With a new season in fill swing, it feels like the perfect time to talk about motivation: how we get it and how we stick to our goals even when we're not feeling it.
I'm a big believer that in order to make changes in our lives, we have to first change the way we think.
Not sure about you guys, but so often, I let habit and immediate instinct drive my actions, and one of my biggest goals for this year is to bring more awareness to everything I do. It's empowering to realize that we have control over our actions and can actively choose to do the things that are in support of our goals.
Although we are not fans of the term "diet" around here, most of us do want to eat more healthfully. After all, what we put into our body has a direct effect on how we look, feel, and relate to others, plus it wards off disease and sickness, so... it's kind of a big deal. If you (like us) are trying to do an overall spring cleaning, our hope is that a balance of healthy eating and exercise will help you get there. Even the most disciplined among us lose steam sometimes, so as we get ready to kick off summer, here's some ways we're staying focused and on track to reach our goals.
For me, an important part of achieving any goal is to remember my big picture motivation behind it (being super healthy and feeling my best.) If you really want to stay grounded in your goal, take a moment to write down the reasons behind it, then read your list every single morning. It sounds repetitive, but trust me: it works. Having a powerful, authentic motivation is what will give you the strength to stick to it.
My brother has overhauled his health and lost an incredible amount of weight by changing the way he eats for an entire year. I'm so proud of him, and over the weekend I asked him to share some of his keys to success. He said that winning a small battle with himself can change the entire day by setting him up for success. When he chooses to make a smoothie in the morning instead of grabbing a breakfast sandwich from the drive-thru, he reminds himself that starting the day with one bad choice often avalanches into a bad day in general.
When you stay on track with those first choices in the morning, you're more likely to continue making choices that support your goal all day.
This is another one that my brother shared. Rule-oriented goals that are focused on "don't" are much harder to stick to than kinder goals that focus on "do." Ideally, you've got to have a mix of both. If you set a rule for yourself that you're not going to snack between meals, pair that with "When I feel like snacking, I'm going to read a book or go for a walk instead."
Mantras sound like this mystical thing, but for me, having a mantra that I can return to in a moment of weakness helps me visualize the way I want to feel when I've achieved my goal. As I mentioned earlier, I'm currently trying to bring more awareness to my actions, so when my schedule gets really hectic, I'll pause and repeat one of my mantras to myself that's just, "Slow down, stay present." It's four simple words that remind me what I want to do and how I want to feel. A few good ones to remember for healthier eating habits?
"Eat to nourish and energize."
"It's not an option."
"Eyes on the prize."
It's important to track your progress by setting up regular checkpoints -- dividing your goal up into mini milestones helps each one feel less overwhelming. A 7-day cleanse is one such highly achievable goal that has an end date, so by all means, plan for a reward at the end of it that you can remind yourself of when the going gets tough! This can be whatever makes you happy, whether that's a massage, a long luxurious bath, or yes - even a bowl of ice cream. Just make sure it's not something that's going to sabotage all your healthy eating efforts and fill you with regret afterwards, since you don't want to take away those feel-good vibes that come from crushing your goal.
One of my biggest hurdles with clean eating is avoiding afternoon snack cravings, and I've noticed that my downfall is often venturing into the kitchen for some random reason (like getting a glass of water), then before I know it I'm eating half a cupcake. Anyone feel me? When I'm eating clean, I do my best to avoid the kitchen altogether around this time of day, and if cravings strike, I'll drink a big mug of herbal tea with honey. Ditto with after-dinner grazing: simply turning off the kitchen lights and brushing my teeth helps me resist the call of nighttime grazing.
photo via artful desperado
Whether it's following Instagrammers who remind you of your healthy living #goals, or getting a good old fashioned pep talk from a friend or mentor, being surrounded by positive influences will help keep you energized. Sometimes I even picture an "imaginary mentor" that could be a celeb or fictional character, and when I'm tempted to cheat, I ask myself what they would do in my situation.
No one is perfect, and accepting that fact is key to staying motivated, especially when you've fallen off the bandwagon and need to hop back on. Instead of dwelling on a perceived failure, just learn from it and move on. For me, getting outside and going for a walk or run releases enough feel-good endorphins to get me back on track!
*What keeps YOU motivated? We'd love to hear in the comments so we can help keep each other accountable!