How Do I Stay Motivated to Eat Healthy and Exercise?

Since becoming a personal trainer, I hear this from many of my clients: “I know what I changeblvdshould do.  I know what I should eat.  I know that I should exercise regularly but I just don’t do it.  I don’t know how to stay motivated.”  When it comes right down to it YOU are the only one who can make the choices for a healthier lifestyle.  The trick is to take the “willing mind” and turn those thoughts into actions.

First and foremost, if you are eating poorly and living a sedentary lifestyle you will not be able to change overnight.  If you think about it, you probably got to that point gradually (perhaps over a number of years) and you won’t go the other way in a heartbeat.

  1. Pick your one most unhealthy habit.  Maybe you drink soda at every meal. Work on changing that habit gradually.  Should you pick a “give up soda” day and quit cold turkey?  NO!  You will probably feel deprived, give up in a few days, beat yourself up for failing and not try it again for months.  Instead, pick the meal that you could most easily swap out a soda for a glass of water, and then do it.  Don’t change anything else about your diet until you start noticing results from that action.  Now, swap another soda for water and repeat. Write down what results you are seeing (more energy, a small loss on the scale, better sleep). Refer to this list if you start to waver.
  2. Add some exercise.  If you are a total couch potato, are you going to go to boot camp?  Again, NO.  Add some light exercise.  Fifteen minutes each day is fine. Walking is fine.  The important thing is to set that time aside and DO IT. When it starts feeling easier and when you start seeing benefits, add a little bit more.
  3. If you mess up, that’s all it is.  The next day you get a clean slate and you get back to business.  It is not time to give up and go back to the “old you”.
  4. Get someone else to hold you accountable.  Tell them what your goal is and ask them to check in with you at regular intervals. It’s a lot harder to blow off your workout and eat six donuts if you know you will have to tell your accountability buddy it happened.
  5. Try something new.  It’s always fun to try something different and it can keep you motivated.  Find a cookbook full of healthy recipes.  Cooking Light’s Complete Meals in Minutes is a great place to start.  Ever tried Yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, kayaking or circuit training?  The list could go on and on.  Sign up for a class or find a good DVD.  Just remember to build up to this kind of exercise (see #2)
  6. Make it social. Share your experiences (both successes and setbacks) with others.  Find a workout partner, post about your journey on Facebook or on your blog, start or join a support group, take some healthy meal prep lessons.  There’s nothing better than getting healthier except making new friends while you get there.
  7. Challenge yourself.  You may not think you will be able to ever do a push-up from your toes or run a whole mile, but if you take it one step at a time you CAN! When I did 90 days of P90X the thing that motivated me the most was seeing my ever increasing number of repetitions on my chart as the days went on.  Check out challengeloop.com to find a challenge that will keep you going!

Research shows that if you do something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. If you trade that ONE soda for a glass of water and continue for 30 days, you will soon wonder why you ever wanted a soda. Before you know it, you won’t want any other beverage but water and all that soda and extra calories will be a distant memory.

Now I will challenge you! Post the one unhealthy habit you would like to change here. What is your plan is to change it?  Tell me.  Putting your goal and your plan in writing makes it real and that’s motivating too!

Author: Sue Kauffman

Health and PE teacher in Central PA. Exercise, fitness and nutrition junkie. Married, two teen girls (pulling out hair daily). Love to ballroom dance. Beachbody customer and coach. e-mail me at suek11@embarqmail.com

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