Staying motivated is hard.
Correction, staying motivated to watch the latest episode of Lupin on Netflix is easy. Staying motivated to improve our health is hard.
Of course you don’t need much (or any) motivation to do something you want to do and enjoy, but you need tons of motivation to do something that you “should” do. You’ll always find time to watch The Great British Bake Off but suddenly run out of time to workout or cook a healthy meal.
In simple terms, improving our health typically means spending time exercising (vs doing other fun things) and eating healthier foods (vs eating fatty, salty, sweet foods). When you put it that way, no wonder it’s hard! But…if you want a different tomorrow, you MUST do something different today.
First, find your motivating factors. People often cite weight-loss as a primary motivator to exercise and eat healthy, but dig a little deeper. How about doing it to:
- Prevent serious health problems in the future (like those faced by your parents or other family members).
- Set a good example for your kids.
- Be more active and be able to participate in physically-active events with family & friends.
- Have more energy
- Feel younger.
The more specific and personal your motivation, the more likely you’ll be to do your workout BEFORE watching Lupin and to choose a banana more often than a Snickers.
For most of my life, my motivation to work out was to lose weight and “get in shape.” I’d start a new workout program with gusto then after a few weeks, I’d abandon it and only workout sporadically. I stayed in this cycle for years. But sometime in my early 30s, everything changed.
I found a motivating factor that resonated with my soul: to be a stronger hiker. I wanted to join my super-fit brother on his backpacking trips in the Sierra Nevada mountains and be able to keep up, or at least not lag way behind. And the rest is history.
Despite having found my driving force, it was still hard at first. When I wanted to skip my workout, I’d think back to how I felt as I lugged my heavy pack up the mountain on my first multi-day trip, like my heart and lunges would burst out of my chest and my shaking legs would collapse.
That memory was the kick-in-the-butt I needed to put my workout clothes on and get it done. As I started to get stronger and able to keep up with my brother, working out became more satisfying, then it became fun and shifted from something I “should” do to something I loved doing.
Maybe you won’t ever love working out and you’ll continue to begrudgingly eat a banana when you really want a Snickers but if your motivating factors are close to your heart, the things you “should” do to get healthy are more likely to get done.
And hopefully over time, instead of thinking “I should eat healthy foods and workout’’, you’ll think “healthy foods are pretty tasty and working out is kinda fun.”
Tips to get & stay motivated to exercise and eat healthy:
- Find YOUR motivating factors. Why are you doing this? Think of how you feel now and imagine how you’ll look and feel when you’re exercising regularly and eating healthy foods.
- Set goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound). Start with small, short-term goals (e.g., This week, I will complete all five of my Let Fit Happen workouts and I will eat five servings of veggies each day). Then schedule your workouts for the week and set reminders on your phone.
- Share your goals. Tell a friend, your partner, your kids your daily workout and healthy eating goals so they can motivate you and keep you accountable.
- Tap into your competitive side. Start a 4-week workout and/or healthy eating challenge with friends or family members who also want to get fit and healthy. Sweeten the pot with a prize at the end (i.e., first place gets an all-expenses paid spa day, a mani/pedi, a round of golf, or a home-cooked breakfast in bed every Sunday for a month).
- Join the Let Fit Happen Facebook group and share your goals with the group. Then each day, post your successes – that you’ve gotten your sweat on and/or that you’ve achieved your healthy eating goal. This will keep you motivated and accountable, and your successes will motivate others who are working toward their health and fitness goals.
And…when you feel like giving up, remember why you started.
Stay healthy y’all.