mo·ti·va·tion
ˌmōdəˈvāSH(ə)n/
noun

 the reason or reasons one have for acting or behaving in a particular way.

the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Motivation- it’s what keeps you going when you’re paving the way towards better fitness. If it fades or disappears, chances are you’ll be waving the white flag and returning to bad habits.

If you’re like most people, when you start off on a program (whether you signed up for the gym or a personal trainer, invested in a home workout program or simply started eating smarter), you’re all gung-ho and excited. Ready, willing and able to ROCK it!

But as time goes by, you may find that the gung-ho excitement, that motivational fire you had on day one is starting to disappear.

The good news is you are not alone.

Everybody loses their motivation mojo at one point. It’s how you handle it that’s going to make all the difference.

If you’re like me when I was getting started and you have over 50 pounds to lose, it’s going to take time to get to goal and the more time it takes, the more you may struggle to keep your motivation strong.

If you’ve hit a hard plateau and are struggling to get past it, you’re going to really struggle with keeping that fire lit.

Heck, in just about any situation you’re going to need to stoke that fire to keep it going. 

It took me a little over a year to reach my then goal weight- and yes, I needed a LOT of stoking to that fire throughout that time.

Here are the 5 most effective tips I’ve gleaned from all that time spent working to keep my motivation MOJO strong.

Tip #1: Harness the power of pen + paper

Whether it be on a post-it note or a full sheet of paper, find something to write on. Grab a pen and make a list of things you know would be better about your life if your health + fitness were improved.

Write it out and be as detailed as possible~ whether it’s being able to keep up with your kids, enjoying your present (or future) grandkids actively, being able to walk to your store from the parking lot without losing your breath, crossing your legs comfortably or, yes, even fitting into a certain outfit for a special occasion- whatever it is that moves you the most, put it to pen + paper.

Anything that’s powerful to you, write it down.

Write out all your “why’s”.

Why did you start eating smarter/moving more?

Why did you sign up for the gym?

Why do you WANT to change?

Keep a copy in your fridge, a copy in your pantry and one in your purse or wallet that you can easily pull out and go to any time you’re feeling tempted or the motivation to get your workout done is really not there.

Seeing a reminder in words can be a boost to your motivation as soon as you have a clear sign it’s starting to flag (i.e. you’re about to hit the pantry for some of the kids’ treats or you’re about to skip a workout).

Pull out that why and remind yourself of your big WHY.

Tip #2: Don’t make it all about the scale.

I think this is what frequently frustrates most of my clients and friends who are aiming to make diet + exercise changes. They step on the scale shortly after starting and they don’t see a number they like so they start figuring “what the heck am I doing this for?”

After not seeing the number go down in Biggest Loser style fashion (several pounds in the course of a week), they search for comfort in junk food after seeing the number on the scale – trying to justify it by thinking “hey, I’ve eaten like a freaking dietary nun and I haven’t lost 10 pounds already, so why even bother?”.

STOP THE MADNESS!

Too many people put too much importance on the number that pops up on the scale.

Don’t be one of these people.

I say avoid daily weigh-ins and wait at least 3 weeks after starting to set foot on the scale.

After that point, weigh yourself once a week or once every other week ideally, especially if you have a big goal to reach.

Don’t be obsessively weighing yourself. You’re more likely to become frustrated and give up – losing sight of your motivation just because you’re feeling so discouraged about that number on the scale.

Since we’re on the subject of the scale…

Make sure that you have a goal other than your weight. Maybe you want to run your first 5K, to be able to do push ups on your toes (which is pretty cool when you can do it) or tackle the stairs at work without huffing + puffing like the Big Bad Wolf.

Write down goals other than those that involve the number on the scale. Celebrate those non-scale victories. You know, things like being able to tackle a push-up on your toes, turning down a brownie, lifting up your kid without cringing in pain.

Celebrate all the little accomplishments you’re starting to make that you couldn’t do before- you’ve earned ’em!

Tip #3: Go back to the future.

Get all Marty McFly with it.

What do I mean by that?

Take out your smartphone or video camera, record yourself in that honeymoon stage when you’re first starting out and you’re actually excited about working out and you’re proud of yourself that you’re staying on track.

When you do get that workout in and are feeling very pumped, accomplished + proud for actually strapping on your sneakers to get it done, hit record on that video camera or smartphone and tape yourself talking about how you feel.

Same goes for when you’ve had a 100% on track with your nutrition kind of a day. Go on- pull out a camera and BRAG about it. Talk about how good you feel. If you’ve noticed you feel better without stopping at the drive-thru or eating the donuts that were sitting on the break table, go on + overshare for the camera!

These kind of videos can serve as a powerful kick in the pants to help you when your motivation is starting to fade.

Save them. Be sure to make them easily accessible when you need a reminder from your past self on how good/proud/awesome with awesome sauce you felt while being on track with your fitness + nutrition.

Tip #4: Get a little friendly competition going.

If you were born with a competitive spirit, you may want to check out DietBet. This is a website where you can actually bet on your weight loss. If you succeed, you win back the money you put up, plus a little more. If you fail, you lose the money you put up.

It’s a simple premise that can act as powerful motivation.

You can join a team or form your own and maybe get some friends and family in on the competition.

There are two different levels of competition on Diet Bet. One where you’re betting whether or not you can lose 4% of your weight in 4 weeks or 10% of your weight in 6 months.

The bigger the goal, the bigger the potential prize is.

If you’re not a competitive person or the DietBet thing just isn’t your thing, find an accountability buddy- someone who will support your journey who is also going through a journey themselves with similar goals.

Your accountability buddy can be a family member, a friend, a colleague or even someone you met in an online weight loss support group.

Tip #5: Ask yourself the tough questions when the going gets tough.

When your motivation is starting to really fade and telling yourself “I don’t really want to work out today” or “it’s too hard to plan out meals”, ask yourself…

“How am I going to look and feel in 6 months if I quit right now?”

“What is my health going to be like if I give up?”

Asking yourself those kinds of questions and giving yourself honest answers can actually motivate you to keep on going strong with your diet and nutrition plan.

Don’t just throw in the towel at the first sign of difficulty. Ask yourself the tough questions and be equally tough in your response.

If you’re looking for excuses, they’re not that hard to find. You need to blast through them.

Answer back to your inner “I don’t have time to work out” with “there are thousands of people who MAKE the time to workout- and you’re just going to spend that extra 30-45 minutes watching TV so enough with this nonsense.”

When that voice is telling you “it’s too hard to plan out meals!,” call BS on that lying bitch. Acknowledge that yes, it does take some time + effort, but it’s effort well spent. And hey, you’d likely be waiting in that line at that crazy good local burger joint for just as long as it takes you to bake up some chicken and steam some veggies for the week anyway.

Bonus sauce tip: Get real.

Don’t resort to using pictures of fitness models or other probably heavily photoshopped images to serve as ‘fitspiration’ for you as you’re striving to lose weight.

It’s unrealistic.

Instead of doing something like that, I would say to go into your closet and look for an outfit. It can be a swimsuit, a top, a dress, a pair of jeans that you haven’t been able to fit into for awhile and hang those up in your room where you can see them each and every day.

You have a better shot of fitting into that swimsuit, those jeans or that dress than you’ll ever have looking like a fitness model.

That’s my two cents as someone who’s struggled with motivation from time to time- and I’m betting these two cents on YOU.

If you have your own tips on motivation, please share them in the comments below.

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