Now that the New Year is under way, many of us are thinking about our goals for this year – health-related and otherwise. Maybe you told yourself, “I will work on eating healthier or getting to the gym more after the holidays are over”. Well, the holidays are over and it’s time to turn those thoughts into actions. Remember that motivation is paramount in making lasting behavior changes. Think about what it is that motivates you to make changes – whether it is to look differently, feel better, or to improve an aspect of your health.
Here are some strategies to increase your motivation:
- Enlist support – People who have supportive friends, family members, coaches, and/or trainers are often the most successful. Surround yourself with people who have similar goals and will encourage you along the way. Eat out with those who want to stay healthy, not those who always want to go overboard. Find a friend to walk with or join the gym with, or find an exercise class to attend regularly and use the other members and instructor for support.
- Positive Reinforcement – Instead of punishing yourself for not meeting certain goals, reward yourself for achieving the small goals along the way. This will motivate you to continue working towards the bigger picture. Choose some non-food rewards, like a massage or other spa treatment, a movie, or a new pair of sneakers.
- Focus on Consistency – It becomes much easier to make lasting changes when the behaviors become routine. Forming habits does take some time, so choose some goals to be consistent with and prioritize making time for them. For example, try starting with exercising 2–3 times per week or eating a salad for lunch 2–3 times per week.
- Inspirational visuals — Hang pictures on your refrigerator, computer, or mirrors of a healthier you, a goal dress or skinny jeans, your family, or inspirational quotes to help remind you what you are working towards.
- Progress without the scale – Take some time to forget about your weight, and think about what other benefits you are getting from your healthier habits. Perhaps you have more energy, fit into your clothes better, are stronger and more fit and flexible, and/or your health has improved (better cholesterol, blood pressure, etc).
- Keep setting goals – Set small and realistic goals every few weeks. Once you achieve your goals, set another set of more challenging goals. Post these goals in a place where you can see them every day, and don’t forget to reward yourself for achieving them!