Not to pull a bait and switch on you, but I'd like to immediately alter this post's title to "3 Strategies for Healthy Living", because the truth is, "motivation" won't always be there.
It's not motivation we're trying to keep forever, it's the habits we create from that initial (but short lived) burst of motivation.
So with that important detail in mind, here are 3 ways to help hold yourself accountable, stay interested, and keep moving forward through the (never ending!) winter months where I think we'd ALL rather be bundled under blankets mainlining Netflix and eating warm bread for days on end.
1. MAKE A PLAN
There's a reason some advice never goes away. This might sound generic and a little obvious, but planning ahead for yourself can go a long way to keep you on track with your goals.
Register for all your fitness classes on Sunday night for the week, and plug them into your calendar. Bonus points for arranging these with a friend for accountability.
Do some meal prep, but know that not all meal prep needs to be a full Sunday spent marathon cooking and slaving over a stove making boring meals for you to throw away tomorrow. Try only prepping your protein, or only prepping your veggies, or just making a big batch of breakfast that you can grab and go. Easy squeezy.
Pro Tip: Planning (and seeing the plan through) goes hand in hand with EXPECTATION, something Gretchen Rubin has researched and written about extensively (and it's fascinating). Take the Four Tendencies Quiz to determine your Tendency (or better yet, read the whole BOOK!) to learn how you respond to external and internal expectation. This will help you figure out what kind of accountability works best for you, thus making you way more likely to actually see this shit through. (Hint: for some of us, *ahem*, accountability buddies actually make us LESS likely to keep a plan).
2. STOP TRYING TO DO IT PERFECTLY
That thing where you feel like you've got to do it all by the book, 100% perfectly, or not at all? It's killing your goals, one by one.
Just because you can't make it to the gym 4x a week like you promised you'd do on January 1st, doesn't mean you have to hand over your membership.
Just because you didn't make it through your Whole30 or can't FOR THE LIFE OF YOU find a way to quit eating tortilla chips doesn't mean it's time to throw your hands up and say fuck it and resign yourself to a life of laziness or unhappiness.
The key to this stuff is NOT the extreme, 100% committed, ALL IN or all out mentality. No. Rather, the key is consistency. And consistency doesn't come in a one size fits all dose. Consistency comes in any size you damn well please, and truthfully? The smaller is actually better.
So start small. Maybe 4x a week workouts won't happen, but go the 1 or 2 days that you CAN, and be content with that. Bonus points for adding in a walk or run around your neighborhood on another day.
Quitting tortilla chips might not be in the stars for you, but shift your focus to getting ample protein and vegetables at every single meal instead. Small change is the secret to success that no one talks about because it's not sexy, but man alive is it effective.
Perfect will ruin everything. So stop chasing it, because it's not want you want. PROMISE. Instead of thinking on the huge scale in terms of wrong or right, try thinking on the SMALL, daily scale, in terms of a little bit better than before.
"The goal isn't to be perfect by the end. The goal is to be better today." -Simon Sinek
Pro Tip: Grab my FREE download, The Small Step Guide, for a laundry list of tiny but effective ways to start creating healthier habits that STICK.
3. YOUR WHY MATTERS, YES IT DOES
An important question I want you to ask yourself right now: if you never saw any "results" from working out; if you never lost a pound; if your pant size or arm definition never changed...
Would you do still do it?
If your answer is "HELL NAW I suffer through my workouts and broccoli for the sole purpose of being fit/changing my appearance/losing body fat!", then we need to talk. You're always going to struggle with feeling "motivated" if you hate everything about the process, and you're only doing it to fit into a smaller pant size.
Ask yourself what you LOVE about the experience of eating nourishing foods, or moving your body. How does it make you feel? What mood does it put you in? What does it make you want to do more or less of? How does it help your stress, sleep, self image?
List out your "why": i.e., the stuff that would keep you coming back for more, even if you never lost a pound. Let THAT be the lens through which you view your decisions, meals, workouts, and overall sense of self care, and see what happens.
Pro Tip: Listen to Ep 2 of She Thrives Radio: 5 Secrets to Keeping + Hitting Your New Years Resolutions for more strategies on goal hitting + staying focused. And be sure to read this blog post: The Secret to Finding + Keeping Motivation, for Fitness + Beyond for more an instant push in the right direction.
Happy fitnessing, let's all hope spring comes soon!