Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Top 12 Tips for Staying Motivated

I think you might agree that staying on the healthy life train can be challenging sometimes.  Whether it's being bombarded with advertising for fast food, heading into the festive season of drinks and social occasions, or being busy at work, I feel that I have to make a conscious effort to make the healthy choice day in, day out. 

The willpower to keep making the healthy choices over and over again can make me feel like I've got to keep a shield up to avoid the bullets!  When my shield (I'm so channelling Wonder Woman right now!) is starting to get a bit battered, I have a few tricks that help me focus and keep me motivated that I thought I'd share.


1. Make a plan

I do like a good plan, so I'm a little biased, but I find that if I have a plan about what food I'm going to eat, or my exercise for the week, I'm a lot less likely to fall into the trap of following a (non-healthy!) whim.  I may still think about another option (hello bagel and coffee!), but seeing as I have already prepared and planned my meal, I wouldn't want to waste it. 

2. Make time!

This is related to making a plan, but if I schedule time in my day or week for healthy activities (pre-cooking some healthy meals, or locking in time to attend a pump class), I'm more likely to do it, just because I've already decided to.  And that means I'm also less likely to flake out.  At the same time, it is also a good idea to allow yourself to be flexible and have a black up plan.  If something comes up at work, then have a go to meal that is quick, healthy, and you have the ingredients on hand, instead of getting takeaway on the way home.

3. Have a goal (and some mini-goals)

When I hurt my knee, I lost some motivation because I no longer had a goal - I wasn't sure what I was getting up at 4:45am for exactly.  Once I took the time to set some new goals (ie. do the NROLFW workouts) I felt much more enthusiastic about my exercise routine.  Everyone has different goals, but you might want to fit into that dress at the back of your cupboard, or run the next Tough Mudder - you choose!

Have some mini-goals to get you to your main goal.  It's much easier to be motivated to achieve a goal that is within reach, than to shoot for the stars right from the start!  If you want to run a marathon in 2015, maybe aim for a 15km or half marathon early in the season, and start training for that distance to build your way up.

4. Reward yourself

We all like a reward for acheiving our goals or mini-goals.  You've worked hard for it!  But my advice is to make sure your reward is in line with your (new) healthy life values.  It won't help too much if every time you run a PDR you have a large takeaway pizza.  You are still associating your achievement with an unhealthy choice, and not helping to break bad habits.  A massage, new outfit or afternoon relaxing in the park will all be a treat, and keep you focussed on heading in the right direction.

5. Educate yourself

You don't know what you don't know, right?  So get out there and find out!  These days there are so many resources at our finger tips - from a healthy recipe at Taste.com, to a new workout at Women's Fitness or in a workout app.  You could also just ask someone - most people who life healthy lives want to share and encourage others.  You know, like bloggers :) 

Use the information that makes sense for you, your lifestyle and your goals, and give them a try.  If something doesn't seem to work, try something else!  For one person a structured eating program like Weight Watchers might really help, but for others it can be too restrictive and expensive. 

6. Be realistic about life

Things happen.  Things we can't plan for.  I mean, we live in the real world, and it's a bit crazy.  Don't be afraid to take a different route to the one you had planned.  As long as you are true and honest with yourself about your reasons for changing, and you still feel like you're headed in the right direction, go for it!  If you can't run, try swimming!  If you get pregnant, check our pre-natal exercise classes.   If you move houses, find a new sports club. And if you need to take a break, then take it.  In the end, the health of you and your family are your priority.

7. Just do it!

The Nike saying is an oldie but a goody.  Sometimes I just need to get out of my own head and do what I need to do.  That salad in the fridge for lunch that you prepared last night?  Just eat it instead of thinking about all your other options.  Your body will thank you.  That run you had planned on a rainy afternoon?  Get out there and hit the footpath.  You'll feel heaps better for getting it done, than making excuses.

8. Daily reminders

I LOVE a good motivational quote.  Words are really inspiring to me.  So one thing I do is use the cutout page in the Women's Fitness each month to have a bag full of little quotes that can inspire me.  When I feel the need, I randomly choose a quote from my bag, and take it with me for the day - in my wallet, phone cover or even just my pocket.  It's amazing how often the quote I choose is really meaningful that day!

I also have a custom designed necklace that has a heart in the middle, and 'Family - Respect - Health - Happiness' engraved in it.  It's a reminder of all things important to me.  I got it made locally by Bella Donna Accessories (check it out if you're interested in a piece like this!).

9. Reflect on your progress - regularly!

I honestly think that we are not very good at stopping and taking a moment to realise how far we've come.  Have a look at an old picture, or review some of your old workouts.  Even just think about what your life was like 5 years ago.  I'm sure you have made heaps of progress down your healthy life path, so pat yourself on your back!  And be proud :)

10. Share with friends and family

The people around you can be a huge source of support and motivation in your day to day healthy choices.  Surround yourself with people who support your healthy choices, and you can share your successes and struggles with.  My husband and I share a passion for fitness and healthy eating, and we often have discussions about our workouts or meals we've eaten.  He is a huge support to me, and sometimes I think 'What do I want to tell Gareth about this choice?'.  It keeps me honest in my choices.  It helps that I'm a terrible liar :)

11. Think lifestyle

At the start, every little change is a big change, if you know what I mean.  But in the end, what you really want is to be living healthy, not just making the healthy choice each time.  You want it to be the way you live your life!  So keep that as your goal - maybe think about how you want to be living in 5 or 10 years.  It can also put the choice between chocolate and an apple into context - which is the choice for your future self, and not just your present self?  Choose your future lifestyle :)

12. Forgive yourself and move on

We are all human and we slip up.  Last Monday, I turned off my 5am alarm and went back to sleep.  I woke up at 6:30am to get ready for work already feeling guilty about skipping my workout.  Instead of beating myself up, I made a commitment to do a catch up workout that evening.  It meant that I had to juggle the rest of the workouts for the week, but I accepted that I was human, made a decision on how to fix it, and moved on.  Be kind to yourself!

What gets in the way of you living your life healthy?  What is your best tip for staying motivated?

I am not a doctor and I have never had any medical, exercise or nutritional training. These are just my own thoughts and comments based on my own, limited research and knowledge in the area. If you want more information, speak to your doctor or health adviser.


  1. Nice post. I am a big fan of jewelry as a reminder too...but I rarely see it listed as a motivator. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks Lauren! I see lots of jewellery with a message, but I really wanted to get something that was meaningful to me. Customised jewellery is also a great gift idea! Share the love and motivation :)