A week or so ago, I hopped on the phone with Ashley, who you’ll be hearing from today. As we were talking, we got into our stories and many of the common struggles we women share: dieting, guilt around food, and body image.
We got on the topic of motivation and willpower, and as we talked through this, I asked Ashley if she’d share her story on the blog, along with what she’s learned about “motivation” and “will power.”
The purpose of her post today is to show you that you’re not alone: we all struggle on some level with feeling like our own motivations are not enough, or that we’re lacking in will power or control, and that we need to just try harder to get what we want…
We want to show you a new way of looking at will power and motivation, and teach you the six sources of influence that need to be in place to get what you desire.
Welcome Ashley with a big warm “thank you!” in the comments after you read!
It would be safe to say that I have been on a diet since I was 14. My parents owned a Gold’s Gym and I was born directly into the fitness industry and a one-piece spandex. My baby food was always organic, and my mom made it from scratch.
Growing up, I watched my mom as she was continually concerned about her weight. She often talked about being on a diet and restricting her food. Using my mom as a role-model, I started to adopt these same habits (understandably so!).
I began to diet in the hopes of having more “control” in own life.
Whenever I would fall off the diet wagon, I would try to do so in private so my parents wouldn’t question what I was eating when they saw me in the chips and cookie cabinet.
My relationship with food was something that I thought if I could control, I would finally be happy, I would be popular, and I would win the love I so desperately desired from my parents.
Dieting became consuming and painful, and never made me feel good about myself. Soon, I was either binge eating or restricting my food.
As I continued into my twenties, so did the cycle – I had lost every ounce of hope for living a “normal” life, free of guilt.
Until I found a coach, who was able to help me connect with my body, mind and spirit, and realized that when I felt out of control, dieting only seemed like an easy way to try to regain that control.
Each session, my coach would help me connect with areas of my body where I felt pain or discomfort. She would ask me questions to help me understand why I was feeling discomfort and had never felt good enough. I could then acknowledge these things and let them go.
The more in-tune I became, the more I understood what my body needed to soothe and heal.
At this same time, I read a book called, Change Anything, and began to connect the dots and see why many women struggle and beat themselves up…
The book talked about society’s reliance on “will power” to accomplish a goal.
Have you ever experienced wanting to achieve a goal, only to see all of your efforts go down the drain, especially after the excitement wore off? That’s “will power” as we know it (a faux “super power”) at work.
In Change Anything, the authors teach that in order to get the results that we want, we need four of the following six sources of influence supporting our goal or desire:
The GREAT news is that the majority of us, without being aware of these six sources of influence, only have one or two sources at work most of the time. The other sources can be used to get us to where we want to be.
When I learned about these six sources of influence, I want able to connect even deeper with what I wanted, and work with my coach to make it happen.
Let’s use my example…
What I want: I want to re-learn to trust my own bodies wants & needs, and stop dieting for good.
Personal Motivation: Since I want to quit diets for good, in order to stay motivated, I need to come back to the reality of what it was actually like to be on a diet. I remember how draining dieting is, and remember that I no longer want to feel that way. I give myself permission to feel the way I want to feel now (calm, normal, free) instead.
Personal Ability: In order to better understand my body, I have general guidelines in place, that teach me how to reconnect with my body. Although I was born with the inherent ability to listen to my own body, dieting took me off course, and sometimes I forget how. Finally Free, and working one on one with my coach are great, positive tools in my life.
Social Motivation: In order to feel more comfortable in social settings, I am mindful to not draw negative attention to myself by making mean/sneaky comments about my food choices to others, like “I CAN’T believe I’m eating this, I’m so bad.” This kind of talk only leaves me feeling more self conscious about my choices; it never helps.
Social Ability: In order to stay motivated, I find positive influences in my life – other people who practice listening to their own bodies wants and needs (in person, online, social media, etc). I receive support through the community in my program & coach.
Structural Motivation: In order to create an environment that is conducive to listening to my body, I leave notes for myself on my mirrors and in my car to remind me of how great I am doing.
Structural Ability: In order to create an environment where I am able to listen to my body, I have a meditation room where I sit and think when I need guidance. I clear anything that is not in line with my goal: the physical (books, magazines, diet binders), social (blogs, Instagram accounts, etc), and mental (I turn down – it’s impossible to turn it OFF – negative self talk).
As you read through my example, keep in mind that this is just one example of how someone creates a positive environment for themselves, learning to listen to their body’s wants and needs, and ditch diets for good.
Everyone is different in what they need, but the six sources of influence are consistent.
I have now been in the health and fitness industry for 10 years, and continue to work on being grateful for my body. Unfortunately, aspects of the fitness industry aren’t always kind and can push you to find flaws with your body.
However, what I have learnt is that my body knows more than I could ever imagine, and if I just listen, I can get everything I need – the right messages, nourishment, and ability to heal myself.
I can’t say that I’ve 100% mastered the art of trusting my body or myself (who has?), and I still have days where I know I could do better, but I have learnt to continually check in on my sources of influence to make the entire process easier on myself.
I love my body for what it can do, for the abundance of health that it provides me, and for the vitality and life I feel everyday.
Have you ever considered the six sources of influence? Does knowing about them give you relief, seeing that if you’ve ever tried ONE thing to reach a goal and it didn’t work, that this is actually OK? You need more than one influence in place to get what you desire.
Please give Ashley a big warm “thank you!” in the comments, for sharing her story & time. And thank YOU for reading.