We all start out our journey to better health the same way: Excited, hopeful and motivated.
But somewhere along the way, life gets in the way: We get sick, stress gets the better of us, someone we love dies, depression sets in, or we get so busy that we end up feeling like we just don't have the time or energy to take care of ourselves.
We lose our motivation to make healthier choices and make the time to exercise, but...we also know that our well-being (and often, lives) depend on it. So what do we have to do to get that motivation back and keep going?
Here’s what's helped me overcome (or at least manage) this hurdle effectively over the years:
1. I give myself permission to NOT feel motivated 100% of the time.
When I first started out on my journey to eat better, get fitter and lose all the extra weight I'd been carrying around, I thought that my path would look something like this: If it were important enough to me, I'd WANT to do it and feel excited about it 24/7.
Well, it didn't quite work out that way.
Some days, I was raring to go, but on many others, all I wanted to do was stay in bed or plonk myself in front of the TV with a box of chocolate chip cookies. Now that I've gained so much more experience with taking care of myself, I’ve come to recognize that this desire tends to ebb and flow over time.
There will be highs and there will be lows, but the most important thing is to realize that falling down is inevitable. It's making sure that you get back on to your feet eventually that matters.
2. I cut myself some slack.
There are days where I feel so run down and exhausted that the thought of putting one foot in front of the other feels near impossible.
When this happens, I listen to my body and mind, and allow myself to take a step back, breathe and recharge, letting go of all the tough expectations that I tend to put on myself.
I look at is this way: Giving up on myself is never an option, but taking time out when I need it, is.
These breaks can take between a few days and a week or a couple of months, and to me, they’re crucial for dealing with life’s ups and downs, as well as giving my body and mind the space they need to re-group and recover so that I can feel ‘OK’ again, and rediscover my get-healthy 'mojo'.
3. I go back to my big WHY.
When I feel stuck or begin to slide backwards with my healthy eating habits or workouts, the one thing that gets me going again is to re-connect with my purpose, my big ‘why’.
For example, if I find myself reaching for the bag of chips late in the night for more than 3 nights in a row, I go back to basics by digging deep for the reasons I wanted to put a stop to this destructive behavior in the first place.
This allows me to focus my attention on why I started doing what I set out to do (hint: It’s rarely just about not eating the chips, losing weight, or other surface goals), and helps keep me going even when I don’t feel like it. It's not just something I have to do—it’s the person I want to BECOME.
4. I just get going.
This step isn't the easiest thing to do, especially on days when your heart’s not in it, but I find that once I set my intention and get going, my heart follows, I always end up feeling glad that I did.
The big lesson here? The worst thing you can do when you’re feeling unmotivated but know what you should be doing something is to stay stuck in an analysis paralysis.
The best thing for you to do in situations like this is to just get up and start taking action. Why? The chances are high that just the simple act of ‘doing’ will help you re-gain the motivation and energy you’re looking for (as it often does for me), and ease you back into your healthy routine.
If you're struggling to start and stick with a healthy-eating or exercise regimen, what do you think is holding you down? Do you have your own fool-proof ways to stay healthy even when you don't feel motivated? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Image credit: Dominik Wycisło