Stray Dog Revolution
People find all sorts of things motivating when it comes to fitness: tangible rewards, fear, glory, winning, possibility of losing, jealousy, health, competition, results, love, being able to eat whatever you want (that only lasts so long, young ones...), fun, accolades... the list goes on and on. But over the years I've found there's really only two things that keep me motivated in the long term: habit and feeling.
Every day, we make thousands of decisions. Decisions about our jobs, our families, our relationships. It takes effort and it can be exhausting. Add to that list our decisions about health and fitness and something's gotta give. My guess is that for you, as it was for me, it was my food or my workout. Thus, I've worked hard over the past couple of years to make working out and eating clean a habit. A good habit. Something that just happens without me giving it much thought. This? Is easier said than done. But if I rely on willpower, then usually by the end of the day, I either 1. give up and give in- what's one donut? or 2. I decide that I've been good all day long so what's one donut? Habit makes this much, much easier. How? My alarm goes off. I get up. I put my dvd in the Playstation. I press play. It's just what I do. It's a non-negotiable. I don't think about it. It just happens. How did I get here? By making myself do this for long enough that now it's deeply engrained in who I am. In fact, I feel weird when I don't do this. That? Is progress and leads me to my next point.
Feeling. Notice I didn't say progress or results. Getting results from an eating or fitness plan is fantastic. Losing 10 pounds, lifting heavier weights, fitting back into those college pants, being able to do tricep pushups, seeing gorgeous muscle staring back at you in the mirror... all of these are results of hard work and effort. But as exciting as they are, I can't rely on this for motivation. Why? Because inevitably the results stall. You plateau. Your body changes with age. You notice that what you've been doing hasn't worked as well lately. For me, all of this can feel devastating. I'm working so hard and nothing is happening! But something is happening, you just can't see it. That's when I focus on how eating right and working out makes me feel. Because when I'm on my game, I feel unstoppable. I feel confident, sexy, happy, emotionally more stable... I have more energy, patience, and I think about things more positively. Basically, I feel great. Even when the results aren't as obvious.
So my advice to you is stop focusing on those physical results that eating well and working out deliver. Focus instead on building healthy habits and how all these healthy habits make you feel. I promise you, if you do this? That progress you're making will just be the icing on the cake. Or, maybe I should say, the hummus on the carrots! That's probably healthier. :)