Check in! We’re in the last week of our plan and hope you have seen tremendous improvements in your health and wellness.
This week is all about implementing motivation tools to keep you on track. We know that excuses and obstacles know no limits, and they can eat away at your resolve to stick with your new healthy habits. And sometimes mental barriers can be harder to overcome than physical ones. But with a little perseverance, they’re surmountable too.
Don’t let a lack of momentum or a bad mood derail your healthy habits. Get moving and stay centered by building in motivation as a daily healthy habit. Use this advice to help you stay on track with your new healthy living practices to make them lifelong solutions.
Table of Contents
How to get started?
- IF YOU’RE UNINSPIRED … Try some tunes. Music can help take your mind off things that feel like an annoying chore. British researchers discovered that runners who listened to motivational rock or pop music (think Queen or Lizzo) exercised up to 15% longer — and felt better doing it. Walking to the beat also helps you speed up your pace. Just remember to keep the volume at a safe level or wear only one earbud so you can hear oncoming traffic, dogs, and other signs of danger in your surroundings and stay safe.
- IF YOU CAN’T GET STARTED OR STAY ON TRACK… Write down what motivates you. If your get-up-and-go got up and went (we all feel it), you may need to remember what inspires you. Maybe you want to be able to keep up with your kids or grandkids, or you’re determined to fit into that favorite pair of jeans that don’t zip up anymore. Maybe you just want to clear your mind. Whatever it is, pinpointing why you really want to make a change can help you stick with it — especially if you write it down. In fact, do it when you’re feeling really motivated. Get out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one side, write all the pros of exercising and eating healthy; on the other side, write down the cons. Then save the list. That way, if you hit a snag down the road, you’ll have your list to remind you of why you started this plan in the first place.
- IF FAMILY OBLIGATIONS GET IN YOUR WAY… Have a plan B and C and D and E. Real life shouldn’t sideline your workouts, if you can help it. Having backup plans at the ready — whether they’re in your head, in a journal, or saved on your phone—will keep you prepared if you run into a snag. With a little brainstorming, you will find multiple ways to sneak in your healthy habits, even on your most hectic days. The key is to have a lot of options. For instance, you could walk in the morning and meal prep in the evening (or vice versa). Or if you’re really overextended, you can do half of your walk in the morning and half at noontime — or whatever suits your schedule. Remember: Doing something is always better than doing nothing.
- IF YOU’RE CAUGHT UP IN AN ALL-OR-NOTHING MINDSET… Set flexible goals. Instead of rigidly telling yourself that you’re obligated to do every single habit, give yourself a range, like walking three to five days a week. That way, even if you miss one (or two) sessions, you’ve still succeeded, which will inspire you going forward. And if you do miss a walk or other healthy habit, don’t make a big deal out of it. All-or-nothing thinking is a surefire way to fail.
- IF YOU FEEL GUILTY… Multitask (and get family involved when you can). Many women feel guilty about making the time to prioritize their health because they think it will keep them from being there for their loved ones. But here’s the secret: It doesn’t have to be that way. Taking some self-care time to yourself is essential, and there is nothing to feel guilty about. But health should also be a family affair, and getting your spouse, kids, and grandkids involved is good for everyone. You will be a better wife, mom or grandmother — not just by becoming a good role model, but because you are taking good care of yourself. You’ll reduce stress, sleep better, have more energy, and improve your mood, so you’ll enjoy your life even more.
- IF YOU FORGET YOUR GOALS… Motivate with a Post-it. A visual nudge can help you stick to your goals— but only if you notice it, says Paddy Ekkekakis, an exercise psychologist at Iowa State University in Ames. In one study, a sign that urged people to use the stairs increased the number of people who used them by nearly 200 percent. Put your written prompt near a decision point—such as a sticky note on the refrigerator— to remind you of your habits. (Phone alerts are useful too.) The boost you get from a reminder usually fades after a few days, so update the messages often.
- IF NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ARE HOLDING YOU BACK… Be kinder to yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself. You can fight off any negative thoughts you may be having with ones, like “I did awesome yesterday.” And any time you notice toxic thinking creeping in, tell yourself a loud no. And on days when that seems too hard, just smile. Researchers suspect that smiling or laughing, whether it’s genuine or not, triggers good-mood brain chemicals.
- IF YOU’RE OVERWHELMED BY A WEIGHT LOSS GOAL… Set smaller, more doable goals — and celebrate the little victories. While it’s great to have a goal to improve your overall health, be careful not to focus on too big a chunk all at one time. Instead, create a plan for yourself that feels doable. For instance, if an eight-week program seems like too much of a time commitment for you, concentrate on this week, or even on this day. If you went for a walk this morning, you succeeded, so celebrate! Or plan a little reward for yourself—like a bubble bath or painting your nails. Linking the rewards for your achievements back to your goals continues a positive trajectory toward a healthier you.
Tips for success:
Building that motivation network and these for staying motivated are crucial.
Make it obvious.
- Schedule a morning workout with a friend or accountability partner to kickstart your day.
- Develop a positive daily mantra that you repeat upon waking up, put a post-it with the mantra on your phone or beside your bed so you see it first thing.
Make it attractive.
- Make a new playlist to enhance your workouts and keep you inspired.
- Print out a few motivational quotes and leave them on the fridge to look at every day.
Make it easy.
- Begin with small achievable goals such as a three-minute meditation or a 10-minute walk or 10 squats and 10 push-ups.
- Set aside a little time for recovery and stretching, especially if you’re new to a workout and health regimen.
Make it satisfying.
- Download new music, reward yourself with a coffee or tea after your workout.
- Once a week, journal about your accomplishments on your healthy habits and how far you have come.
How to habit stack motivation:
- After brushing your teeth or having coffee or tea, put on your workout or meditation clothes and do at least three minutes of your chosen activity and then write your to-do list for the day.
- When you wake up in the morning, recite a few positive affirmations before starting your day.
Continue to try new meals!
Nutrition Lab Deputy Director
Stefani (she/her) is a registered dietitian, a NASM-certified personal trainer and the deputy director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab, where she handles all nutrition-related content, testing and evaluation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from NYU. She is also Good Housekeeping’s on-staff fitness and exercise expert. Stefani is dedicated to providing readers with evidence-based content to encourage informed food choices and healthy living. She is an avid CrossFitter and a passionate home cook who loves spending time with her big fit Greek family.
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