If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. –Fred DeVito
These familiar words ring true. But, has your challenge ever felt “too big?” Overwhelming, perhaps? Staying motivated along the journey of weight loss or even weight maintenance seems to become a struggle for most everyone at some point.
“Maintaining motivation” is one of the most commonly reported challenges I hear when talking with individuals about health changes. Even though I am a nutrition professional, I am not immune from this same struggle as I discussed in this article.
The question everyone is asking is “how do I stay motivated?” To be completely honest, I am not sure if anyone “feels” motivated all the time. In fact, I think you will be hard pressed to find anyone that could respond positively to that question. But, as we know, feelings provide us with information but not necessarily truth or fact. Feelings can make you aware that you are not on the path you want to be on, but they won’t necessarily provide the solution to the right path.
If we look to “feel” our way back to the path, to motivation, then it just might not show up. But, if we look to discover the strategies and disciplines we want to have in our lifestyle to move us forward- which will lead to some great feelings- then regaining motivation is within your grasp!
I know exactly what it’s like to feel like a ‘loser.’ To look all around and wonder why I am not further along, why I didn’t learn a lesson and move on, why I haven’t put some practices into place that I have been talking about for waaaayyy too long. I know what it’s like to feel discouraged, frustrated and overwhelmed– all negative feelings.
All of mankind can relate.
While challenges often cause us to dig deep and find an inner strength that we didn’t know we possessed, sometimes, we set a goal that is too big for the moment. It can cause us to skirt around the goal or avoid it altogether, making no progress in the direction we want to go.
For example, if a physician told you that it would be ideal to lose 40#, that might feel ridiculously difficult. But if he encouraged you to lose 5 pounds and then work to maintain that weight loss, many would say that they could achieve that.
If you want to accomplish a goal, it has to be realistic.
After clawing my way out of some of my own personal pity parties and working with hundreds of individuals in my office, I believe there are 3 strategies that help us regain motivation and momentum:
Take A Step Back
This feels so counter-intuitive because when you already feel behind or like a failure, stepping back to see the big picture feels like defeat will only look bigger! But, the reality is that stepping back helps us see if we are using the right strategies to shoot for our goals. Are you aiming at the right things?
It can often be helpful to include a healthcare practitioner, close but honest friend or mentor/coach who can help provide perspective and ask questions.
Recently while mulling over one of my own challenges, I found myself going through all the things I was “doing” as if to pat myself on the back for my exorbitant efforts and martyrdom. Then I asked myself a common coaching question, “How is that working out for you?” Ouch! Well, it wasn’t! I needed to change my strategy and put my energies into another area.
Taking a step back isn’t about regurgitating all your efforts or finding excuses, it’s about getting a big picture perspective.
Vision is absolutely necessary to go anywhere. Whether in business, health, parenting or any area of life, it’s important to know your “Why?” Stepping back can help you recapture that reason again. And that is truly motivating!
Find 1 WIN to Celebrate
When you feel stuck in a pit of despair, momentum is hard to come by. No one wants to attempt climbing out, right!? It feels too hard, too exhausting, too time-consuming. The best way to give yourself a glimmer of hope is to celebrate a win.
Think back to any time in the near or distant past when you achieved a win! Regardless of how small, you must find 1 thing to celebrate. You see, you are stronger than you think, but when “feeling weak” you have to be reminded of your actual strength. This win doesn’t even need to be topically related, although it might be helpful. The point is that for a moment, you need to relive an accomplishment and remember what it felt like to nail it!
A win doesn’t need to be significant to anyone but you. You can even do it right now…
Make Your Next Step the “Lowest Hanging Fruit on the Tree”
Business Coach, Christy Wright, frequently talks about this strategy when encouraging women in business through her Business Boutique. Because big goals can overwhelm us, fear stops us in our tracks. We are paralyzed. Time passes and our feelings of self-worth diminish.
Instead of walking down that path- well, really not going anywhere we want to go, we can use a different strategy… choose the lowest hanging fruit on the tree. Create a super simple goal and then go do it! This doesn’t mean losing sight of our big goals. It means asking yourself today, “What is 1 thing I can do to move the needle?”
For example, if your BIG goal is to lose 7% body fat, maybe one step today is to go to the gym and exercise for 30-60 minutes.
When you wake up each morning and strategize how to move the needle just a little bit, a week or 2 go by and you begin to see progress. But, too much mental energy focused on the ultimate goal doesn’t actually accomplish anything. The goal helps direct our vision but the implementation of the strategy actually gets us there.
What strategy, behavior or practice will you do today?
You haven’t lost your motivation and momentum for good! You just have to uncover it again and make it easy to take a step that makes you feel good!
The best way to predict the future is to create it. –Abraham Lincoln
Today you have an opportunity to create YOUR future- one little piece at a time. But remember,
Motivation is what gets you going. Habit is what keeps you going. –Jim Ryun
Those “feel good” feelings are available for enjoyment, but they won’t move the needle. Only you can do that.
TRUTH: Last of all I want to remind you that your strength must come from the Lord’s mighty power within you. — Ephesians 6:10 (TLB)