On an everyday basis it can be difficult to coax ourselves out of bed to even get to work or take the kids to school, let alone get up to exercise or prepare our healthy meals and snacks for the day. The one element that will determine whether these steps toward change get done is motivation. I have spoken with clients who tell me that they don't have the motivation to change but know that they need to change. They come to me for the magical answer of when they will get the motivation to be healthy. My answer to them is that there is no magical answer. The motivation to change is going to come from within each and every person for different reasons and at different rates of time.
Here are a few ways YOU can identify where your motivations lie and how you can use them to help you gain the momentum you need to be successful on your healthy lifestyle journey.
- Make a list of 3 reasons why you want to get healthy. This could be to lose weight, feel more energy, get off of some of your medications, or to lower your risk of heart disease or diabetes. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to remember why we need to get healthy to keep us wanting to try to get healthy.
- Make a list of 3 people in your life that mean a lot to you. You may ask, "What do the people in my life have to do with ME getting healthy?" The answer is...a lot more than you realize. Many of us spend our days and nights helping others in our workplace, households, and in our communities. In most cases, helping others make us feel good about ourselves, make us feel accomplished, and make us feel fulfilled in one way or another. In this way, our contribution to the people in our lives makes us feel good about ourselves, which in turn is likely to make us feel more motivated to do good for ourselves. In order to continue doing good for others, we must be in good health to do so. Therefore, if we remember those we care for, we remember those people in our lives that make us feel good, and we will be more motivated to get healthy so that we can spend many more years with those people in our lives that mean so much to us.
- Set goals to accomplish in the short term and long term. In order to stay motivated to change our ways, it is important to have something to work towards in both the short term and the long term. It is important to first take time to set long term goals that you ultimately want to accomplish. These goals should be those that you want to accomplish in 3 months or more. At first such long-term goals can seem out of reach and difficult to accomplish, which is why is essential to also set short-term goals that, as accomplished, will help to build a solid foundation of motivation along the way to accomplishing your long-term goals. These short-term goals should be set every week to help you to gradually nip unhealthy behaviors in the bud and will work towards accomplishing your long-term goals. An example of a long-term goal might be to eliminate high-sugar foods from your regular diet. A related short-term goal may be to stop drinking regular cola, which is high in sugar.
- Realizing the risks of not changing your unhealthy behaviors. Whether you are on blood pressure or diabetes medication or not, it isn't difficult to see around us the effects of unhealthy behaviors. Heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is the leading killer in the United States of America, with stroke and Type 2, or obesity-related diabetes not far behind. All of these chronic diseases are strongly nutrition-related diseases that could be prevented through eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. Complications of stroke include paralysis, brain damage, or death, while uncontrolled diabetes complications include eye damage that could lead to blindness, or nerve damage that could cause numbness in the hands and feet that could cause foot damage and place limbs at risk for amputation. Sometimes it takes a tough love approach like exposing these risks to get some people to fully understand the potential effects of their unhealthy behaviors.
These are just a few of the ways you can find the motivation to change your lifestyle. Remember that you may have bumps along the way and may not feel fully motivated from the start, but just remember the reasons why you chose to start making changes in the first place and use those influences to move you forward on the lighttrack to health!