By Carrie Morgan CPT, CFNC
What motivates you into action? With each behavior or action we perform, there is a reason or personal motivation behind it. We all need motivation to consistently exercise, motivation to plan healthy meals, and motivation to work with 100% effort. We all know that exercise is good for us and that eating our vegetables keeps us healthy from the inside out. So why do we choose to skip our workouts and continue to eat convenience foods? Day after day I’m told “I know what I need to do but I’m just not motivated to do it.” Where does this motivation come from and how do we harness it?
The secret to staying motivated is not what you need to do or how you do it. It’s WHY you do it. When you tell yourself that you’re lacking motivation, it’s a sign that your reason WHY isn’t big enough. It’s not about knowing that you shouldn’t eat Twinkies. Everybody knows that. It’s about whether your reason WHY shadows your reason why NOT. The reason you don’t exercise consistently or make nutritious food choices is because your reason WHY isn’t your dominant thought. Convenience is more important to you than pre-planning a healthy menu. TV is more important than sleep. Allowing others to dictate your schedule is more important than having a fit heart. You chalk it up to lack of motivation as if that somehow lets you off the hook. Yet, if you had a big enough reason WHY, all these excuses would pale in comparison to the point of foolishness and would motivate you to perform the action needed to hit your goal.
Whether nutrition or exercise, what we do in these areas of our life is determined by our choices. Our choices are dictated by our priorities. Your reason WHY will establish the priority of the activity in your life.
3 Keys to Finding Your Reason WHY:
One – Your reason WHY should be emotional. When you think about it and talk about it, you should literally well up inside because it means that much to you. If it doesn’t bring you to tears, it’ll never bring you to action.
Two – Your reason WHY should be specific. It’s not enough to say you want to “be healthy”. Instead describe in great detail how your life will be different when you are off all your blood pressure & heart medications, when you are fit enough to go on excursions with your kids when you travel, and when you can buy clothing without going to a specialty big & tall store.
Three – Your reason WHY should be personal. It should be something that has specific meaning to you and you alone. If you can substitute anyone else’s name into your reason WHY, then it’s not personal enough.
Four – Your reason why should be BIG. It should be so big that even when you are tired, hungry, sad, frustrated, or angry that you are still moved to action.
Similar Situations, Differing Outcomes. WHY?
Scenario 1: You signed up for an early-morning exercise class because you want to try to loose a few pounds and maybe fitting into some old clothes (vague, unemotional reason WHY). One night, you were up late watching your favorite reality TV program rather than record it for fear that your coworkers would tell you about it the next day (early morning wake up call to exercise is less important than what coworkers think of TV show). Then in the middle of that same night your pet wakes you up to be let outside and it’s an hour before you can settle down to rest again. You think “I have a long day at work tomorrow and I really need my rest so I can be sharp for my meeting… Now there’s just no way I can get
up early to work out. Besides, I don’t want to fit into my old clothes—I’d rather go shopping for new ones” (reason WHY is smaller than reason why NOT). So you choose not to work out and turn off your alarm.
Scenario 2: You signed up for an early-morning exercise class because you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. You want energy to play with your kids and leave a legacy of nutritious cooking to them. You want to loose 2 dress sizes so that you can have more energy and fit into your old clothes, one of which is a favorite dress that you only wore once (and your husband loves) that would be perfect to
wear to an upcoming wedding (clear, emotional reason WHY). You record your favorite TV show to watch the next day after work, set your alarm for 4:45am, and settle into bed for a good night rest (actions dictated by priorities). In the middle of that same night your pet wakes you up to be let outside and it’s an hour before you can settle down to rest again. You think “I have a long day at work tomorrow and I really need my rest so I can be sharp for my meeting… but if I want more energy, I need to take this extra weight off.
Plus, that wedding is only a month away and I want my husband to love what he sees when I put on that favorite dress of mine.” You drift off to sleep thinking about wearing that dress only to be woken by the alarm 45 minutes later. You’re tired but you reason that it’s only temporary sleepiness and you’re fueled by the vision of the results as you jump out of bed, lace up your sneakers, and head out the door (reason WHY is much bigger than the reason why NOT).
When was the last time you thought about the reasons WHY it’s important to you to be healthy? Get out a pen & paper and take that time now. Your motivation depends on it!