By Sheri Sellars, BSN, RN
Nicholson Clinic Nurse Educator
Most adults are keenly aware of what it takes to improve fitness and maximize health, even in the most generic sense. It is also true that many struggle with the internal motivation required to make these changes long-term. Fortunately, this is a digital age and technology exists to assist in both finding and maintaining motivation! Here are four modern options to assist in identification of motivation and provision of ongoing support that you may not have known are out there.
Online Health Communities — Whether the focus is on weight loss, nutrition or specific health topics (such as diabetes), there are bulletin board communities that provide instant access to a supportive network of like-minded individuals seeking out similar goals. These communities provide opportunity to connect on a day-to-day basis through both seeking and offering support, including articles, pictures, recipes, workout routines, coupons, ideas and personal conversation through the written word. Most communities require registration and some charge a fee for access to certain features, though basic features are often free. Features can include diet or fitness tracking, a food or recipe database and adjustable criteria to help identify personal goals. Two popular online health communities include: SparkPeople and MyFitnessPal.
StickK — Many have tried nearly everything to nudge themselves out of inertia and into motivated achievement, only to despair that nothing seems to work for the long haul. If you fall into that category, pay a visit to StickK, which harnesses the psychological power of loss aversion. With help from StickK, your goal is defined, the steps to meet that goal identified clearly and a contract formed. Fail to meet your goal? Your credit card will be charged a preselected amount you name and given to either an unnamed charitable organization or, even more powerfully, to an organization that you disagree with. As an additional motivational safeguard, the option is given to name a referee of your choosing. This individual will receive an email to verify the progress reports you submit. Lost money can pack a powerful punch. Money lost to an entity you despise, even more so!
Gym Pact — Maybe you are more motivated by rewards. If so, give the Pact app a try. This app sets you up in a community with others who have individualized goals they are trying to reach, which may or may not be the same as yours. With this app, you identify a specific goal, track your progress in the app and read cash rewards when you meet them, paid for by those who did not meet their own. Goal achievement is verified through GPS readings, photos or other services. The app syncs with FitBit and MyFitnessPal as one means of tracking. Fail to meet the goal you set for yourself and you will be the one paying toward those who did meet theirs, activating both positive reward psychology as well as loss aversion psychology.
Motivation Grid — If you are the kind of person who enjoys visual motivation in the form of videos, quotes, articles and instructions, you may find value from Motivation Grid. Topics range anywhere from entrepreneurial encouragement to implementing mindfulness to increasing your reading speed. Many of the guidelines given for various things have applicability across the board for all kinds of goals. Improving time management improves the ability to eat or work out on a schedule. Eating or working out on a schedule fuels creativity. Increased creativity channels better time management. Around and around it goes. The site is overwhelming with good ideas and the potential for perspective.
Whatever may be holding you back, the bottom line continues to be the need for self-implementation of behaviors that carry forward toward who we ultimately want to be. The above sites and countless others exist to provide assistance such as has never been seen prior to the digital age. Investigate which may be right for you. Motivation is not a static concept, but rather grows and changes moment to moment and day to day. Stack the odds in your favor by taking advantage of the modern age we live in. Investigate how your phone or computer in combination with the Internet has the ability to raise the bar and channel the results you desire.