I’ve been asked a lot over the last few days – “how do you stay motivated?” Seems a lot of us – myself included – are in the habit of starting a diet with the best of intentions, and with all the motivation in the world… For about three days.
Then it starts to go bit wrong.
Temptation, life, a dream involving Johnny Depp and a whole load o’cookie dough… I get it. Stuff gets in the way of our good intentions, and the next thing you know, you’re feet to the ceiling in a barrel of Phish Food, praising the god of all things gooey but knowing, deep down, that tomorrow… Tomorrow, you’ll be miserable. And in your mind’s eye, you’ll weigh twice as much as you did before you started out, so you’ll be twice as naughty as you were before.
I hear ya.
I think over the course of my lifetime, I’d say I’ve started a diet at least… I’m going to go with a hundred times, but that still strikes me as a conservative estimate. So when I say I know how hard it is to stay motivated, I’m not kidding. I really do.
I need to put that out here, because I know it seems like I’ve managed to make a success story out of myself over the course of two attempts, over two years. But no – I’ve failed a LOT.
So when people say “I just don’t know how to stay motivated” or “I always start out well, and then it just falls apart…” that does not – I repeat, NOT – mean you have to stay overweight forever.
What it does mean is that when you do succeed, you’ll have earned a few things. This is your chance to identify your weaknesses, and shoot them down, so that when you’re all done, you’ll have earned the right to strut down the street knowing you beat your own personal demons, you smashed your own goals – and you defied everyone else’s expectations of you.
I’m still working towards that, because I still have work to do. I’m not done. Not even close to done. Someone’s coming to take my picture for the paper in the next few days, and MAN. I still had to motivate the living daylights out of myself to get to the gym last night, because the temptation is still to spot the pressure coming and go hide from it… Behind a stack of pizza boxes.
Because motivation isn’t just something you suddenly have and get to keep forever. You have to keep topping it up.
Imagine you’re going on a trip, say. A road trip. A road trip somewhere really, really awesome.
You start out with a full tank of petrol, and you’re off on your great adventure. But along the way, you notice you’re running low on the ol’ tank. So what do you do? Do you say to yourself ‘well, that was nice while it lasted. Now I’m just going to sit here in the middle of the road until I croak”?
Of course you don’t.
Motivation works along pretty much the same lines. You can’t just expect to have inexhaustible reserves of it to draw from whenever you need it – it’s something you have to build up, and keep adding to. Because while you might start out with what seems like an endless, overwhelming feeling of motivation, it doesn’t last forever – but if you go into it with your eyes open, knowing that it will falter, but that you can build it back up again, then you’re more likely to succeed in the long term.
There are a lot of things you can do to keep the momentum going, too – I found constantly reading weight loss blogs, browsing sites like Pinterest for inspiration, and other things I’ve listed here, have helped me to maintain my motivation when I was flagging. I still do, in fact.
It does get easier the longer you work at it – but you have to plan for the wobbles that inevitably happen when life gets in the way. Staying motivated is a continuous process, but eventually, the results are enough to keep you on the straight and narrow – plus, you’ll be happier, healthier, and safe in the knowledge that you’re living your life to the full.
And if that ain’t motivating, I don’t know what is.