The problem with making healthy lifestyle changes is, it tends to take a long time to see or notice any kind of results.
You might start working out in the morning, pre-planning healthier meals each week, or work on not sitting so much during the day. Each of those things can make a big impact on your health and your life as a result.
However, with the exception of the time you’d save pre-planning meals, none of that will be an overnight sensation.
So, how do you keep yourself motivated?
Through all those dark early mornings, tired Sundays going to the store and making your meals, and the pain of pushing yourself through reps at the gym, you’re going to need to know how to keep yourself excited about what you’re doing. If you can’t do that, you’ll never be able to build up the kind of progress that’s necessary to start generating its own motivation.
Because that’s the power in sticking with something like this long enough. After a while, the results are obvious. And, once that happens, motivation is automatic.
But first, you need to get there. So, here’s a simple process for keeping yourself motivated when setting out to make new, healthy lifestyle changes.
Have a clear goal and back it up with a strong why
The foundation of this all is a common but powerful tip for keeping your primary motivation top of mind: you have to craft a very clear goal of what you’d like to attain with your healthy lifestyle efforts and back that up with a very strong reason why you want to achieve that goal.
Those two things together are the key to motivating you to do anything and that includes making healthy lifestyle changes.
Do you want to drop some weight, stop feeling tired every day, or improve your health in some other definable way? And why do you want to do that, so you look better and feel more confident, have more energy to play with your kids, or something else?
Get clear not only on your goal and your why but the emotions attached to them as well as they’re the real secret sauce when it comes to motivation.
Remind yourself of your end goals regularly
It’s not enough just to craft that goal and get clear on your why, you need to remind yourself of them daily.
That could simply mean writing them down on a piece of paper or in a notepad on your computer or smartphone and reading through them once a day or it could mean something more intensive such as creating a vision board.
Consider keeping a mood journal
Healthy lifestyle changes are ultimately all about how you feel, so note down in a journal each day just that: how you feel that day.
What is your energy level at? Do you feel strong? Do you have any pains? How does your mind feel– clear, clouded, fuzzy, or sharp?
By documenting the physical and mental changes your body goes through over time you’re able to get a clearer picture of the progress you’re making, which helps motivate you to push harder in addition to helping you figure out what’s working (which can be hard when it comes to health-related changes).
Reward those small successes in a systematic way
As you progress, make sure to take the time to celebrate those small successes. The best way to do this is to reward them in a systematic way.
To do that, pick something you really like that you’re okay with reserving for those small successes, milestones on your road to a lower body fat or for sticking to your goal for one month straight, and enjoy it only when you hit those milestones.
Examples include eating something that breaks your diet like your favorite donut place, going out over the weekend for drinks, or splurging on something you’ve wanted to buy online.
Challenge yourself some more
You don’t ever want to rest where you’re at. That’s the surest way to fall off of any great effort.
Take a survey of where you’re at now and where you want to go having accomplished your original goal. Think of how you can challenge yourself further and take it to a new level of healthy and fit.
If your original goal was to go to the gym three days a week and start pre-planning meals every week, maybe it’s time to transform your breakfast diet and add two more days to your weekly exercise routine.
Whatever you decide is that next step (and it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything, but make sure to continue to document your progress and celebrate victories regardless), take it as seriously as the first and follow a version of the process we talked about above that works best for you.