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The last thing you want is to just go through the motions while exercising. But day-to-day life pressures can distract even the most dedicated among us. Plus, obligations with work, school, and family can make sticking to a diet feel nearly impossible. The trick to juggling daily goals with a commitment to being healthy and fit starts with your mindset. These self-motivating tips can improve your focus, energy, and drive.
Learning to revel in small successes on the path to achieving long-term fitness goals is the key to improving motivation. You can boost your resolve “by giving yourself positive feedback,” says Judith S. Beck, Ph.D., author of The Diet Trap Solution. Even better, she adds, “Give yourself double the credit when you do something positive toward your goal, even when you don’t feel like it.” Recognizing small improvements along the way to attaining bigger goals feeds the reward center in your brain, explains Beck, and bolsters self-confidence, increasing the likelihood that you’ll continue engaging in the desired behavior.
You may be tempted to “give yourself permis- sion” to opt out of doing your best during a workout or sticking to your diet plan when stressors are high. “But telling yourself it’s not Okay to skip out on your goals sends a powerful message to your brain that your commitment to fitness and health is non-negotiable,” Beck says. When you give yourself no choice but to tackle the task at hand, you remove self-sabotaging behavior that can compromise the bigger picture.
A 2010 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity showed that motivation plays an important role in adhering to a special diet. Half of a group of 80 women were given guidance on goal- setting techniques and journaling along with weight-loss advice, while the rest were provided with only the diet tips. Although both groups lost weight, those who had goal-setting guidance were significantly more successful. The next time you’re trying to cut calories, make sure to set up an emotional backup plan. Try visualizing yourself successful at the task, plotting and tracking your goals, or even recruiting a supportive friend. Just one source of positive reinforcement can help strengthen your effort and get you the results you want.