One of the biggest complaints I get from my clients is that they lack motivation and accountability when it comes to consistently working out and eating healthier.
And I have to tell you, it’s tough. With so many demands on our time and attention, carving out a little time for ourselves seems to be an ever increasing battle, and sometimes, all we want to do is drink a glass of wine & veg out.
But before we delve into how to get on board with being motivated to do whatever it is that you’re wanting to be more consistent with, Its important to ask the question, “Do you really want to do this?” And a few variations…
Do you really want to do this? If you don’t have the passion for wanting to eat well, or exercise regularly, you’re not going to do it. And if you don’t really believe that this one time you skip is going to make a big difference, then having a one-off is going to be the rule more than the exception.
We often think we’re more consistent than we are.
But the other big factor in whether we’re consistent in our efforts or not, is our why. What is the root reason that we’re wanting to pick up this new behavior?
Do you really want to do this? Or does someone else really want you to do this? OR maybe you think that someone else wants this for you. If the idea of eating better or exercising is someone else’s idea, you might be on board with it, or not. But the fact that it’s not your goal is probably the reason that its just not important to you.
Like wanting your kid to clean up his room, it’s just not important to him. You think it should be important to him because it’s important to you. And through transference, it should therefore be important to him too. But it’s not.
It’s the same thing. You can’t make a goal for someone else, and someone else can’t make a goal for you. In order to be successful, we need to internalize it & somehow make it important to us.
Do you really want to do this? Or do you just want to want to do it? There are times when I think to myself, ‘You know I should really practice yoga more often.’ And when I do go to class, I feel great. But when time gets crunched, it’s one of the first things that gets pushed out of my exercise routine.
And there have been periods when I have practiced a lot, and then there are times when I haven’t gone to a class in 6 months.
See, I don’t really want to do yoga. I want to want to do it. I want to feel that excitement about going to class. Instead, in most classes I watch the clock, counting the minutes until I can escape the room. I know all of the health benefits of it – mental, emotional and physical – but I just haven’t gotten that spark about it yet. I want that spark.
And I’m probably not going to be a life long yogi until I get that awakening.
Do you really want to do this? Or do you just want the result? When I was a kid, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I just loved animals & wanted to be around them all the time. I still do. BUT I don’t LOVE science. I wanted to BE a veterinarian, but I didn’t want to go through the process of learning everything I needed to know to be successful.
If you don’t love exercising, you’re not going to want to do it. If you don’t love the process, you’re going to be miserable. So, if you want to exercise, you need to find something that you enjoy. Find a way to love the process.
Okay. So, let’s say that all of the above holds true for you: you love exercising, you want to do it, and the reason you’re wanting to do it is deeply personal and you’re ready. If (and only if) all of the above are true, then there are a few methods that you can use to help gain consistency.
Get something new & shiny
Working out at home is difficult – especially if you have attention deficit disorder. I worked out at home for a long time & was very successful at it. It wasn’t until I was at home most of the time that it started to break down. What worked for me, was buying really cute outfits. Even though no one ever saw me exercising, just the idea of wearing exercise clothing that was flattering and felt good to wear was inspiration enough to get it done.
The disadvantage of this technique is that it can be expensive.
Use a Reward System
But depending on what you’re using as a reward, this method doesn’t have to cost money. It can – I think it all depends on what you consider a reward. Maybe every day that you exercise, you reward yourself with a luxury that isn’t a food item. Maybe taking a bath, or reading, or some other self-care ritual.
You can use financial rewards, depending on your budget for longer term stick-to-it-ness; like manicures & pedicures, massages, or cute workout clothes (see above – it’s a feed forward cycle 😉
There’s an app for that
I have a terrible memory when it comes to my consistency. When asked, I’ll swear that I eat vegetables with every meal. But when I actually track it, I’m successful only about 60% of the time!
There are tons of great apps that will track stuff for you. One that I really like is TnS Lite. What I like about it is that it can show the relationship between different health habits – mood & sleep, for example. Or sleep and exercise. So now, you can see how consistent you are with your exercise, and how that makes a difference in the other areas of your life (again – feed forward cycle).
Of course, there are also different tools, like MyFitnessPal (and a whole host of other food logging systems) and Fitbit (as well as other wearable activity trackers) that will give rewards, badges, and congratulatory cheers for meeting your goals.
Join a group
Whether it’s a cooking school, or group workouts, having a community to fall back on does wonders for cultivating and trying to stick to a new habit. When we look forward to seeing friends, and those friends reflect our own values and beliefs, those new behaviors are more likely to stick because we have a community to support our new habits.
Of course, the key is finding a community that you resonate with.
Of course one of the methods that resonates with me, is creating challenges. An example might be, if you’re trying to declutter your house, challenge yourself to toss 1 item every single day for a month. Or if you’re trying to improve your diet, see if you can try a new vegetable once a week. Or sometimes there are challenges that you can do with friends and family members.
Whatever you choose – rewarding yourself, tracking your consistency, joining a group, or creating a challenge, (or maybe all of them 😉 again, the key is that this is something that you want to do and become proficient in. Because if you don’t love the journey, what’s the point?
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