Mike Uhrlaub

Aug 12, 2020

4 min read

How to Stay on TRAC!

Welcome back to another episode of Power Your Life by Flex Physical Therapy. On Tuesday, we talked about motivation, more specifically, how our brains work to create motivation. We also talked about how dopamine affects our motivation and how we can use implicit motives to improve our motivation. Today I would like to discuss the T.R.A.C. method with you so you can be even more successful in reaching your goals.

If you remember, when dopamine is released into the nucleus accumbens, it creates what we know as motivation. It tells our brain to take whatever action is necessary to complete an action. Dopamine is released whenever things go better than expected or when you receive an unexpected reward.

The Problem

The problem with dopamine is it levels off very quickly and becomes harder to get more from repetitive actions. For example, say you’re looking to lose weight but are not keen to running on a treadmill for hours. Instead you look around and find a dance class. After the first class, you leave super sweaty and feel amazing. You’re on a high from dopamine because this class you just took made you feel better and got you closer to your goals. With this new motivation, you decide to keep going to classes because you love the way you feel after you work out. About two weeks later you notice you’re no longer feeling the same high after class. You might even find yourself coming up with reasons to skip a class.

The reason this happens is because our bodies adjust very quickly. Even though it initially created a dopamine spike, after a while it no longer has the same effect. This is where implicit motive comes into play. If you use your implicit motive to help you stay energized, you can help keep that dopamine flowing.

T.R.A.C. Method

T.R.A.C. stands for Trigger, Response And Consequence. When you are faced with a decision and are leaning towards the choice you may not be proud of, stop. Think about what the trigger is.

An example of this would be, something happens at work and this is your trigger. Things fall apart and your morning doesn’t go the way it should. Your response is on your lunch. You decide you’re going to go grab a big juicy cheeseburger and a delicious soda because you had a rough day and you deserve it. It sounds amazing. But the consequences of that is then you feel sluggish, bloated, and tired for the remainder of the day. After work, you don’t even have the energy to go work out because you ate unhealthy for lunch. The rest of your day just comes off as a bad day and that’s the way it stays. If you had made the decision to eat something more nutritious, you may have the desire and energy to complete your workout. After you get off work, that rough day could be better. You would have felt like you overcame the obstacle of a hard day and maintain taking care of yourself. Instead the bad thing that happened earlier in the day ruined the entire day, as well as your ability to eat nutritious and work out later.

The T.R.A.C. method is a way to learn how to hold yourself accountable.

The next time you find yourself wanting to skip your workout, ask yourself, “Why do I want to skip my workout? Did something happen today? Or am I getting tired of my routine?” If you can’t think of a trigger that is causing you to not want to work out, it’s very possible you need to switch things up. You may need to reevaluate whether or not you are utilizing your main implicit motive. Or maybe it’s just time to try something new.

You can use the T.R.A.C. method to help stop yourself before you make a bad decision and learn how and why you’re making these decisions. Getting healthy is about so much more than just losing weight or eating better. It is just as important, if not more important, to understand why we make the decisions that we do. If we don’t understand what is causing us to make those unhealthy choices, then we run the risk of trying to blindly change our habits. Using the T.R.A.C. method will help you answer these questions.

If you’re interested, we have a free eBook called The Weight Loss Guide for Busy Moms and Dads. If you get a chance, go download the book and check it out. It has even more tips and tricks to help you with your journey to a healthier you.

That’s all I have for you today.

Until next time, stay healthy and Keep Moving Forward.