You've done it- you made the decision to get moving on that diet or exercise program. It feels great to be so motivated. But much like the Righteous Brothers song- you now found you've lost that loving feeling for sticking with it.
This seems to be the problem that keeps all of us from succeeding. In the beginning we feel great and motivated but we just can't seem to hold on to it. Why does this happen?
This is the greatest myth that is out there about making health habit changes. That if you just stay motivated you'll succeed. Well- nobody can stay motivated indefinitely.
We are motivated early on because the behavior- diet, exercise, saving money, etc. Is new; It's novel- it has reinforcing properties because it catches our attention. Once we've been doing it for a while the novelty wears off. The problem is that for many people the novelty wears off before it's become a habit- and that's why you need to be able to boost motivation levels just a bit every now and then.
There are many ways to do this- here are just a few:
1. When you find the motivation slipping grab a sheet of paper and make a pros and cons list. List out the pros of sticking with the behavior and the cons of sticking with it.
So if it is exercise-maybe the pros are the health benefits, the way you will look and the cons are the time it takes, and lack of fun you are having.
2. On that same sheet of paper- write down your answer to this question- if I don't stick with it- what will my health be like five years from now? These two simple exercises will remind you of why you started this whole thing in the first place.
3. Take a scheduled break-stop the activity for a couple of days with a written promise to get back on track
4. Change the activity-if it's exercise-try a new routine- if it's a diet, try a new meal
These strategies won't make the motivation skyrocket - but it will keep it going. Think of it like a tank of gas in your car. You don't need to have a full tank to operate the car. As long as you keep your motivation levels higher than empty you will be fine.