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The Motivation Myth of Health & Fitness

Are you feeling like you've lost your motivation? What being a milspo (military spouse) taught me about the myth of motivation for health and fitness, and how it can help you.

I'm hearing the same thing from many of my clients these days. They're finding it hard to stay motivated. The challenges vary from making healthy eating choices because of being around food all of the time, to missing their friends at the gym. They all ask the same thing. How can they get their motivation back?

A long time ago, I fell in love with a guy who decided to join the Navy. If you're familiar with the military life, you know the drill: make a life somewhere, get a little comfortable, and BAM!, get orders to move; repeat. Over the last 30 years, I've learned how to consistently exercise and eat healthy. I've also become a fitness instructor, personal trainer, nutrition coach, and behavior change specialist. And yet, every move has pulled the rug out from under me and my healthy habits. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. The learning curve's gotten shorter, but it's still there. I regroup and rebuild. I really lack motivation in the beginning, because there's so much adjustment to a new state or country. But by knowing the foundation of my healthy habits and adapting the ways I practice them, I climb that curve. Practice, not motivation, gets you back to consistency, and keeps you there.

You haven't actually lost your motivation. What you've lost is the system you had in place for health & fitness.

You haven't actually lost your motivation. What you've lost is the system you had in place for health & fitness. We're all on a learning curve with COVID-19. There's a lot of uncomfortable adjustment that's going on, and uncertainty ahead. You can't wait for motivation to show up, because it's a fair weather friend. What you can count on is your habits. The way you do them won't look the same, but you'll keep the essence. You're not reinventing the wheel here, just pivoting. Maybe you used to go to the gym, but now your gym is the outdoors. You get the idea. There's more than one way to health. The best part is that when you find a new route there, you'll be more resilient and confident in your habits!

Here are my tips to help you find your new ways to healthy:

This isn't easy, but your health is worth it.

Acknowledge that your old way of supporting your health isn't going to look the same, and that's OK. All of these changes can bring up a lot of negative feelings like anger, frustration, sadness, and guilt. We're only human! Naming the feelings helps to give you a little objectivity, which goes a long way.

Try some things, climb that curve, and focus on your wins.

Whether it's ordering a Community Supported Agriculture box, online classes or personal training, or calling friends to "lift" each other up and share what you've been doing to stay healthy, this is the time to get out of your comfort zone. Some things will pan out, others not so much. Learning what doesn't work is valuable, and you are more than your failed attempts. Keep the focus on & celebrate the successes.

Think "More or Some".

Especially in times of stress, there's the danger of falling into the All or Nothing hole. If what you're aiming for isn't happening, go smaller. While it may seem counterintuitive to set the bar lower, you can build your confidence, and there's lots of room to grow. Once you find something that works for you, ask yourself, "How can I do a little more of that?"

Be patient and kind.

We women are our own harshest critics. What would be a more helpful way to respond? Treat yourself the way your best friend would. This is a new experiment. You've never been in this situation before. Try/observe/assess. Bit by bit, you'll build the way to health that works for you now.

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