What made you decide to work on your weight now?
This may be one of the first questions you ask yourself, because knowing your motivation is one of the keys to successful lifestyle change. It energizes us and focuses our attention on our priorities.
Motivation can be challenging to harness at times, so here are some tips for making the most of it.
- Identify your reasons for change. Get really clear on who or what in your life is driving you to make a change right now. Do you want to feel more energetic? Dance like never before? Keep up with your kids? Once you understand your underlying motivations for change, write them down and keep them front and center – in a place you’ll frequently see them.
- Make sure lifestyle changes aren’t drudgery. Watching what you eat and exercising aren’t always the most intrinsically satisfying, so choose activities you enjoy or pair them with other things you like. Savor the flavors of healthy foods and recipes, and feel how they nourish your body. If you’re social, invite friends to join you for a workout. If you enjoy a challenge, train for races or beat your own times. And then mix up the activities every so often to maintain interest. Lacking for ideas? Talk with your coach!
- Plan for when motivation wanes. As hard as we might try to maintain it, there are times when motivation lags. What to do? Use your environment to set you up for success. Keep unhealthy foods out of easy access. Lay out your exercise clothes before you go to bed so they are waiting for you in the morning. That way you’re ready when motivation weakens – and know it’s only a matter of time before it returns.
Remember, a little motivation goes a long way – so use it to your advantage!
Elliot AJ, Harackiewicz JM. Goal setting, achievement orientation, and intrinsic motivation: a mediational analysis. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1994;66:968-80.
Ntoumanis N, Biddle SJ. Affect and achievement goals in physical activity: a meta-analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 1999;9:315-32.