Motivation in just 3 words: Just Do It! –Nike

Just do it. That’s really all there is to IT, and if you really want IT, you’ll do IT; If not, you’ll find an excuse (paraphrased quote from Jim Rohn). There’s nothing magical about behavior change, EXCEPT, what happens when you don’t just do it? Well, then perhaps it’s time to dig deep and assess your “why.”

Motivation for weight loss usually starts out high. But then a rough patch hits. Perhaps it’s a job change or a health condition, but it’s enough to bump you off course and you struggle to get back on track. This happens to nearly everyone. That’s why it’s important to be clear about your reasons—the “why” behind your efforts. Goals must be flexible and instead of setting unrealistic goals, sometimes I recommend setting a wellness vision for yourself. Think of your wellness vision as the beacon in the ocean.  You may have some storms that push you off course, but you know where you’re going and you’ll get there no matter what.

Motivation must be deeply personal. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to your nutrition and exercise. We’re all so different in terms of our biology, genetics, lifestyle and preferences and so it stands to reason that our motivating factors would be different. You can’t do the diet that your friend Sally is doing and expect the same results. Find your own flame.  What makes you tic? Weight loss is a mental challenge more than anything.  What are the unique motivating factors that keep you pressing on? Generic reasons such as “better health,” or “to lose weight” are generally not enough to keep you going. Think of your motivation as a fire. If you don’t tend to it and add more material, it will eventually flicker out.

Build momentum. The hardest part of any new behavior is getting started. Don’t aim for perfection, but instead aim to get it done.  How many times have you finished a workout and thought, “wow, I really regret that I made myself exercise.” No way! You feel incredible after you exercise and you wonder why you just don’t do it everyday.  Just get started and chances are high that you won’t want to stop. Avoid the trap of all or nothing thinking and remember that anything is better than nothing. The interesting thing about motivation is that it usually occurs after you’ve started taking action on the new behavior, and not before. Only after your morning yoga can you be grateful for the effects of the practice. It may not have sounded like a good idea while in the comfort of your warm bed, but the rewards of the exercise are what you’re after.

Put decisions on auto-pilot by creating habits and rituals. So many people make the mistake of believing that if they only had more willpower then they would commit to healthier lifestyle habits, however, this kind of thinking is a trap. Willpower is a limited resource. Think of willpower as a teeny-tiny muscle and the more you use it in a day, the more fatigued it becomes. This is partly why so many people struggle with overeating later in the day. Successful people understand the limitations of their willpower and instead of the constant struggle, they have created habits and rituals that take the decision making out of the equation. They keep their home environment free from junk food. They pack their gym bag the night before. They schedule the yoga class as a recurring appointment.  A clean diet and daily exercise occurs only by building the habits.  If you leave it to chance day to day, it likely won’t happen.

Focus on the rewards.  Being healthy and whole, inside and out, does not just simply happen.  Good health requires an investment of time and energy, but hopefully you find that the payoff is worth it. Simply put, the benefits of weight loss must outweigh the cost involved. The author Steven Pressfield says it best: “At some point the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.” In other words, when you get sick and tired of being sick and tired, then you will commit to doing something different.  Growth and change is painful, but staying stuck in poor health is painful.  Will you choose the temporary discomfort of change in order to achieve great health, or will you choose the pain of staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong?

Motivation is a necessary component of weight loss, but motivation alone will not lead to lasting changes.  In order to successfully navigate the lifestyle change, motivation must be coupled with support and the right tools.  Stay tuned in 2017 because we have some excellent educational opportunities with our lifestyle classes, grocery tours and cooking classes.  Happy New Year!

About the Author
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Weight Loss Coach specializing in lifestyle transformation