Fitness motivation can be a very volatile thing. One minute you have it and the next it’s gone. Some lucky people always seem to be fired up while others around them struggle to just get their engine running.
Fitness motivation, or the ability to stick to a diet or exercise program, isn’t so much about ironclad willpower or magic pixie dust. It comes down to a simple formula and anyone can become an unstoppable force once they understand it.
Fitness motivation boils down to the balance between the costs and benefits of your given habits. With every decision you make, there are costs to taking action. The other half of the equation is the potential benefits of taking that action versus not taking it. Some of these benefits can be tangible like getting something checked off on your to-do list or burning a certain amount of calories. Other benefits can be subjective like how much you enjoy eating certain foods or having fun with friends during a morning run.
You motivation equals the difference between the costs and benefits of doing something. If the benefits outweigh the perceived costs of maintaining the habit then your motivation will be strong.
If the benefits start to decrease or the disadvantages increase then your motivation will start to Wayne and falter.
In either case, having an ironclad will or a ton of discipline will only help you in short term. The strongest solution is to keep the costs of your habits low while increasing the perceived benefits as much as possible.
How to increase the motivation to exercise
One of the best strategies for Improving exercise motivation is to use efficient skill-based forms of activity like calisthenics or kettlebell training. The more efficient the exercises are the fewer resources you need to spend to practice them.
This is one of the biggest reasons why calisthenics is the primary exercise method here at the red Delta project. You don’t need to go to a gym or buy bulky exercise equipment. You also don’t need to practice long and exhausting workouts to experience many benefits. So even if you get a moderate result from your exercise you can still be very motivated to practice it because the costs are so low.
At the same time, bodyweight training is a very skill intensive exercise. It has a low barrier to entry so anyone can practice it no matter how inexperienced they are. At the same time, there’s always room to grow and improve no matter how advanced you are.
How to Increase Motivation to Eat Healthily
Recognizing the formula for motivation is also why the RDP approach to Healthy Eating is based on fulfillment and satisfaction instead of the more common dietary approach of restriction.
Basing a diet on what you shouldn’t eat automatically starts tipping the scales away from being motivated to follow those habits. Chronic restriction rapidly increases the perceived cost of the diet in the form of hunger, cravings, food cost, and stress. At the same time benefits like enjoyment and satisfaction may decrease which can quickly lead your cons to outweigh the pros of sticking to a diet.
Be seen a healthy eating strategy on satisfying your four primal appetites flips the balance so you gain as much benefit from your eating habits while minimizing the cost and stress associated with following your habits.
Ultimately, your motivation to practice your diet and exercise habits should increase over time rather than decrease. Sure, there will always be times when motivation drops a bit but a chronic decrease in motivation is a sign something needs to change. It’s a time to reevaluate your strategies and strive to either increase the potential benefit you are experiencing from your habits or greatly decreasing their cost. Trying to just will yourself to maintain your habits and stick to them can wear down your resolve and deplete your motivation even further which can have much more disastrous consequences.