Ask A Trainer: Finding Your Motivation
- April 15, 2011
- on 4/15/2011
- MoJo: Lori Rypka
Q: I want to lose weight and get healthy, but I don’t know that I want to do all of the work involved to do it. Plus, I don’t have time. Can you help me?
A: Unless there is a serious physical or medical limitation, more than likely you ‘can’ exercise. The question is: If you don’t, why don’t you? If you do, why DO you?
Most folks I have spoken with use the same excuses that I once did … and they know they are only excuses. No time. No money for a gym membership. No clue what to do to get started. No energy.
What does it boil down to? In large part, I believe, it boils down to motivation. If you ‘really’ want something, then doing what has to be done to get there won’t be so torturous.
Dieting isn’t fun. It feels very much like full-time work. People who decide to dig their heels in and do what needs to be done – healthfully, of course – think through what they will do, plan their meals and activity, and have the willpower to say no. Saying no doesn’t necessarily have to mean to sweets or to food temptations. It could be saying no to situations that cause stress, people who are toxic and not supportive of your goals, or even to the easy route.
It takes daily commitment. That doesn’t mean that from time to time there’s a detour off the path to better health. Just let that be a quick pit stop and get back on the path toward wellness.
You don’t ‘need’ a gym, you don’t ‘need’ a pile of expensive equipment, you don’t ‘need’ a personal trainer (OK, often it’s helpful to educate yourself on proper form and appropriate modes of exercise). But at the end of the day, what matters most is your motivation. If you are motivated to reach a health-related goal, and there’s no stopping you, you’ll find a way.
Finding your motivation is a very personal journey. Some people are motivated because of a personal health scare or that of a close friend or family member. Sometimes these folks are ‘motivated’ by doctor’s orders. Some are motivated by the feeling of wellness. Some are motivated by the desire to hold and play with their children, grandchildren or even great-grandchildren.
For those long off the path to wellness, it is often difficult to see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and that the light is worth the effort. Knowing you have to lose 10, 20, 50, 100 or more pounds can be daunting. Chipping away one pound at a time doesn’t seem fast enough. Forget the quick fix. Statistics show that those who lose weight quickly often regain it and more. Slow and steady wins the race.
If you’re not motivated, well, then you’re not motivated. You’re either content with the status quo or perhaps don’t want to commit to the work. (I’m sure there are a number of other reasons, but those are the ones I hear the most). That happens. I’m a firm believer, however, in needing that motivation to get it done long term and stay the course. Sure, there’s often a mix of excitement and drive the first few weeks of a diet because extra water weight comes off, but when it slows down or feels like too much work, it’s easy to quit. Is it worth it to quit? Not in my book.
The bottom line: Is it easy to make big changes for a healthy payoff? No, not usually. Is it ‘easier’ when motivated? Absolutely. It’s easier to pass on the double cheeseburger and munch on the grilled chicken salad with oil and vinegar dressing. Is it easy to make time in a busy schedule? No, not at all. However, if you really look at your time, there’s bound to be small windows of opportunity that are often overlooked. Progress can be made in front of the TV doing squats, walking on the treadmill, bicep curls, push ups and more. Ten minutes one day may turn into 15 minutes the next, then 20, then eventually 60.
When you’re ready, find your motivation, think of it every day throughout the day. The process may not be easy, but it’s worth it. Good luck!
Please consult your physician before starting any exercise or diet program.
Lori Rypka is a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise.
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