The reasons why people choose to make healthy lifestyle changes during pregnancy can vary considerably. For some women, it might be solely to support the development of their baby. For others, it might be to support their own wellbeing, to feel stronger, or to avoid pregnancy complications. There might be multiple reasons why someone might strive to make healthy changes, however, it can be easy to forget what these reasons are, especially when things are challenging or you’re feeling fed up.
Remembering the ‘reason why’ you’re making the effort to develop new healthy habits is an important motivational tool, and although it may sound simple, it can really help you to refocus when you’re veering off track.
Types of motivation
There are two different types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. People who are intrinsically motivated tend to do things for the inherent satisfaction of doing so. For example, because they enjoy challenging themselves, for the fun or enjoyment they get from an activity, or because of a desire to learn or better themselves in some way. Those who are extrinsically motivated often do things for external reasons, such as to gain approval and praise from others, to achieve an external goal, or to receive an incentive or reward. It’s likely, however, that we will be driven by both different types of motivation, to varying degrees, depending on what it is we’re trying to do.
Whilst neither one of these types of motivation is better than the other, research has suggested that people who are intrinsically motivated may find it easier to make and sustain healthy lifestyle changes. For this reason, it can be really valuable to try and tap into your internal drivers and motivations.
Identifying your 'reason why'
Your ‘reason why’ is a really good example of a powerful internal motivator that everyone can access. Every single person will be striving to make changes for a particular reason, you just need to take the time to really consider what that is. If your reason feels like it’s externally focused (e.g., because you’ve been told to by your midwife, or because those changes are recommended) try to dig a little bit deeper by asking yourself “but why does it matter?” Is it ultimately to do with protecting your health or that of your baby? Or is it about feeling a sense of wellbeing, or being accountable to yourself? Be honest with yourself about your reasons for making these positive changes – think about why it matters to you, what your values are, and why changing parts of your lifestyle feels important.
Write it down
Once you’ve identified what your reason (or reasons) are, write them down somewhere you can easily see them. This could be in the notes on your phone, or it might be on a post-it note on your mirror, or on a piece of paper stuck to your fridge. Just make sure to put it somewhere visible that you will notice on a daily basis.
Keeping your ‘reason why’ front and centre in your mind can help to motivate you from a place of true meaning and can help you to regain your focus when making and maintaining those healthy changes starts to feel hard. It’ll be different for everyone but understanding yourself that little bit better, and making sure to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, can have a powerful affect on motivation and behaviour change in the long run.