Self determination theory

While the title is a little out there, I want this blog post to be about motivation and how to achieve the goals that you set for yourself. 

The self determination theory is more based around the social aspect of motivation and how that plays such a larger role than we realize. In society at large, we all put ourselves into our perspective boxes and have labels associated with that therefore if you are trying to make a change for your life, you are having to put on a new identity and if that is not something that is easily put into your life, then it's going to be hard to implement those different goals.

For the most part, in every area that I've worked in, the issue is not with the actual nature of the client. It's not about whether a person wants a change or not. They can even recognize that there are hard things that have to be done within that to make that change, however they seem to feel like they are always coming up short and not able to truly implement these changes into their lives.


I have realized how irresponsible and pointless it is to just "motivate and encourage" someone. It's important to really get to the root of what is going on. There is ALWAYS something going on. What are the triggers in the way of someone making that behavior change? What is the emotions that lead to the self destruction? And why do the things that we think will work to help keep us motivated NOT WORKING?! We lead into self guilt and self shame, and this is SO FLAWED. When has that ever served us? It never does and it never will, and it truly is not always your fault.

There are absolutely the people who are just making excuses, but 99% of the time, I have found that each individual person WANTS to change. The single biggest things for change are:

1. Understanding how habit change works

2. Recognizing your triggers

3. Replacing those triggers with something else


5. Making something part of your identity and your social structure

I think that when I say the word "trigger", we automatically put that towards something like health and fitness and most frequently with binge eating, but that's not what I'm referring to at all. I actually would love for this blog to shift away from things being so heavily focused on diet culture. I simply want to help people live better lives in all areas, and there are many things that we do that are self destructive that are introduced through triggers. Triggers are essentially habits, and the habit loop starts with that particular item.

The fifth item that I mentioned can also be used to lead someone to damaging behaviors. I DO NOT mean "lifestyle change" as if your lifestyle needs to suddenly be restriction. That is not a lifestyle change that anyone should have, but if you are someone that truly feels like they are doing something destructive, then it has to become something you say "I am not that person" VS "I'm going to try to restrain myself from that particular activity or thing".

For example, in order for me to become more mindful and live more consciously, which is a goal of mine to be more present vs judging myself on the past, then I have to say "I am someone who is positive and looking at the current moment and the joy in this moment. That is who I am. I am no longer going to obsessively ruminate." I truly am an obsessive ruminator (aka I am too hard on myself-most specifically the things that I say, the things that I do, and the way that I treat people).

I do want to lead this back into wellness changes because the patients that I specifically see are those that are diabetic that struggle with this the most. Shelby is a culture of the land of plenty for palatable foods with no convenience of healthy options anywhere really. The culture is steeped in diet culture specifically in the rejection of diet culture without even realizing it. From a very young age, it is not within culture to eat well therefore any attempt at "getting healthy" is a temporary quick fix as fast as possible VS deconstruction and working towards making a more balanced approach a sustainable part of the self. 

All of this is based on psychosocial things, but then we have to look at the way that these highly palatable foods affect us cognitively and through certain neurotransmitter pathways as well as the way that our microbiome is formed from childhood. Eating is considered the most complex human function, and even harder to study in clinical trials because everyone is so different. 

Virta Health is a company that exploded due to their "ability to reverse diabetes" and they are based on the keto approach. Keto works, and not just because it's low carb, but many other processes that work towards insulin sensitivity. The data is compelling, but the study shown is a 10 week study. That's all well and good, but is this something that these patients are going to do for the rest of their life and if not, then what have we accomplished? That's absolutely not reversal of diabetes. And it's not about making people change their "lifestyle" to the keto diet. That's just insane to ever expect someone to do so. 

So, how do we mesh all this? I don't know. But it's more complex and complicated than we can really piece together right now so I truthfully believe the one approach we should stay away from is "this way or the highway." 


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