The other day I got an email from one of my friends on sparkpeople.com, asking “what keeps you motivated?” This person was trying to get back on track toward some weight loss and fitness goals, and I was able to offer some support.
Motivation has to come from within. It’s not easy to get fit, and even when you find your fitness, the challenges to maintain and build it are still very real. So if you don’t have a true and burning desire to get fit, then you probably won’t be able to do it.
On the other side of that, if you DO have a true and burning desire to get fit, then you WILL be able to do it. So ask yourself, “how bad do you want it?”
If you want it, and you want it BAD, then the five motivational tactics I share may support you in your journey. The techniques have one common thread – they are ALL designed to help you KEEP YOUR GOALS IN MIND when the everyday challenges of reaching them are wearing you down.
1. Always have a mantra…or a few. To avoid the temptation of unhealthy eating, I might say something like, “sacrifice is giving up something you want now for what you REALLY want later,” or the old standby, “nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” When I work out, something simple like “get it,” or “you got this” can work really well, just repeated over and over. My new favorite is “one more,” which I got from the Gatorade commercial. Collect them. Try them. Put a few in rotation and always keep an all-star lineup.
2. Always ask yourself, “will this help me get closer to my goal?” Your goals represent what YOU want. And it is the sum of YOUR choices that will get you there. So you should be constantly asking yourself, “will this help me get closer to my goal?” Your goals are decisions you made about what you want. You chose them. Now it is up to you to make the choices to get there. It is your choice to go to the gym. It is your choice not to eat that cookie. Try saying to yourself, “I could have dessert if I wanted it, or I could skip it. But it is up to me to make the choice that will bring me closer to my goal.”
3. Think about willpower as a muscle. To build muscle you need to focus on using it. You need to push yourself beyond what is comfortable, but not harmful. Willpower works in a similar way. So for example, you have a craving for your favorite unhealthy food, and there isn’t a single healthy substitute that will satisfy that craving. Hold that willpower for as long as you can. Can you make it through the day? Can you make it through the week? Then, BEFORE you devour 12 servings of it, or BEFORE you eat hundreds of calories trying to compensate, take a break. Have some if you want it. Just a little. And ENJOY it. Next time you’ll be able to flex that willpower muscle for a bit longer. But you’ve got to exercise it.
Here’s another tip on the willpower muscle: Think about the way that you can push through an uncomfortable physical exercise because you know there will be relief. Similarly, you won’t have to give up your favorite treat for that long, just a little longer than usual, and then you can get some relief. So hold out on that gallon of ice cream for now, and look forward to enjoying a scoop of your favorite flavor. And refer to #3 if your having trouble – remember it is ultimately your choice.
4. Visualize & Imagine. This is incredibly powerful for me. Say you are doing some cardio, try imagining that as you pedal or step, you are leaving a trail of your own melting fat behind you. Or try imagining that as you go, you are leaving behind all of the things you don’t want in your life. The faster you go, the faster you shed these things – the further behind you leave them. And the closer you are getting to what you want.
5. Press Fast Forward. Go an hour “into the future” and imagine how you will feel AFTER you make that tough decision. An hour after you decide to go to the gym. An hour after you eat that grilled chicken instead of the cheeseburger. Or go a whole day into the future. How will you feel tomorrow when you’ve stuck to plan today?
I hope these techniques can support you in reaching your goals, and I hope I’ve inspired you to come up with some of your own. Be creative. Be meditative. Figure out what you want. Then get it.