Motivation. It’s what helps kick start new ways of living, new hobbies, new workouts, new eating plans. But sometimes it’s hard to come by. A reader and friend recently asked me via Facebook how I stay motivated to keep working out. She writes,
“I wanted to know if I could ask you about how you stay motivated to push yourself in your day to day life (to stay healthy, work out, etc)… [After a physical accomplishment via dragon boating,] Now I find myself wondering why am I not motivated? I am actually feeling borderline “self-sabotage” mode. Why is that? What can I do to push myself forward again? I really feel stuck. Thank you.”
While I’m no expert on motivation, I do move most days of the week, so I thought I’d break down what keeps me moving and eating well and throw it to you guys to share your tips with this reader too!
Internal versus external motivation.
The first thing to observe about yourself is if you are internally or externally motivated. When it comes to exercise, I am driven to move without extra incentive. I don’t need an accountability partner, to pay for a trainer, the promise of new clothes or a pedicure to get me active. I LOVE to move. I feel better when I workout, it’s not often a chore for me and most days I find time to make squeeze in a workout.
Why? Because I’m internally motivated to move.
However, when it comes to eating, I’m not just motivated to eat well for the sake of eating well. Meaning, I need some other kind of motivation: a challenge, an upcoming trip involving a bathing suit, etc to “tighten up” my eating. To be honest, I wish it was the other way around – easier for me to eat well and more of a struggle to move. Why? Because it makes more of a difference in your physique and your health; if you eat well, your insides are well! Moving makes a huge difference too, but sometimes I wish it was the other way around. I have a friend who can stick to her nutrition plan like *snap* THAT if she wants to shed a few pounds or see some change in her body. I gotta work on that. 😉
Figuring out if you’re in- or externally motivated when it comes to eating and working out is the first step to knowing what next action to take to, well, be motivated!
To get motivated on a day when I’m not feeling particularly keen to move or cook a healthy meal, here are some of my go-to plans:
– Do something different. Take a kickboxing class, pick up a new vegetable to try out, change up your workout time. Try setting a fresh tone to your day by getting your workout done in the morning or workout after work and see how your body responds – maybe it will be energized and change the feel of your evenings! Just switch it up to give your body something new!
– Bring people into the equation. Maybe it helps you to post on social media sites to get your workout in, or maybe it gives you a boost to meet a friend at the gym or the park for a run. Perhaps you and a coworker can commit to a lunch walk or you can make batches of lunch for healthy meals throughout the week.
– Reevaluate your goals. It could be time to see if your goals have changed. A fresh focus could be all you need: reset with a new goal in the gym, train for a destination trip (like a backpacking trip or surf resort!) or sign up for an event like a race.
– Rest! You could be burnt out on tracking your macros and calories or training – maybe you need a break. Don’t worry about losing your fitness or gaining weight, but instead relax and let your body rest for a few days or a week.
– Crank the tunes! A simple hit of “Eye of the Tiger” in your ears could be the difference between a half-ass workout and a killer burn! 😉
– Reality check: remember this:
Moreover, training (and eating!) shouldn’t be the sole focus of your life. Check out this great article by Nia Shanks about how “working out, eating well, and ultimately building the body you want should enhance and improve your life, not define and rule it.”
So…I wanted to turn it over to you, readers! How do YOU stay motivated to move or eat well when you’re feeling down, depressed or just not into it? Share your tips!
Until next time, live well & be well (and keep it all in balance! You are more than your training and nutrition!),