People have different reasons for wanting to shape up – finding out what motivates you can help you stay on track.
There’s no doubt about it – change is hard. I frequently tell my clients that my job is much easier than theirs – my role is to advise them on how to eat better, while they’ve got the more difficult task of having to actually do it. But my job doesn’t stop at simply handing out advice – I also try to help people find what it is that will motivate them to make changes. And the reasons are all over the map. For some, just the goal of getting healthier is all it takes to kick start the process. On the other hand, that probably won’t motivate the ones who tell me (and I’ve heard this more times than I can count), “I’m perfectly healthy, I’m just fat.”
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, add muscle, shape up or just want to eat healthier, you’ll probably be more successful if you can figure out what’s driving you to do it in the first place. And everybody is different – there’s no right or wrong reason. Most people focus on the positive – like “I want to have the energy to keep up with my kids” or “I want to look better in (or out of) my clothes.” Others take the opposite approach and focus on moving away from the negative – like, “I don’t want to avoid the mirror any more” or “I don’t want to feel so tired all the time.” Sometimes, unfortunately, it takes a health scare before people ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ – but it can drive people to make incredible strides towards better health. And, as the saying goes, better late than never.
Some people have specific goals that motivate them, like wanting to look good at an upcoming wedding or reunion, or being able to fit into their favorite jeans. One client of mine had a very specific goal…she wanted to be able to just hop into the driver’s seat of her car – rather than having to first move the seat all the way back in order to accommodate her enormous belly before climbing in.
You might get motivated by thinking about how good you’ll feel as you get healthier and fit. How terrific would it be to have more energy, to feel more flexible and strong, or to look great in some new clothes? If ‘avoiding the negative’ is what gets you going, then it might help you to think about how you’ll feel if you don’t take action.
And when you feel your motivation waning – which happens to mostly everyone - remind yourself why you embarked on this makeover in the first place. Keep your focus on your feats rather than your failures. Try paying less attention to what the scale says, and give yourself a pat on the back for all the behaviors you’ve changed. After all, the positive changes you make in your diet and lifestyle are really what drive you towards your goal –the fact that you also get healthier and fit is just “icing on the cake”.
Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.