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Healthy Tahoe: Foundations in motivation

Amy Smith, FNP

Motivation is different for every person. Finding what motivates you is the key to creating habits, especially in exercise routines. With a consistent exercise routine, the results can be very beneficial. The key is understanding what motivates you.

Amy Smith

There are two types of exercise motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is propelled by an end-goal, like an upcoming high school reunion or desire to fit into a particular pair of jeans. Though an exercise program is initiated to reach that ‘extrinsic’ motivator, it is our intrinsic motivation which is foundational in creating habits.

Intrinsic motivation comes from feeling joy in the act of exercising. Is the positive association felt during and/or after exercise such as feelings of reduced stress, increased energy, and satisfaction in accomplishment. It can also increase one’s self-worth and self-determination. These positive feelings provide more motivational value in exercise and create a desire to repeat it again.



To create an exercise program that is consistent and will produce results, it is crucial to connect with your intrinsic motivation.

Exercise programs can be approached in many ways, though it’s best to understand the limits of your health and any underlying issues so nothing gets in the way of your motivation. The key is doing something you like and begin with something easy; walking in nature for five to ten minutes a day is a great starting point. From there, you may choose to work with a personal trainer or performance coach to build a sustainable program that puts your health at the forefront.



Consider daily process goals to support your larger goal; it may include getting-up a few minutes earlier in the morning, preparing your outfit a day ahead, and being flexible by having alternatives due to unforeseen circumstances, like bad weather. Having an accountability partner—somebody to help you stay on track—also promotes success.

Additionally, by incorporating extrinsic self-rewards along your health journey, such as a massage or a soak in the tub, you may eventually find that the reward is the activity itself, plus all the feelings of accomplishment and improved self-worth that come along with it.

Though the process may be challenging, strong foundations are built one brick at a time. Enjoy finding what motivates you!

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Amy Smith is a Family Nurse Practitioner with Barton Wellness. Amy and Health Coach, Adriana Covell’s pre-recorded Wellness Webinar: “Moving to Health” is available at BartonHealth.org/Lecture. To learn more about Barton Wellness services, call 530.539.6620 or visit BartonOrthopedicsAndWellness.com.


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