First of all, let me point out that I cannot provide you with motivation. That has to come from you. I have found that many people will join a gym, hire a trainer or buy themselves a treadmill thinking that will provide the motivation they need to start leading a healthier lifestyle. I may be able to say something or do something that will motivate you to complete a workout or try a healthy recipe, just as you could motivate me to do the same. But to make a lifestyle change or push yourself past your comfort zone has to be a conscious decision on your part, one that you must take responsibility and ownership of. I think of it along the same lines as people who go to the doctor for a bad back, wanting the doctor to fix it. They don’t want to hear that they may have to sacrifice some of their favorite activities for a while, or perform tedious exercises every day. They just want them to make it better. To put it bluntly-it ain’t gonna happen. That being said, what I can do is make some suggestions that might help you find that internal motivation. Here are some of the things that have worked for me, or people I have worked with in the past.
- Make it personal-goals are crucial to keeping us motivated, but if the goal is too vague or doesn’t have some personal meaning, it is very easy to lose the desire to achieve it. For example-having the goal of “I want to be in better shape” is a great goal-but it probably won’t get you out of bed at 5AM to exercise before work. “I am getting winded playing with my kids in the yard-I want to be able to keep up with them” has a much better chance of working. Some other examples:
- Set both short and long-term goals-it is very easy to get frustrated while attempting to achieve a long-term goal. There will inevitably be setbacks along the way that will make you question your ability and/or drive to be successful. Short-term goals give us things to celebrate and feel good about along the way. Which is a very important point-celebrate the successes! You did it-give credit where credit is due 🙂
- Enlist the help of others-whether you vow to swap a healthy recipe that you have tried with your friends once a week, or make an appointment to meet up with someone to work out, it helps to be accountable to others. Amazingly, most of us are much less likely to let down a friend or loved one than ourselves. I had a group of people from work that I met up with once a week to workout. Almost without exception, I would think to myself “I don’t really feel like working out right now” before each meeting. Yet I went every time, because I didn’t want to let them down. I had a great workout-and a great time-at each and every one!
- Manipulate yourself-know your strengths and weaknesses, and use them against yourself when necessary! Many of us have the tendency to set a goal, but then think to ourselves that we probably won’t be able to accomplish it because of (insert reason here). What we are really doing is giving ourselves an out. I challenge you to think of reasons you will achieve your goal. And it doesn’t have to be pretty-I use one of my weaknesses to my advantage! I am a very prideful person-too much so sometimes. But I know this about myself, so anytime I set a goal that I know will be difficult to achieve, I tell EVERYONE! The ONLY reason-and I am not exaggerating, you can ask my husband-that I did not back out of my first triathlon is because I had told too many people I was planning on doing it, and I didn’t want to have to tell them I chickened out. Is that a good thing? I’m not sure. But it worked! I not only finished it, but had so much fun I did another one two months later 🙂
- Have a mantra-this is mostly for the physical aspect of living wellthy, but it can work for anything. Find a word or phrase that motivates you, for whatever reason, and repeat it when the going gets tough. For example, my mantra is courtesy of Lance Armstrong: “Pain is temporary; quitting lasts forever”. Find one you like, and stick with it. I will start posting random quotes for inspiration along the way 🙂
The final thing I will suggest is make small changes-ones you can live with. The surest way to set yourself up for disappointment is to attempt to change everything…drastically…and all at once. How many of us have done this: cut out all unhealthy foods, started working out every day, quit smoking, quit drinking, quit any other vice, all starting on the same day? That is not maintainable. Take it easy on yourself-you have your whole life to work with 🙂
What motivates you? If it works for you, there is a good chance it will work for someone else, so please let us in on your secret!!