Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Motivation

One of the most common blockades on the road to health is lack of motivation. I wish I could give you an easy answer about how to get motivated, but the fact is, motivation needs to come from within. You can buy an expensive gym membership, invest in equipment, buy the healthiest food out there, but the fact of the matter is, if you don't use your tools, you won't reap their benefits. If you're coming up with excuses, you're not going to reach your goals. If you self-sabotage, you're going backwards.

So instead of thinking of reasons why you can't exercise/eat right/get healthy, let's think of some good reasons why you can.

1) Look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? If you don't, the process of changing that is twofold: first of all, learn to love yourself no matter what shape you're in. You are the only you you have, and you're beautiful in your very own way. So if what you'd love on the outside isn't matching what you love on the inside, then you need to learn how to exercise and eat right for your best health. Food is 70% of what you look like; the rest comes from building muscle and staying active.

2) Do you have kids? Grandkids? Significant others? Parents? Friends? Anyone you really care about? Set an example. I have a client who last week told me that her dessert-adoring mother was so impressed with the changes she was trying to make, that she wanted to make a no-dessert pact. Your actions affect others, and you can inspire them, too. And life is much easier when you're not the only one making positive changes. At the same time, this is a great time to weed out negative influences in your life. Everyone knows poisonous people. Don't let them poison you any more. You're better than that.

3) Get a checkup. If things aren't great, you need to make a change. You've only got one body; you need to keep it in top shape. One of the most heartbreaking things I see is people who don't take care of their bodies and grow immobile as a result, needing help to do the most basic of tasks (especially in their later years). I know I don't want that to be me. I suspect that you don't want that to be you, either. "Move it or lose it," and let your diet clean out your insides. You don't need any fancy detox programs-- you just need fresh, pesticide-free produce, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Your body will thank you for it. There's absolutely no reason you can't be in the best shape of your life at 40, 50, or even 60+.

4) Do you have a goal? Whether it's to fit into your old jeans, do a pullup, run a 5K, or just keep up with your kids, you can't do it without a fitness plan.

Okay, so you have your reason to get started. Now, how do you get started? I'm a big believer in goalsetting. The important thing here is not to set large, unattainable goals. Set a goal you can hit in a month or two. Write it down. Then write down the steps you'll need to take to hit that goal. For instance, if your goal is to lose 4% body fat in 2 months (I don't really recommend going by weight, by the way-- it's a deceitful and inaccurate measurement; go by body fat instead), your list of steps might look like:
-cut out sugars
-make sure I'm eating enough food
-eat lots of veggies, esp. green ones
-30 min. vigorous exercise per day, 3 days strength training

Post this list everywhere you can think of.

This is a pretty daunting list for someone who is just starting out, so now you can tackle these steps one or two at a time. Cutting out sugar is a biggie for most people, so I'd start with that. See if you can go 3 weeks without sugar. It will be HARD at first, but if you can make it through 3 weeks, you'll start to realize it's not as bad as you thought, and your body won't crave it the way it used to. While you're doing that, start with an exercise goal you know you'll be able to hit, whether it's a very brisk walk for 30 minutes a day, a 30 minute dance-a-thon, a session with a trainer, etc. (Note that your 30 minute sessions can be broken up throughout the day; as long as it totals 30 minutes at the end of the day, it still counts!).

Once you've tackled that, you can start on another step, and so on. You'll reach your goal, or at the very least, make strides towards it. For every goal you reach, reward yourself with something non-food related, like a massage, a small trip, a gadget you covet, or something else that brings a smile to your face.

What motivates you? Questions? Comments? Post 'em here! :)

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