What to do if you don't have MOTIVATION
Let’s talk about MOTIVATION.
I often hear people talk about being motivated to lose weight and get healthy. Oftentimes in the context of “if I only had more motivation like so-and-so, then I could finally lose weight and get healthy”.
I have often wondered how to help these people with “motivation”. Inspiring pep talks? Scare tactics? (if you don’t lose weight you are risking a heart attack within the next 5 years). None of these seem to work.
What is the answer then?
We first need to make something clear – Motivation is actually NOT the problem. Motivation is actually NOT what separates fit, lean, healthy people from those who struggle to lose a few pounds.
Furthermore, when thinking more deeply about it, it may actually be derogatory to tell people who are overweight that all they need is more “motivation”. It’s akin to telling them they just need to “eat less and move more”. In other words – It’s patronizing and more importantly, IT DOESN’T WORK.
So, if motivation doesn’t work – then what does?
In a word – COMMITMENT.
Wait a minute – isn’t this just the same thing as motivation said in a different way?
Not quite, let me explain.
What is really going on is not an issue with motivation, but more so an issue with commitment. Now in order to have commitment, we need to know exactly what we are committed to? i.e., what outcome are we looking for?
Motivation often implies that the process is going to be hard, difficult, un-enjoyable, and plain miserable. Motivation says “just buckle down and do it!”.
I say – there’s a better way.
If we have commitment, then we are committed to a process, not just an outcome. When we commit to a proven process, we re-frame our expectations and stop getting caught up in the frustration of not being able to do something that is really difficult.
In my 1 to 1 weight loss coaching system this would look like committing to performing certain small, discrete, even EASY habits daily, which would result in a loss of 0.5-1.5 lbs per week, and 30-60 lbs per year of healthy weight loss per year (this also comes with the added benefit of enjoying the process and keeping the weight off long-term - i.e. for life).
COMITTMENT also allows you identify what obstacles are stopping you from reaching your goal, and to strategize and plan how to overcome them. Just like it sounds – Commitment is a lot SMARTER than Motivation.
If Motivation is a bull in a china shop, Commitment is a private investigator.
In fact, I like to think about commitment as the antidote to motivation (or lack thereof).
If this is making sense, but still sounding a bit vague, let’s put it into context.
If we are committed to losing weight, we know we have to change our diet and start including healthier options. However, we may feel we just don’t have the motivation to cook a healthy meal when we drive by Wendy’s on the way home from work, or if we crave chocolate ice cream after dinner.
Commitment would say, how could I avoid these scenarios that keep tripping me up? (rational thought is much more productive than getting upset and depressed because you lacked “will-power” and ate something that wasn’t perfectly congruent with your health goals). Commitment wouldn’t be to just “eating healthy” but could include a commitment to changing your driving route to avoid that fast food joint that you have trouble controlling yourself around. Commitment would be to not buy ice cream or sweets in bulk, and only buy a single serving once per week, so that it becomes very difficult to overdo it.
This ladies and gentlemen, is the difference between commitment and motivation.
In my 1 to 1 weight loss coaching, we aim to avoid motivation and will-power as much as possible, since these are unreliable friends, who are never there when you really need them.
Instead, we discover through specific assessments which key areas are holding you back, and plan a personalized dietary and lifestyle strategy to help you reach your goals. I also go into depth on other topics, like intuitive eating and developing a healthy relationship with food – which are also keys to solving the weight loss equation.
If you’re ready to see steady, consistent weight loss without the yo-yo effect on the scale and in your emotions, feel free to reach out to me and we’ll see if you are a good fit for my personalized program.
Dr. Sheldon, BSc., ND