“Andrea, what do you do when you don’t feel motivated?” is a question I get asked. A LOT.
For a long time I didn’t really know how to answer. I’d simply respond with “I just do it anyway.” (And, I may be guilty of saying “Motivation is bullshit.” Because I really think it is.)
But recently I read a friend’s blog on SparkPeople.com about motivation and healthy habits, and suddenly it dawned on me:
I don’t think about motivation, because eating well and exercising has become a habit.
As of this writing I’ve logged into SparkPeople.com every day for the past 819 days. That’s more than two years solid of tracking my food and working out at least 5 days a week.
Are all my workouts stellar? No.
Is all my eating perfect? Hell no!
But I do it. Every. Damn. Day.
I get up in the morning and while I sip my coffee I diligently track my food. Lunch (almost always leftovers from the night before) and dinner come first, then I decide what I’ll eat for breakfast, depending on both mood and macros (protein/fat/carbs). Snacks get filled in throughout the day, but I always start the day off with my main meals tracked. It’s a ritual for me now. Eating the same food for lunch as I did for dinner the night before takes the guesswork out of macros and planning 7 additional meals per week.
Just after that, six days a week, I get my workout on. On the rare occasions I don’t, I notice a change in my mood. Working out helps my mental health as well as my physical health. I don’t work out for long periods of time; on average my workouts are 30-40 minutes long. But if I sweat and get my heartrate elevated it usually means I have a good day, emotionally at least.
Plus, I feel way more energized throughout the day if I workout in the morning.
Many people look at eating right and working out as something they HAVE to do to achieve their goal of losing weight. The problem is in the perspective there: instead of suffering through something you hate to get to an end point, focus needs to shift on learning to love the PROCESS. This will make the goal a beneficial side effect.
A few years ago I was having a talk with a friend about my weight loss. I had just hit goal and I was talking about how I was both the same person and a different person altogether. I’m physically different now, obviously. But I’m also recreation-ally different. I used to watch tv and play video games (I am NOT BASHING THESE THINGS, for the record. I still love a good video game and I watch tv regularly). Now I prefer to be out and about outside with my walking group, or I’ll jog in place while I watch tv because I can’t sit still for so long. At work I’ll go for a quick walk around town or I’ll take my dog Bingley for an extra walk if it’s an especially nice day, not because I have to, but because I enjoy it! The old me wouldn’t have gone out and done something with strangers, but now I go to Adventure Runs in the summer and I joined a science fiction book club. I have all this things I love to do now that I’m physically able to. And at the same time, everything that made me who I am up until I was 30 and decided to make the change is still there. It’s an amazing dichotomy.
The journey is the real adventure, not the goal. I’d love for you to join me. 🙂
Here are some great tips for creating healthy habits from Active.com:
1. Create Your Goal
What’s your goal? Make it a reasonable one. Dropping 30 pounds in a month may not be reasonable goal, but 5 to 10 pounds might be.
2. Be Specific
How many pounds would you like to lose? What part of your body would you like to see toned? Is there a certain date or event you would like to reach your goal by?
Figure out what you want and write it down.
3. List the Step
Once you’ve established a goal, make sure you list the steps it will take to achieve the goal.
For example, instead of just saying you want to get in better shape, plan to work out three days a week. Or, instead of saying you want to eat healthier, plan to eat three servings of vegetables per day.
4. Write Down Your Goals
Put your commitment in ink. Permanently promise yourself that this goal comes first.
5. Write Down “Why”
Don’t just write the goal itself. Write down why it’s important to you, too.
6. Place Your Goal Somewhere Visible
Place it on the refrigerator, in your car, or on the bathroom mirror so you can see your goal every day.
7. Mark Your Calendar
Write in the times and dates you will complete each workout. If you put it in your schedule, you’re more likely to commit and make it a routine.
8. Stay Positive
For each day you complete a workout, draw a star on your calendar. Or, better yet, get yourself some gold stickers. You did a great job, so mark it down.
9. Read and Reread
Continue to read your goal and steps each day to make sure you’re on track.
10. Congratulate Yourself Along the Way
For example, you lost 10 pounds in 30 days, reward yourself with a massage.
What are the healthy habits YOU want to create? How will you make them happen? Let me know in the comments.