Maintaining Your Motivation

You’ve been eating right and exercising for a few weeks now. Congratulations! It’s been going pretty well. You’re hanging in there. But every once in a while that muffin looks better than what you planned for breakfast. Or your co-workers are going to your favorite sandwich shop for lunch. And there’s that piece of cake left over from your significant other’s birthday. Maintaining your motivation through all the temptations is really hard.

And it doesn’t get easier.

Five Keys to Maintaining your Motivation

So, how do you maintain your motivation? How do you stick to the plan? These five methods help me maintain a healthy lifestyle every day.

1. Take Each Day as it Comes

One day at a time – Today is the only day that matters in your “healthier you” plan. Yesterday is gone. No matter how “good” you were yesterday (and congratulations for that!), it doesn’t matter today. Keep that date you set up for yourself today in your calendar. (You’re doing that, right? A few weeks ago we talked about forming healthy habits, and a key point was making that recurring appointment with yourself on every day you wanted to exercise.) Make every food decision count especially on days that eating right is a challenge. For every meal you prepare, ask yourself if it’s a good choice for you.

2. Just Get Going

The final stretch with my dog. Just do it, don't agonize over working out. That's maintaining your motivation.

Don’t think too much about your workout preparation – On days that you really don’t want to exercise, just do it. Shake yourself mentally and don’t think about the things you’d rather be doing (like watching TV, reading a book, lying on the couch). Just change into your workout gear and start to exercise. Promise yourself you’ll do 10 minutes of your workout. Before you know it, you’ll be cooling down and looking forward to that final stretch.

3. Reflection

Reflect on how far you’ve come. Just a couple of weeks ago you knew you should start an exercise program and healthy eating plan but were confused about how to start and what to do. And now you’re crushing it! A great way to keep going is to put these reflections in a journal. (Check out my Gratitude and Happiness Journal on Amazon.) Every day, think about what you’re happy you’ve accomplished and write it down. When you go back and read these reflections, you can’t help but feel motivated to carry on. (Writing these thoughts down will also give you a great sense of gratitude, and we know that happiness follows gratitude, and resilience follows happiness and optimism!)

4. Visualize

Visualize yourself maintaining your motivation. Picture yourself eating a plate of vibrant greens with your family and enjoying it! Better yet – you’re all eating that wonderful salad and loving it. Feel how you’d like to be, at the place you enjoy the most, with the people you love most. Picture yourself at a party, enjoying yourself, holding a glass (a champagne flute?) of sparkling water. I can’t tell you to picture yourself exercising and loving it, because I can’t do that myself. But I do it so that the other pictures can become realities.

5. Your “Why”

Your reason for sticking to your plan. Finally, and probably the easiest way of maintaining your motivation – remember your reason for starting in the first place. Whether your reason is for your family or for your own future, remember that. You’re eating right and exercising to lower your blood pressure, to improve your cardiac conditioning, to improve your cognition and memory. 

These five methods will keep you on the straight and narrow. Maintaining your motivation will be easy.

The Satiation Diet

Eat foods to satisfy you longer

Chicken being prepared for roasting: a lean protein which satisfies us longer.

Ever hear of the “Satiation Diet?” me neither, until today. It makes perfect sense, though. The idea is to eat foods that satisfy you for longer. And by increasing the protein in your diet to 20 – 25% of calories, along with the fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains you’ll feel more satisfied for longer, eat less between meals and reduce your total calorie intake. You’ll lose weight and keep it off.

A well-rounded diet is key

We already know that the best way to lose weight is to eat more fresh vegetables and fruits. And the carbs we eat should be complex carbohydrates, like whole grains. And protein is essential in our nutrition. (And, of course, to move more!) 

But, to be really successful at losing weight, we need a “diet” or eating plan we can stick to. We have to reduce calories to lose weight, but that won’t happen if we find that our eating plan leaves us hungry. We’re only human, and when we’re hungry, we eat. (Or get cranky – like me.) And eating without planning means grabbing whatever we can get our hands on the fastest, and that’s not usually the healthiest option.

Reduce snacking

That means if our healthy planned meals leave us satisfied for longer, the tendency to snack between meals is reduced. And eating a little more protein with our meals will leave us feeling more satisfied. So, even if the total calories is a little higher, our total calories for the day will be less because we won’t be eating between meals. That protein should, of course, be lean protein like chicken or fish. I will admit to the occasional burger too! There are plenty of non-animal protein choices too, so there’s no excuse not to increase your protein intake. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should decrease the fresh vegetables in your diet. These have other nutrients that your body needs.

The conclusion:

So, eat more protein!

We need fat!

Healthy fat, that is!

We’ve believed that a diet extremely low in fat must be good for us – the lower the fat, the healthier the food and the lower in calories, so we’ll lose more weight, right?

Not so fast …

While we should limit the amount of some fats, like trans-fats that are unhealthy, other fats are actually good for us. You’re thinking, “I know – omega-3 fatty acids like in some fish.”

Well, yes, but there are others too!

Poly – and mono-unsaturated fats are also good. These, along with omega-3 fatty acids can keep you feeling fuller longer, and can even make your metabolism work harder in order to break them down in your system. Some healthy fats have even been known to improve cognitive function, lessen belly fat and improve heart health.

So, where can I find these?

Egg yolks contain healthy fats as well as vitamin A, some B vitamins, choline, vitamin D and antioxidants. The picture above is one I took of my breakfast not long ago – a whole hard-boiled egg, wilted spinach and quinoa. Delicious and filling!

Cocoa butter is sweet tasting, and is also high in antioxidants and omega-9 fatty acids. Added it coffee drinks (no more high-fat lattes!), smoothies and even homemade fiber/power bars.

Avocado is high in omega-9 fats as well as high in fiber. Avocado is great for healthy skin and digestion. Avocados can also be good for post-workout recovery, since they contain electrolytes.

Dark chocolate is high in the same fats as cocoa butter, as long as the dark chocolate is all natural. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants and is good for the heart. Yay!

Flax and chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids. They are an easy additive to any smoothie or bowl of oatmeal.

Eat more fat! Just make sure it’s the right kind of fat!

Your dinner plate

Broccolini, sweet potato and chicken: A healthy plate is mostly plant-based foods.You try to eat healthy. You’ve even counted all the calories you consume in a day. You buy organic produce, eggs from cage-free chickens. You only eat beef from grass-fed cows. You’ve tried to cut out grains from your diet.

And still the weight stays on. You try running more, different exercise programs, and nothing seems to be working.

The solution may be a simple formula applied to your dinner plate. And it’s so simple you’ll think it can’t possibly work. But it does!

A healthy plate is based on plants. One-half to 3/4 of your plate should be filled with plant-based foods. Plants provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for nourishment. And the plants can be fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole-grain foods. Plant-based eating is in line with guidelines set out by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Look at my plate above. Most of the plate is broccolini and sweet potato. Not a lot is chicken – and that’s lean chicken, no skin! Healthy and tasty, to boot!

Plus plants have fewer calories than meat protein and simple carbohydrates.

Think of all the time you’ll save by not counting calories!

Of course, like everything else in life, I believe in moderation. So my healthy plate works for me most of the time. I do indulge in pizza and chocolate cake. Just not all the time!

I’ll eat healthy if it kills me!

Pasta with rubies (beets) is beautiful and healthy!
Pasta with rubies (beets) is beautiful and healthy!

I’ll tell you why it’s so hard to eat healthy!

We’re tempted at every commercial break by fast food and other fatty options. Our friends post pictures of delectable desserts and easy casseroles, filled with cream and butter. Driving down any street in America we’re bombarded by multiple fast food restaurants in every strip mall. And even at family restaurants, the portions are huge! It’s no wonder Americans are gaining weight.

What to do? Play with your dog during commercial breaks, or do a few crunches. “Like” your friends’ posts, and eat those fatty concoctions with your eyes only. Drive right past those fast food restaurants! And if you’re eating out with your family, split the entrée with someone else at your table, or take half home for dinner the next day. Before you even start eating, cut the portion in half and decide that you’re taking the left (or right) half home!

It’s not easy. I know it’s not. And no one can decide for you that you’re going to eat healthy. It’s been a lifelong battle for me. All you can do is your best – I decide one meal at a time that it’s going to be a good one, and I don’t eat between meals. My sister is amazed that I don’t snack – but I know, if I start, I won’t be able to stop. Will power can be learned. All you have to do is judge for yourself whether you want that bag of potato chips or if you want to fit into those jeans…