By Tony Neal

We all are probably aware of what motivation is, but how do we explain it to others in a way that makes sense, when we all feel motivated by different factors as individuals. Motivation is the desire to achieve something, which stems from a reward type system. That can come from an actual materialized reward or a personal feeling. We as people can gather motivation from both of these types of motivational ideas.

Extrinsic Motivation is gaining motive from outside factors such as participating in a sporting event on a team to win the game. Another example would be a high school student needing a scholarship, and doing particular things in order to give them a better chance of qualifying/receiving one. These external factors help push us as individuals toward a goal that we can quantify or materialize.

Intrinsic Motivation is using inside factors from within one’s own mindset to further achieve a goal or outcome. For example a person who wakes up extra early to work out due to time constraints or other commitments in their daily routine. A person who takes special interest in a topic and chooses to go to the library in their free time to furthermore read and research more information. These specific examples are motivational ideas that start from within an individual.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivations are both very important in their own way. When it comes to fitness and health related goals, they become vital! Each person will vary in what drives them to continue on working towards their goals, whether it is losing weight for better health, or wanting to be around for kids/grandkids, or simply just wanting to look physically better for a significant other, a vacation, a wedding, etc. Most fitness people understand these concepts and how important it is for them to practice staying motivated as well as motivating others.

Some ideas that I have come across in my 11 year fitness and health journey, include both extrinsic and intrinsic motivating factors. I have competed in numerous competitions where I was trying to win a prize, which to me was a huge driving factor. I have attended a university to gain a health degree, to be able to make a career in something I am passionate about. I have also spent many years trying to achieve further knowledge and understanding of my own personal goals and fitness related concepts. It serves as a constant reminder as to why you are doing things to help get you closer to your goals. Here is a list of some motivation tactics I like to use to help myself:

  • Using the background of your phone to save keywords or a picture of your goal
  • Writing sticky notes and placing them in the bathroom on the mirror where you get ready
  • Surrounding yourself with positive people and limiting time spent reading negative comments
  • Using social media as a platform for ideas and positive reinforcement
  • Keeping a notepad or person journal to write down any ideas or thoughts
  • Purchasing particular sized clothing to use as guide to see results
  • Creating musical playlist that fits the situation or mood you are looking for
  • Reading self-help or autobiographical stories on other people who have achieved/overcome amazing circumstances
  • Taking personal time to reflect in silence with just your own thoughts and all outside factors gone (phones, people, TV, music, etc.)


Tony is 30 years old and has a high level of passion for health and wellness. Tony has been a fitness specialist for 5 years and a personal trainer for 7 years. He graduated from Miami University (OH) with a B.S. in Kinesiology. He gets the most enjoyment out of teaching individuals that they have the power to change their body and mindset with enough hard work, knowledge and discipline. Outside of work Tony enjoys traveling, cooking, and sports.



Grateful for your health?

The idea of thankfulness and gratitude (remember last month’s article? ) are showing up everywhere.  For good reason. Gratitude can change your outlook and make significant improvements to your quality of life.  But now researchers are suggesting that you might be able to make improvements to your health simply by being grateful.  Check out the current research and a few suggestions for implementing a plan for being grateful.

Read it here!

Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try Today by Francisco Flores

In this busy world of ours, the mind is constantly pulled from pillar to post, scattering our thoughts and emotions and leaving us feeling stressed, highly-strung and at times quite anxious. Most of us don’t have five minutes to sit down and relax, let alone 30 minutes or more for a meditation session. But it is essential for our well being to take a few minutes each day to cultivate mental spaciousness and achieve a positive mind-body balance. So if you are a busy bee like me, you can use these simple mindfulness exercises to empty your mind and find some much-needed calm amidst the madness of your hectic day.

The following four exercises take very little effort and can be done pretty much anywhere at any time:

1. Mindful Breathing

This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. All you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute. Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body. Let go of your thoughts. Let go of things you have to do later today or pending projects that need your attention. (

2. Mindful Observation

This exercise is simple but incredibly powerful because it helps you notice and appreciate seemingly simple elements of your environment in a more profound way. The exercise is designed to connect us with the beauty of the natural environment, something that is easily missed when we are rushing around in the car or hopping on and off trains on the way to work. Choose a natural object from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower or an insect, or even the clouds or the moon. (

3. Mindful Awareness

This exercise is designed to cultivate a heightened awareness and appreciation of simple daily tasks and the results they achieve. Think of something that happens every day more than once; something you take for granted, like opening a door, for example. At the very moment you touch the doorknob to open the door, stop for a moment and be mindful of where you are, how you feel in that moment and where the door will lead you. (

4. Mindful Listening

This exercise is designed to open your ears to sound in a non-judgmental way, and indeed to train your mind to be less swayed by the influence of past experiences and preconception. So much of what we “feel” is influenced by past experience. For example, we may dislike a song because it reminds of us of a breakup or another period of life when things felt negative. So the idea of this exercise is to listen to some music from a neutral standpoint, with a present awareness that is unhindered by preconception. Select a piece of music you have never heard before. You may have something in your own collection that you have never listened to, or you might choose to turn the radio dial until something catches your ear. (


About the Author

Francisco is a 30 year experienced Fitness Professional certified in Personal Training, Group Fitness Training, Pilates Training, Yoga Training, Zumba and Spinning Instructor. He is a BaySport Assistant Fitness Program Manager in San Francisco. He enjoys teaching Group Fitness classes. He also enjoys spending time gardening and riding his bike throughout the Berkeley Hills.