Many people start their exercise journey with a weight loss goal in mind. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if weight loss is slower than anticipated, motivation can disappear and our weight loss goals may not be as successful as they could be.


There are two kinds of motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Both are important, but extrinsic will often only get you so far.

Intrinsic motivation is when you’re motivated to do a task without any external validation or reward. Doing this task is something you would do even if you never receive an external “reward” for it – such as congratulations, money, or to avoid failure. You may experience an a positive internal “reward” instead – joy, satisfaction or happiness.

Extrinsic motivation is when you are motivated by an external reward to do a task. Maybe you study very hard for a test to get a great mark (rather than study because you have a curiosity for the topic). Or you work an extra shift for a better pay (not because you enjoy the work).

Both types of motivation are important for different situations. If we consider weight loss (extrinsic motivator) as the goal, it is important we start to move towards intrinsic motivation because weight loss takes time. In this instance, aesthetics and visible weight loss is an extrinsic motivator. The longer the weight loss takes, the more de-motivated we tend to become because we cannot see the change.


Instead of focussing on weight loss and what your body looks like, try to focus on things other positives of exercise that are longer lasting, such as:

  1. The feel good hormones you get after exercise.
  2. The mental health benefits associated with exercise.
  3. Getting a good night’s sleep after exercise.
  4. Setting a good example for your children and family.
  5. Knowing you are improving your long-term health.

If you focus on these long-term motivators, the weight loss becomes less of a focus. By focussing on these other motivating factors, motivation will be long-lasting and slowly but surely, the weight loss will happen. 

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