11 Ways to Stay Motivated to Eat Well and Workout
by Abby Austin
You know what you need to do. Lately, you’ve been finding more and more reasons not to do it.
You may tell yourself you don’t have time, that you had a bad day and just don’t feel like exercising or eating well. Whatever the reason, this is when you start to question your willpower. How do you find motivation or inspiration?
I cannot give you motivation. But, I will provide you with the tools to use once you have found your motivation. Know why you are making these lifestyle decisions. You see, making smarter food choices, working out more often, and cutting unhealthy habits from your life is predominately mental.
You curse your willpower. But that’s only part of it. Preparation and using systems is important too! While your workout and diet can not be automated, you can automate your thinking. As Dr. Maxwell Maltz popularized, “It takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit.” Therefore, by automating your thinking to promote a positive habit over the next three weeks, you will start to notice change that will snowball into momentum. You no longer rely on emotion.
Here are some tips to keep your momentum to sweat more often and eat healthier:
- Set Short and Long Term Goals. Maybe you want to run a half marathon, or compete in a bodybuilding competition. These are both long term goals, as they take 12+ weeks to accomplish. If you have one bad training session, would you give up? No! You would dust yourself off and keep striving for continuous improvement. Set small measurable, attainable goals each week. Then, your long terms goals are met by the stepping stones of the small goals.
- Track Your Progress. Accept responsibility for your own action. There is no better way to keep to a goal than to have it written down, wether that be pen to paper or MyFitnessPal. Once you have a visual reminder, you are more inclined to stay on track. Don’t sweat it if you don’t meet your exact daily calorie/macro count. Or maybe you had to cut your workout short by 15 minutes. The point is, having the daily reminder and working toward those goals leads you on a path to successfully completing them.
- Give Yourself a Reward. Better health or weight loss is too vague. Sure, it works for some people but not most of us. It should be a real reward – something tangible. For instance, I like to eat frozen yogurt after an especially tough workout. It could be anything though. Maybe you allow yourself to watch ‘The Bachelor’ if, and only if, you get a workout in that day. Whatever the reward may be, creating what is known as a “neurological habit loop”, triggers the start of the behavior followed by the reward. Therefore, the behavior becomes more worthwhile and increases the chances the routine becomes a habit.
- Keep it Simple. Sometimes I get fancy in the kitchen and in the gym. It becomes a more involved, time consuming process. Because of that, most of the time I just keep it simple. For instance my dinner always consists of a baked or grilled protein, complex carbs (usually sweet potatoes or rice), and a vegetable. From preparation to plate takes no more than 30 minutes. I also find this makes things easier when cooking for a picky boyfriend too 🙂 Healthy food doesn’t have to be elaborate or tedious. As for workouts, I digress, I do find complex exercises a fun challenge. However, great form and progressive elaboration are far more important. Don’t take on a challenge you aren’t prepared for. You can injure yourself or become discouraged.
- Don’t Feel Guilty. We all love pizza. And ice cream. While you are working towards keeping a healthy diet, it’s important to not obsess over it. Stressing about how much or what types of food you intake will only take a toll on your health. You will feel defeated, which may cause overeating. Do not punish yourself by eating less food or exercising more to ‘make up’ for it either. You will indulge, you will miss a workout. No problem – tomorrow is a new opportunity to work even harder to hit your goals.
- Get Social: Most people workout alone – myself included. It may be easier, faster, and more convenient that way. However, sometimes having a workout partner is a great way to switch things up and keep you motivated. Your workout will be more fun, less stressful, and likely done in better form. You may even push yourself harder and be more excited about your next workout! Cooking with friends also keeps you more on track with your diet. Have a girls night in cooking a healthy meal accompanied by a glass of red wine.
- Spend Money. You are more likely to go to a yoga class if you pay for it, as opposed to it being free. A personal trainer may help keep you motivated rather than going at it solo. There’s plenty of options for food delivery with healthy, prepared meals delivered right to your door. Putting down money for anything – workouts, food, etc – keeps you more accountable because you don’t want to waste the money. While this may not be the most economical option, it can be one of the most influential tools to keep your momentum.
- Make Your Food Delicious. While this may seem obvious or too good to be true, there are various ways to make any healthy food taste good. Arctic Zero ice cream, protein packed Nuts N More nut butters, plentiful tasty proteins, etc. (Check out the Recipes I share under Nutrition). If you can make healthy food taste delicious, it sure makes it easier to continue eating. You can feel fulfilled and not deprived.
- Stop Defining Success by Your Weight. We are taught by society that your weight determines your health. While it is a factor, it is not what differentiates you as healthy or unhealthy. There are many factors that contribute to your health. Your weight is only one of them. Others include your lifestyle, diet, environment, sleep habits, heredity, etc. Therefore, do not let this number control you. Speaking from experience, this number can be one of the greatest detriments to your motivation. Instead, pay attention to how you look and feel. Truth be told, that is how I prepped myself for my last bikini competition. I made changes to my macros and workout plan based on my looking in the mirror, and assessing the power/intensity of my exercises.
- Understand the Power of Positive Thinking. Positive energy can have a huge impact on achieving your goals. As Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed, “Believe you can do it and you are halfway there.” Focus on how far you’ve come, and know every day you have a choice to live positively. Avoiding certain foods and getting down about a ‘bad’ workout will only make you frustrated, not motivated.
- Plan Ahead. I’m a planner. I plan my meals, I start my workout the same time every morning, and know exactly where and what I’ll do when traveling. This keeps me accountable, sane, and I actually look forward to meal prep Sundays. While you don’t need to go to this extreme, planning time to exercise and cook healthy meals is important. Keeping a workout schedule, much like you would schedule a doctor appointment, often makes it easier to maintain. Same with your diet; planning healthy meals and writing a grocery list makes your nutrition goals more attainable.
How else do you stay motivated?
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