Imagine if someone told you that you had to stop exercising. How would you feel? Relieved? Worried about gaining weight? Sad? Like you lost your identity?
That’s something I recently had to face. Luckily, it was short-lived and I was approved to workout again at a lighter intensity after a few weeks but it really made me think.
According to my ACE Health Coach Manual, there are five types of motivation:
- Intrinsic motivation: Engaging in an activity because you enjoy the activity (i.e. running because you enjoy the feeling of running)
- Integrated regulation: Engaging in an activity because you feel it is part of your identity (i.e. running because you’re a runner)
- Identified regulation: Engaging in an activity for the benefits, even if you don’t necessarily enjoy the activity (i.e. running to lose weight)
- Introjected regulation: Engaging in an activity because you think you should or to please someone else (i.e. running because your spouse wants you too)
- External regulation: Engaging in an activity to avoid punishment (i.e. running in gym class because you get in trouble if you don’t–don’t get me started on physical education in this country)
These are not mutually exclusive; you can definitely engage in a behavior both because you enjoy it and for the benefits. The closer your type(s) of motivation are to the top of the list, the more likely you are to continue with your workouts long-term. If you’re only exercising to lose weight and your weight loss stalls, chances aren’t very good that you’ll continue; whereas if you’re doing an exercise that you also enjoy doing, you’re more likely to continue and receive the other benefits of physical activity.
The weeks I was unable to exercise aside from walking, I realized my motivation comes from three places: intrinsic, integrated, and identified.
Initially I struggled not working out because I feel that’s part of who I am. I’m studying physical activity and healthy lifestyles in school, I write a fitness/healthy lifestyle blog, and a big part of how I present myself is as an active, fit person. Who was I if that wasn’t true? After a few days, though, I came to realize that part of being a healthy, fit person is recognizing and respecting where you and your body are at in life at the present moment.
I worried about losing the benefits of being physically active during pregnancy for myself and the baby.
Most of all, I missed Jazzercise. I missed dancing and the energy of class. I missed forgetting about everything for an hour and just moving to the music. I missed seeing all the friendly faces at our center, which really surprised me because I’m a huge introvert. I missed the feeling of sweat and the smile I get during class because I enjoy it so much. I missed my workout because I truly love it.
I encourage you to think about your workouts and what your motivation is. I believe there is an exercise out there for everyone, whether it’s running or cycling alone, doing HIIT workouts in the gym, or dancing in a group fitness class. If someone told you that you couldn’t do the workouts you currently do, how would you feel? Really think about it. If you answer relieved or only worried about weight gain, I urge you to explore and find a workout you truly enjoy.
Source: ACE Health Coach Manual: The Ultimate Guide to Wellness, Fitness, & Lifestyle Change, 2013