How much of your day do you spend thinking about all the things you think you should be doing about your weight or health but just can't seem to "make yourself" do?
How much of your day do you spend judging and berating yourself for not being "motivated enough" to do them?
If you're anything like I was for many years, the answer to both those questions is most of the day.
No worries, keep reading because in this post, I'm diving into the biggest reasons why we get stuck in that rut and more importantly, what to do about it.
So if you've been following my work for any length of time, you know by now I always like to start with asking why.
The two whys we want to start with are why aren't you motivated and why do you want to lose weight or get healthy or whatever that thing is that you keep telling yourself you want but have no motivation for.
So why are you unmotivated and why do you want it?
Understanding why you're not motivated is super important because it puts you back in control, rather than spending your time feeling like a helpless victim to your lack of motivation.
AND it helps you stop resisting your reality.
The three biggest reasons people tend to struggle with motivation around this whole weight loss/healthy living thing are:
First, you're stuck believing it even requires motivation in the first place. We've been sold a lie that prioritizing our health requires motivation because it's hard work and supposed to suck. Punishment, hard work, restriction, deprivation, willpower, suffering, etc. No wonder you're not motivated! You have to be pretty desperate to willingly sign up for that and no matter how desperate you are, motivation to stick to that will never last forever. What annoys me the most about this reason is that it's all lies. Read more on why I say that in my last post, here. Prioritizing your health shouldn't be hard work.
You just don't have the capacity to do literally anything else. You're likely exhausted. You're working a million hours a week, you're stressed, you're not sleeping well, you're putting every one else's needs ahead of your own because you feel like it's selfish to do anything for yourself or that you don't deserve a spot on your own priority list. This only gets compounded by all the messages that tell us prioritizing our own well-being is supposed to be hard.
You just don't want it bad enough. This one usually stems from lousy reasons behind why you think you want it and then gets compounded by the first two. What do I mean by lousy reasons behind why you think you want it? Most people obsess over wanting to lose weight or even "get healthy" because of looks. It's about looking a certain way, or being a certain size because of what we associate with that - validation and celebration from those around us, being viewed as successful and more respected, etc. Pop over to this podcast episode for more on this. Now, you may be thinking, "no no Roni - I need to lose weight for my health" but I call BS on that if you're obsessed with external measurements (which almost everyone is). Your health is not defined by external measurements. I spent 8 years helping women lose weight and 99.9% of the time, their reason for wanting it was related to looks - which is horrible motivation! Why is that horrible motivation? Because you're not really doing it for you. When you're obsessed with weight loss because you think you want to look better, it's about how other people see you. How can it be for you? You only see yourself for a couple minutes a day. Again, you have to be superrr desperate to sign up for the hard work you've been told it takes just so the people around you see a smaller version of you. Looks, size, scale numbers are also terrible motivation because the choices that you make today cannot affect those things today. So you have to suffer, restrict and willpower your way through the day so that maybe someday a month or two from now someone will tell you look great and ask if you lost weight? It's horrible motivation which is why you're struggling with motivation.
Now that we've looked at why you're probably struggling with motivation we're going to build on that last point and look at the second why.
Why do you think you want it? Let's get at your actual core desire.
See, most people want to lose weight or "get healthy" for some surface reason as discussed in point #3 above - smaller pant size, cute summer clothes, a smaller number on the scale, so that mother, sister, friend, etc will be proud of us, etc... but that's never the real, underlying reason. It's just the crummy surface reason that we keep focused on but the REAL reason almost always comes down to how we think it will make us feel.
We associate certain feelings with all kinds of external goals and whenever we set goals, it's almost always because of how we think it'll make us to feel to reach them.
What feelings are you associating with weight loss or being healthier? List them.
Ok, now from here you're going to start doing two crazy things.
First, stop trying to get motivated or telling yourself you need to be and just accept that you're not. No motivation? Ok, that's cool! Every time you notice yourself pressuring or judging yourself about it, make a purposeful effort to change those thoughts to thoughts of acceptance. Just accept where you are.
So, when you hear something like, "I need to get motivated to get this weight off. What am I going to do to get motivated? It's been so long since I've felt motivated, what if I never do again?" etc... stop those thoughts in their tracks and just start repeating something else. Something as simple as, "it's okay, let it go" can be helpful. Just accept that you're not motivated and allow it to be okay.
I told you it was going to sound crazy. But it's actually not crazy because here's the thing - reminding yourself a hundred times a day that you need to get motivated does exactly nothing to actually get you motivated. In fact, it makes you less motivated because it's like kicking yourself when you're down.
Doesn't it make you feel worse every time you remember how unmotivated you are? Exactly! We don't want you feeling worse, we need you feeling better so we can start building forward momentum. Screw motivation, forward momentum is the ticket and that requires not continuing to beat on yourself.
Stop fighting against your reality and accept it. Allow yourself to be completely unmotivated. It is what it is. It is where you are. Fighting your reality does nothing to change it.
Second, start from there. Start where you are. Right now, with no motivation. That's where you're going to start.
You're going to take everything you just discovered from the first few questions, you're going to accept that you're completely unmotivated and then you're going to pick one thing to do today that moves you toward what you want based on the answers to the first two questions.
Pick just one thing and make it super small and easy. Make it something that makes you feel better since not only is that likely your core desired feeling but also feeling better will help drive forward momentum, which is what we want.
Look at the reasons why you're not feeling motivated, what you actually want and use those answers to decide what one thing you're going to do.
For example, are you unmotivated because you're exhausted and your core desired feeling is to just feel better? Great. So then maybe the one thing you'll do today is to nap or go to bed earlier tonight.
That's understanding why you're unmotivated, and starting to move towards what you really want from exactly where you are.
Then continue doing that every day. Assess how you feel, assess how you want to feel and do one thing about moving towards what you want based on how you feel and what you want.
That's it. It's just that easy. And so much healthier because rather than crapping on yourself, feeling like a victim to your lack of motivation and treating yourself and your body like garbage until you "get motivated again" you're actively working towards just giving yourself what you actually need in a way that makes you feel better & makes life easier, rather worse. Every day. No more track to keep jumping on and falling off.
Reminding yourself a hundred times a day that you need to lose weight or get healthy without understanding why you're not doing the things you think you should be doing to get there, is doing nothing but wasting time keeping you stuck in that rut and making you feel even worse - when I'm guessing all you really want is to just feel better, in general and about yourself.