The Motivation Myth

For most of the last six years, I’ve attempted to lose weight and get in shape. There was one major problem: Despite my efforts, the motivation to stick to it was like a myth, a fantasy, an ever-elusive unicorn. It was simply impossible to grasp.

Nine weeks ago, when my husband finished school, that mythical unicorn finally materialized. It was a beautiful creature, full of promise and hope. Was it pure magic? Had the planets finally aligned? Had some higher power heard my prayers and decided to finally take pity on me?

It was nothing quite so mystical or cosmic. My motivation spiked as my schedule cleared. When my husband was in school, there was too much going on—there was no room for error. Even the slightest scheduling change made it impossible to keep up a workout routine. I was simply overextended.

Now, I’m reveling in my newfound freedom. In fact, I’ve made myself some promises about my time and my priorities. Here are three that you might find useful.

  1. Edit my schedule ruthlessly.
    I’m an emotional scheduler—I want to do everything. But everything is no good for my weight loss goals.  And it’s not fun either. In the fashion and writing world, editing is a constant companion—one that hurts but always results in something better. I’m learning to edit my schedule with the goal of leaving 30 percent of my time free.
  2. Visualize my week.
    Visualizing the times in my week when I am probably going to be stressed helps me with step one. Is there something in my schedule that seems innocuous but really causes the most anxiety? I might consider removing that event entirely if possible or figuring out a way around it. If I can’t remove it, I might spend some extra time prepping for it.
  3. Be honest with myself when I’m about to derail.
    For the last nine weeks, I’ve taken on a six-day-a-week exercise routine, as well as eating very healthfully. I then attempted to add an elimination diet (under the guidance of my nutritionist) on top of this to make sure I wasn’t allergic to anything. I started feeling frustrated and angry, and my unicorn disappeared. I stopped the elimination diet, and just like that, my motivation returned. The elimination diet was one thing too many. The lesson here: Know your limits, and if you feel yourself pushing up against them, take a step back.

What promises can you make to yourself to maintain—or welcome back—your motivation?

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