Motivation and dedication are two words that get tossed around a lot any time fitness comes up. Believe it or not, these two words weren’t always spelled with a hashtag…
I think that it is important to be able to define both of these words and explain how they relate to fitness and more personally how they relate to an individual.
-the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
-the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
the quality of being dedicated or committed to a task or purpose.
When I first decided to apply to the fire department I wrote down a list of words like motivated and dedicated and defined them, both with the actual definition but also how they related to me and what they meant to me. I thought doing this would help me through the interview process, and I still believe it did, but not because I had a script to read from. I believe this process helped me understand what attributes I actually displayed and helped me better understand myself, allowing me to speak honestly during interviews.
Using this approach we can see that motivation refers to reasoning and desire while dedication is a quality. To me, motivation is required to change a behaviour and dedication is a state in which the change of behaviour can be sustained. This doesn’t mean that motivation is only needed at the beginning, simply that motivation levels remain higher in an individual who is dedicated to something. Let’s use our walking example from THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN FITNESS article I wrote a while back. Someone who is just starting to walk daily may struggle to adhere to a regular schedule simply because their motivation is lacking on some days – maybe they have had a long or particularly challenging day or maybe they didn’t sleep well and their early wake up time seemed to come too fast. Whatever their reason is, someone who is not dedicated to a behaviour or lifestyle could miss more workouts than someone who has dedicated themselves and that behaviour has become a part of who they are. Even when motivation is low a person who is dedicated will, in most cases, still complete their workout or go for that early morning walk, because it’s just what they do.
I feel I should add that whatever level you are at that is OK! I am in no way saying that everyone must be dedicated to fitness but as this is a health and fitness blog my hope is that more people will find the motivation to be more active or to adopt some healthy practices. There are so many people that go into gyms and criticize the obese lady on the machines, or people will drive past an overweight man jogging on a Saturday morning and giggle or point them out to the other person in the car. These are the fitness elitists and include the select group of trainers that have instagram accounts full of themselves in high angle-low light change room selfies and videos of people from around the gym with demeaning captions. They feel that because they are at a different point in the stages of change at that time they are somehow entitled to slam those that are not as far along on their journey.
There’s a little something out there in the information universe called the Transtheoretical Model. It features the 5 stages of change. These are:
Pre contemplation– There is no plan of changing anything. Motivation is low
Contemplation– There is a level of awareness that they should change their behaviour in some way. Some form of education is taking place. Motivation is likely still low but increasing
Preparation– A plan of some type is taking shape and action in the near future is likely. Motivation is increasing still.
Action– Behaviour changes are now occurring. Motivation is high.
Maintenance– Changes have now become habit. Motivation remains high and the person is developing a quality of dedication.
The Transtheoretical Model can be alternately worded in a much simpler way:
However you view motivation and dedication is fine, so long as you recognize that motivation will undoubtably fluctuate and that is ok. The most important thing is that you choose activity levels and behaviours that are manageable, achievable and sustainable for your lifestyle or the life you want to live.