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This week on Balls'n'All, I talk motivation. What helps us to get motivated may be obvious to some, but a complete mystery to others. Motivation can be influenced by diet, lifestyle, your goals and even past experiences. Plus, you'll find out what helps get me motivated to achieve my goals.
How to Stay Motivated
Jackson - Our topic this week in regards to the health field is about motivation. And I mean different people are motivated by different things obviously. Which I’m sure you’ll talk about in a little bit more depth but to ask very broadly, if you want to achieve a goal and you’re not quite there, how do you stay motivated? Or how do you get motivated, more to the point.
Jacob - Well the first thing you need to recognise is that people who appear to be very motivated are not always motivated. Just because somebody, like let’s talk in terms of fitness, just because somebody looks really fit doesn’t mean that they’re motivated every single day to get up early and train. Or after work go and train hard and you know, just be constantly motivated. So people who appear to be motivated all the time are not going to be. So first of all I think it’s really important that you recognise that. The other thing is you need to take care of the basics. And the basics are; you need to get a good amount of sleep, and a good quality night’s sleep. That is the absolute number one performance enhancer for anything in life and it is super important for any type of success, but to get yourself motivated and stay motivated with whatever is it that you’re doing. And then the other one is to eat healthy. So a diet of lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is really key. And they actually don’t need to be fresh, if they’re frozen sometimes they can be even more healthier because they’ve been snap frozen where the cells in them are as old as the day that they were picked. So sometimes frozen is better, but a nice healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Jackson - Jacob just to put you on the spot there. I’d like you to elaborate on why fresh fruit and vegetables motivate you because it seems like a bit of a long bow to draw, and I mean, everyone says that about everything. This is coming from a person that doesn't eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables but I swear if I said ‘Look I’m having a problem with my finances,’ they’d say ‘Well, fresh fruit and vegetables.’ ‘You know I’m having problems, my kid won’t shut up’ or ‘Me dog keeps barking at the neighbors.’ ‘Well, if you have fresh fruit and vegetables you’ll be fine.’ So how does that help, you know, specifically in regards to motivation?
Jacob - Well vegetables, and fruit, but vegetables especially are so full of nutrients, so you’ve got your vitamins and minerals. They’re also a good source of carbohydrates. So we talk about carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Healthy fats cover things like avocados and fish and stuff like that. Then you’ve got proteins which come from meats and beans and lentils and stuff, chickpeas. And then you’ve got carbohydrates which typically people consider as breads and pasta and that. But it’s also, vegetables are also quite high in carbohydrate. But the thing with vegetables is they contain a lot of other essential and nonessential vitamins and minerals. And so to get those nutrients, what you’re doing is energising every little cell of your body. Your body’s made up of, you know, millions of cells and when those cells are energised, one - through hydration so that they’re filled up. Because when you become dehydrated your cells actually shrivel. And so if you were to imagine, maybe a orange that’s been sitting out for a very long time in the sun, it’s going to look shrivelled and ugly. And that’s what your cells are doing when you are dehydrated. So to drink water is also really key but also to eat your vegetables is going to fuel those cells with all those essential vitamins and minerals.
Jackson - Where does motivation come from? So you see these, obviously you have a teaching background and so do I to an extent, in regards to you see different kids that are more motivated than others. Whether it be their schoolwork or to achieve athletic performance. Is it a nature vs nurture thing? So how come some people are extremely motivated, or at least on the surface anyway. And then you see other people and they look very unmotivated.
Jacob - Well there’s definitely a huge element of what people are interested in. So if you are naturally interested in adding things up and doing mathematics then you’re going to be more engaged in a maths class at school. And if you are someone who’s really interested in physical activities then you’re going to be more motivated to go and do it. So if that’s not something that really interests you then it’s going to be hard to develop that motivation. So a lot of it comes back to life experiences. So for example, experiences in physical education in school, if you had poor experiences as a child you’re likely not going to be interested in being physically active later on in life. And then you get told by all these people on TV and Radio that you know, you need exercise, you need to do this and that and be healthy. But it’s not something that you’ve grown up, so to go back to your nature and nurture, you know, debates, then it is a huge amount of nurture. It’s about your experiences in the past which are gonna lead to that. That’s not to say that you can’t develop an interest in physical activity later on in life or anything, any other behaviour. Let’s talk about physical activity because it seems to be the main area we’re going into now. But you can develop that interest by just going and doing things. And getting a positive emotion to it. And I suppose that’s where I want this to go now is we’re going to sort of talk about routines and habits a little bit in terms of physical activity and routines and habits can be developed by having a positive emotional reaction to a certain outcome. So if you feel good about exercising then you go and do it again. But where I’ll take this now is if you are developing a habit, or a routine, a routine is something that you consciously think about. So you make a decision to do it, whereas a habit is something that you just automatically do, so they are different. But if you want to create a habit to exercise more, or to exercise more often then what’s key is to consider five things. And one is, are you trying to start doing something? Stop doing something. Do more of something. Do less of something. Or number five, continue doing something. So the best way to create a habit and make physical activity more of a habit is to continue with something you’re already doing. Starting and stopping something is probably the hardest way to create a habit. So if you don’t already exercise, going out and starting exercise from scratch is really hard. So stopping a habit is actually the hardest, starting a habit is the second hardest. Doing less of something is probably third, doing more of something, and then continuing. So continue something that you’re already doing. If you are already going to work and there’s an elevator and there’s stairs, choose the stairs. So or if you’re already going and go for a walk with your child after work, continue to do that. Continue doing more of that. And then from continuing move into doing more of, that’s the next easiest win. But to go and do something that you’re not used to, it makes it really tough. So to stop doing something which is particularly in terms of eating something is really hard. To start doing something that you’ve never done before is really hard. So to get those really easy wins and develop that positive emotional response try and think about something that you’re already doing and continue doing that. And as you continue to do that just notice how you feel. Then from that one, then start to do more of something.
Jackson - So Jacob how do you get motivated? Do you have any advice for people out there that need to be motivated for something that doesn’t naturally motivate them? So it’s very easy as you mentioned before with kids and physical activity and mathematics and that. These kids normally have a passion in this field but sometimes you have to be motivated for something that you don’t want to be. So for example, with myself, I can be very motivated when it comes to my writing or journalism and that sort of stuff. But if I have to do my uni studies in teaching, I’m not motivated at all when it comes to reading these essays and reporting on it and that sort of stuff. So is it almost a case of dangling a carrot in front of you and trying to create your own motivation? I know there’s a lot of, getting back to fighting here, a lot of UFC fighters say they don’t like fighting. It’s not very natural to hop into a ring and touch on with a bloke you don’t have anything majorly against. But they say well that’s what feeds my kids, that’s what puts dinner on the table. So that’s their motivation to train hard and become the best athlete they can. What advice do you have for people that need to be more motivated in something that they couldn’t care less about?
Jacob - Yeah I think it’s to look at the bigger picture. So for me as a teenager I didn’t particularly, to take this back to vegetables again, I didn't particularly like eating vegetables. But at the time I was in to athletics and I was doing sprinting and I wanted to be faster. So I knew that if I ate my vegetables I would be healthier and that I would be able to perform better. And so I used to start getting myself to eat brussel sprouts and broccoli and those sort of different foods that are not necessarily the most tastiest foods and they’ve got quite strong bitter notes. That I would then tell myself ‘Okay if I eat this I’m going to be able to perform better.’ So there was a bigger purpose. And I really think there’s an issue here in the fitness industry where people are exercising because they want to just lose weight or because they just want to be fitter. I, to take this to a sports, down a sports stream a little bit, if you look at someone like Willie Rioli, who needed to lose weight to play AFL, would he have gone and lost the 20 kilos or whatever that he lost if it wasn’t for football?
Jackson - You wouldn’t have thought so, no.
Jacob - Yeah but because he had a stronger purpose, he wanted to play AFL, he was sold: ‘You need to lose weight if you want to get drafted.’ And he went and he worked hard over the next 2 seasons and lost that weight and looks like he’s absolutely flying right now. So I think it’s about finding that bigger purpose. And if you can find out why do you actually want to start this habit or stop this habit? Then connect with that, and once you connect both the brain and the heart together then that’s when you've got the strongest power going forward. But it’s really lucky, if you look at just quickly if you look at a triangle, there’s a trigger with any behaviour. Then from a trigger there’s an action and from an action there’s a reward. So you need to kind of hack that system. That’s kind of the ecosystem of habit. Inside the action, so the second part of that, so the trigger, action, reward, as part of the action there’s the four E’s. So environment, ease, efficiency and effectiveness. If you can really hack your environment so that it’s conducive to whatever habit you want to create. You make something easy, so that’s where I talk about continuing something, then from continuing you do more of something. Then you do less, and then starting stopping. Then the efficiency is make it efficient. So to continue on from the easiness of it but it’s efficient in it just kind of happens. And then of course the effectiveness so it’s linked into a higher purpose. So I really believe that in making physical activity a little bit more, regular and more of a habit then you need to connect with something of a higher purpose. So for you, you might not have liked doing your uni assignments for your teaching but at the end of the day you needed to do that to complete your degree in order to get a job in the area you wanted to work in. Or maybe to make money, whatever it is that really motivates you.
Jackson - Very good Jacob. We love your expertise on all thing in the health, fitness and psychology industry.
What keeps you motivated?
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