How to Stay Motivated
As I stood at the start line of the California International Marathon, a friend of mine from Oregon asked me, “What keeps you motivated?”. The question surprised me as my friend is a great runner and in his mid-40’s too. I would have assumed the same things kept us motivated, but he had been struggling. I believe my answer in the moment was something like, “I am going to keep racing until I reach my potential”. But his question got me to thinking, what DOES really motivate me not only in running and eating healthy but other areas of my life? You might think the things that motivate me are long term health, maintaining a certain weight or running faster times, but those are not my major motivators. My motivation comes from wanting to feel my best every day. Even though this is impossible to achieve, I do as many things as I have control over to feel my best. I live a busy life and I want to live a high-quality life. Here are a few things that help me to maintain my motivation:
Enjoy the journey, not just the destination
My favorite part of running a marathon is the training. I love pushing myself in speed and tempo runs to see what my body is capable of. I really love the long runs. If crossing the finish line was the only place there was joy, it would a long, miserable grind to get there. The same is true for changing your eating habits for health reasons or weight loss. Find healthy foods that you enjoy to eat, look for new recipes or products that are delicious. One of my clients lost 63 pounds last year after struggling with his weight for decades. After trying every diet and exercise routine, what was the key for him? He found that he loved eating the Mediterranean diet. He has loved every bit of his journey to better health.
If things begin to get boring or dreadful, change it up. As much as I love running, I have challenged myself in other events outside of my comfort zone such as triathlons, endurance swimming events and century bike rides. I also make one new recipe almost every week. This keeps our meals fresh and new as well as tasty. Making a new recipe does take some effort but I am always happy when I do because the food is delicious. Other ways to shake things up in your diet include altering combinations of foods and changing your daily snacks.
Develop and maintain your support network
My best friends are my running friends and have been for over 20 years! A recent study showed that one contributor to longevity is ensuring you have a support network around you that buys into and supports what you are trying to do.
We are not all socializing with Olympic gold medalists or married to world champions but if you work at communicating with your friends and family, helping them buy into your passions means you will not feel like it is a 'you vs. them' choice in the end.
These days your network does not have to be physically around you. My best friends all moved away 16 years ago, but we text, zoom and meet up to do epic things such as hike across the Grand Canyon! We are always encouraging each other.
Maintain the machine
To feel good every day you have to maintain the machine. When it comes to my running my focus is different than it was in my 20’s. Maintaining my longevity includes my ability to remain injury-free or to combat the natural degradation in muscle mass through strength training (which I don’t love), and doing more work of a higher intensity may help increase or maintain my VO2 max.
Many of my clients realize as they age, they do not feel as good when they consume certain foods or alcohol. They also find they cannot get away with eating how they did in college. What are the adaptations that you need to make to enjoy food but also to feel your best?
...and have fun!
In the early hours of the morning when I head out to run, I am so grateful for my ability to run. No matter how fast or slow, short or long, I love it! There is not a day that I dread getting up to run because it is a great way to start my day and I feel better all day after a run.
The same goes for my diet. Breakfast is my favorite meal and I look forward to it every morning! Dinner, however, is where I have the most variety. I am not a gourmet cook nor do I love it, but I love the product. I look forward to dinner every day.
Find the things that are fun and make you feel good and you will be motivated to do them. None of the above makes me feel deprived but instead makes me feel alive. I hope the same for you!