I mentioned on my Facebook page last week that motivation was the topic of conversation in my coaching group. How to get motivated after the holidays? How to stay motivated when you want to give up? How to go about creating motivation out of thin air?
When I think of motivation and inspiration, the first person who comes to mind is my good friend Elizabeth of Primal Potential.
Elizabeth has lost over 140 pounds and has completely transformed her body AND mind. She’s also who I call when I need to be set straight. When I need a good kick in the butt, and when I need to be told to “stop saying your stuck” 🙂
She is ridiculously smart, funny, and always knows exactly what to say….and she says EXACTLY what she means, no sugar-coating, which I appreciate.
I’m so excited that Elizabeth is sharing with us her tips to staying motivated and creating motivation when it seems like you have none. If anyone knows about motivation, it’s her.
You can also check out Elizabeth’s podcasts on iTunes. Click here for more info!
I struggled with my weight for almost my entire life. I was a heavy kid. I was an overweight teenager. I was an obese adult – topping the scales at well over 300 pounds. I ALWAYS wanted to lose weight. I was pretty much always on a diet, reading a diet book, trying some starvation fad or creating a plan for how I’d drop weight fast. Heck, I even studied nutrition in college and worked in the weight loss industry for almost 10 years!! But I was huge.
Fortunately, I did manage to change my life. I finally realized that dieting is not the answer and the common sense approach of eating whole, healthy foods without counting or cutting was the best way for me. I lost about 140 pounds! I completely transformed my life. The most common question I continue to get from people who know how hard I tried to lose weight for so long is, “How do you stay motivated? When did that motivation finally strike you?”
I get the question. It makes sense. I tried and failed for so many years – what changed to finally make it work? There’s no doubt that motivation is a big part of the puzzle – but I really have to emphasize that motivation doesn’t just ‘find’ you. If you’re waiting to ‘get motivated’ prepare to wait for a long time.
Think about it – we all have brief periods of intense motivation, right? You decide you’re ready to change. You get excited. You make a plan. You prepare. You might even tell your friends or family. You’re ready and you think its going to be different this time. And then a few days pass and you’re right back to your old habits. What happened? Where did the motivation go?
Motivation is something we CREATE. Every day. Through intention and action.
Sure, weight loss is about what you eat. That’s the biggest factor. But you know what has a tremendous impact on your ability to make good food choices? Your mindset. Motivation, discipline, willpower, commitment – all those things aren’t about the strength of your resolve – they’re about your thought process. There are a few key factors that, when improved and optimized, will send your motivation through the roof and put you on the fast track to the results you want in ANY area of your life.
- Your mental associations
As humans, we instinctively move towards things that bring us pleasure and away from things that bring us pain. We often do this without even noticing it. Do me a favor and grab a piece of paper. Make a grid on the paper – one vertical line, one horizontal line – so you have 4 boxes. In the top left box write the word “weight loss” and in the top right box write the word “indulgence”. I want you to write all the words that you associate with each of those words. For example, when you think about weight loss do you think things like “effort, restriction, deprivation, hunger, time, frustration, exercise, diets, calories, cravings”? Whatever words you associate with weight loss, write those down. Then do the same thing for the word “indulgence”. Don’t necessarily let my words influence you but you might consider things like, “enjoyment, socialization, satisfaction, delicious, cake, family, parties, fatigue, weight gain”.Take a close look at your lists. I would bet that if weight loss is a struggle for you, you have more negative associations with the words weight loss than positive associations. If that is the case, you might be sabotaging yourself and not even know it! This is a big part of the reason we give ourselves a “I’m going to eat healthy” pep talk and then find ourselves eating a pint of ice cream a few hours later.On the bottom half of the paper I want you to reverse the exercise. Again write the word “weight loss” but now only write down POSITIVE associations with that word – things like “energy, vitality, excitement, goals, progress, strength, longevity, health, sex appeal, shopping, pride, happiness, inspiration, skinny jeans” etc. Similarly, again write the word “indulgence” and make a list of all the negative associations – ways in which over indulgence has held you back, taken from your life or robbed you of your happiness.Start to become aware of your thoughts and spend more time focusing on the positive implications of something like weight loss, instead of the negative ones. Whichever associations are most dominant in your mind are the ones you will instinctively move towards.
- Your focusMany of us focus on all the obstacles in front of us. We focus on why we can’t achieve our goals or why it will be hard. We tell ourselves, and others, that we have an out of control sweet tooth, that we’re too busy to prepare meals, that we hate to get sweaty or never have time to get a workout in. As you focus on those things, you’re training your brain to accept them as fact. By doing so, you make it WAAAAAY harder than it needs to be to make positive change. Now I’m not saying those things aren’t true – they might all be true. But that’s not the point. The point is that you’re not serving yourself or making your goals a reality by focusing on them. We have to become aware of our thoughts and then consciously CHOOSE to focus on progress & possibilities instead of roadblocks and challenges.Start to replace those pre-programmed thoughts with ones like “I feel so much better when I’m making healthy choices. I’m proud of myself for making time for a 10 minute workout. I eagerly fuel my body with healthy foods because they make me feel my best.” Sure, it might sound corny, but your thoughts are programming your brain – I don’t know about you but I want to be thinking in my favor.
- Your actions
At the end of the day, one of the best motivators is the results we’re getting. Many people aren’t getting results so they struggle to maintain motivation. Well of course!! Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to do everything right. You just need to identify ONE OR TWO of the most impactful actions and do those CONSISTENTLY. Not a few days a week, not every once in a while, not when life is calm – all the time. Put in the effort to find what actions make the most difference for you. Maybe it’s a healthy breakfast of protein and fat that helps you stay on track all day. Maybe its making sure to get enough sleep because you don’t make great decisions when you’re tired. Maybe its writing down everything you eat and sharing your food journal with an accountability partner. Whatever your big rocks are, limit them to only ONE OR TWO and them do them every single day.Sure, its easy to fall off the wagon when you have a checklist of 20 things you think you need to do to lose weight. You’re trying to do too much. The majority of your results will come from only 1 or 2 big rocks. Identify what those are for you and then become a master of them.
Maintaining motivation isn’t easy. It’s a choice. You have to wake up every day and being willing to put in the mental and physical work. When you do the work, the motivation follows. Fortunately, there’s not a lot of work to be done. There are just a few key elements that when focused on consistently will produce TREMENDOUS motivation and make you completely unstoppable!!!