Motivation Articles

Mastering the Mysteries of Motivation

Understanding Motivation

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Motivation Killer #1: Unrealistic Expectations
The most common cause of disappearing motivation is unrealistic expectations. When you have your hopes set on one thing (like seeing the number on the scale go down), but something else happens instead (the number doesn't change or it goes up), of course it's difficult to keep on doing what doesn't seem to be working for you. That's normal, and it's exactly how you're supposed to feel. These feelings help you avoid doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to get different results.

But this natural reaction becomes problematic when the result you're hoping for isn't likely to happen, like seeing predictable and consistent changes in your weight every week; or expecting to go from confirmed couch potato to exercise maven by sheer force of will, without paying your dues.

So, if your motivation is lagging because you're not getting the results you expect, check to see whether your expectations are realistic or not.

Here is what you SHOULD expect when it comes to weight loss:
  • Weight loss is NOT orderly or predictable. Shedding pounds is only one of many healthy changes your body undergoes when you decrease your caloric intake and/or increase your activity level. A lower number on the scale may be the least important of these changes, even though it may seem to be the most important. Every body will respond differently. You may lose weight easily and quickly at first while your friend will have to wait weeks or months to lose that first couple of pounds. For others, weight loss may come in waves. All of this is perfectly normal. 
     
  • Weight loss is NOT a simple calculation. Although we talk about weight loss in terms of numbers—calories in versus calories out—your body is not a calculator and it doesn't operate like a checking account. It is a complex, living organism with many needs and priorities to juggle, and difficulties to overcome (poor habits and thought patterns). A classic example of this complexity is how the stress you experience when your body doesn’t meet your weight loss expectations actually increases fat storage. There is a connection between your mind and your body. Instead of solely focusing on the scale, you need to take a comprehensive view of this process of change and work hard to keep your mind from getting in the way.
     
  • Focus on what you can actually control—what you eat and how much you exercise. You will lose weight if you do your part, and it will probably occur at the expected rate. (When you get to your goal and look back at the process, you probably will have lost at the rate of 1-2 pounds per week, on average.) That's what happened for me, over the 18 months it took me to lose 150 pounds. Those weeks where nothing changed, or I actually went backwards, drove me crazy and sapped my motivation until I finally realized I was focusing on the wrong things. When I started focusing on the small, positive changes I was making in my diet and in my capacity to exercise, life became easier and more rewarding. That, I believe, is our role in this process. The rest is not up to you, and trying to control what you can't control is a prescription for failure.
Motivation Killer #2: Perfectionism
Continued ›
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • FOXGLOVE999
    Great article. The inability to delay gratification is a huge and growing problem in the U.S. The constant victimization of the population is another, with 12 step programs for everything. Bringing us the message, that "it's not your fault, a higher power will relieve you". How ridiculous.
    - 10/5/2014 9:19:41 AM
  • KATARINE66
    @awogen :
    on the top of the page, there is a "more" picture, on the right of Pininterest.
    Click on this "more" picture, then click on the heart. That's done ! the page will remain in your Spark favorites !
    Katarine - 9/8/2014 7:44:50 AM
  • I wish that Spark had a way to bookmark things on their page that you find particularly helpful. I'd like to mark this so I can read it regularly, but I can only bookmark it on my browser. - 6/9/2014 5:42:44 PM
  • So true & real! Thank you Dean. - 5/12/2014 1:28:53 AM
  • WICKFORD64
    This video keeps me inspired when I feel I cant take one more step for one more day. /www. sparkpeople. com/resource/moti
    vation_articl
    es.asp?id=630 - 3/29/2014 9:33:57 PM
  • SWEET-SUE
    Things I never gave much thought to before...was too busy beating myself up, over "slipping up". One more reason I think SP is an answer to prayer. I read this just in the nick of time...as I was about to give up and over indulge.

    Thank you! Saved by the bell...I mean article! - 2/21/2014 2:52:35 PM
  • I really appreciated this article! It helped me to put things in perspective, and take a more balanced view of those times when I do not meet my own expectations! Obviously my expectations may not be so much the culprit as those hidden backsliding behaviors. - 2/9/2014 6:44:58 PM
  • Paraphrasing this and putting this in my blog because it fits me to a tee! - 1/16/2014 6:37:16 PM
  • I hope I can remain as motivated as I am right now through the entire year. I should say to myself each day: yes I can!!! - 1/16/2014 2:41:40 PM
  • I really needed to read this, thanks! - 1/16/2014 12:28:25 PM
  • Thank you Dean, you are so sensible. Your stuff is something I read without hesitation. It seems so well researched and thought out. - 1/16/2014 11:34:44 AM
  • Thanks Dean! I really needed to read this article today. I will read the whole series. Thanks for helping me fight this constant battle with my brain! - 1/7/2014 4:29:36 PM
  • This was a great article and one I personally needed. Thanks for the heads up. - 12/17/2013 11:02:01 AM
  • Personally, I often look at my family (1 individual) being a mood killing.
    It seems that when I try to grow or attempting to change the "normal", I have received the untrue reasons that now is not the time.
    Starting today, I will be the individual that I have been created to be!! - 11/12/2013 10:10:52 AM
  • I wish this was the case for me. My motivation has been drastically declining the past couple weeks. I'm pretty sure that I know the reason - I've lost a lot of weight and I feel good about where I am. Although, I still have 5-7 pounds to lose to get to my goal, I've let myself by happy where I am (which, I know, is a good thing), but it's also giving me reasons to ignore everything I've learned and worked hard for. I need someone to kick my butt in gear! - 11/12/2013 7:41:34 AM

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