Motivation to achieve your health goals can be fleeting, at best!
You might start off with a healthy breakfast and then by mid-afternoon you find yourself reaching for a third doughnut. I’ve been there!
Or maybe you took the time to meal prep your lunches for the week and then someone brought in a huge tray of goodies to the staff lounge and it totally derailed you. Yep, been there too!
Maintaining your motivation in the long term can feel impossible. Many people feel stuck- like they can’t get any traction in the right direction. The scale won’t budge, or it only goes up instead of down. Or maybe you will lose 5 pounds and gain 8 back. All the while you are spinning your wheels trying to figure out where your energy went! If this is you, you are absolutely in the right place!
Quick Side Note
Some who read this will have a very unique set of circumstances. For some of you, what I say here will not be feasible in this season. And that’s okay as long as it’s only one or two seasons.
Beyond that, you need to find a way to make some changes!
Okay, let’s dive into the basic motivation hacks that can help you finally achieve your health goals.
Motivation Hack #1: Make your health a priority
This might not sound like much of a hack, but let me explain…
For some of you, the reason you haven’t achieved your health goal is not as much because you don’t know what steps to take to achieve it, but because everything else in your life takes priority over your health.
Remember what the flight attendant says about the oxygen mask? To put yours on before you try to help a child or other person. This is because if you pass out from lack of oxygen you won’t be available to assist them in getting oxygen, which puts both of you at risk in an emergency situation.
In your life, it is not selfish to make your health a priority. That’s so important I need to repeat it…
Instead, prioritizing your health actually
- improves your own ability to be there for those around you
- increases your mental capacity to think more clearly and be emotionally present with those you love
- increases your physical endurance to deal with circumstances of life
- can even add months or even years to your life expectancy, allowing you to love on your family and friends much longer than you could have otherwise
- it makes you a much more pleasant human being to be around.
Even with all these benefits, it’s easy in the moment to make excuses. Do any of these sound familiar?
Well I can’t workout because the kids really need me right now.
I just have too much work to do to eat lunch today.
I’m running late for an appointment, I guess I will just do a drive thru.
The kids are driving me crazy right now. I just can’t cook.
Ouch! Did I hit on an excuse you use often? Sorry bout that, but I promise it’s all just in a spirit of tough love!
Honestly, I totally get it. Sometimes it can just be plain hard to make your health a priority. And there are certainly days I throw in the towel and give in…
but that CAN NOT be your default without you paying the price on the scale, with your energy level, and possibly even with your life expectancy!
So consider what it is that always seems to take precedence over your health. Think about how that person or commitment would benefit from you being a healthier, more energetic version of you. Then choose daily to put on your own oxygen mask first.
Motivation Hack #2: Make it YOUR health goal
You might know you should lose weight, but if you don’t want to lose weight, you won’t… at least not for long.
Perhaps you know you should give up sugar, but you just can’t seem to turn down dessert. This is because knowing and choosing are two entirely different things.
It’s pretty easy to know what change should happen… you might notice it every time you walk by a mirror, or you might just feel it when you drag yourself out of bed all achy and creeky in the morning.
But deciding you are ready to do something about it- that’s harder!
I recommend sitting down and doing a bit of self searching. Grab a pen and pencil, or if you prefer pull up a word processing document. Work through this basic framework to help guide your next steps.
What are the things I feel I should change?
Write down everything that comes to mind like a huge brain dump. Write down anything and everything that you have been told or just instinctively feel inspired to change related to your health. Take at least 5 minutes to get all of your “should’s” on the paper/computer screen.
What are the things I want to change?
Review your first list and pick out the ones you want to be true of you. If you know you should stop drinking soda but you aren’t ready for that change yet, don’t include it. But if you know you need to stop eating GMO foods and you feel ready to tackle that, include it on this new list. The point is to figure out which things you feel you should do that you also feel ready to do.
Choose your top 3.
Lifestyle changes are hard. Taking on too many things at once can be not just overwhelming, but entirely unsustainable! If you limit your goals to 3 (or less), you are more likely to have traction on those goals. If 3 already feels overwhelming, there’s nothing wrong with only tackling one!
Make the goals tangible.
For each of your top 3 goals, write out your why and your how.
Write down the reasons you want to accomplish this goal. Why is it important? How can it improve your life and your health? What opportunities could it provide you?
What are the steps you need to take to make it happen? Write down the logistics. If you want to start drinking more water, write out your plan to make it happen. Whatever your goal is, describe in as much detail as possible how you will make it happen.
Summarize each goal in a concise motivational phrase.
Here’s a formula of how it can look, but feel free to tweak it so it make sense and is motivating to you.
I know that probably looks a bit overwhelming, but I believe an example will make more sense.
Example: I want to stop drinking sodas because they offer no nutritional advantage and are keeping me from achieving my weight loss goals. I will start drinking a cup of water when I feel the urge to grab a soda and slowly decrease my soda intake by 1 can a day over the period of 3 weeks. In 1 month I will be soda-free!
Tip: Be sure to tweak this statement so it is as motivating as possible to you based on your own intentions as possible. Remind yourself of the impact on your own health, your family and friends, your quality of life, etc. Consider this your opportunity to pre-emptively give yourself a pep talk before this goal gets hard.
Bonus Tip: Consider your own personality. If it would be better for this to be an audio recording on your phone, do that. If you respond well to a visual board, go ahead. I would still recommend you start with the written out statement and tweak it from there so you mentally and emotionally work through all the crucial steps to support your motivation.
Finally, post these motivational boosters where you need them. If you need it by the fridge, post it there. If you need it in your desk drawer, post it there. If you need it in your bathroom mirror, post it there. The point is to have these reminders available and in front of you when you are likely to need them most.
Motivation Hack #3: Give Yourself Grace
If every time you mess up you give up completely, you won’t get anywhere. Accept that you are human. You will probably make mistakes along the way.
When you realize this and choose to try again at the next opportunity without regret or negative self talk, you can finally start to get some traction! This is a seriously underestimated approach to your health journey and one that is often missing in people who just cannot maintain motivation.
Keep your eyes on the long term and just keep trying. Movement in the right direction, even slow movement, is progress to celebrate!
Pay attention to what you say or think about yourself or to yourself when you make a mistake. Try to banish any sense of regret or frustration with yourself. It’s in the past and you can’t change it anyways. And as you start to catch yourself thinking or saying negative things, start to choose to say something positive instead.
Instead of beating yourself up for one bad day, celebrate the three days before that you did awesome, Even if you don’t believe it yet, you need to practice positive self talk and self acceptance before you can really experience the benefits of giving yourself grace.
Now, Take Action!
These are some of my best hacks for improving your motivation level. So, now it’s your turn!
If you feel like maintaining your motivation is a chore, I hope you bookmark this page and try to carve out some time over the next week or so to work through this process for yourself. Hopefully it will give you some clarity and focus on some simple, achievable and implementable goals for your own health journey.
If you have any other hacks, be sure to add them in the comments below. Also, if you decide to try this, feel free to add a comment with your experience as well. I would love to read about how this approach impacts your life! If you have questions or just want a bit of guidance in the process, you can leave a comment below or use the contact button at the top of the page to send me a message.