The first few days of a new diet or weeks of a new workout program are often pretty easy; motivation levels are high because whatever you are doing is new.
It’s a bit like when you have a new car; you wash it and service it and take really good care of it.
But, as the months turn into years, you take your once-new car for granted, only wash it when you can’t see out the windshield, and only really think about it when it breaks down.
As for servicing? Forget about it!
Motivation is the same; that diet or workout that originally filled you with enthusiasm can soon become something you simply tolerate, a chore that you do under sufferance.
But what if you could keep that “new car shine” on your motivation indefinitely?
What if you could feel enthusiastic about healthy eating and exercise each and every day?
Wouldn’t that be great!
Here are FIVE ways to stay motivated forever.
1. Follow Your Passions
Ask a child to do something they don’t want to do and you’ll soon see the power of following your passion!
They’ll do their best to cut corners, do a half-assed job, or simply quit!
Adults are a little less obvious about it but, when asked to do things we don’t like, we’ll often not give it our all or, otherwise, offer up excuses and justifications for our lack of application – I was too busy, I didn’t have time, I am too tired…
The best way to avoid this is to love what you do and that means your exercise plan and your diet.
· Hate going to the gym? Go and run, cycle or swim in the ocean.
· Hate vegetables? Learn to love fruit.
· Don’t like cooking? Find yourself a great healthy food home delivery service.
Don’t struggle uphill unnecessarily and make healthy eating and exercise a chore; instead, find things that you can be really passionate about and that you’ll enjoy.
That way, your motivation will always remain high.
2. Never Be Without Goals
Goals are incredibly motivating but many of us stop setting them after exercise has become a habit or we’ve lost a reasonable amount of weight.
But, that’s when your motivation can take a hit.
Continue setting goals even if you are an old hand at exercise and healthy eating.
· Train for next year’s 10km fun run
· Bench press your bodyweight
· Drop a dress size in time for summer
· Reduce your blood pressure by 10 points
· Lose two-inches from your waist
As soon as you reach your goal, set another.
Don’t be afraid to let your goals take you in completely different directions e.g. losing weight for six months and then gaining strength for the next six months.
The more diverse the goal, the more likely it is to boost your motivation.
3. Ramp up and Ease Off
Elite athletes are often only “in shape” for a few months of each year.
The rest of the time, they ease off, do the ground work, and get ready to start building up for their next big event.
Why? Because it’s almost impossible to stay in top shape all year around.
Building up and then easing off helps a) create higher peaks and b) sustains motivation.
In tennis, where players often play at a high level all year around, burnout is very common – especially in younger players.
However, in track and field, where the season is shorter and events tend to be concentrated into a shorter time frame, burnout is much less common.
Make the most of this strategy by picking a couple of times a year where your fitness and weight loss efforts will peak, the three months leading up to your summer vacation and your birthday for example, and then backing off a little and cruising the rest of the time.
Working toward these special occasions will maximize motivation but then the back-off periods will allow you to recharge your batteries and avoid burnout.
Eat clean and continue exercising during these periods but just don’t be so intense about it.
4. Take Planned Breaks
Even if you adhere to point three, it’s still a good idea to take planned breaks to sustain your motivation.
There are lots of ways you can do this.
In nutrition, you could use the 10% rule where you eat healthily 90% of the time and treat yourself to foods you otherwise avoid 10% of the time.
Alternatively, you might relax your diet for one weekend in four.
In exercise, you could train hard for seven weeks and have every eighth week off or, if that seems like too long, go hard for three weeks and take it easy every fourth.
Either way, it’s always better to take short planned breaks before you need to than have to take long unplanned breaks because you have to.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure or so they say!
5. Always Be Learning
Doing the same things over and over, be it exercise or healthy eating, can dampen even the strongest motivation.
But who said you HAD to do the same thing over and over?
When it comes to exercise and nutrition, there are lots of different ways to skin the proverbial cat; you just need to find out what they are.
Become a student of the game and try to always be learning.
Become your own expert so you never need to fall into the trap of doing the same old-same old, over and over again.
The more you know, the more options you will have and the less likely you are to get bored. Boredom is the enemy of motivation so remember; your mind is like a parachute – it works best when it is open!
Keep looking for different ways to achieve your goals so that you won’t get bored and your motivation levels will remain high.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It’s not enough to be motivated for a day, a week, a month, or even a year.
Exercise and healthy eating should be lifelong pursuits and that means you’ll need to find ways to maintain your motivation forever.