your intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. So, what would you say to putting pen to paper right now?
Clearly list, point by point, all the reasons why you work out and make sure to identify what type of motivator each point represents.
In closing, you should refer to your list on a regular basis in order to remind youself why today’s workout is so important!
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