It’s a cycle that most dieters recognize. Even those of us who eat clean as opposed to “dieting” are not immune.
You start off like gang-busters with eating clean and making it to the gym, and then suddenly, you find your motivation dwindling. It’s not pretty.
They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit. I beg to differ. After 21 years of trying to make a habit of getting to the gym, I still have my days (and yes, even weeks) when I just cannot seem to get there regardless of what I do or what I tell myself.
Clean eating is no different. While I may not have to make it down the street to the gym, I still have to make it to the grocery store, then back to the kitchen where I have to plan, prep, cook and clean up. At times, it’s just downright tedious.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love to cook. But I have my moments where the last thing I want to see is a knife or a pan. It’s enough to make me want to run to the nearest restaurant and order the least healthy thing on the menu. Because frankly, it’s easier to get in my car and drive to a restaurant than it is to get in my car and drive to the gym or to the grocery store (I know there’s logic in there somewhere.).
But then a day finally comes where I suddenly have a shift in my way of thinking, and I’m back to going gang-busters again.
Now that last part may sound easy, but it’s anything but. It can take me quite a while to work my way back to that “gang-buster” point. I’m learning that there is a process to it. A process that I hope to learn well enough, that I may some day be able to speed it up considerably.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
- LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS – Getting remotivated usually starts with a new goal. A goal that is not quite as hard-to-reach as my previous goal. A goal that feels more attainable. More humane. More within my grasp. Instead of focusing on the remaining 60 pounds I need to lose, I figure out a reasonable number I want to reach on the scale. Perhaps a number that equals losing 5, 10 or 20 pounds instead of that overwhelming 60. I find that when I do this, the weight that comes off my shoulders starts to come off the scale as well.
- THE KITCHEN IS NOW CLOSED (Or, don’t eat past 7pm) – I know there are a lot of people out there that will argue this point. They will say that your body doesn’t know whether it’s 7pm or 7am, it will burn fuel the same no matter what. But I beg to differ. As we slow down at night, our body requires less energy to function. The liver needs it’s rest as does the pancreas. Allowing time for digestion between your last meal and bed time allows your body to “close up shop” for the night. Just as our brains need rest via sleep, so do our bodies by allowing them to finish up for the night. After all, there’s a reason they call it “breakfast”. You’re supposed to be “breaking a fast”, not continuing a feast. I find that inevitably, when I stop eating at 7pm, I feel better in the morning, and I’ve managed to either maintain my weight or lose some (instead of gaining it because I had a 3 course meal at 11pm).
- REPEAT AN OLD WORKOUT – I get easily intimidated at the gym. I’m 6 feet tall, yet I shrink to about 6 inches the moment I walk through the gym door. At times like this, it’s so much easier to get started with a routine that is familiar to me. Something I have done several times. A workout that allows me to move seamlessly from machine to machine without having to stop and figure something new out. A routine that I feel confident doing because it’s all been done before. For others, motivation may come from trying something new. But I’m a creature of habit. I find comfort in familiar things. So an old workout makes it far easier for me to talk myself into getting back to the gym. Then, once I’ve gotten my stride back, I can start altering my workout again to include something new.
- EAT YOUR FAVORITES – I love comfort foods. Food has always been a source of security for me. It gives me a sense of peace. While this can sometimes become a problem, I find that if I focus on it, I can use this to my advantage. This is why I convert so many “mainstream” recipes to clean eating versions. I find comfort in the fact that if I want to indulge in some ice cream or chicken and dumplings, that all I have to do is make them. I don’t have this huge “do not eat” list attached to my fridge. I can have what I want, I just have to make it a little different.
- FIND YOUR DRIVE, NOT YOUR MOTIVATION – I’m finding that being inspired and staying on track isn’t about that initial motivation that gets you to the gym on the first day. It’s about a drive and desire that comes from deep inside. A perseverance that says, “I’m going to do this no matter what“. That drive that will keep you going even when you don’t want to. While that initial spark in the beginning feels great, you have to dig deep to find your drive. Otherwise, your quest for health will fall short the moment your motivation does. It’s about waking up every morning, and realizing that you have a choice. You can choose to do those things which will contribute to your health, or you can choose to do those things which will contribute to the deterioration of your health. Nobody else can do this for you, and nobody else will suffer or benefit from your choices. It’s you, you and you. And let’s face it. Failing to make a decision, IS in fact, making a decision, isn’t it? So make sure you are making the right decision.
So now I’d like you to take a moment, and get out a pen and paper. Go through each point here, and write down what will work for you based on the above 5 recommendations.
- What small goals feel more achievable to you?
- What time of evening are you comfortable with closing your kitchen for the night?
- Do you have an old workout you could do in your sleep? If so, great! Use that when it’s needed! If not, what is a simple, unintimidating workout you could do at the gym?
- What are your go-to comfort foods? Can they be converted to clean eating guidelines?
- What drives you? Dig deep here. Be honest. What will get you out of bed in the morning no matter what the circumstances? Your kids? An upcoming wedding? Avoiding a particular disease? Take the time to figure this out. It’s very powerful!
Once you have this list, put it up where you can always see it. Depend on that list in your moments of weakness. Trust me, it will get you through.
Article is an original work and is © Tiffany McCauley. It may not be reproduced for any reason without written permission by the author.