Success Powered By A Word


Success Powered By A Word

As professionals invested in health, we appreciate connotations attached to terminology or concepts. Exploring or introducing the concept of the need to become active with that individual sitting across from you, the words chosen to discuss their “becoming active” or their “exercise” will likely contribute to the outcome of success or of failure.  Being cognizant of the chosen terminology used to discuss their “physical activity” has consequences. An observation you likely appreciate, from talking with 100’s of clients, terms like “physical activity” or “exercise” for most who are exercise-naive (a dominant demographic in the 80% of individuals who are minimally active) are terminologies that carry a lot of baggage.

 Over the years in medicine, inquiring of patients, many have tried and tried again to “exercise” and failed. Most feel defeated by feeling overwhelmed, attempting to “exercise” is some big insurmountable challenge commonly due to psychological attachments of trying to exercise.

Here, there seems to be wisdom in the words one chooses.  Choices I prefer to use in my patient encounters are references to exercise like “your healthy-activity” (ownership and health are key here in referencing activity), or “getting active”, both create a lot of real estate for fresh, unused, uncharted - no attachments- in referencing one’s physical activity. I plainly never talk about activity using terminology like “physical activity” or “exercise.”

 If I may provide an all too well-known situation that happens in sport that illustrates the power of perception. Consider the team that continually loses to the same opponent, season in, and season out, despite being better in some seasons, even, being athletically comparable or better they continue to lose to that team.

“They got your number,” words describing this situation.

Similarly, perceptions attached to words, and especially the word “exercise” or “physical activity” has some people’s number. The baggage attached, strings of attempts to become active, the popular press illustrating “exercise” with trim and athletic bodies, gymnasiums, facilities populated with precision movements, leaving the perception of exercise as not me, never me. This is exercise to many coming off the couch. The choice of how we reference activity has consequences.

 The impact of the terminology you use to reference the journey your client / patient is about to embark on— there is power in how you frame it.

By the way…
How do you frame your discussions around activity, your choice of terminology you use? I would like to learn from your experiences and share them, please share?


Dr. Peter Rawlek


3 Tips to Help Clients Build Self-Efficacy for Exercise


3 Tips to Help Clients Build Self-Efficacy for Exercise

3 Tips to Help Clients Build Self-Efficacy for Exercise
By Jennifer Turpin Stanfield

We found this Article this week and we know you'll enjoy it. Here are the high Points from this article that left us smiling:

1. Help new clients develop positive thoughts and emotions related to exercise.

This has been the focus of ours from the beginning. It’s about building positive habit experiences. The early focus must be on supporting habit formation on their terms, that is, at their rate, where they want to, how they want to, when they want to… just “schedule it - do it - log it”. 
Habit first and foremost!! The rest falls into place with time. 

2. Use past successes and mastery experiences to build confidence for exercise.

The author, Jennifer Stanfield discussed about how to implement strategies that resulted in previous successes. Good idea. She did mention that self-efficacy is situation-specific.  No more is this true than with “scheduling”, called scheduling self-efficacy. If an exercise-initiate has a poor scheduling self-efficacy for exercising they have less than 20% probability to be in regular physical activity (1) compared to those with a higher scheduling self-efficacy who are more than 70% likely (350% improvement). What does the GoGetFit solution focus on? Scheduling the week’s workouts, notification of daily workouts, reminders of a missed workout and recently adding a reflective activity at week’s end to reflect on why a workout was missed, option next time and decide on what will be done next time. Focus on scheduling it and success ramps up for your clients. They will experience “mastery” and build confidence for exercise ALL from a simple little piece commonly overlooked: Scheduling!!

3. Encourage your client to build an exercise network.

The timing has to be right for this. There is a balance between being judged and the confidence and commitment having grown enough that there is relatively no fear of judgement, the “I am doing it” attitude.
In the GoGetFit design besides networking with professionals,  the client can network with friends to support them on the app “Add Friends” under the support icon on the app. Contrary to the authors opinion about the value of your opinion might not be enough, I beg to differ, your support in the day-to-day of their life exercising through the app, your being there, improves outcomes dramatically, significantly and in a life changing manner.

Dr. PJ Rawlek

2017 Alberta Survey on Physical Activity -




News Release: GoGet.Fit one of winners at competition.

GoGet.Fit was chosen as one of three winners at the City of Edmonton HealthHack competition on April 16th. Congratulations, I feel should go to you, our GoGet.Fit users, who took the time to provide feedback these past months. Thank you.

What we did?
The GoGet.Fit proposal provided a plausible solution on how to take the City of Edmonton to become a more active. At the core of the solution was targeting our two key communities on our platform: On one hand the healthcare professionals & community-based fitness partners and on the other hand, the individuals who use the mobile app.

For the mobile app users:
We created a prototype of a new Behavioral Support Tool (BCT). The new experience is called the “reflective exercise”. This feature identified by Sullivan and Lachman in 2017 as a foundational BCT that's missing from almost all fitness apps, and given we are a “habit” focused app we took it as our mandate to create it for our users.
Here’s how it works, when a GoGet.Fit member misses a workout, at the end of the week they will receive an email with a reflective exercise whose goal is to insure that a missed workout does not happen again for the same reason.
Here are the three questions we ask you to reflect on:
1st.                Reflect: Identify what the reason you missed that workout?
2nd.             Prepare: What could you do next time to avoid this outcome (2 ideas)?
3rd.              Take action. Choose which is the best idea to rescue your workout next time.

The new Industry Listing Page:
The other feature we worked on for the competition was a new fitness partner industry listing page. It was created to enhance the networking of the healthcare providers with community-based fitness partners.  This industry listing page of local searchable fitness partners removes the barrier of “where to send a patient” for healthcare providers (e.g. doctors) when counseling a patient to become more active. This means it’s just a click away-- a direct access to dedicated “community-based” local exercise experts who can provide guidance and support for patients in their pursuit to become active in their day-to-day life.  We feel that Networking these two communities is one of the keys to resolving the inactivity healthcare crisis that directly impacts almost 85% of Canadians.  
Did you know that most of these Canadians will try to become more active at some point in their adult life, clearly if left unsupported over 80% will continue to fall off the wagon within months and will continue to suffer the results of lifestyle modifiable disease burdens from inactivity. 

kiley with a trophy.png



Does your encouragement really matter??

So… you’re standing on a cliff edge, playing red rover. Someone comes running across, now if your standing alone you’re likely to get pushed off the edge if they pile into you.  But if you had even one other person holding your hand, you have a greater chance of staying on the cliff.

For some people who are trying to make lifestyle change, that’s the difference. Your support, your reaching out- MAKES A DIFFERENCE!! As a professional you may not fully appreciate the impact of a few words your encouragement – “I noticed.” Just sending a thumbs up. According to Kerse (1) your encouragement has a profound impact; just providing recognition and even better with providing encouragement: greater than 230% greater successes. 

We designed GoGetFit so if you use it to stay connected with ALL your clients, there will be a whole bunch of things happening. The only hitch is you are the rate limiting step. The more clients you engage the greater the outcomes.

You do it- IT HAPPENS. Support builds success.

If you’re like me, you’re often left with the silent optimism that you’re making a difference. Sending little note of encouragement or leave a voicemail for a client we haven’t heard from in a while matters. We’re living in a time when people are feeling very alone. People perceive their circle to be small if nonexistent.

We know the research. Physical activity does so much good in every aspect of our lives, but we also know that it’s one of the first things to be cut when we become busy, or depressed. If we don’t have the support or nudge factor (you, the connected exercise specialist) when we waiver to get back moving, physical activity won’t continue to happen.

One problem. I believe people still feel that if they aren’t doing an hour workout that it isn’t worth it. I know we’re all working hard on changing this attitude and trying to encourage people to just get out, even if it’s for 5 or 10 minutes. (Right Kevin? Right Kiley?)

The active break is a positive break.

It disrupts the thinking, which is a positive upswing for mood, gets the heart beating, and clears the mind to reengage.  

So send those notes of encouragement. GoGetFit is designed to make it easy. Take a few minutes to reengage those clients who’ve fallen off the wagon. And let’s not forget about us, take time to get out and get some fresh air. Once around the block does make a difference, even if it’s in rubber boots, sandals, or on a bike. A little sweat and some heavy breathing settles the mind.


1.     Kerse  N, Elley CR, Robinson E, et al. Is physical activity counselling effective for older people? A Cluster randomized, controlled trial in primary care. J Am Geriatr Soc 2005; 53:1951-6


red rover.png



Exercise Apps Undermine Most People’s Best Intentions.

There are two populations of users that access fitness app technologies: the exercise-engaged - those with a history of being active and appreciate being physically active - and the exercise-naïve - those with relatively no exercise experience to lean on in starting their journey. For the exercise-naive, starting to exercise is comparatively a novel, deer-in-the-headlights experience. The deep-seated apprehension in their psychology is “I will try this, BUT I really shouldn’t be here.”

The fitness app technology  fails/undermines the exercise naïve individual’s attempt to pursue an active lifestyle.

The issue lies with the business model that drives revenues in fitness technologies. Fitness app technologies commonly generate revenue through the add-on offerings they pitch. Who are these offerings aimed at? Definitely not that someone getting off the couch and struggling to start to exercise, struggling to just get their runners on their feet population! They are built/designed for the quick and easy sale, targeting the exercise-engaged user who having previous exercise experience is more willing to purchase the offerings.

In pursuing to be more active, the exercise-naïve will initially see 80% attrition in the first few months. Exercise app’s offerings?  They undermine the exercise-naïve success during this period.  The focus of most fitness technology offerings is “comparison;” that is, exercise “competition” or “challenge” as the motivator. Who appreciates this approach better than the exercise-engaged. However, for the exercise-naïve, these offerings can look somewhat intimidating. They look at these “competition” features, thinking “that is not me,” or “I don’t want to be compared.” Understandably the doubt that follows is, “if that is what exercise is all about, really, should I be here?”

So, Who are the exercise-naïve?

They are a dominant part of those 85% of Canadians who do not meet the minimum activity levels to maintain one’s health. They are best described in the following manner:

1.   Comparatively, they have a lower self-efficacy with regards to attempting to become active;

2.   They likely have poor physical literacy in their understanding of exercise;

3.   They are more likely to be exercise facility phobic. Lacking previous experience with exercise communities, they are uneasy in exercise facility settings and with gym culture.


The Achilles heel to present-day exercise technology

The problem with hundreds of popular exercise apps is they are not built with the primary focus to support habit formation. The industry focus is on profit. Habit support does not sell like competition/comparison. The latter directly speaks to the exercise-engaged who are more willing to purchase such offerings. It clearly does not to the exercise-naïve subpopulation, rather it communicates, “you don’t belong,” “this is not you.”

The research clearly identifies this problem:

●     The most popular of the 2017 fitness technologies only incorporate a handful - goal setting, positive messages, feedback, simple rewards, and social supports. (Sullivan 2017) - of the 26 behavioral change tools (Michie 2011) identified to support the exercise-naïve.

●     Comparing the research over the last analysis over the last decade, there has not been much of a change in this direction. (Cowan 2012; Conroy 2016; Sullivan 2017; Mercer 2016; Michie 2011).

●     Identifying individual barriers and subsequent barrier problem resolution strategies, essentials in the transformative process are “rarely included in fitness trackers and smart phones” (Mercer 2016). These are essentials “in changing not only physical activity behaviors but also beliefs in one’s own ability…” (i.e. self-efficacy) and yet remain completely overlooked. (Sullivan 2017).

What are the key features that fitness technologies should deliver to optimize your exercise-naïve client’s success? The 10,000 foot view:

1.   The transformative process: A successful exercise app must, at its core, be focused on supporting transformation. The key is leveraging evidence-based BCTs.

2.   Education informs, it does not transform: Education moves minds ever so gently, one small step at a time. It is an essential piece for the exercise-naïve.

3.   Networking the client to the Healthcare Professional (HCP), given the value to the client is 200 – 300% improved outcomes. Impactful!

Over 80% of patients will quit in the initial months while making efforts to transform their life. Why not offer guidance on what to avoid?


1.Michie S, et al. “The behaviour change technique taxonomy (v1) of 93 Hierarchically Clustered Techniques: Building an Interventional Consensus for the Reporting of Behavior Change Interventions.” Annals of Behavioral Medicine 46.1 (2013): 81–95.

2.Michie S, Ashford S, et al. “A refined taxonomy of behaviour change techniques to help people change their physical activity and healthy eating behaviours: the CALO-RE taxonomy.” Psychology and Health 26.11 (2011): 1479–1498.

3.Michie S, Abraham C, et al. “Effective Techniques in Healthy Eating and Physical Activity. Interventions: A meta-regression.” Health Psychology 28.6 (2009): 690–701.

4.Conroy D, Yang C. “Behaviour change techniques in top ranked mobile apps for physical activity.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine 46.6 (2014): 649–652.

5.Cowan LT, et al. “Apps of steel: are exercise apps providing consumers with realistic expectations?: a content analysis of exercise apps for presence of behavior change theory”. Health Educ Behav. 2013 Apr;40(2):133-9. doi: 10.1177/1090198112452126. Epub 2012 Sep 17.

6.Mercer K., et al, Behavior change techniques present in wearable activity trackers: a critical analysis. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth (2016)

7.Sullivan A, et al. “Behavior Change with Fitness Technology in Sedentary Adults: A Review of the Evidence for Increasing Physical Activity”. Front Public Health. 2016; 4: 289. Published online 2017 Jan 11. doi:  10.3389/fpubh.2016.00289 PMCID: PMC5225122






The Cost of Inactivity

Inactivity is expensive.png

The real power of a professional's support -- A small pilot with 7 PCN exercise specialists. Numbers speak volumes! 

Grand total of Minutes Supported

 over 33,000

Grand Total of Supported Workouts





Make that New Years Resolution (or any other commitment) STICK

Success with a new commitment takes much more than will power.


Well, first congratulations to your client - well placed intentions, a New Year’s Resolution or a new health commitment. They have opened that door. Now what do we do to make it stick?  The foundation to the “sticking with it” attitude is all about “will power.” But there is a problem here, the data is clear - Only 8% of resolutions relying on will power alone will be successful. That means a huge 92% of resolutions fail. By week three fully 1/4 to 1/3 have failed.  

Only 8% of resolutions relying on will power alone will be successful.

Exercising will power requires a lot of concentrated mental energy. As does avoiding what one does not want to do. Since will power is a finite mental resource, and even more on those days you return home exhausted, a different approach is necessary. 

The solution, leveraging three powerful emotions makes it more likely to move that commitment to the side of success.

The “Social Emotions” – Pride, Gratitude, and Compassion - are the Three Musketeers that simply make will power and intent successful.  David DeSteno of Northwestern University College of Sciences coined the term Social Emotions in his book Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion and Pride. (By the way, a great read). 

We know from the research that 1 out of every 6 times we attempt to resist a temptation we fail. When we use will power we are fighting the desire to do some thing more pleasurable in the moment (sitting on the couch after a tiring day) in contrast to something that is better for us in the future. You can guess what eventually wins if you are tempted enough times… What really moves and motivates people is not will power but rather it is what we feel.

3 Social Emotions that compliment will power in pursuing goals:

1.     The Power of Pride: This is the well-placed pride which is authentic to your own abilities – not to be confused with what DeSteno calls “arrogant hubris pride,” the obnoxious bragging kind. According to DeSteno, there is increased personal investment that is directly related to the pride from the social acclaim of friends and respected professionals, that is,  “positive” peer support. This authentic pride is at the foundation of personal pressure to stick with it, that is, independent of will power, yet assists it. In the lab, participants taking pride in a task became increasingly diligent in the pursuit of that challenging task, even when that task was of little personal value. Professor DeSteno demonstrated that adopting pride (in conjunction with will power), can magnify the results over and above using will power alone.

2.     The Power of Gratitude: This one is simple. It is based on ones attitude. Feeling gratitude and satisfaction minimizes the lure of instant gratification (that inner voice saying sleep in or I am too tired today) at the expense of the long term goal. To demonstrate this DeSteno describes an experiment: “Take $17 now or delay taking it and in a year get $100.” Impatience and immediate gratification wins out and participants chose taking the $17 dollars now.  However, if participants performed the exercise of taking only 5 minutes and recalling something they were grateful for, making themselves feel grateful, the self-control more than doubled. In addition to this, others have shown People who feel grateful, value their future goals more dearly. Similarly In a smoking study feeling an emotion and recalling it made their goal of not smoking easier to accomplish than just enforcing will power in fighting with the urge.  The take-home message: In introducing the exercise commitment explore with your clients what they feel gratitude for and suggest they com back to this daily.

People who feel grateful, value their future goals more dearly

3.     The Power of Compassion: Go easy on yourself! By exercising compassion, we become more tolerant when an “oops” occurs. With this new-found tolerance, we can direct our energy into improving next time, rather than beat ourselves down. Let’s face it, life happens and as long as we are committed, we will persist toward the positive outcomes that we desire.

To summarize:  Employ the Three Musketeers of social emotions in supporting clients new goals. This can not be overstated. At the initial intake explore with your clients these three emotions as attached to their goal:

·      Pride: Make it personal. Internalize it, even where one is their own third person providing recognition and praise of their accomplishments. When it comes from trusted peers even better.

·      Gratitude: Just taking time to "feel" grateful results in placing increased value on future goals.

·      Compassion: Improves the sticking with it after hitting a bump in the road.

Acknowledgments:  a 2018 CBC interview with Dr. DeSteno, and his book, Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion and Pride, edits by Steve Payne

Dr. PJ Rawlek….

The Three musketeers: Pride, Gratitude & Compassion

The Three musketeers: Pride, Gratitude & Compassion



For Older Adults: Losing Weight & Building Strength

Elderly Obese.jpg

For many senior adults, maintaining or improving functional fitness and physical performance is important. This refers not to being able to run 5k, or squat 150lbs, as it might to you or I, but rather having the ability to carrying the groceries home, climb the stairs to the front door, or bend and pick up the spoon that fell on the floor. These seemingly mundane tasks of daily life are fundamental to being able to live independently – one of the most important things to many people as they age. As we age, we naturally become frail, and being overweight or obese can exacerbate this process. Preserving muscle mass and bone density is important to maintaining physical ability, so losing weight must be done carefully to preserve muscle mass.

Researchers conducted a trial among nearly 160 overweight seniors, who were on average 70 years old. They wanted to know the most effective way for seniors to lose weight, while maintaining their functional fitness. The methods tested were aerobic exercise alone, resistance exercise alone or a combination, compared to doing nothing.

As one might expect, physical performance improved in all the exercise groups, compared to the people that didn’t do any exercise. The greatest improvements in fitness were seen in the group that did both aerobic and resistance exercises.

As far as weight loss, all groups doing exercise lost on average 9% of their body weight. However, the groups doing resistance exercises preserved more of their lean muscle mass. Weight loss among seniors can accelerate age related loss of muscle mass, so engaging in weekly resistance exercises may help to slow this process.

The bottom line here for many people is that if living independently is important to you, partaking in ANY exercise will go a long way to making that possible. Remember that all groups improved their functional fitness. If you know nothing about weights, just get started doing something you do know how to do, like walking or attending Aquafit classes. From there, you can slowly learn more about other types of exercises – perhaps there is a senior’s fitness class in your community – you might meet some new people as well! Focus on what you can do right now, and you might be surprised what you can do a year from now!

Reference: Citation: Villareal DT, Aguirre L, Gurney AB, et al. Aerobic or resistance exercise, or both, in dieting obese older adults. N Engl J Med 2017;376(20):1943-1955.



Will Power

Pick one habit and focus on that.

One Habit- Krista.jpg

It’s tempting to want to overhaul things when we’re feeling motivated. Perhaps you’ve had a wake up call of sorts and you’ve made the decision to adopt a healthier lifestyle! That’s great and making that decision is a big step in the right direction!

Often though, people will want to make a few big changes at once. Why not become healthy right away – no time to waste! Quit drinking, take up clean eating and start exercising three times a week before work. On their own, each of these changes require a strong dose of self-discipline. All of them together would be daunting even for a professional athlete. To successfully change your lifestyle, you have to adopt these changes one by one. Even if it means it might take you a year or more to get there.

Hint: forget about how long it takes you to get “there” because there is no “there”. Lifestyle changes are an ongoing process, you will never “finish” making the change. Rather, you will just become the change and no longer think of it as a change.

Say you want to start exercising, cut back on coffee, eat healthy and keep a better sleep schedule. Pick one. If that’s starting to exercise, then don’t worry about the other ones for now. That might mean you don’t lose the weight you wanted, because you still indulge in the afternoon when you hit the 4:00 wall, but it’s not a race. Once you’re exercising regularly, then it’s time to focus on the next habit. One baby step at a time.

Take all of your self-discipline and pour it wholeheartedly into the change you want to make. If you try and allot a little bit to each new habit, none of them will stick. Instead, go all in on exercise. Then, go all in on improving your sleep schedule. It might take months before you’re able to even think about working on the next habit. That’s ok though, because you’re in this for life.



Under Construction

under construction.png

Impatience?  Unrealistic expectations?  Challenges faced in working with many exercise initiates. Two common oversights with exercise-initiates are first, not discussing early on the realistic expectations from exercise (and time frames to reach these), and second, not clearly defining what are the targets one should really focus on.  The consequence: building frustrations that erode away early at motivations to continue exercising.


People starting to exercise want to experience the deliverables, the results, the fruits of their labor. If not now, they want them soon. We are in a society use to immediate deliverables, where you type it in, immediately you get it. The dopamine pathway of satisfaction is fed repeatedly with immediate deliverables. Who has not encountered questions on why are the results not coming as expected or at the same rate as before?


Let’s focus briefly on appropriate targets one should aim for.

Here is the Achilles heel to qualifying efforts through physical metrics such as weigh scales, tape measures, mirrors, and so on.


Your client announces they will be stepping on the scale weekly to measure results.  Is it wiser to redirect this client, minimize the relationship of physical metrics as a qualifier of ones exercise efforts?  We all know too well the factors that complicate stepping onto a scale frequently to “see what I have done.” Yet, it’s hard to avoid this metric. The doctor informs you, “you are overweight”. Then there is the on-going discussion about “weight” and its relationship to disease risk. It is the reason you are told to start to exercise. It is what you see everyday. So it is understandable that it is what the patient will use to define their effort and health. All evidence of using weight related metrics in exercise have had profoundly disappointing outcomes in the long term.

How to redefine those initial exercise outcomes?

My discussions go something like this:

The initial physical health changes from exercising are internal, building those foundations of lifelong health, for example, coronary arteries increasing in numbers, coronaries stimulated to grow ever-larger, all with the intent to build the best piping for increasing blood flow as you get healthier, the integral physical changes. These initial changes are mostly unseen, like the first steps in building a new house. The early work is a number of activities, but no evidence of a house being built, digging water lines, running electrical wiring, digging and pouring the foundation, and so on. Essential steps to eventually building a solid home, in similar fashion it is the unseen core changes that must be in place first before your body is rebuilt.

Exercise in the first months builds the pump (the heart) to improve in delivering the oxygen carrying blood.  Like that new home that eventually will stand before you after months of work so your external body look and your heart will evolve into your new home for the remainder of life. This is a gradual process and like the new house being built what you see early is clearly not what you will be living in… Oh and by the way regular maintenance for your new home, lifelong daily healthy activity, a must for a lifelong guarantee to be healthiest to the last heartbeat!!




The Achilles Heel of Goals that are 'Targets'

heavy load.png

We need goals to motivate us. Correct?

Having goals and achieving them builds confidence. Correct?

Is there a down side to goals that are targets?

For the exercise-novice, yes there could be. Over the past two decades I have observed both the positives and negatives of goals that are targets.

Made it. The chase is over. Victorious.

At our most primitive roots we carry a preselected wiring that is in conflict with achieving a hard sought after goal and then… continuing to exercise. This primitive wiring, the driver to chase down the goal, was a necessary part in our survival in hunting & gathering cultures. That positive side of this wiring is it drives you.

Then, what happens when you caught your goal. Now what? In a primitive hunting and gathering mindset, when you capture the big enchilada, you stop. You feast. You rest. Done. Those crazies in the primitive tribe continuing to run around, well, in times of scarcity that was genetically preselected out. 

So the way we evolved we inherently struggle with that primitive wiring: Time to rest. The chase is over.

Given that goal that is accomplished results in a “I did it” or “I made it” mindset. That outcome, sharing an attitude similar to athletes, to our ancestors, to others, “what is life “after” achieving the goal?” I got the trophy. Finished.

Finished?? For the exercise initiate this is disastrous.

My solution: Limit targets. Avoid establishing end-goals. Unless they are aspirations like, “I want to remain healthiest the last heartbeat through physical activity”. Otherwise you will face the attitude of the feast and rest mentality.

Too Big of a Bite?

Goals, to be valid motivators for the average goal-setter need to possess a number of characteristics to optimize their utility.  Particular value or loss there of is if the goal is too lavish, that it, is either unlikely to be achieved or it will take a very long time in the pursuit of achieving it. Too big, too long to accomplish, that goal is a death to commitments for the average Jo.

Goals need to be “seen” as attainable. If a goal is too far, then organize more easily reachable goals that lead to that outcome. (But refer to my first point, the outcome must still be a step and not a target that evolves into becoming the end-target).

Solution: No goal should be so large it chokes most who take a bite into it. Too large of a goal will discourage. Avoid the oversized goal, it becomes an insurmountable wall that will be your client’s demise.


1.     Avoid end-goals or hard targets. All goals should be a transition to the next phase, a continuum.

2.     Small bite size goals work best. Where there is no avoiding a big goal, build in small incremental steps.

3.     All targets should fit into an overall plan of establishing healthy daily living. This is the ultimate target your client needs to keep chasing. 

I welcome your comments.



Understanding and leveraging intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

old lady motiviation.png


Extrinsic motivators: Motivators that involve an external reward or a goal.

Intrinsic motivators: Enjoyment derived from exercising, independent of any external reward.

Most human behaviour is not intrinsically motivated, initially. The impetus for someone to start exercising is commonly driven by extrinsic motivators. Extrinsic motivators can be viewed on continuum from a selfless to self-centered scale. This is not a value statement but rather a tool to better appreciate what motivates the client. (Note: motivators evolve and are updated over time.)

·      At the selfless end, an example would be “My motivation: I do not want to be a burden to my family or the healthcare system.”

·      At the purely self-centered end of the continuum, an example would be “My motivation: to look great in those new dress pants…”

Both are extrinsic motivators. This type of motivation is important to identify because it can help direct you in the management of your client. Encouraging the move from purely extrinsic motivation to a blend of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can improve your client's chance of success.   

To understand this better we provide a few essentials:

Pro Point #1

Identify in detail the extrinsic motivators that are the drivers for your client.

Pro Point #2

Be cognizant of (and briefly review) motivators prior to each client interaction. This is the foundation of habit formation. A quick review of your client's motivation will help you to better frame your messaging to that client. Specifically targeting your support to address your client's motivation allows messaging to speak more personally to the client.

Pro Point #3

Introduce your clients to "intrinsic motivation". In other words, ask your clients to reflect on how they feel during their workout. Extrinsic motivation often has a limited shelf life!! If your client feels good while exercising, this is can become motivation enough to keep doing it (regardless of external circumstances). Once your clients begin to feel more comfortable exercising, that feeling will eventually become the driver to continue exercising. This increases your client's chance of long term success. 



Identify & detail the extrinsic motivation in your client’s profile, their initial drivers for starting to become active. Then, prior to the next interaction with your client, quickly review both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. 

·      Make sure you introduce your client to the kind of intrinsic motivation that can be easily adopted. For example, asking your clients to note their mood before, during, and after exercise can help them recognise the positive impact of exercise. There should be no attempt made to replace extrinsic motivation. Rather, intrinsic motivation should be developed in addition to extrinsic motivation.   

If motivation is identified and properly utilised when a client starts to exercise, the transition to a regular fitness routine will be much smoother.