There’s first the question of KNOWING. Knowing what and how to live a nourishing lifestyle.
For some of us, we may think we know, but it may not actually be the truth; especially because our needs morph depending on our age and stage of life.
For instance, in my former life, I THOUGHT I knew the what and the how to live a nourishing lifestyle. But, I was completely wrong. Eating a super low-fat diet, counting calories, obsessing over food, and overtraining every day of the week left me incredibly tired, defeated, imbalanced and frustrated. Oh, and unhealthy.
Once we have the knowledge, then there’s actually DOING it. Living it out.
This is where a lot of us can get stuck. This misconnect between knowing and doing.
It exists in all of us in some form, and has affected us in some way at some time. And, because we live in a culture with an all-or-nothing attitude, it can kill any progress that we’ve made.
Especially with the holidays here full of stress and food, how can we push through to find an imperfectly perfect balance for our individual needs to be well-nourished (in mind, body, spirit)?
And how can we stay motivated to actually follow through?
9 Ways to Motivate Long-Term Healthy Living
1) 80/20 Rule: You Don’t Have to Be Perfect
You’ve heard the 80/20 rule in the world of business (80% of business comes from 20% of its customers), and this can be applied to your everyday living:
Make nourishing choices 80% of the time, and allow yourself 20% of the time to indulge and be lazy.
By letting go of the crippling guilt of not eating, working out, sleeping, managing stress, and worshipping 100% of the time PERFECTLY, it frees you to be HUMAN.
It also frees you to enjoy some of the guilty pleasures in life, without making it a mainstay.
Our perception is our reality, after all. Free yourself of these self-imposed expectations, and it opens up the ability to adopt a long-term, balanced lifestyle.
You never know; just doing this small thing may even motivate you to comply 90% or 95% of the time, too, because you feel so well and you know that you DO have the option to indulge when you choose.
Who says you can’t start today? Because tomorrow doesn’t always come.
And making major changes too fast, too soon is a sure way to fall back off the bandwagon again.
Think about how long it took you to get good at something (a sport, music, art, etc.). Approach your health the same way: It.takes.time.
There is no quick fix, despite the infomercials, to achieving true health.
So, why not start with one small goal today? Maybe, you go for an 8-minute walk. Maybe, you eat half the dessert. Maybe, you get in bed 30 minutes sooner.
Whatever it is, it is SOMETHING, and something to be proud about! Forward progress leads to more forward progress which leads to success!
3) Find Time to Fill Your Soul Up
With the fast-paced culture we live in, we consume life at a blazing speed. This often transfers to the way we live our lives outside of work, including the way and speed at which we consume food.
Take a step back and ground yourself every day.
It may only be five minutes, but it will give you room to breathe, think, and focus on what is important in your life.
Maybe it’s in the form of meditation, prayer, journaling, or just drinking tea and thinking, but this small step is a huge one to fill your soul up, so that you don’t turn to other things (food, alcohol, porn) to fill the void.
4) Create a Vision Board
I’ve done this off and on over the past few years, and highly recommend it!
Creativity + realistic goals + paper/pictures = Vision board.
Take 1 hour and think about all of the goals that you want to achieve – personally, physically, professionally, relationally, spiritually – and cut out pictures that represent them.
Tape them on a piece of paper (or cut and paste pics in Powerpoint).
Put your vision board in a place where you can see it everyday, to keep you focused and give you purpose.
5) Shift Your Perspective: Quality is What Matters
Eating less and moving more does not always equal health.
It’s the QUALITY of:
Food – whole, mostly organic foods that grow in the ground or have a mother!
Workouts – short, mostly intense workouts a few days a week!
Thoughts – positive self-talk – love yourself!
Relationships, etc… that matter and transform us.
In a time-pressed culture, this hopefully helps you realize that you don’t need to count calories or be in the gym for hours to find happy results!
6) Positive Self-Talk
Ever heard of “stinking thinking?” It’s based on the fact that thoughts become things.
How you think truly affects how you become. If your thoughts are negative, full of self pity, and depressed, you’ll be a glass-half -empty, unattractive, depressing kind of person.
By simply shifting how you talk to yourself, you can open up a whole new world of positive living from positive thinking!
Easier said than done, but it starts with awareness. Start to observe your thoughts and self-talk throughout the day, and if you notice anything negative. STOP. And replace it with something positive. Repeat, and positive habits will start to form.
7) Set A Goal
Simple hoping isn’t going to get you where you want to be.
By making a concrete goal, you can actually start working towards something!
Here’s a cheat sheet about how to set a goal:
Specific – Be specific and focused with your goal.
Measurable – Can it be measured? If not, there’s no way to know if you’ve reached it.
Attainable – Choose something that is within reach. Otherwise, you may demotivate yourself altogether.
Relevant – Choose something worthwhile, and appropriate for your needs right now.
Timely – Set a time-frame for your goal, so that you stay on track. Is it short-term? Long-term? How many days or weeks?
Another tip – make sure your goal is something that has deep roots.
For instance, having a goal to lose weight probably won’t stick, because it’s more about vanity. Maybe you want to have more energy, though, or get off of a prescription, etc., and losing weight will aid in that? By shifting to the REAL reason, it may help you stick with it for the long haul.
8) Write It Down (Smaller Goals!) & Review Weekly
So, you’ve made a goal. Congrats on this first step!
In order to maximize your focus, write it down and review it weekly.
Set a reminder on your phone or in your calendar, and spend a few minutes reviewing what you did this week to get closer to your goal, and what, if anything, may have hindered your progress.
Then, set smaller goals for the following week to get even more laser-focused.
9) Recruit a Positive Friend(s)
Studies show that having a support network is huge for achieving and maintaining goals.
By surrounding yourself with positive people, it will rub off on your attitude and motivation to keep going!
If you’re the type of person that thrives on accountability, recruit a partner to go in a goal with you together, and set up daily or weekly check-ins for progress.
Be aware, though, that we are looking for long-term health. Sometimes, contests with others that involve prizes and short timelines can reinforce that all-or-nothing behavior and attitude that we are trying to blast.
I gave you an array of tips to work with, but choose ONE or two that works for you!
I wish you tons of long-lasting motivation as you enter the New Year. Everyone deserves to feel well, be well, and live well.