Someone recently sent this question from my “Ask Me Anything” box on the right side of the blog:
Emmie, where do you get your motivation?? I get motivated but it doesn't seem to be long lasting.. I want to know how to keep the motivation going?? I am about the same size as you I know I can do it but have become really unmotivated.. Help!!
This is such a complex question. Motivation is different for everyone. I can't tell you what should motivate you to try to lose weight, nor can I tell you what you can do to stay motivated. As you go through a fitness or weight loss journey, what motivates you often changes.
For me, my original motivation was to FIT. I have written about this before- just wanting to live my life and be able to FIT wherever I need to. Fit socially with friends, fit physically in spaces like airplane seats, bathroom stalls, restaurant booths… The ultimate motivation is LIFE. My sedentary lifestyle at 455 pounds was a pathway to an early grave. I had to make the choice. Inaction meant death. Action meant life. So I chose to act.
When I was at the gym on Saturday with Trainer Rob putting me through a high intensity workout that included me jogging sprints, my only motivation was to get finished so I could say that I did it. I wasn't thinking about “life” or anything like that. Getting through that workout and knowing the sense of accomplishment afterwards was enough to get me through it.
Today, my goal is to get in enough water today and to do my low intensity workout. My motivation is to put a little check mark on my calendar that I did my activity for today. I know that I must make that little check mark in order to keep on the right path. Nothing more complex than that.
Here are just a few ideas I have to help you manage your motivation (WASTED):
- Write it down: When motivation strikes– write it down. What was the trigger to make you feel motivated? Embarrassing situation? Medical issue? What? By writing it down, and writing down how the situation felt and what you want to do about it, you have a physical reminder of the motivation. When you feel like making a bad choice that would throw you off track, refer back to what you wrote down. Even if it doesn't stop you, hopefully it will make you pause a little.
- Ask “why”: When you lose your motivation, ask yourself “why.” Something has to have triggered that feeling that “it's not worth it.” I am a master at finding reasons why I should quit. I can make excuses “life shouldn't be this hard” or “people should just accept me as I am.” These coping statements are what we're used to saying to ourselves- we're giving permission to give up. This is unacceptable. Maybe you ran into an old high school friend who looked great, and it triggers you to get upset and turn to food to cope. Why did you do this? Why do you think food will make you feel better? Look at it like chess- think several moves ahead. What is this decision you're making going to do in the long run. Where will it put you in the game?
- Surround yourself with motivators: This is the main reason I started the blog- to feel surrounded by people who I could share what I was going through. In my personal life, I talk about my eating style and workouts with co-workers, so they know when it's donut Friday, to not push me to grab one. My husband is a fantastic motivator- just in life. He has one of the hardest jobs on earth and works his heart and body out at it. Trainer Rob is a great motivator. My girlfriends are great motivators. All of you are great motivators. Don't use the excuse that you don't have any motivators around you. If you need a motivator, just email me!
- Time out: Sometimes we get in this routine where we forget why we're doing what we are. Why am I going to the gym 5 times a week? Why am I getting my ass up at 5:30am to fit it in my busy schedule. Why am I eating this way? I know for me, the more cognizant I am of the reason for which I do things helps me make better choices. Reflect back to your written down motivation. Think about what else can motivate you moving forward. Do this regularly.
- Evaluate: If you really are burned out and seem to have lost your way- take a step back and evaluate. Evaluate what you've been doing, and evaluate why you feel burned out or “over it.” Is your exercise routine so boring that you dread it? Have you been eating the same 3 foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner and you just CRAVE a change? What are things you can do to make the journey easier. Don't be afraid to switch it up! Try new things, new foods, new experiences. Find the joy again.
- Dive in: When all else fails and you really feel you can't identify that motivation right now, you can always dive in. What do I mean? Every day, do 1 thing to change. Take a walk. Skip dessert. It's amazing how you'll find motivation after you accomplish a few small things in a week. You know the saying, “fake it till you make it?” One of my favorites.
I hope these help. I would love everyone else's thoughts about these, and your own tips and tricks for finding, and keeping, motivation.