May 25, 2024

Motivating Teens by Maggie Ayre

What Motivates Teen Girls to be Active and Eat Well?

The Top 4 Questions They Should Be Asking Themselves

The UK Government and NHS recommend that teenagers and kids should do a minimum 60 minutes exercise every day.  Nutritionists recommend a diet rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, poultry, meat, fish and plenty of water.  Some teenagers seem to manage this easily enjoying a healthy diet at home and limiting treats to an occasional indulgence. However, for some teen girls being active and eating well doesn’t come so easily.  This can be for a variety of different reasons:-

1.    They have decided that they’re too old to “play”
2.    They don’t feel confident in their ability
3.    They don’t feel comfortable with their (ever changing) body shape
4.    They prefer to do inside activities
5.    They don’t see the point of exercise and activity
6.    They like chocolate, sweets, crisps, pizza, chips etc
7.    It’s easier to eat fast food

We know the benefits of being active and eating well, but that’s often not enough for your teen.  Instead of telling them to do more exercise see if you can turn things around and get them thinking of all the benefits.

Encourage them to sit down with a pen and paper and answer the following questions:-

Q1.  What results would you like to see from exercise and healthy eating?
There’s no doubting that the ultimate cure for lack of motivation is results.  Most people will start to see the results from exercising and eating healthily in less than 2 weeks.  They then become excited by the changes they see and feel.  Having a happier, healthier life and watching the body you have always wanted develop right before your eyes is both motivating and empowering.  When your teen decides what results she wants to get from exercise and healthy eating encourage her to find a plan tailored to those results. A great way to reinforce this motivational tool is for them to put a picture of how they currently look and put it somewhere they will see it regularly.  Add a new picture every four weeks and celebrate the changes they are seeing – this can be used for muscle definition, an improvement in complexion etc just as well as for fat loss. Another way to reinforce the results is to track their progress daily in a journal including the exercises, weights used, and sets and repetitions. They will quickly see all the progress they are making and how fast it is happening.  Nothing gives you motivation to exercise like results and you will see them in your journal even before your picture looks any different.

Q2.  What would your ultimate goal be from exercise and healthy eating?
Setting a goal can be incredibly motivating.  It’s got to be a specific goal with a deadline, and it needs to be a reasonable target. The deadline will push them to get the most out of their exercise and nutrition program and as long as the goal is reasonable (neither too easy nor unobtainable) it will keep them motivated.  When they reach their goal it will be time for a mini-celebration before setting a new, specific goal to take them to the next level.

Q3.  What are your reasons for exercise and healthy eating?
Ask them to sit down and write a list of all the reasons they are exercising and eating well along with their specific, reasonable goal and time-frame.  They could place this list beside their ‘before’ picture and read it regularly.  This will provide reinforcement and motivation to exercise and eat healthily – keeping the reasons for the hard work at the forefront of their mind.  Reasons could be anything; look good for a holiday, fit a particular dress, get rid of teenage acne, have more energy etc. They could add to this a list of all the benefits; increased energy, increased mental focus, increased self-esteem, increased sense of control over their life, reduced chances of heart attack, osteoporosis, breast cancer, increased strength and stamina, reduction of stress, etc.

Q4.  How do you like to exercise?
If they like roller blading or swimming or tennis or swimming or…(you get the idea), include it as part of their exercise plan. Make it fun and it won’t seem like a chore, but encourage them to do something everyday.  Meeting and working out regularly with a coach, friend or a team, especially one who is at about the same stage will really help to motivate!  Help and encourage each other, celebrate and commiserate together and enjoy the company.

After spending her teenage years as an international athlete Maggie Ayre qualified as a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Adviser. For the last three years she has specialised in teenage girls working as a Fitness Coach for Teenage Girls. In 2012 Maggie will launched her Girls Nutrition Workshops and her 3G Program as well as continuing her work with individual girls and their mothers. She has just completed her third book; “Nutrition for Exam Success – A Parent’s Guide.”  She is available to speak at schools, women’s groups and community events. More information about Maggie’s work with teenagers can be found at or