Morning! Happy July 1 – do you like my red, white, and blue breakfast?
I had a dippy egg with a whole wheat English muffin:
Plus, watermelon topped with pecans.
A lighter breakfast because I’m looking at 8 hours stuck in a car and am sure I’m going to snack out of boredom.
How to Get (And Stay) Motivated
Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of comments and emails questioning how to get motivated to be healthy – and actually make it a life-long habit.
I was definitely a yo-yo healthy person for many years (which, I suppose, made me pretty unhealthy overall). I wrote the other day that I really believe you have to do something for three months before it becomes habit. That means for 90 days, you need to wake up and make the DECISION to be healthy (and being healthy does not require perfection – see below). After three months, healthiness because a habit, like brushing your teeth, and you’re not faced with the intense decision-making everyday. You just do it. And you actually WANT to do it.
How did I step off the rollercoaster and make healthiness a habit? Here’s my easy tips on getting – and staying – motivated for life.
Believe That It Is Possible: You must believe in your heart that it is possible to change your negative behaviors, whether it is overeating junk food, never exercising, or negative thinking. Look around you for motivation – do you know someone who quit smoking or finally lost weight? I bet you do! And if they can do it, why can’t you? Believe in the possibility of changing your personality or behaviors.
Commit Yourself to a Lifestyle Change: If you want to pick up an exercise habit or lose excess weight, frame your decision in terms of a major lifestyle change for your overall HEALTH. This is key because working towards a larger, somewhat general goal such as “being healthy” frees you from having to get into XX size or running XX miles to be satisfied. Personally, I find that it is easier to stick with healthy habits when I think about how I want to live a long, disease-free life, have healthy children, and be energetic in my daily activities. Vanity is a motivator, that’s for sure – but it’s also transient.
Create Social Support: This is one of the primary reasons the healthy living blog community is so strong – when you have a support network of like-minded individuals who uplift and encourage you, it’s easy to stay committed to your lifestyle change. Outside of the online world, tell your significant other, friends, coworkers, etc. what you are doing and why. Ask for support and encouragement. Even if you find one supportive friend, that’s enough.
React to Backslides Appropriately: One of the primary reasons I used to yo-yo is that I reacted poorly to backslides. If I had a crazy party weekend with my girlfriends, I would feel like I had “blown it” and would eat junk food for the rest of the week. Thinking about your journey in terms of overall health makes it easier to avoid this problem – what impact does two nights of beer and pizza REALLY have on your overall lifestyle? Not much. Each meal or day is an opportunity to make healthier choices. Reacting with guilt or shame is counterproductive, so free yourself from the cycle.
Drop the “All or Nothing Attitude:” Similarly, it is so important that we drop the perfectionist attitude that so many women and men are prone to adopting. Healthy living is not about being perfect, so give yourself permission to believe that “something is better than nothing.” Because it truly is!
Avoid Sliding Back to Your Set Point: I really believe that we all have a healthy living ‘set point’ we kind of slide back to if we get lazy about our motivation levels. I think this set point is probably determined by a mix of personality, genetics, lifestyle, attitude, and social support. You know what I mean – if you have a crazy two weeks at work, you might notice that you start snacking on more candy bars and drop your workouts from high intensity to a casual stroll – or skip them entirely. One way we can avoid sliding back into this set point is to constantly challenge ourselves and mix up our workouts, meals, and mental exercises. Try new workout classes, sign up for races, buy a bike, go meatless for a month or learn to cook Thai food, read a book on personal growth, or do something nice for someone else. Keep the journey interesting!
How did you get (and stay) motivated?