It goes without saying, if you want to lead a healthy lifestyle, you need the motivation to see it through.
I get asked a lot how do I motivate myself to workout and eat well or what the secret to motivation is and I get messages from people wanting me to motivate them. Firstly, motivation isn’t something you can buy, it isn’t something someone can give you – it comes from within and we all have it, it is just a matter of finding it. Or having the motivation to find your motivation – a vicious circle I guess.
Whilst I can’t send you motivation and without me personally dragging your butt to the gym and preparing all your meals for you, you are going to have to do this all yourself. But, I will share with you where my motivation comes from and what I do when I lose it.
People are often surprised to hear me say that I lack motivation sometimes. Of course I do – I am human. If anything, I sometimes lack motivation more than a lot of people because there is still a very overweight girl inside or me and sometimes her voice is very loud (I don’t mean that in a crazy way – I don’t hear voice. Honest.) When it is cold outside, or my husband has the day off, or it is a day ending in Y, sometimes I just can’t be bothered to get out of bed early to workout.
Sometimes it is just a one or two day thing, but other times I get into a slump and I can go a while with no motivation and the longer you leave it, the harder it is to pull yourself out of. This happened when I was losing weight and it happens now when I am at my goal. I have got a few messages from people recently who are also maintaining a very large weight loss and they asked me if it is easier for me to lose motivation now that I am finished. Well, you are never finished. Getting to a goal does not mean the journey is over. But yes, it is more difficult now because sometime I do feel I should be done. I worked so hard with my workouts and healthy eating to lose weight, can I not just stop now (or not work as hard) and just skip the gym and eat all of my favourite foods in huge portions all the time? No. I can’t! Doing that will just lead me right back to where I was and that is my first and biggest motivator…..
– I am motivated by never wanting to go back to where I was: when I am losing my motivation, I remind myself of how hard I have worked to get to where I am now and I am not going to give all of that up.
– I am motivated by photos I hate: Most of us have photos of ourself that we look at and see was that really me? Or is that really me now? When I feel myself slipping back into bad habits, I look at that photo and I don’t focus on the physical aspects, but I think about how that person in the picture felt every day of her overweight life, feeling unhealthy. That soon gives me the kick I need.
– I am motivated by photos I love: The same way that I look at photos I hate to keep me motivated, I also look at photos I love – like before and after photos. Although they don’t show all the changes in my health, that remind me of my hard work and how far I have come. Make some before and after photos for yourself, it doesn’t have to be from a huge weight loss, even a few lbs. Just look at it and think about how much better you are starting to feel.
– I am motivated by up coming events: whilst I am all about being fit and healthy for LIFE, not just a one off events, when things like a big party or a trip away is coming up that I want to look my best for, I focus on that to keep me motivated. If I know I am going to be spending 2 weeks in a bikini soon, then I will hang it somewhere where I can see it as a reminder to not skip the gym or not snack out of boredom. I don’t do it to make myself feel guilty or to tell myself I am not allowed any treat meals, but I want to feel as best as I can for those events, and sometimes that means being a little more focused than normal.
– I am motivated by those around me: I am lucky that I am surrounded by people who support my healthy lifestyle and my husband has always been my biggest supporter. It can be difficult to find motivation when you live with someone who doesn’t have the same goals as you, but it doesn’t make it impossible, just a little more challenging. Whilst you should never compare yourself to other people and their journeys, as we are all very different, you can be inspired by them and that can motivate you. I look at other people’s health and fitness achievements and I am really proud of them and it make me want to reach all of my goals even more too. If you don’t have supportive people around you, join some workout classes where you can meet people with the same goals as you, or join and online weight loss forum to chat with other people going through the same things.
– I am motivated by rewards: In the beginning of my weight loss, I got into the VERY bad habit of rewarding my weight loss with food. It sounds so stupid, but I know so many people that do it too. It is easy to convince yourself that because you have been so good all week, and lost 2lbs, you can treat yourself to a day of take-away, ice cream, cake etc. Whilst it is important to treat yourself every now and again, rewarding yourself with food links food with emotions too much, and that is not a good road to go down. You should definitely reward yourself though! Changing your eating habits, and losing weight (if you need/want to) is a massive achievement and you deserve a reward. Instead of a food reward, buy yourself some new shoes, or a trip to the spa. These things will make you feel good, without undoing all your good work.
– I am motivated by keeping a food and exercise diary: Whilst this is not something that I do any more, I did it all throughout my weight loss and it helped me so much. Sometimes we think that we are eating right and exercising enough, but when you can see it all written down and you can look back over it, you might be surprised. I really liked being able to write down that I did another butt kicking workout that day and how it made me feel great. I also wrote down how I was feel after I ate certain things, this allowed me to deal with my emotional eating and when I felt like eating my emotions, I could read it and remind myself how it made me feel.
– I am motivated by keeping some of my old clothes: There are days when my head liked to play tricks with me and tries to tell me that I haven’t changed size that much at all and the mirror and scales are just lying to me. When this happens, I go to the back of my wardrobe (shockingly, Narnia is not there) and pull out the pair of jeans that I kept. Sadly these jeans are not what I wore when I was at my biggest, and I don’t have a picture of me wearing them when they actually fit but putting them on definitely reminds me of the changes I have made.
– I am motivated by charts and graphs: I liked keeping a weight loss chart somewhere where I could see it all the time to remind me how I was doing.
– I am motivated by goals: I am always setting myself goals, whether daily ones of long-term goals, but seeing them written down helps motivate me to do all the things I need to do to reach those goals. Want to run a marathon? Well you are doing to have to go out for that run to train for it? Want to lose weight? Well you can’t eat 3 cakes every single day. Keep your list of goals where you can see it.
– I am motivated by variety: If you are forcing yourself to do the same exact workout every day, 6 days a week, and eat the same meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner week after week, then I am not surprised that you have lost your motivation to continue to do it. You are bored! There is a difference between losing motivation and being bored with your routine. Try some new workouts, and cook some new meals – you will start to look forward to doing something new and the motivation will be there.
– I am motivated by how I feel after a workout: There is nothing like that post workout high. I used to get that same kind of high when I had a binge, but it was just followed by a lot of guilt and weight gain. After a really good workout, I feel awesome. I have so much energy and I feel more alive and I know I have accomplished something. When I don’t feel like working out, I remind myself how I will feel in an hours time when it is done.
– I am motivated by having some “me time”: Maybe you are looking at your workouts the wrong way? Don’t just see them as a way to tone up or lose weight, see it as time to spend just you and your thoughts.
– I am motivated by enjoyment: The fact is, most of the time I do really enjoy my workouts and I also love the feeling of having made a healthy and delicious meal from scratch myself.
– I am motivated by my health: every time I run, I do feel that little bit better. I can feel my cardio improving. When I lift weights, I feel stronger with each rep that I do. My health has always been my biggest motivator and it always will be.
The truth is, you are never going to be constantly motivated to workout or eat well. So, when you lose motivation, don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t see it as a failure, it happens to all of us, even those of us who seem to have it all figured out (we never do). Sometimes I am really motivated and working out and eating a salad seems like the best things ever, and other times I just want to put my face in some cake. You are likely to have more motivation in the beginning, as everything is new and you will see bigger changes, but once things slow down, so will your motivation. That is the time where you really need to get motivated to push through. Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom again to get that motivation back, and sometimes we can pull ourselves out of it quicker.
As long as you are committed to this journey and you are in it for the long haul, even if you lose motivation sometimes, or go off track for a few weeks, you will get back into it again. There will be ups and downs, but as long as you always go up after a down, you will be okay.
You need to find whatever motivates you. It’s all well and good me saying what motivates me to not binge on cheese, but this might not work for you. Find what works for you, and remind yourself of it. It will make the world of difference.