Avoid Motivation Disaster: 4 Principles To Improve Self-Efficacy.

Fight low levels of self-efficacy. Do whatever you can to obtain and maintain greater belief in yourself. How do you go about doing this? Learn more from the following factors that affect self-efficacy!

With New Year's right around the corner, many of you are going to start setting resolutions to make this the year you finally lose those last ten pounds that just seem to stick by your side regardless of what you do.

Will this be the year you finally see success? Or will lack of a so-called 'will-power' get the best of you?

Many factors go into determining whether one is successful on a diet and exercise program - the specific plan details playing a large role. You likely already know that putting yourself on a crash diet in attempt to remove the weight isn't the best plan because chances are, you've tried before and it failed - miserably.

Crash Diet
A crash diet is a diet which is extreme in its deprivations - typically severely restricting calorie intake. In other words a crash Diet forces your Metalbolism to not burn as many calories limiting your energy level. A crash diet is meant to achieve rapid weight loss, a crash diet differs from outright starvation only slightly. Crash diets are typically unhealthy and are rarely - if ever - recommended by doctors or dietitians. Crash diets can lead to malnutrition, and are not a recommended means of weight loss.

So, finding the right diet is definitely half the battle, but the other half is going to be largely psychological.

While there is something to be said about "will-power," perhaps the more important thing you need to look at is something called self-efficacy.

Self-efficacy can be defined as your belief in your own capability to organize and execute the courses of action required to produce a given goal. These beliefs you have will play an increasingly large role in your motivational levels to press onwards, despite any set-backs you may experience along the way, as well as your general mindset about how the diet and fitness program is going.

Those who show greater feelings of self-efficacy, are much more likely to put forth greater persistence, effort, and have more intrinsic sources of motivation in order to achieve their goals.

Furthermore, those who have low levels of self-efficacy, will be more likely to quit trying in the face of failure, abandoning the goal altogether.

So, it is in your best interest to ensure that you do whatever you can to obtain and then maintain high levels of self-efficacy.

4 Principles To Improve Self-Efficacy

Feelings of self-efficacy are influenced by four different factors. These are:

  1. Actual experiences you go through.
  2. Vicarious experiences.
  3. Verbal persuasions.
  4. Emotional and physiological states you find yourself in.

1. Actual Experiences:

    The actual experiences portion of this is just that, what you experience on a daily basis that will affect your belief in your own abilities. If, for example, you routinely find yourself eating at night when you don't intend to, this will then affect your belief in your ability to stick with the diet.

Eating At night
I find myself binging at night. I eat good for 2 or 3 days and have a crazy cardio session or weight session and find myself binge eating. Man I cant break that cycle. I know its something only I can change. I will eat clean all day and my body just goes crazy then. I have been on this cycle for a while now. I need my will power back. - kboxer.
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    Furthermore, how you attribute your experiences will also play a role. Those who view their successes more related to chance or pure luck, will not develop as high of a self-efficacy out of the experience as those who view their success due to hard work, perseverance, and internal skills.

Click Image To Enlarge.
How You Attribute Your
Experiences Will Play A Role.

    Likewise, those who view failures as solely due to internal factors, overlooking any environmental circumstances that may have played a role (the fact that you hadn't eaten all day long before you wolfed down that plate of brownies), will take any set-backs more harshly than those who do consider these outside influences.

2. Vicarious Sources:

    Next come vicarious sources of influence on your self-efficacy. This represents how you see others in their attempts with fitness and dieting in relation to you. If, for example, you start on a diet program at the same time as your friend, only she is losing weight at a doubly fast rate as you are, you may view yourself as less able to diet successfully.

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Be Sure That Your Gym Partner's
Failure Doesn't Lead To Your Failure Too.

    Likewise, if you have a gym buddy who is constantly skipping sessions, while you show up and put forth a full effort, their failure might actually serve to motivate you further, since your own self-efficacy will be increased. Do note that this can work both ways; if their appearance is one of the only reasons you are showing up, and with them failing to do so you start skipping sessions as well, obviously this is not going to mean good things for you.

The Training Partner: Best Friend Or Worst Nightmare? The Training Partner: Best Friend Or Worst Nightmare?
A good training partner can help you immensely in your workouts but a bad one can spell disaster. Before you decide if you want a partner, you need this information.
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3. Verbal Persuasion:

    The third influence that's seen on self-efficacy levels is that of verbal persuasion. This includes what others are telling you about your abilities and how susceptible you are to their influence.

    Putting this in the diet context, let's look at an example. If you are out for dinner and one of your friends asks you to split a slice of cheesecake with her, and you proceed to tell her you can't as you're really trying to stick with your diet, and she presses on - if you give in to this, thinking 'just this once', or feel guilty because you are letting her down by not sharing, this is you falling prey to verbal persuasion.

Click Image To Enlarge.
Don't Fall Prey To Verbal Persuasion.

    Generally, the less attention you pay to verbal persuasion the better. At times it can be beneficial, for example, if you have a really strong ally in your quest for maintaining your diet, who supports you and reminds you how strong you've been in the past when it comes to turning down food that's not on your plan, then this can definitely be beneficial.

Do You Have An Ally In Your Quest For Maintaining Your Diet?


    The trick is understanding the source of the persuasion and staying focused on whether it will serve to enhance you or work against you. Being able to decipher this will play a critical role in how it affects the outcome of the situation.

4. Emotional & Physiological State:

    Finally, the last factor that will play a role in your feelings of self-efficacy is your emotional and physiological states. How you perceive your emotional and physiological experiences while going through your diet and fitness routine will also affect your motivational levels to continue.

Click Image To Enlarge.
If You Feel Fatigued,
View It As Getting A Great Workout.

    For example, while doing an intense workout, if you are feeling fatigued, but rather look at these feelings as ones of demonstrating that you are working your body hard and thus are really getting a great workout, you will be more likely to maintain that workout then if you just keep telling yourself over and over again how tired you are, how painful this process is, how much you hate physical activity, and so on.

    Trying to put a positive spin on every situation, while definitely tough at times, can work wonders for your motivational levels.

Change Your Interpretation!
While we may not necessarily be able to control everything that happens in our world, we can always chose to make the best of it.
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    Likewise, if you are experiencing a small amount of hunger from your diet, if you begin to blow this out of proportion, telling yourself that you're constantly starving and feel as though you're in a famine, you'll have much less will-power to keep up the diet because you are believing such negative things.

Hunger/Dieting Question....
I know that when you're restricting calories that there is to be some hunger associated with it. Exactly how much? I know that's a subjective question, but does anyone have any advice on how to manage this? I have just gotten myself used to the fact that I can sense hunger again (after forcing myself to always eat 2.5-3 hours regardless) and want to ensure fat loss, but not overdo it to lead to a binge. - buffandspirited.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    If on the other hand you rationalize that yes, you are experiencing some hunger, however it is only for short periods of the day before your next meal occurs and is nothing you really can't deal with, you will find that you feel much more in control of the situation and as such, are much less likely to give up.


So, be sure to keep these four principles in mind in the coming New Year. While you definitely do need to find an appropriate workout and diet to match your goals, potentially more important is getting yourself in the right mindset to achieve success.

Those who expect to fail, will. This is a very strong statement that applies to many, many aspects in life, not just dieting. If you go in with a positive attitude, you are much more likely to come out on the positive side.