Thursday, March 25, 2010

3 Great Ideas for Staying Motivated with your Health and Fitness Goals

As most of you know, we have a puppy, now almost 10 months old, who needs a lot of exercise. I have had to work her walks into my schedule, and therefore have only certain windows of time allotted. Obviously the weather doesn’t always cooperate with my schedule, and there have been days when I pick the only torrential downpour of the entire day as the walk break. After getting soaked to the core one too many times, I went to MEC and purchased some great breathable waterproof pants and jacket, so there could be no excuses.

I have to admit to you though, even with the activity scheduled into my day-timer, the perfect all weather outfit, and a pure bred Doberman puppy who either goes for a walk or becomes nasty and chews my slippers, I still have motivation issues – even on the nice days!

I guessed that if I am having motivation issues, there is a good chance that others out there are too. So how do you stay motivated? Here are 3 ideas.

1) Just for the Health of It

Using health as a motivator often doesn’t work for a lot of people. This is because the approach is wrong, as many of us are relatively healthy, or at least think we are, and so feel we don’t need to improve. It is the same reason we still eat sugar and refined flours. This stuff is truly toxic to our bodies, and yet we keep on eating it. Somehow we think we are invincible to degeneration.

I think one of the biggest issues is the fact that it often takes years of neglect for our bodies to become diseased. So we think in our 20’s and 30’s that we are fine, and must be somehow genetically gifted and not affected by eating crap and lack of exercise. Then by the time we are in our 40’s and 50’s and have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and degenerative diseases, we think we are genetically doomed and there was nothing we could have done anyway.

What does the previous important paragraph have to do with staying motivated, you might ask? To use health as a motivator, you need to look at where you are heading, not where you are now. If you have relatives with diabetes, digestive disorders, cancer, obesity, and other degenerative conditions, picture them as your outcome for not getting off the couch, or eating another doughnut. Actually take a picture of them and put it on your fridge.

Then take a picture of someone who inspires you with their health, and put that picture up too.

Now every time you chose to go to the movie with a friend, rather than asking them to go for a walk, you know which destiny you are choosing. Is your choice the picture of Uncle Albert, who has congestive heart failure, and needs a walker because his knees are riddled with arthritis, or is it the picture of your cousin Joe, who eats well and looks great in his 60’s.

This might seem cruel or drastic, but you need to make your health motivations real and precise. It is a fact that most degenerative diseases are avoidable, so we need to avoid them. The medical industry is so busy trying to find “cures” for everything, that they have ignored the fact that many of them are preventable in the first place. We don’t need cures, we need prevention, and you have the power to prevent your own health issues.

If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will!

2) For the Love of Money

Money is another big motivator for many people. If you pay for something, you are more likely to utilize it. This works great for some, and not at all for others, so you need to know for yourself if this is a motivator that will work for you.

You can use this a few different ways. The most obvious is to pay for fitness classes, weight watchers, or a gym membership.

You can also team up with a few friends or coworkers and play a game. Everyone throws $5 or $10 or so into a kitty, and you set a goal, which could be to lose 5% of your body weight, loose 1 inch on your waist, train to run 5 km, etc, and the first one to achieve the goal wins the kitty.

This is fun because it involves friends, keeps you accountable, and might just reward you financially for your hard work! So you could end up making money to stay motivated rather than spending it – cool!

3) Write it Down

Journaling is a vital tool for staying motivated. You can purchase a traditional diary, a sport or food specific journal, or just use a notepad or spreadsheet.

Writing down what you eat and what activities you perform (or don’t) each day can really open your eyes to where you are at and where you need to go.

Try this for a week: keep track of EVERYTHING you eat, down to the cream in your coffee. Also write down what you are doing and feeling when you are eating (especially snacking), and what times you are eating.

Next write down any exercise you do, from walking up flights of stairs to gardening, washing floors, as well as the “exercise” we do every day, like walking, running, lifting weights, etc.

Next, keep track of the hours you spend sitting, either watching TV, playing video games, working on the computer or doing crafts.

Review these lists at the end of every day and decide one thing you are going to improve on the following day, be it to cut out the muffin at 7pm, eat more at lunch so that you aren’t starving and binging by 3pm, cut out 30 minutes of TV, or add a few pushups during that 30 minutes of TV.

When it is written down in front of you it is very apparent how everything adds up, and your progress is also very clear for you, which keeps you moving forward.

Pick one of these ideas and implement it today, or try all three!