Motivation is Key

There will always be excuses not to exercise.  For some, it is more difficult to find time and motivation to change bad habits like: eating lots of chocolate, drinking too much alcohol, or not exercising.  If you are reading this then you're headed in the right direction.  There are two questions to ask yourself:

Q1: If you decided to exercise more and take responsibility for your health, how would it benefit you?

  • More energy

  • Improved mood

  • Feeling fit and stronger

  • Increased self-esteem

  • Increased confidence

  • Weight loss

  • Improved blood sugar

  • Better blood pressure


Q2: If you decided to exercise more and take responsibility for your health do you think you could do it?

Use the ruler below to assess how ready you are.

Readiness to change ruler: this lets you objectively assess and document how ready you are to make a change.  Its simple, you mark on the readiness to change ruler where you are on a scale of 1 to 10 to make a change:

1= no chance   5=thought about it, but not ready.  10 =completely ready   


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8  9  10

Cannot do at all          Moderately certain can do it         Highly certain                                            


  • If you are score below 5 then come back to Q1 after a week or fortnight and try Q2 again. 

  • Tell some one who cares about you what changes you hope to make, and ask for support. 

  • When you score above 5, then it's time to put an action plan or agreement in place.

Taking action

One of the biggest obstacles to motivation, is failing and not trying again.  If you are ready to make a change then the first step is to write out an agreement and share it with people who care for you.  You have to ask for help. 

  • Here is a 'Commitment' contract that you can print out and put on your fridge.  Tick all the boxes before beginning.



Making a commitment where something is at stake such as money, your word or your reputation- significantly increases motivation. 

  • Here is a free website/application to help monitor your commitment.  It requires a monetary pledge to charity ( you have to be willing to loose some money if you do not fulfil your commitment). 

  • You decide how much money you wish to pledge each week, then the "Commit to Change' team will email you, asking you to complete your weekly exercise sheet.  I pledged to exercise 5 times a week, so every week I fill out the box that asks me how many days I exercised. 

  • I recommend inviting a family member or friend to follow your progress- they can see how you are doing which also improves motivation and you are more likely to succeed.


Ideas for maintaining motivation

  • Self- prompting: Leave walking or running shoes at the front door; put agreement on fridge.

  • Join a weekly exercise group

  • Watch on-line exercise video

  • Join the "Commit to change" website-it's free.

  • Remember everyone fails, so keep going.

  • Keep a journal/notes on how you feel each morning; include what's on your mind.

  • keep an exercise journal e.g. how long you can you hold a wall squat?  How many sit-ups can you do?

  • Reward yourself after each month- buy yourself something, or go out for a healthy lunch.


Motivational theories

There are more motivational theories than I could list on one page.  The one that helps a lot of patients better understand how and where their motivation comes from, is 'Self-efficacy'.

Self-efficacy,  was defined by psychologist Albert Bandura in 1989 as: “beliefs in one’s capabilities to find the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to meet given situational demands”. Bit of a mouthful, so here’s another:

Also defined as: "People’s beliefs in their capabilities to complete tasks or achieve goals". (Bandura, 1997).


Increasing Self-efficacy:

  1. Past success increases self-efficacy.  So, you can say: " I used to exercise almost everyday and felt great, so I know I can do it". 

  2. Or you can use the past success of someone like you- a friend or relative.  This a vicarious form of confidence, but works non-the-less.

  3. Encouragement from others: either family, friends, or media.

  4. Interpreting your emotions or thoughts as normal or positive and using them to inspire you to keep going e.g. sore muscles after exercising can be considered good as your body adapts to the exercise and muscles strengthen.  Or you could interpret it negatively and say " this is causing damage to my body", which doesn’t help.


Self-efficacy is self-belief

The word belief, is powerful.  But how do we really belief in ourselves?  Reading each of the components to self-efficacy above can help us encourage our-selves to be positive.  You might not be ready yet, but when you are, remember to come back and review the four factors involved in Self-efficacy. 

Another useful tip is to talk positively.  Try saying " I am going to do exercise every day", instead of, " I should or I must do exercise every day".  And remember, when you do what you said you would do, treat yourself to something nice!

Don't forget to keep reviewing your progress with a daily note to yourself.  It's encouraging to look back at what you have written and how you've changed. 

 Good luck!©