Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation When Losing Weight
Lose Weight For The Right Reasons: Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation
Why Do You Want To Lose Weight?
Do you dream of transforming your dad-bod into a beach-bod? Are you starving yourself to look like a ripped Hollywood movie star? Do the covers of GQ & Vogue have you slaving away on the treadmill? Are washboard abs the reason you count every calorie?
If so, then your weight loss efforts may not only be in vain, but are also likely to crash and burn.
A recent University of Toronto meta-analysis study (Johnston et al) compared the success of various weight loss programs for overweight people. What did they find?
The scientists discovered that the greatest determinant for success was not which diet the participants followed (low carb vs low fat), it was whether they were "extrinsically" or "intrinsically" motivated to lose weight.
Extrinsic Vs Instrinsic Motivation
What are the differences between the two? Some examples of extrinsic motivation:
"If I lose 40 pounds then... My new Instagram pics will get so many likes… I will fit into this cute new dress… I will make my ex so jealous… My doctor will get off my back... I can show off my six-pack… My wife will stop bugging me about my weight…"
While our upcoming beach vacation might extrinsically motivate us to drop a quick five or ten pounds, intrinsic motivation is how we achieve long lasting results.
Some examples of intrinsic motivation:
"If I lose 40 pounds then… I will have so much energy… I will feel awesome all day… I will be so healthy… I can play with my kids without getting exhausted… I will live a long and happy life… I will feel so proud of myself..."
People who are intrinsically motivated find self-satisfaction in the psychological and physiological benefits of weight loss (nutrition, mood, energy, self esteem, etc) rather than simply looking better or appeasing others.
It’s ok, especially in the beginning, to be more extrinsically motivated.
From a doctor telling us to "lose weight now or else" to a family member’s "save some pumpkin pie for the rest of us" Thanksgiving dinner wisecrack, extrinsic motivation is great for lighting a fire under our butt to lose weight... in the short term.
However, after we get the fat loss ball rolling, shifting into "intrinsic" gear is how to achieve long lasting results.
Meditation: Shift Into Intrinsic Motivation Gear
"My motivation broke-down on the side of the freeway. How do I fix it?"
You need to take your deep mind to the repair shop.
Thankfully, meditation is the world's foremost ASE certified master mind mechanic.
As the very best tool for putting our thoughts "up on the rack," meditation allows us to get "under the hood" of our mind to repair whatever is keeping our mental weight loss engine from firing on all cylinders.
No matter your current intrinsic to extrinsic motivation ratio (let’s face it, we are all superficially motivated sometimes), meditation can move the needle in the right direction.
Once meditation gives you power over your inner world, then everything in your outer world will simply fall into place.
When that happens, not only will the weight just fall off, but the wonderful energy, great health, and amazing quality of life benefits will keep you intrinsically motivated for a lifetime.