This article about motivation by Kelly Coffey – one of my favorite experts on transformation – got me thinking about maintaining motivation after my own transformation. Because the work doesn’t stop once you reach your goal or change your lifestyle, in a lot of ways that’s when the real work begins.
Even though I’ve lost 100lbs, become a fitness coach, and completely changed my nutrition and fitness habits, I still have moments of struggle – less than during my transformation but they still crop up from time to time. For example, recently I woke up earlier than usual, on a weekend day, intending to go to a workout. That’s when the bargaining started:
Me: “Ugh, I’m so tired, do I really have to go? Can’t I just go next week? I just want to sink into my bed and drift off for a couple more hours.”
Also Me: “Who are you? Are you the person who sinks in? You are tired. This is how it goes, it’s not easy, it’s not supposed to be easy. Get up. Get up. GET UP!”
Me: “I just want to lie here a little longer…then make a nice breakfast and take my time this morning…”
Also Me: “Who are you? Are you the person who skips a workout for food? No. You are the person who gets up early to workout. It doesn’t matter if you want to, it matters that you do it. You’ll feel better. You always do. GET UP.”
Me: “OK FINE. I don’t want to do this but I’ll do it anyway.”
I peeled myself out of bed, worked out and felt amazing afterward, just like I knew I would, because I always do.
It’s these small moments – in bed listening to your alarm beep, at a restaurant holding a menu, standing in the grocery store hungry in the snack aisle – when transformation happens or continues. These decisions may seem inconsequential at the time, but they are how we actually begin to shift our lives in a different direction, or continue forging down our path. Because transformation never stops. We are always faced with new situations, challenges, and choices that ask us to decide who we are and what kind of life we want to live. We can choose to revert back to old behaviors or continue breaking ground in our lives to the best version of ourselves.
When you reach a moment where you feel like your willpower is lagging or you’re tired or you’ve skipped a week or two of workouts and getting back into your healthy routine feels like a chore, stop and consider the following:
1. Remember your goal or your WHY.
And if you don’t have one, find one! For me it’s about not reverting back to the behaviors that resulted in me being 100lbs heavier. I know what that path looks like, where those choices lead, and it’s a destination I don’t want to visit ever again. Sure the path of wellness sometimes feels more difficult at times, but health is worth the effort. Making healthy choices improves our lives overall much more than the effort it takes to follow through with them. So remember what your health and wellness does for you, your strength, your energy, your ability to do all your favorite activities.
2. Recognize that you have a choice.
Sometimes feeling boxed into a regimen can be stifling, but there’s always a choice. You can always choose to sit on the couch instead of working out or order a pizza instead of cooking a healthy meal or drink the whole bottle of wine instead of having one glass (and sometimes those choices are valid!). The goal is to make the healthier choice at least 80% of the time, and just like working out, the more often you do it the better you get at it!
3. Imagine the results of both choices – how do you want to feel about yourself?
Actually visualize yourself making and following through with the decisions. Recall times when you made similar choices and how it made you feel. Remember when you chose to workout after a long day, got out of bed early, or chose fruit over a cookie or ordering the healthy option instead of a burger and fries, and then feel how it made you feel. Then remember when you did the opposite and compare. How do you want to feel today, right now?
4. Ask yourself which choice takes you closer to your goal or aligns with your WHY.
The better choice is always the one that more closely aligns with your goals. This is also a good opportunity to ask yourself: how important is your goal? How deep is your why? If they are not consistently compelling you to make positive decisions then it might be time to reevaluate your goals.
5. Do it anyway.
Don’t want to workout? Do it anyway. Don’t want to prep all those vegetables and cook at home? Do it anyway. Don’t want to get up early? Do it anyway. It’s not realistic to expect that you’re going to be 100% thrilled to work out and eat healthy. But making healthy choices improves your life overall. I like to tell myself and clients that no, a workout won’t make you feel 100% better, but it will definitely make you feel at least 10% better (but probably more!), and that’s still better than before you worked out. So do it anyway and then reap the rewards!