Motivation is a word that’s used a lot when it comes to diet and exercise, but what does it actually mean? The Oxford English dictionary definition is: “The mental processes that arouse, sustain, and direct human behaviour.” In the fitness industry it’s known as having direction and an intensity.
There are lots of articles in magazines and online telling you how to find your motivation, how to motivate yourself to exercise and how to keep that motivation going, but does it work? Is motivation enough when wanting to start a new healthy lifestyle plan? Well, we need motivation to get us started but what happens when we have a bad day, we’re tired, sad, angry, we run out of time or simply don’t feel like exercising or cooking that healthy meal? Is motivation enough then? We don’t think so, and once you feel that you’ve eaten something ‘bad’ or not exercised, you feel frustrated that you’ve lost your motivation and failed, and feel that you might as well give up, and so the cycle begins.
So, how do you break that cycle of yo-yoing and create a sustainable healthy lifestyle?
Firstly, think about habits that you already have and do every day, whether good or bad, like brushing your teeth, having a shower, having a chocolate bar after dinner, or drinking half a bottle of wine a night. You do these things automatically because they have become habits. This applies to good and bad habits, things that are familiar and make you feel good. These things became habits through either regular pattern, such as brushing your teeth before bed or getting a shower in the morning or through something becoming familiar and creating a feeling of comfort such as having a glass of wine or a biscuit with a cup of tea. Now think about creating new habits that will enable you to live a healthy lifestyle whilst becoming fitter and stronger.
Remember habits are defined as ‘a settled tendency or usual manner of behaviour’. The important words here are ‘tendency and usual’. It isn’t set in stone and if you miss a day, that’s fine. If you get up one morning and decide you don’t have time for a shower, you don’t say ‘that’s it, I might as well never have a shower again’ do you? It’s the same with eating and fitness habits. Missing the gym or eating a family sized bar of chocolate doesn’t mean that you must give up on your healthy goals, and it won’t mess them up. Even maintaining will keep those results happening and keep you and your muscles strong, as well as many other health benefits. It’s a long-term plan that will have deviations now and again but the more you do things, the more habitual they will become and the less you have to think about them.
We often think that the results we have now are because of what we’re doing right now. That is true to a point, but results build up over time as do habits. When you’re unhappy with how you look and feel and you’re feeling down because you can’t lose weight, think about what effort you have put into achieving your goals over the last six months. Think about the times that you missed a quick workout or gave up with your healthy eating plan because you went on holiday or had a few days when you just couldn’t be bothered, and so you gave up. That’s fine now and again but, if you want to make a change, then you must put consistent effort in and make new habits. Remember that where you are now is a result of your habits over the past months.
Look at things that trigger the unhealthy habits that you want to change. Here are some tips:
- If you know you eat far too much at dinner time because you have the tv on and find yourself eating mindlessly, then try to eat your dinner without turning on the tv and save that for when you have finished.
- If you grab a chocolate bar for a snack, then stock up on healthy snack foods instead. Try to incorporate protein into every meal as this not only fills you up and reduces the need for snacks but is needed to help repair cells and make new ones. Great things to eat are Greek yogurt, high protein yogurts, protein bars, boiled eggs, fruit, cottage cheese and light cheese. I also have low calorie ice-cream (the salted caramel from Aldi is lush 😊) and lentil curls for when I need something crunchy.
- If you rely on takeaways and quick processed food for dinner because you worked late or you’re tired, then try batch making foods. Try making twice as much and freeze it for a quick healthy, nutritious meal when you’re short on time. I do this with chillis, curries and pasta dishes. I try to make enough for 3 weeks, and thoroughly enjoy feeling very virtuous at producing a healthy, nutritious meal in no time at all!
- If you think that you don’t have time to exercise, remember that you don’t have to spend hours in the gym. Start by simply walking more – try to walk at least 8,000 steps a day. Park further away from the shop, take the stairs or simply have a 10-minute break and have a brisk walk. Get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning and do a workout. It’s only 10 minutes but you will reap the benefits very quickly. Try upper body one morning, lower body the next, abs the next and then cardio. You will be surprised how much better and stronger you will feel very quickly. Use our 30-minute circuit at W Fitness. We work with you, helping you to reach your goals, with our circuit tailored to your specific fitness and health goals. We are always on hand to help in our small friendly fitness studio, offering that personal feeling to every woman who walks through our doors 😊
- If you have no idea of the amount of food you are eating (not as silly as it sounds as it’s very easy to overeat throughout the day due to mindless eating and portion sizes!) then keep a food diary for a couple of weeks and write everything down, including meals, snacks, odd biscuits here and there and drinks. You can then make a few tweaks and substitute healthy alternatives where you can, and you will become more mindful of what you are eating. Knowing how much and what you eat is key to a healthy diet.
- Think about what you can add IN to your diet, rather than take out of it. For example, it’s recommended to eat 30+ different portions of fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts a week – that doesn’t sound too much over a week but finding 30 portions of different foods can really fill you up! Plus, I’ve found I’m adding in healthier alternatives to my diet as I’ll reach for one of my portions rather than head to the snack cupboard!
Try to get friends and family on board too as we tend to have similar behaviours to those closest to us. Not only will you have their support to help you stay on track, but you’ll be doing them a favour too.
There’s no better feeling than doing something positive and your mind plays an important part of that. Keep saying positive things to yourself, even if you feel like you haven’t stayed on track that day – although I don’t really like the phrase ‘staying on track’ as it implies a straight line that you can’t deviate from. My track has lots of deviations and that’s just the way I like it as it allows me to enjoy my life, eat a dessert, miss the gym one day if I need, or want to, without worrying that I have done something so bad that I can never get back to it again. That’s life! A healthy lifestyle is a long journey with many winding roads, not a destination.
Don’t give up on the bigger benefits for the sake of an immediate reward. This is a sure-fire way to overeating. Try to practice self-discipline, think about the future and how you want to feel. This becomes easier the more that you do it.
Above all, have patience. Forming a new habit takes time. It’s never too late to start a new healthy habit, you cannot be too old, too unfit, or too overweight to make healthy changes, but start them today! Don’t let the last six months of the year be the same as the first six months! Don’t stay comfortable being uncomfortable! Think where you could be by Christmas. Let us make it easy for you. Come and join us and let W Fitness be one new habit that you start today!
Book your free consultation today by contacting us here.
Caroline & Hannah xx