I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation lately. Specifically, motivation for healthy eating and exercising. Why do people fall away from healthy habits? Especially when they know that they feel better and have more energy when they are following through?
What I have seen from working with clients for years is that weight loss is Goal #1 for so many people. But long term, weight loss is actually a terrible motivator. There are a couple reasons for this.
First, what happens if you start eating well and exercising and the scale doesn’t budge? Even if your clothes are fitting better, you are losing inches and you have more energy, the number on the scale has an amazing way of sapping the resolve of even the most determined of us. There are a number of reasons why the scale may not reflect a change in body composition (more muscle, less fat), but not seeing the number on the scale go down, or go down fast enough, can cause anyone to wonder if it is all worth it.
Second, what happens when you reach your goal weight? Anyone who yo-yos with their weight can relate to this. Once you reach your goal weight, it is so easy to start the slide back into less healthy habits. Without that goal to strive for, maintaining can be difficult.
So what works to stay motivated? Having a goal that is independent of weight is what really works for the long term. For some people, this may be avoiding medication for diabetes or high cholesterol. For others, it may be feeling good enough to do things they love, such as hiking with family. For me, it is eating well and staying in shape throughout the year to be in the best possible shape for ski season.
Changing your thinking about motivation will change your attitude toward healthy eating and exercise. Whether you are at or far away from your goal weight, there is always a good reason to keep up healthy habits. What motivates you?