Stories That Teach Life Lessons

How to Think Yourself Thin, Healthy, and Happy: A Guide to Motivation and the Mind


Strong will is needed more for making choices than carrying them out.

Elbert Hubbard.

When working out love, life purpose, family, and, oh yeah, taking care of ourselves, this statement, which a friend recently sent me, rings very accurate. We don’t know how to take care of ourselves very well, given that over 60% of us are overweight and almost 20% take antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs (a threefold rise in just ten years). When we’re young, we pick up a lot of information from our teachers. Still, we never receive instruction on how to be joyful, respect oneself and others, discover one’s true passions in life, or care for properly and appreciate one’s physical self.

Therefore, as adults, it is up to us to start learning how to nurture ourselves if we want to be healthy, live whole lives, and pass that on to our offspring. And we can’t do that until we understand our motivations, our drivers toward wellness. If we don’t know what drives us, we’ll never be able to achieve our potential.

I am a person who quickly gives up on things. Yes, actually. I’ve eventually given up on almost everything I’ve tried, and usually right when I was starting to feel confident and competent. I’m finally getting the hang of it, but I flub it entirely. For no apparent reason, my stove suddenly stops working. It’s too cold to go for a run, I’m not in the mood to write, I really want to go to that yoga session, but it’s too late at night, and so on. It’s only been lately that I’ve had the time to sit down and begin investigating the root cause of this phenomenon. While a unique set of factors drives each of us, common tendencies can be observed. Read on to discover the source of your drive and how you can channel it into fruitful action:

No Hands, Please! Our ego enjoys the word “become” now. The traits are sought after, but the verbs are less critical. It has a much stronger attachment to the idea that “I am a runner” than it does to jogging. It is also quite arrogant. The ego is a snare for some of us. We learn that the praise of others is more valuable than our own emotions when we are praised for what we do rather than for who we are on the inside. This was a standard snare for me. The encouragement I received from others, rather than from within myself, was what kept me going when things went tough.

The issue is that the novelty wears off once the secret is out, and the excitement wanes. Reduced rewards lead to the decreased effort. As a result, you move on to something else, always looking to others for a fast fix. The same phenomenon occurs during a weight loss program. When others notice your progress and compliment you, it can be easy to let your motivation lapse and return to old eating and exercise habits, even though you haven’t yet achieved your original objective. Egos are inherent to who we are, so we can’t just wish them away. We can foil these influences by first accepting that they exist, seeking others’ praise, and then enlisting the help of loved ones to hold us accountable. What should we do?

* Exercise with a partner, such as a neighbor or family member. You’ll be less likely to give up and coast when things get complicated. If they share your motivation, you might consume ice cream instead of working out.

* Share your motivational story with those closest to you and urge them to (gently!) keep after you. Encourage them to check in with you frequently to see if you are still on track to achieve your goals and to push you (gently!) to set higher targets.

We only have ourselves to rely on, so any enduring inspiration must come from within. Look into the possibility of a change in your driving force. Try writing down your reasons for eating healthier and your favorite parts of your exercise routine. You may discover it has more to do with you than you realize.

* Keeping some of your objectives under wraps is a good idea. Many business and inspiration experts agree that a startup is at its most defenseless in the early phases, when it is still essentially a concept. The more we talk about it, the more watered-down the idea becomes. Any major life transition is the same way. So, try not to dwell too much on your training. While it’s great to have people on your side, if that’s the only thing that keeps you motivated, you risk becoming dependent on their approval. To keep yourself motivated on the other six days of the week, promise that you will not bring up your objectives again until Monday. You could be pleasantly delighted, as with the previous suggestion.

The Kitchen Sink is another common trap into which we all too easily slide. You’ve been following a healthy routine of consuming well and regular exercise, and then disaster strikes. When under stress, such as from an argument with a loved one, a sick child, or a bill you neglected to pay, you may react by exerting force on yourself. You cease working out for a few days, start eating poorly, or both. When you realize how badly you’ve messed up, you tell yourself, “Well, I blew it, so I might as well blow it some more,” You run away, eventually returning when you feel terrible enough to want to make it right. This is what I call a “kitchen sink mentality,” and it tends to plague even the brightest people among us, the ones who are capable of both global and creative thinking.

The problem is that we can easily psych ourselves into or out of doing something if we are a “big picture” individual with trouble thinking in steps. The little things that can make or ruin our progress are often overlooked. A buddy of mine once put it this way: Think of your existence as a nighttime car ride. You don’t freak out because you can’t see more than a few feet in front of your vehicle illuminated by your headlights. You believe the road and your goal are out there and that you will reach your destination if you pay attention to what is immediately in front of you. So goes life. Believe that the two pounds you lose this month will add up to twenty pounds by the end of the year; have confidence that you will be able to run those two miles soon if you start walking them now. Tips for sticking to those manageable milestones

* Realize that making mistakes is inevitable. We seek equilibrium as our final goal. So, rather than thinking that we’ve failed at everything because we had to do something we didn’t want to, we should attempt to see it as something that happens naturally. This will make it less probable that we will dampen spirits. To live well, rather than perfectly, is the ultimate goal.

* Create a vision board. Get a notebook or a sheet of poster board and start cutting out pictures that reflect your aspirations. Please put it in a conspicuous location. This paves the way for our unconscious to comprehend our desires and conscious thoughts to concentrate on the means to these ends.

Create a group. We generally dislike lists with a more worldly perspective, but they can help keep smaller objectives in plain sight. To achieve your goals, you should divide them into manageable chunks and keep a running tally of your progress. If you want to know what to do with your day/week/life, checking in with them first thing in the morning is a good idea. This helps us maintain our concentration.

Show Me the Money: Many of us have learned to reward ourselves with material possessions because we live in a highly materialistic society. Many of us turn to food for comfort and consolation when feeling down, contributing to our weight problems. Some of us rely on external incentives like money to keep us going. Making a bet with someone not to eat junk food or to exercise every day for a week can be an excellent way to motivate yourself in the short term, but it never works in the long time regarding fitness and diet. One needs to be intrinsically motivated to make long-term adjustments and accomplish ambitious objectives. It’s not easy to figure out, but it is possible:

Consider therapy or finding a support group. It’s essential to know your eating habits and triggers, such as whether you consume when you’re bored, stressed, sad, or excited.-Knowing your triggers can help you become more present and attentive, which in turn improves your self-regulation skills (e.g., with regards to food and exercise). Likewise, discussing habits and issues aloud can help us want what’s best for ourselves by removing the emotional components of food.

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