March ‘22 Health & Wellbeing Blog! Motivation & Discipline
This month’s blog discusses motivation & discipline!
What is motivation?
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar
The simplest definition of motivation boils down to wanting (Baumeister, 2016).
When we really want to change our circumstances, behaviours, feelings, body shape etc, the list could go on and on, this creates motivation. The science behind motivation and why our brains offer motivation is highly complex. Essentially, motivators can come in 2 forms – Physiological and Psychological.
Physiological motivators are hard-wired into humans in order to survive such as the need for items for physical self-sustainment like food and water. This is why our brains tell us when we are hungry or thirsty and provide the drive or motivation to seek food and water. Because these are critical to survival, the brain offers a reward system, in the form of Dopamine and satisfaction. The brain is very clever; it will literally reward you with feelings of satisfaction when you eat and drink in order to help you sustain life and ultimately survive.
Psychological motivators range from the need to belong, achievement, self-esteem, purpose and meaning. Some of these motivators are actually designed to protect us and give us that feeling of safety by knowing that you belong and are wanted. Again, the science behind this is very complex, thousands of years ago we would have to belong to a group or tribe in order to be safe from predators so the need and motivation to be socially accepted is very strong, as is the need for purpose, achievement and meaning. Deep down we all like to have a purpose and meaning and certain goals that we yearn to achieve.
How does this translate to fitness and well-being?
Good question! When I talk to people from avid gym-goers to people who live highly sedentary lives and don’t undertake exercise at all, I am obsessed with looking at the disparity of the motivational aspect and mindset between the 2.
To become motivated to be healthy; by eating healthier and exercising, you need to have goals – clear, defined goals! Your brain will then create the drive to achieve these goals in the form of motivation.
If you are overweight, you don’t exercise or eat healthy and nutritious foods and now decide to take action and really want to lose weight and become healthier - you have to really want to. Note the key word in that sentence – WANT! This is where the motivation starts!
Start by writing down a few goals, you don’t have to show anybody, it can help in some cases to tell a close friend or relative, it doesn’t really matter, just write down your goals. A great goal will be a SMART goal as described in my January blog. ‘I want to lose 1 stone by July so I look good and feel confident on my holiday’, this is a common but well-defined goal, you have set a realistic target with a time-frame and a reason behind the goal. I guarantee you will now be more motivated to achieve it!
I personally know some amazing athletes, some even world-class and have competed at some of the highest levels. A good example is a friend I have trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with for many years, he has competed in competitions across the globe and has an eye watering amount of medals and achievements.
How does he stay motivated? He has goals, clear goals that he wants to achieve. But, is he always motivated? No, nobody is super-human, he said that he wakes up most days for early morning training and is not motivated to do so. We all know the feeling, nestling into that soft pillow in a nice cosy bed, how often do you just want to hit the snooze button for an extra 5, 10, 15 minutes, I would say more often than not, and athletes are absolutely no different. My father was a World champion powerlifter, I remember as a kid seeing him come in from work and go training, whether he felt like it or not! Most of the time this was at the end of a long day but he had a clear goal! Without that clear and defined goal, there would be no motivation.
But, how do the 2 examples above, still train and pursue their goals if they aren’t always motivated? Because even the greatest Olympian level athletes you see on TV will not always be motivated, I can assure you – The unequivocal answer in my opinion is DISCIPLINE!
Scenario : You want to lose weight by the summer and have set your goals. You just came in from work and your plan is to walk for half hour. However, you have sat on the couch and now talking yourself out of it, you’re tired, you’re procrastinating and you don’t want to do it – discipline is what will get you up on your feet to carry out that walk, nothing else will if you don’t have the motivation.
Don’t want to get out of bed to train – but you get up and train anyway = DISCIPLINE
Don’t have the motivation to complete that project at work –but you hammer on the project anyway = DISCIPLINE
That is what discipline will do for you, discipline is your best friend throughout life, not just in the fitness sense.
“The one thing that discipline definitely does help you with,
It helps you get things done. And when you get things done, when you actually do things, you have more success.
A big part of success is not being lazy and just doing it;
90% of it is just showing up, get there, and start working.
There's gotta be those days you push through when you don’t want to.
They're probably gonna be more numerous than the days you don't.
And so the benefit of discipline in my eyes has always been that through discipline, I get things done.”
- Joe Rogan
I hope you gained some benefit from this blog and I look forward to engaging with you all throughout 2022.
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