People often see motivation as the key to regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.
Common things people say to me are:
“How are you so motivated?”
“How do you find the time?”
Truthfully no one is motivated 100 percent of the time, not even professional athletes, and most of us are very busy. But fit people who eat well and adopt a healthy lifestyle, typically view themselves as athletes and sporty people so they will be intrinsically motivated to adopt habits that boost that sense of identity and reject those that will jeopardise success in that identity.
But more importantly they view themselves as worth it
Behaviour change is hard and complicated and someone once said that changing someone’s eating habits is harder than changing their religion. How we view ourselves and the habits we adopt as a result can be ingrained from childhood.
I often hear people say:
“I’m not fit enough to do an exercise class”
“I don’t have time I’m too busy”
“I’m not a sporty person”
“I don’t look fit”
When I hear these things I sense that the issue isn’t that the person isn’t motivated but rather they can’t see themselves as a fit or sporty person or someone who chooses the healthier option at a restaurant.
Who we are and how we see ourselves is a major factor behind motivation (Sparkes 1998; Gearing 1999)
In truth if you are waiting for motivation or will power alone to change your life it’s less likely to happen. You need to be able to view yourself as someone who can be fit, make better food choices, exercise regularly etc and you need to believe, really believe that you are worth it.
If I could stress one thing whole heartedly it is that you are most definitely worth it. Being fit, strong and moving your body with confidence is a life changing joy. It will improve the aging process and it will bring better mental health. This will benefit your loved ones and not just yourself.
You can be motivated by actions and consequences that you associate with who you aspire to be from whatever point you are starting at. I also say this as someone who was once overweight, unfit and limited by back pain.
It doesn’t matter if you were never into sport at school or if you are overweight. I accept that there are injury or health limitations for some people but not many that stop a reasonable level of fitness being acquired.
Visualise yourself as a fit person who can go to exercise classes, eat a good diet and wear nice gym gear because you are worth it. Process those negative voices in your head and let them go by. Make the time (you really don’t need a lot of time to get fit and this is rarely an excuse in my mind), find a welcoming exercise class, buy any gear you need and choose a healthy lunch. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Because that’s the person you aspire to be and because that’s who you really are despite negative projections you have picked up along the way from culture, society or even friends/family.
Finally, improving your self-identity does mean you need to stop comparing yourself to others so much. I frequently challenge black and white thinking that people get stuck into when they begin to feel it’s not even worth trying if someone else is stronger, leaner, faster etc.
I’ll bet my bottom dollar that the person you are comparing yourself to had to overcome self-identity barriers, work hard and develop self-worth. More often than you would think they have struggled with eating habits, drinking habits, family issues, bullying, mental health etc.
Now they believe they are worth it and that is often the only difference.