Weight loss is a highly misunderstood science in our current culture. The language and communication that has emerged on the topic is one that eliminates much personal responsibility, instead putting that responsibility on a new trend, book or set of rules created by an influence outside of ourselves. What I hear from clients is a desire to find a magic button, plan or key that will relieve them of needing to “think” about the process. We then wonder why we can’t “stick” to or follow the program for the long-term, when it has little to nothing to do with what we like, want or even need in our own lives. The inability to stick with that program is then blamed on a lack of motivation. What if I told you that motivation is an endless commodity and that we need never fall away from the motivation we feel for weight loss? What if you simply needed to learn the skills of elevating and maintaining motivation?
Clients often communicate “feeling motivated” to me as if it is a limited supply product that simply ran out and is out of the person’s control to find or manufacture any more of it. In losing my own weight (65 pounds) and maintaining that weight loss for nearly 10 years, I have come to discover that motivation is in endless supply but the skills to find it and replenish it are what are lacking.
Most think of motivation as something that descends on them in a given, amazing and almost unworldly moment. It is often characterized by a sudden realization of a desire to make a change to your life in an area that you could not find motivation in before. In weight loss it can be spurred on by a negative experience (clothing not fitting or a negative comment from someone) or a positive experience (planning a trip, having some initial weight loss success). We begin to take action on the issue and eventually we feel a lessening of that motivation and often a full reversal of it, which prompts us to quit the new behaviors we are trying to implement and return to the familiar behaviors that reverse any progress we have made.
The problem here is in labeling motivation as a transient emotion that you have little to no control over. Motivation may “feel” like an emotion, but it is mainly a skill at maintaining positive emotion in a given area. Motivation is often viewed as a straight line that ends at a given point and has no way to restart. I teach that motivation is actually not a straight line, but instead a circle. The lowest point on that motivation circle is infinitely attached to the highest points on the circle and you have the power to push yourself back to the top of the motivation circle with tools and skills at any point you desire. Here’s how.
1. Discover Your “Uppers”
Each of us has a certain set of things that will excite us and motivate us in the weight loss process. You must identify the things that keep you feeling motivated and then make the effort to implement those things into your life. For me, a new recipe each week, new songs on my run mix and a new inspiring story are just the type of things I need to keep me invested in my own process. It takes an active and intentional list of tasks to keep me motivated. I find my inspiration in many places. Once I see that motivation inspiring me, I work hard at getting more of it in my life. The list of places to find motivation is endless and highly personal. Right now I am watching a lot of American Ninja Warrior with my sons because it inspires and motivates me to see real people chasing their dreams of fitness and athleticism. Make a list of 10 things that “up” your motivation.
2. Uncover Your “Downers”
Equally as important is to identify and list out your downers. There will be certain people, places and things that sap you of your motivation. I find that missing sleep, eating too many processed foods and even having to many alcoholic beverages in a week can completely derail my empowerment and motivation. I need to watch out for these and avoid and manage them wherever possible.
3. Just Do Something
Stop thinking. Get out of your head and simply do something. We have too many reasons and excuses why we can’t be successful and we put up blockages to our own motivation. Stop thinking about singing up for the 5K and do it. Stop thinking about trying the new recipe and just do it. Don’t wait till you are ready for ANYTHING. Jump into fear and away from stagnation.
4. Set a Motivation Task Day or Days
Motivation will not just “happen”. You should set a day and a time each week (at least once a week) to actively sit and implement new motivations. You will need time to scroll trough music to find that perfect song for your run or to shop for those ingredients. Take time to plan in motivation boosting activities throughout the week. Don’t assume they will occur to you. This is a new habit you are building and it will take effort and constant reinforcement. As time goes by and the behavior of being active in your own motivation takes hold it will be come a natural way of being, but for the time-being, set aside one hour each week or more to focus on what needs to be done this week to keep you motivated and interested in the process.
These are My Motivation Uppers! What are Yours?
- New running shoes
- New Music on my iPod
- Watching a great sporting event like the Women’s World Cup
- Trying a new exercise class or Video
- Reading great success stories of people who have overcome great odds in their lives
- Getting a new recipe
- Reading community boards on weight loss sites like Spark People, Reddit boards or blogs