When you made the decision to start eating healthier, exercising more and losing weight, what was your motivation for doing it? What was your “why”? For many people, it’s because they want to prevent diabetes, heart disease or other health conditions that could hinder a long and active life with family and friends. Or maybe, you just want to feel confident on your next beach vacation!
Whatever your “why” is, it’s unique to you. And when you’ve had a bad day or even a bad month, and you’re struggling to find the motivation to pick the salad at dinner or go walking instead of curling up on the couch, reminding yourself of your “why” can be a more powerful influence than anything else.
Make it visible
“I always tell people to write down their ‘why’ and put it in a place for safekeeping,” says Danielle Repko, an American Council on Exercise-certified health coach with OhioHealth Group. “It will be your biggest intrinsic motivator. Go back to it on a regular basis to remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing.”
“If you have more than one reason, make a list and post it where you’ll see it every day,” says a diabetes prevention program participant. “Put it in multiple locations – on the fridge, at your desk, on your phone.”
You can also keep track of your “why” in your action plan.
Your “why” will evolve
Eventually, you will reach your goals. You’ll fit into the dress you wanted to wear to your class reunion, or your A1C levels will start to drop, and you’ll feel happy, healthy and confident. And that’s great! But ironically, that can be the same point where you begin to lose momentum, and the healthy habits you developed may start to slip. That’s why it’s important to set aside time to revisit your “why.”
“Your ‘why’ can, and probably will, change over time,” says Repko. “You know when it needs to. It’s when you’re ready to set new goals for yourself. And keep in mind that your goals don’t always have to be weight-related, either. Maybe your new goal is to work on taking more time for yourself, so your ‘why’ becomes something very different than when you started down this path.”
By setting new goals and challenges for yourself, you’ll always be looking forward to achieving something, keeping your health your constant priority. Try friendly competitions, use a new fitness app, find exciting new recipes, or join groups of like-minded individuals who can help you stay focused.
“It’s been extremely helpful to be part of a group committed to making a change,” says Stephanie, a diabetes prevention program participant. “It’s a judgment-free zone that has helped motivate and encourage me.”
If you’re struggling with staying motivated, join an official diabetes prevention program! Check with your employer (OhioHealth offers a program for associates), your local YMCA or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of recognized locations to find a program near you.