Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Clearly you’re interested in attaining a healthy weight — you’re reading this article, aren’t you? One motivation may be the hope that you’ll feel better about yourself once you’re carrying less baggage. But the baggage you’re toting around in your head may be what’s keeping you from moving forward. Maybe you’ve tried to lose weight before and didn’t reach your goal. Maybe you did reach your goal and then regained the pounds. Perhaps you’re worried about how your friends and family will react, or whether your age makes it too difficult to lose weight. Or maybe you just feel it’s too big a task to take on. Prepare for Change Whether you’re contemplating a weight-reduction program, preparing to go on one or ready to take action, it’s common to experience some level of fear or discomfort. “Change is uncomfortable,” says Scott Bea, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Psychiatry and Psychology. “As humans, we’re motivated to avoid discomfort.” Adopting new, more healthful behaviors does, of course, mean revising many of your current habits. So first and foremost, don’t criticize yourself for being worried about those changes. You’re Worth It “Part of the difficulty in achieving a healthy weight is that people often don’t think they’re worth it,” says Jane Ehrman, MEd, CHES, a mind-body medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine. As you gear yourself up to adopt healthier habits, valuing yourself is essential. “It’s hard to motivate yourself from a place of self-loathing,” Dr. Bea points out. You also need a safe environment in which to try new behaviors. “If you’re self-accepting, you’re in a better spot to make changes,” he says. Remember that it’s your behaviors that need to change — not you as a person. How do you create this warm, welcoming place for yourself? A beginning step, Dr. Bea says, is to “just practice counting what’s right about yourself.” Applaud Your Efforts Self-acceptance also means forgiving yourself when you make a misstep. We’ve all been there: We make one mistake and give up. In fact, Americans, as a whole, focus on outcomes instead of the effort, and that sort of outlook can undermine attempts at behavioral change. “Be faithful to the effort,” Dr. Bea counsels. “Outcomes will take care of themselves.” Setting reasonable goals is critical to managing the effort and keeping yourself from falling prey to self-criticism. If you develop goals that are unreachable, a surprisingly common occurrence, you set yourself up for failure. Instead, establish a series of small goals that are measurable and attainable in the short term. For instance, don’t say you’re going to lose 20 pounds by a certain date; instead, set your target as going on a walk or getting on the exercise bike for a half hour each day. Daily incentives, Dr. Bea says, are a good way to remain motivated and to feel good about yourself — for example, when you take that walk each day, put a dollar in a cookie jar for yourself. Another thing to watch out for is the power of negative thoughts. As Ehrman points out, we’re often “stuck in our heads, recalling bad memories or anticipating negative events.” In other words, don’t dwell on past attempts at weight loss or worry about ways you might not succeed now. As the saying goes, “Just do it.”