Move Those Motivation Muscles
Through the good days and bad days; the ups and the downs; the temptations, struggles and setbacks, it is sometimes difficult to get and stay motivated. Notice: difficult; not impossible. We all have the ability to overcome apathy and stay in a place of motivation, a key factor in living a Lifelong LifeStyle Mentality.
I’m not talking about the kind of motivation that says, “I’d like to have this some day,” or “Wouldn’t it be nice?” or “I wish…” I’m talking about the kind of motivation that does not take “No” for an answer; the kind of motivation that never settles for less. This is the motivation that gets you out of bed in the morning, guides you throughout your day… your drive. Your commitment to yourself and to reaching your goals must be complete and absolute. It must be a burning desire that lives inside of you.
I’m Worth It!
You must believe that you deserve to reach your goal. You must believe that there is no other option but to reach your goal. Eliminate all other possibilities and back up plans from your mind. Resolve yourself to reaching your goal even if it takes you the rest of your life. While you’re at it, change your mind- from fat to healthy, from out of shape to in shape from failure to success.
Rather than focusing on reasons why you can’t; focus on reasons why you can, will and must reach your goal.
This type of powerful enthusiasm is not reserved for a select few. The potential for this type of passion exists right now in you. You just need to tap into it. The first step is to tackle the origins of lack of motivation. Discuss the following questions with a partner or during group meetings:
- Am I burdened with distractions (a troubled relationship, drug or alcohol use, difficulty making decisions, anxiety, or the daily demands of life)?
- Am I prone to engaging in self-defeating or self-destructive beliefs and behaviors (fear of failure, fear of success, eating disorders, a lack of confidence, or other emotional problems)?
- Do I have a lack of desire or interest (a lack of clear, defined short and long term goals; a belief, conscious or subconscious that good health is not really important to me; a general understanding that good health is not a priority among my friends or family)?
- Am I dieting and exercising for the wrong reasons (to find a mate, to make people like me, thinking it will solve all of my social or personal problems, thinking fitness is a means to an ends rather than a lifestyle)?
- Do I have any physical, medical or physiological concerns that need to be addressed (inadequate amounts of sleep and rest, high levels of stress, poor nutrition, any medical conditions, chemical imbalances)?
Once we have identified those barriers, we can address each one individually. Discuss the following questions:
- What are the ways I can minimize my distractions (allowing myself a mental and emotional “time-out” from relationship woes, entering a treatment program, working on decision making skills or assertiveness, practicing relaxation techniques, delegating responsibilities)?
- What are some techniques I can use to overcome my self-defeating habits so that I can focus on the positive aspects of my life (prayer, Scripture memorization, meditation, journaling, counseling, self-forgiveness, positive self-talk, plain old fashioned practice)?
- What can I do to increase my desire and improve goal setting skills (visualization, writing my goals down on paper, posting my goals where I will see them every day, taking ‘baby steps’ and rewarding myself for them, making new friends, making the conscious choice to make health a priority in my life)?
- What are some ways to solve the non-weight-related problems I am trying to correct with dieting and exercise (networking with friends, joining a club or taking a class, going on group dates, inviting friends over for dinner or game night, resolving to talk out any relational problems with a friend, family member or mate)?
- How can I most effectively address any physical, medical, or physiological concerns (consult a medical doctor, sleep specialist or nutritionist; create an individualized plan of action for each concern or issue)?
The Right Stuff
The next step in staying motivated is to find the right motivation for you. This has to come from deep within; a highly personal, individualized reason why YOU want to lose weight and get in shape.
Do any of these reasons match your motivation? Circle or highlight the ones that are important to you:
- get rid of that jiggle
- increase your muscle tone
- fit into a smaller size
- improve or eliminate a medical condition
- be around (and healthy enough) to enjoy your children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren
- be able to do 20, 30 or 40 push ups
- complete that 5K, 10K or 20K run
- look and feel great (or at least comfortable!) in your swim suit this summer
- rid yourself of that nagging inner voice that keeps telling you to improve your health
- feel a sense of accomplishment
- set a good example for family members
What are the reasons why you personally want to lose weight, firm up, get in shape, and be physically fit? Write them down. Post them in a prominent place. Think about them. Set goals concerning them. Remind yourself that the “pain” of cutting down on sweets or increasing your activity level is far better than the pain you may endure if you do not reach those goals.
Keeping It Up
The final step is keeping it up. Getting and staying motivated takes work. Consider the following questions:
- Will I show up to an aerobics (weight training, spinning, etc.) class more often if I know someone is waiting there for me?
- Will I benefit from hiring a personal trainer to assist me in my fitness goals?
- Does the idea of learning a new dance, activity, or sport interest me?
- Am I setting realistic, challenging, specific, and measurable goals?
- Do I reward myself for reaching my goals? (note: rewards should not be food-related)
- Are my rewards inspiring?
- Have I made a personal commitment to myself to stick to my plan of achieving weight loss success?
- Am I able to forgive myself and move on after I’ve “blown it”?
- Am I in this for the “long haul,” regardless of low-motivation days and other setbacks?
What other motivators can you put to use?
We are aiming for progress, not perfection- keep going! Review previous weeks until you know them by heart. Let this stuff sink into your very being. It's part of who you are- a healthy person! See you next week!
Melinda Haynes, MA, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
California lic. no. 102308
The persons depicted on this site are models. Photos do not represent or guarantee results.