Maintaining motivation in the areas of nutrition and fitness is… tough. There are days that I personally feel like I could have Superwoman genes coursing through my entire body and other days where my blood stream is made up entirely of tacos and guac. When January 1 of each year hits, the entire country of America picks up their Christmas-cookie-and-champagne-ridden bodies and sulks to the nearest gym to sign up for a 12-month membership because “I’m totally going to go every day this year for one hour each day for the rest of my life,” etc. Then, mid-February rolls around and that $50 monthly fee slips out of our bank account as quickly and mysteriously as that entire cheese plate I just ate.
Okay, I’m getting off track. Anyways, you see what I’m getting at. Motivation for everyone comes and goes in waves. It’s hard to wake up every single day and hit the gym, especially when progress slows. I get it, and I’ve been there before, SO. MANY. TIMES.
For me, I sustain a healthy lifestyle with several different tools in my wheelhouse, and I use each tool depending on how I’m feeling and what type of convincing I need for that particular day. Everyone is obviously different so things that work for me may never work for you, but hopefully one or two of these can help you with maintaining ongoing motivation to live a healthy lifestyle.
1. Don’t obsess.
The worst thing you can do is turn obsessive about eating and/or working out. You will quickly find yourself spiraling out of control and, above all, your mental health is what matters most. If you eat a little “off plan” here and there, enjoy it and MOVE ON! One meal is JUST THAT: one meal. Similiarly, don’t stress over taking an unexpected rest day or even a rest week. Your body probably needs it anyways! These things will never make or break your goals. Just like you won’t see progress overnight, you won’t lose it either.
2. Make a social media account.
Really. Creating my fitness Instagram account is 100% the reason why I was able to begin and continue working out for months without seeing any level of progress. There’s just something about the Instagram fitness community that takes inspiration, emojis, and a whole lotta hashtags and makes you want to go to the gym or post a photo of your totally delicious and healthy lunch. Plus, you’ll find likeminded people who are doing the same type of workout as you or even those that live in your area! I’ve been lucky enough to meet and befriend several people that I met on Instagram. The one major gripe I hear from people about doing this is that they think people they personally know will “judge” them. Well, to that I say, keep the account secret! You don’t need to show your face and you can work your settings so that people you know personally can’t find you. For almost two years, I ran my account without anyone other than Ryan and a few friends knowing. It took a while to share it (and I’m really happy I finally did), but don’t feel obligated to!
3. Find a partner.
And make them force you to work out. Text them the night before and say you’ll meet them at the gym at 6:00 am. You’ll be much more likely to hop out of bed the next morning and go to the gym rather than guiltily texting them at 5:58 am saying you “aren’t feeling so well and can’t make it.”
4. Sign up for a class with a cancellation policy.
This one may seem silly, but I swear it works. It is à la the “Diet Bet” program. When money is at stake, you’ll probably find it somewhere in your soul to get out of bed and go to spin or leave work to go to barre instead of being charged a $10-$20 fee for cancelling or altogether no-showing. For the longest time, this is how I tricked myself into making it to morning spin classes. I would register for classes early and then, when my alarm went off at 5:00 am, I had to decide on whether I wanted to start my day off with a good sweat or to pay $10 for late cancelling. I am broke, so I made it to class 99% of the time. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, the only time I think I’ve ever late cancelled from a spin class was an evening class and I, for some reason, thought I’d be able to get through a 45-minute HIIT spin class after eating three baskets of chips and salsa and three tacos. LOL NOPE. I could chuff just thinking about it…
5. Progress pictures.
TAKE THEM. Every four weeks. More than anything, progress pictures show how far you’ve come. Don’t even think about allowing the scale to determine any aspect of your life. Ask your boyfriend, roommate, or buy a tripod and take full-body photos and save them in a secret folder on your phone or computer. It doesn’t matter how you stand for the photos (feet together, hands touching your sides, etc.), but it does matter that you find a “pose” and you stick with it. This is so each time you compare your photos, your body will be in the exact same position. Couple progress photos with a fitness social media account and I can guarantee that your daily motivation will skyrocket.
6. Newfound energy.
Over time and with some effort, you will become very in tune with your body. For example, for me, I know exactly how eating a particular food will make me feel. Eating good food and exercising makes me feel good every single day. When I eat junk or skip several workouts, I am cranky and irritable. This alone motivates me to work out. Even when I don’t feel like going, I try to dig deep and think about how great I’ll feel after. That’s usually enough for me to get up, do some meal prep, and get to the gym.
7. Treat yo’self.
Incentives are an amazing way to keep yourself motivated. But, be careful to not to use unhealthy options as an incentive. It’s one thing to treat yourself to a glass of Malbec after completing 4 weeks of a program, but it’s an entirely different thing to eat two dozen cookies after losing a pound. I only say this because I think it can be a steep slope when you partake in a previously unhealthy habit. Honestly, it just comes down to willpower at the end of the day. If you can eat those cookies and then move on without craving another gram of sugar, well then, get to it. But, if you’re like me, I know that cookies will lead to a rabbit hole of two weeks of sugar binging. So, I treat myself to binging on a Netflix show or going to my favorite local bakery with Ryan so we can enjoy a morning together over a scone and some coffee.
8. Hearing that you’ve inspired someone.
This is probably the one that means the most to me. It doesn’t happen often, but when someone takes a moment out of their day to tell me that I motivated them to try a new recipe or to go to the gym, I could basically cry, which I totally do every time this happens. Personally, I eat the way I do and stay active because I love the way it makes me feel; so, if by doing something I truly enjoy inspires someone else to follow in that path, well, my work here is done. If you are inspired or motivated by someone you know personally or someone that you follow on social media, TELL THEM. No matter if you think it sounds weird or if you think they won’t read your message or comment, they will appreciate it.
I hope some of these tips can help you maintain motivation now that we’re almost halfway into the first month of 2017 (how did that happen already is my question….). If you have any ideas to add to the list, please comment and let me know! I’m always looking for new ways to keep excited about being healthy!