11 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise and Eat Healthy
The secret to having the motivation you need to work out, to eat well, and to follow a plant-based lifestyle is simply to go out and get it. Motivation doesn’t just come to you if you wait long enough. It doesn’t rain down from the sky in silvery streams to refill our hearts and souls. It doesn’t magically appear when you need it most like some blue-tinged fairy godmother come to grant wishes.
Motivation isn’t kind, patient, and readily available whenever you want to accomplish something. Instead you have to wrestle it away from apathy and excuse. Motivation likes to be chased and you will have to actively pursue it, tackle it, and bend it to your will. It will be very difficult at first, but motivation does come easier once you begin to see results, as your health improves, and as your fitness levels grow.
There are ways to keep the momentum moving in the right direction and I’ll walk you through a few that work for me, but you should know you also have personal motivations that will only apply to you. Perhaps your girlfriend’s smile when she catches you working out, your husband’s pleasantly surprised look when you order something healthy, or the right mix of music can push you to do better. Find out what unique things motivate you and lean on them.
Set a Goal
You need a plan of attack. Don’t think for one second that the vague phrases “eating better” or “being healthier” are proper goals. They are merely good ideals. Goals need to be specific and accomplishable. Walk briskly for twenty minutes three times a week, lose five pounds by jumping rope for half an hour each evening after work, eat completely plant-based meals two days this week, or don’t buy a soft drink today. These are specific goals and things you can accomplish. Use them as examples and build your own plan.
A goal unwritten is merely a wish. Write it down, cementing what you want to accomplish in visible words. Post that goal somewhere you will be sure to see it every day. I’ve even stapled goals to my ceiling above my bed. If it is somewhere prominent, it will serve as a reminder and give you the fuel and motivation to keep going.
You don’t have to climb Everest or run a marathon right away. If you set huge goals, it becomes easier to lose hope and give up too soon. Begin with something small that you can achieve. Once you do, move on to something bigger. Then bigger. Then even bigger! That’s the way motivation works, built upon a ladder of successes until it’s hard to believe you had trouble finding that motivation once.
Celebrate each success, no matter how tiny it may seem. Each fulfilled goal is a huge step in the right direction. Do not allow yourself to think that even the smallest success doesn’t have value. It does and so do you! If your goal was to walk twenty feet to the mailbox each day and you do it, celebrate that and then start on your next goal. Each one is important. Each one is worthy of a moment of rejoicing.
This sounds like something easier said than done, but really it just requires you thinking about your goal often with the right frame of mind. Read your goal each day and smile, even if you are filled with dread at the thought of continuing or sore from your last work out. As long as you smile and try to be happy about your goals, the excitement will come and with excitement comes motivation. I’ve also found that music can help me get into an excited frame of mind as I think about my goals.
Search Out Inspiration
Find motivation in the success of others. Read blogs, articles, and watch videos from people who have reached their goals. Feed off their motivation, their excitement, and their encouragement. There are many people who have gone through exactly what you are attempting to do and most are willing to help others follow their lead.
Use your Imagination
Humans have a great gift of creation that allows us to dream up new and impossible things. Harness the power of your imagination to picture yourself succeeding, how you will look and feel. Then use those feelings of success to motivate you. Our brains do not distinguish something imagined or read from reality. Convince yourself of your success and you will be more likely to achieve it.
Your goals should be public. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to post an article in the paper or call a press conference, but you should tell your friends and family what you intend to accomplish and ask them to help you. You will need support.
Continue to build that support group. Find a workout buddy. You can encourage and motivate one another and it is much easier with a friend than on your own. Take classes, the other participants and the instructor will motivate you. A coach or trainer can also make a huge difference in motivation and what you are able to accomplish.
Focus on Benefits
It’s easy to lose hope and motivation when we focus on the difficult aspects of losing weight, getting fit, or eating healthier. Working out is hard, losing weight is painful, eating healthy means altering habits and addictions. Don’t focus on the work, focus on the results. Before heading to the gym, think about the benefits and your accomplishments instead.
Remember that working out can be fun. Don’t just put your head down and plow through the work outs. Discipline is a good thing, but you need to let yourself play now and again too. Find exercises you enjoy. Run, skip, jump in a pile of leaves, wrestle with your dog, play basketball, soccer, racquetball, whatever, but have some fun.
Motivation comes in waves. Don’t beat yourself up if you lose it briefly. Forgive yourself for not going to the gym, not reaching your goal, or not eating as well as you had hoped and then move on. Keep following the advice above and focusing on the positive and motivation will come back to you again.
About Charlie Pulsipher
Charlie Pulsipher is a health and fitness enthusiast, writer, author, and neighborhood do-gooder. He shifted his education from Biochemistry to English Literature in an attempt to avoid math, but never stopped loving the natural world of the miniscule. He has published several fantasy and science fiction novels and helped others publish more down to earth books about natural foods. He can’t stop writing. He is probably happily tapping away on some keyboard even now.