The Motivation Myth
You’ve heard it before, you’ve probably said it before… “I’m just not motivated to work out!” Feel free to substitute “eat right” or just about anything else that you feel like you should be doing that you’re not doing. You feel like, if only you could harness that elusive motivation you’d make it to the gym every night after work, you’d get all your grocery shopping done in one fell swoop, you’d come home and chop up all those healthy veggies for the week. Well, maybe.
We do have days where we feel super energized to make good food choices, to get in a good sweat and to get enough rest. We’re on top of our game and ready to take on the world. It’s a great feeling! Yeah, then Tuesday comes. On that day your boss gives you a hard time, you forget you have to get the kids to the dentist and you get a speeding ticket. And all your good intentions, your motivation, fall to the wayside. You’re stressed, you’re busy, and you’re tired. You just don’t feel like going to the gym. You’re ambivalent about your diet and you really just want to treat yourself to something comforting.
This happens to all of us – me too! You cannot rely on “motivation” to inspire you to make your best food and exercise choices for the long term because motivation comes and goes like a bad mood. Some days you feel like it, but lots and lots of days you don’t.
So what do you do?
You cultivate good habits. Yeah, I know it doesn’t sound sexy, but listen, you don’t brush your teeth just when you feel like it, right? Goodness, I hope not! No! You do it every single day, hopefully twice a day (and floss!), because it’s what you need to do to be healthy and happy in the long run. Plus, your teeth will fall out if you don’t. Cultivating a habit of healthy living means that you don’t have to rely on motivation or willpower, as we sometimes call it.
An example: You get up feeling crummy. You don’t want to go for a run, but today’s a running day and it’s already on your calendar. The time is already set aside, so you’re not choosing between trying to squeeze in a workout when you really should be heading to the office. So the remedy for that lack of motivation? Just start! Lace up your shoes like you always do and just head out the door. Sometimes the motivation will come find you once you get going. Sometimes it won’t, but either way you got your workout in. Same with healthy eating. You shop for and prepare healthy foods, so that even if you don’t really feel like eating healthy there are only healthy options available to you!
Waiting to be overcome with motivation to make a big change is a recipe for failure. You have to cultivate good habits to make lasting change.
It’s hard, I get it. But it gets easier. And you’re so worth it!