3 things to consider next time you want to make some lifestyle changes

After a three day conference at the Norcal Fitness Summit, one of the topics that stuck with me was the Self-Determination Theory presented by Steven Ledbetter otherwise known as “STEVEO” founder of Habitry.

When we begin to think about enhancing or changing our habits towards nutrition, fitness, sleep, or stress, we usually start with an exercise routine and eating a little healthier. However, before we even get started we have to think about our MINDSET. What will get us and keep us motivated to sustain the changes or improvements as a lifestyle. It’s when we have consistent motivation that we see positive results and reliable success. Motivation is the key to confidence during this process.

So let’s dive into the self-determination. We would define it as a focus on different types of intrinsic motivation in order to fulfill one’s basic physiological needs. There are three basic human needs and they COMPETENCE, AUTONOMY, and RELATEDNESS.  Before embarking on the journey of improving your lifestyle, keep these three in mind:

  1. COMPETENCE : the ability to know how to deal with a situation enhances our adherence and gives us satisfaction both resulting in motivation.

For example, if you are not quite sure how to perform free weight exercises correctly or how to improve your energy via nutrition than the likelihood of you being motivated to make it a part of your lifestyle becomes difficult because there is no clarity or understanding of how.


  1. Next is RELATEDNESS : belonging to a community who supports our efforts and that is engaged in the same process.

We have all experienced trying to create change alone vs having support and or people along side us going through the same journey. It makes things easier when your significant other goes to bed early if you want to get more sleep right? It also helps when you and co-worker decide to start eating healthier lunches and track your food together on a app. Having some sort of belonging and close relationships with people who share common values and goals makes it a lot easier to stay engaged and be successful!


  1. Last is AUTONOMY.

“I’m choosing to do mindfulness meditation for 5 minutes a day because it’s going to help me improve my stress and believe in living stress free life” Ok that’s not realistic but you get the point! We want to be in control of our destiny and choices have to reflect our bigger purpose or our WHY. 

The more intrinsically and emotionally invested you are to a goal the more willing you will be to stay on course.

In summary, before you decide to improve or change any lifestyle habits, start with making sure you built in competence, relatedness, and autonomy into the equation. It just might help you stay motivated and more likely to make it an everyday part of your life.  



Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being., Ryan, Richard M.; Deci, Edward L., American Psychologist, Vol 55(1), Jan 2000, 68-78.

Jemma Edmunds, Nikos Ntoumanis, Joan L. Duda
First published: 9 August 2006, Full publication history DOI: 10.1111/j.0021-9029.2006.00102.x

Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health., Deci, Edward L.; Ryan, Richard M., Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, Vol 49(3), Aug 2008, 182-185. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0012801

Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in exercise and sport., Hagger, Martin S. (Ed); Chatzisarantis, Nikos L. D. (Ed), Champaign, IL, US: Human Kinetics Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in exercise and sport.(2007). xv 375 pp.


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