Staying motivated can often become the true challenge. We hear people talk about willpower, and to some degree, yes, willpower helps. But it doesn’t boil down to just willpower. Willpower implies just using strength to barrel through. We can envision ourselves gritting our teeth and visibly (and uncomfortably, maybe even painfully!) struggling. And of course the opposite implication exists, too. If our willpower fails to get us through, then we must not be strong enough. We must be weak. It’s just not the case.
Willpower is a real thing, and we all have it. I think we just have been using the wrong definition. I prefer the saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
Mindset is key. Positivity, hope, faith. When we want something, we have the will to work for it. Some days more than others. But it is always there as long as that goal is in our minds. It is the power of our will that helps us find the way. And for some, maybe that is gritting our teeth and barreling through. But that’s not the only way to achieve something. Ever hear “slow and steady wins the race”? Right! The power of our will comes in all forms. And as long as our goal exists, we can use that to motivate ourselves to get there.
When it comes to food and health, I find it helpful to remind myself why I am doing this. For some of us we want visible results. But for many of us we want inner health and wellbeing too. That can be a challenging goal because we just can’t see what is happening inside our bodies. When we eat that nutritious meal we know we have done well, but we can’t see how it begins to heal and repair our inner workings. Of course it’s a process that happens gradually, and progressively, over time, so where is our instant gratification? The reverse here is true too. When we eat that junk food, we know the satisfying sensation of the taste, but we can’t see our inner workings and how it is hurting us. This is where the hard work comes in. This is where we have to use our minds.
- Remind yourself why you are on this path in the first place.
- Remind yourself how far you have already come.
- If you stopped now, what would you gain by stopping?
- How would you feel if you gave up on your goal?
- Envision yourself working through this positively. Now how do you feel?
- Is there some other reason you are feeling tired, unmotivated, or wanting to quit? (Stress, emotions, frustration?)
These are all important questions to ask yourself. We are human, and from the beginning we equate nourishment with emotion. We all consider ourselves emotional eaters in some form, and I believe it is important to acknowledge this. Food does sometimes provide more than fuel, like it or not. The trick is which foods are we allowing to comfort us?
There are some fun and interesting ways to find your motivation again. Sometimes you need a change of scenery.
- Try a new recipe.
- Shop at a new grocery store.
- Splurge a little and treat yourself to a nice cut of meat or fish, a spice, or a cooking indulgence you wouldn’t normally.
- If you’re seeking sweet, find something that accommodates that desire but still meets your nutrition goals.
- Change up your flavors! Herbs and spices are our best friends!
- Call a friend. Talk it out, make a lunch date, swap a dinner. Mostly, have fun!
But above all else, stay positive. This is about you, and you are the only one in charge of you. You are worth the extra work and effort, and you deserve to feel good and be healthy in life. One step at a time, you are getting there. If you take a misstep, no big deal. Just fix it, get right back on your road, and right back on your way.