Motivation. The thing that gets us out of bed. Gets us to the gym. Forces us through some tough sets on the squat rack. Encourages us to cook a healthy chicken salad. Urges us to avoid the biscuit tin. Persuades us to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Motivation is present all day long. When its high that is.
When we start out with a goal fresh in our minds, motivation is at its peak. It is easy to get up early and go for a run. It’s easy to choose a banana over a snickers. It’s easy to get to bed at 10, ready to wake up for that 6am run you have planned. At the beginning, it’s all nice. You get the surge of power you feel has always been missing.
But what happens a week later? You haven’t slept well. The kids were up all night. You’ve caught a cold. You twisted your ankle running. What happens then?
Motivation drops. You fall back into old habits. You reach for a biscuit when stressed. You skip the 6am run. You go to bed late because you were watching Netflix until 12 and just couldn’t stop watching.
You end up back in a rut and the surge of energy you felt the week before has long gone. Only to be replaced with disappointment and regret.
How do I know this? It’s happened to me on numerous occasions. It happens to clients all the time. Motivation is a fantastic thing. But its short term. It always has been and always will be. But it’s what you do initially that will determine if you stay motivated or fall by the wayside.
When motivation is high, we need to strike. Hit the ground running. Start to put in place good habits that will last. I fear a lot of us try and do be too adventurous too early, instead of gradually changing things. For example, if we decide we are going for a 26-mile run on Monday at 6am, you might be able to do it to begin with (somehow), but this is something that you are far less likely to be able to sustain in the long term. The next Monday you wake up at 6 and press snooze on the alarm, because you can’t stand the thought of doing 26 miles again. Instead, why not run just 2-3 miles. Get home, have a coffee, take a shower, and then start your day. The next week you can try 3-4 miles. And so on. This will give you a much better understanding of what is sustainable or not.
In regard to food we do a similar thing. We try and eat super healthy straight away, instead of easing into it. When you start a diet, instead of cutting out all junk food, allow yourself a bit. If you normally eat 5 cookies a day, eat 2 per day instead. Over a week that’s 21 cookies less than normal. Again, a far more sustainable way to stay motivated and on track.
So, as we head into this turbulent period with ‘lockdown’, a lot of people are highly motivated to be active. Outdoor walks or runs, cycles. Home workouts are common practice. This is absolutely fantastic. But what I want everyone to be wary of is there will come a time when it will become tougher. Motivation will drop a bit. But its then that you need to push through it. Don’t let it beat you. Ask people for help and for advice. Do something to take your mind off food.
Now you are aware that motivation will drop t some point, you can prepare for it, be ready for it, and beat it.
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