motivation for change

14 Sep

Sorry for the blog hiatus; a new semester has begun, and that always means upheaval here at the home of a college teacher! Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation lately and trying to figure out what will motivate me to make healthy choices, and I wanted to toss some ideas out there in case any of them help you.

I am not particularly motivated by rewards that I promise myself–mostly because, if it’s something I want to do and it’s feasible, I’m not going to wait until I hit a goal to do it. Instead, I think about giving myself time and care every day to reduce stress and make me more able to commit to healthy choices and maintain them. Time is tight around here, like it is for most people, but I take a long hot bath any night that I want to; it helps me sleep and reduces my stress, which makes it easier for me to say no to junk food and yes to exercise the next day.

When I really struggle, I try to pause and think about why that healthy habit matters. If I’m longing to snack on unhealthy foods, even though I’m not hungry, chances are good that I am not in any frame of mind to contemplate why I want it. If I’m stressed, bored, sad–whatever it is that is making me want to overeat or stop thinking about healthy choices–I’m not going to be in the mood to sit down and think about my inner feelings. (It’s great if you can do that; it’s just that I can’t.)

So, instead, I let myself off the hook on figuring out why, at least right then.

I stop, remind myself that this is emotional eating, not hunger, and then I give my future self the gift of a healthier choice. I imagine me, the next morning, getting up knowing that I did exercise yesterday. I imagine myself knowing that I did eat my vegetables or that I didn’t eat mindlessly. This only works for me if I actually stop and imagine myself in the future, being grateful that I made the healthier decision.

I know how cheesy that is, but hey–it works for me. It works better for me to think about my behavior as the gift, rather than promising myself gifts if I change the behavior.

I also thought you might like this little diagram. Check it out.

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