Does it seem like motivation is a now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t phenomenon? One day you’ve got it, and you’re happily following your healthy lifestyle plan. But the next day – without warning – motivation is nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, that is usually the way it is with motivation. It will naturally climb up and dip down. And fortunately, there are things we can do to keep it up more often and to nudge it back when it falls.
Put Your Vision on Paper
Write out your vision of your healthy self. Include how you feel, what activities you engage in, the clothes you wear, who you are with and all the details that make this vision feel real. Read your vision often, especially when motivation dips. If it’s hard to get started, close your eyes and imagine what it will be like in six months to five years if you are feeling your best and doing the things that are most important to you. Ask yourself how taking care of your health is a critical factor in reaching this vision.
Include Why This Vision is Important to You
What motivates you to take care of yourself now will likely motivate you later. Writing these motivations down will help keep them at the top of your mind. Many clients tell me that being a role model to their children motivates them. Others say that they want to take fewer medications, return to a favorite sport, live vibrantly into old age or spend the next decades traveling the globe.
Stay Out of a Rut
There is comfort in routine, but the same ole exercise program and the same ole breakfast, lunch and dinner do indeed get old. Challenge yourself to learn a new sport or take a new exercise class every few months. If you jog daily, explore new neighborhoods or parks. Mix up your diet by trying new foods or new recipes at least once weekly. This Breakfast Trifle is a simple way to add some jazz to your morning routine.
Celebrate Non-scale Victories
Instead of focusing on the numbers on the scale, give yourself a pat on the back for new behaviors mastered. If you’re eating a wholesome breakfast regularly instead of a handful of sugary cereal, you’ve got something to celebrate. If you’ve traded in your salty, highly processed vending machine snack for a piece of fruit, you’ve got one more thing to cheer about.
Hang with the Right People
Spend more time with friends and family who share your desire for healthful eating and an active lifestyle. Who we spend time with and where we spend that time, does matter.
Sharing your progress and your struggles with someone else can help you stay motivated and focused. Pick a day each week or two to check in with a friend, wellness coach, or registered dietitian nutritionist.
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND has worked as both a nutrition counselor and a diabetes educator in the hospital and research settings, and now in private practice in Newport News, VA. Jill is the author of Diabetes Weight Loss – Week by Week and two upcoming books, The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition and 21 Things You Need to Know about Diabetes and Your Heart. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Association of Diabetes Educators and the American Diabetes Association. Jill is a paid contributor to Sucralose.org. Follow Jill on Twitter @NutritionJill and find more at www.JillWeisenberger.com.