Finding Motivation

A few weeks ago I was really low on motivation. After competing in two bikini competitions within 4 months I was sick of dieting and exhausted. I found myself having a really hard time sticking to my diet. Workouts were ok but it was torture to get myself to the gym. I needed to get back on track, I needed to get motivated for my competition at the end of this month.

Luckily, I did get my motivation back, but it got me thinking about how often people struggle with getting motivated. Anytime you want to make a big change in your life there is a motivating force behind it and particularly when it comes to losing weight or getting in shape people seem to want to change but just can’t find the motivation to make the change.

Motivation is very personal. One person’s motivation strategy is not necessarily going to work for someone else, so what motivates me won’t necessarily have the same influence on you. However, the process I used to find motivation can be used by anyone. I want to address the challenges behind finding YOUR motivation and some things you can do to help you get motivated.

We are naturally motivated to do things that we like. if you have trouble getting motivated to do something it is because there is something in the process that you do not like. You need motivation to help you get started and get through the part that is not so great so that you can achieve your goal. Even though I love the gym and eating healthy, I was a little burnt out from my super strict competition prep. I needed to reevaluate my goals and renew my motivation. Here are a few questions I asked myself to get motivated that you can use to find your motivation too. I think its a great idea to write your answers down so you can refer back to them:

1. WHAT is my goal? Be VERY descriptive. Good goals are measurable, attainable, specific and have a time limit. They should also mean something to you You don’t know what you are working toward unless you explicitly define it so make sure you have something you are working toward. My current goal is to place top five at NPC National Championships in 2 weeks!

2. What is in my way? Make a 2-colomn list. On one side write down things that you think are standing in your way, things that you use as excuses. In the second column, next to each excuse, write down a way you could overcome that obstacle. Refer to this list when you find yourself making excuses. (Here are some of mine: too tired, not enough time to prepare food, hate to cook, gym day care isn’t open)

2. WHY do I want this? The “why” is really what is going to motivate you so make sure it is a powerful why. The best way I have found to really get to the core motivating factor is to keep asking myself “what does that mean to you” or “why” until something really strikes a nerve. (its the same technique some therapists use to help with introspection) Here’s an example…. my goal is to place top 5 in the competition, I asked myself “why” and I came up with something like “it is a stepping stone to achieving my goal of making a name for myself in the fitness industry” then I asked “what does that mean to you?” and I came up with something like “it means feeling successful” Then I created a really vivid image of what “success” feels like to me, what it looks, feels, sounds, tastes and smells like. When I am losing motivation I use this image to remind myself of what I am working toward. Be honest with yourself. If your “why” is not enough to move you into action, you will probably continue to procrastinate.

3. HOW will I achieve my goal? Sometimes getting started is a matter of logistics. Are you going to go to the gym 5 days a week and workout for an hour each day? What days and times will you do that? Are you going to eat six healthy, small meals a day? How will you prepare for that? Again, be really specific. Make an action plan and follow it! Luckily, I have a coach who puts together a plan for me, I just need to stick to it.

Now that you have the structure of your motivation, It is time to GET STARTED! Ok,  this is the hardest and most important part. I am definitely no stranger to procrastination, but when I notice myself procrastinating I follow these tips to help get myself going

1. JUST DO IT- I know, the Nike slogan (hope that is not copyright infringement…) I make things not optional. I have to do it. Trust me, there are days I come home from work and I am exhausted and totally do not feel like going to the gym. I just tell myself that I have to. If you give yourself the option of bowing out, you may not have enough will power to stick to your plan. Think of your workouts as an appointment that you can’t miss. It works for food too. If I ever give myself the option of cheating on my meal plan because I “deserve it” it is really hard to resist temptation, but if I make things black or white, yes or no it is easier to follow my plan. Having a plan to follow also makes it easier, because I know exactly what to do.

2. Take action now- If you keep telling yourself you will start tomorrow, you will never start. Do something NOW! Get up go to the gym. Make the change now and think of how much better you will feel when you wake up tomorrow.

3. Set small target goals- Sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees. You can get overwhelmed by big goals. That is why it can be helpful to break large goals down in to more manageable bites. If you really don’t feel like working out. Try telling yourself that you will just do a ten-minute warm-up and if you still aren’t feeling it you can go home. Most of the time you will complete your small goal and be ready to keep going. If you want to change your eating habits try swapping out 1 meal a day for something healthier and then make more changes as you go along.

Admittedly staying motivated is a constant struggle. Although it gets easier as these things turn in to habits, there will always be times when your motivation wanes. Look at those times as opportunities to re-evaluate your goals and set new ones.

Do you have any motivating tricks? Have you ever lost motivation?

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