In an era when instant gratification is so prevalent, too many people are skipping the gym in favour of the next Instagram filter. Motivation to eat better, exercise more, and lead a healthy lifestyle is difficult for so many of us that deal with the constant everyday demands of work, family, and life. Yet there are countless people that make living healthy work. So how can you get more motivated to get healthier?
Motivation to make changes for things that have not yet happened is not easy but prioritizing healthy choices now, no matter your age will help you in the future. Poor lifestyle choices don’t always have immediate effects on our health and may take an even longer time to reverse. Recovering from a heart attack or stroke can take years; the same can be said about reversing the effects of obesity. Using your long term health as a motivator can create positive life long changes. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to drink kale smoothies for the rest of your life; just make sure that you have a plan in place to be healthy when possible.
Use your phone
An overwhelming number of people are “addicted” to their phones, so why not use this as motivation. There are thousands of different apps that do everything from track your activity and sleep, plan workouts, guided meditations, even give you cooking or nutrition tips. Music is of course one of the most widely used motivators so find a playlist that gets you motivated, throw on your earphones and get moving.
You can even use social media as motivation. Just make sure it is positive, un-follow people, or sites that are negative or overly critical; and start following people that inspire you or give you motivation.
Find a friend
Health and exercise doesn’t and shouldn’t have to be done in solitude. Try creating a social event that focuses on a healthy habit, like paddleboarding or hiking, instead of around food and drink. This can be motivating not only for you but for others as well. Another benefit to surrounding yourself with people with similar health interests is it will keep you accountable for your actions.
If you don’t have an in-person network that you can lean on to help keep you motivated, try going online to find a like-minded group to keep you motivated. Similarly, if you have a long-distance friend or group the internet makes it easy to stay in touch as well as motivated.
If that doesn’t work you could try getting a dog! In fact, it could be just what the doctor ordered! It is often suggested to cardiovascular rehab patients by their physicians to get a dog so they at least walk every day to improve their health. Motivation ultimately comes down to you, as you have to decide to get off the proverbial couch, but having someone else to motivate you can help.
Make a deadline
Open-ended goals are fine since a healthy lifestyle should be life-long but without a deadline, it can be hard to measure whether or not you are successful. Deadlines give a sense of urgency and can motivate you to commit to the changes you are trying to make. A short term change in your habits can determine whether or not it is something that you truly want to commit to. If you are thinking about making some changes choose one or two smaller goals, make a short-term plan with a deadline, and see how you do. Many of us see amazing changes using crash diets but also realize that is not something they want to do for the rest of their life.
Negative reinforcement can be an effective form of motivation for some but to truly change your life, motivation should be something you want to do not something you want to avoid. Punishment style motivation often leads to “screw-it” moments when motivation can be completely lost. We are often our hardest critics, so instead of using what we did poorly as a reason to quit, find the things we did well and build upon them. Take the opportunity to evaluate yourself and find your successes no matter how big or small. Motivation can increase rapidly when we can see or feel success.
Motivation is different for everyone…
Figuring out your motivation can change your life!
Paul Bradshaw l Kinesiologist