Building sustainable motivation: 8 steps to strengthen your intrinsic motivation

Motivation is that spark or drive that keeps pushing you towards a goal, motivation drives our behavior, I also like to call it inspiration, inspiration to achieve, to become faster, fitter, more flexible.

Motivation sometimes turns into the enemy when you try to achieve your fitness goals, especially because to reach results you have to be constant, therefore if motivation comes and goes seeing this results is way harder and it turns into a negative cycle of I am not motivated to train because I see no results: I see no results because I am not training frequently.


There are 2 types of motivation defined by psychologists: Extrinsic and Intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation

Is driven by a reward, -eating lean and clean during the week so you “earn the right” to have some “liquid fun” during the weekend and the zwz that religiously comes afterwards, - OR purely recognition and a bunch of compliments on how fit you look on your slim fit suit/ or when you have a wedding and you are willing to do a 15 days juice detox just to fit in the dress and then, then what? Then you eat the wedding, Healthy motivation is not about collecting points and look forward to redeem them; otherwise it would be like flying just to collect miles, without enjoying the trip, have you heard happiness is not a destination? Here is the same, fitness is not a destination, you need to enjoy the ride, the training ride.

Intrinsic motivation

Is more sustainable if you want to pursue a long term healthier lifestyle, think about personal reward withdrawing external recognition, looking forward to train because you clear your head while running, boxing, swimming, feeling better with you because you are taking time for you, practicing mindfulness!, feeling better because you are actually achieving something!, because finally you get to see that teres major you’ve been working on, (that’s the name of a muscle in your back, way sexier than its name btw) because you feel lighter and happier, You have time to play your killer music and sweat out those annoying slides, Because those personal goals are really really personal.


Intrinsic motivation is a bit harder to build, but is definitely stronger and long-lasting. You need commitment to build new habits, so here below 8 tips to strengthen this type of motivation and get started:

1. Set a clear goal and track it: Faster Results.

Might be overwhelming to start, because you might want to achieve everything at the same time, lose fat, build muscle, get leaner, you can’t do everything at once,

Use the chunking method, if you divide the goal in achievable “chunks” with little steps, mid-goals and a timeframe then it’s easier to track and easier to achieve instantly re-fueling your motivation.

According to neuroscience every small success makes our brain release dopamine into a part of the brain called “reward system” so every time you reach a goal, even if its small your brain will be gratifying you and be motivated to re-experience the same.

2. Seek for guidance and help

Cardio to lose fat? Cardio burns muscle?  Should I train dividing by muscle groups? How many reps? How many sets? How many times per week?  O – M – G

It’s not just about the quantity of exercise, it’s also about the quality, when and how? Having an order and an understanding will boost your motivation, otherwise you will be probably lost on where to start or will skip training because you don’t know what to do… having someone to push your limits will be an assurance that you are doing things the right way!

Plus, with guidance you will avoid injuries, and injuries are a motivation killer, because then you have to rest a few weeks and it feels you have to start from scratch. Look for qualified help!

3. Associate sports with your happiness

Association is a term in psychology in which you relate situations, feelings, so the simple idea of one evokes another, how you can do this?

As a first step to develop this awareness process make a list of how you feel every time after training, exercise releases endorphins (a group of hormones produced in the central nervous system, they act as natural painkillers, reduce stress and make you feel good), so you might want to track how you turn into an “endorphin junkie” – what about the feeling when you are a bit sore and you stretch? J, you can nurture this list and read it before exercising, slowly you will naturally associate this feeling while you are getting ready, this list can be super useful as well on those days you don’t really feel like training, would be a friendly reminder on how you will feel afterwards and this is the best motivation booster!

4. Build a stronger mind

Exercise is a physical activity, but honestly speaking, who drives your body? Your mind.

Involve your mind in the process, ignore that voice telling you to procrastinate, ignore your negative thoughts until you create the habit of not having them, instead, repeat yourself all the reasons why you should go today to train, be stronger than that voice, convince yourself with real arguments that you are doing the right thing, re-read your objectives every now and then so you reinforce your commitment.

5. Become friends with days of demotivation

Push yourself to create a habit, yes, start training also your mind to push your limits, but also become friends with the fact that you won’t feel motivated every day, somedays you won’t sleep well, or you will be travelling, catching an early flight, finishing late; don’t punish yourself, honor your body, give it rest when he is asking for rest, and the next day walk with double energy to your training- as for the days you actually made it to the gym but you feel your performance is far from good also celebrate them, the worst workout is the one you didn’t even try to do.

There is this powerful word called balance.

6. Compare yourself with yourself

Besides tracking your progress and celebrating your improvement understand that you are truly the only one who knows the hard work you put into your body, someone might look stronger, leaner, but we are all different, shape, mind, metabolism, genetics, goals, even schedule, work to improve yourself, not to look like anyone else. Be happy when you do one more rep, one more pullup, a longer handstand. Love your progress, practicing self-esteem leads to motivation, You are getting better!

7. Surround yourself with the right people

I don’t mean training buddies (why not tho) but people that even if they don’t train with you they always cheer you to get moving, the ones that share a healthy recipe, a new exercise, a new discipline, people who ask you if you went to the gym, and beyond training, people who are always pursuing a better version of themselves, in all aspects, because for you to know: that feeling is contagious.

And finally,

8. Take a holistic approach

Working out means nothing without a healthy version of yourself in all aspects, sleeping good and eating well, this is the real fuel of your workouts, your daily nutrition choices are the supplier of the energy in your body, and not just measured by calories, if your body lacks of any essential nutrient you might feel tired, anxious or dizzy, not just killing your motivation but potentially harming your body. For sure you won’t go back to train if it’s not pleasant.

Or let’s say you don’t sleep well, you won’t feel like exercising, muscle recovery also happens when you sleep, lack of sleep increases cortisol levels (hormone of stress) making your body more resistant to insulin, increasing appetite and bringing cravings during the day, hello extra carbs! so forget about achieving your goals. Bottom-line, tackling health throughout different aspects apart of exercising gives you the motivation and energy to train harder and achieve better results! We can help you with that, WELCOME TO FITLOV!