Food Is Not Your Enemy

How to Get (and Stay) Motivated

Maybe you’re looking to lose weight. Maybe you need to get your type 2 diabetes under control. Maybe your blood pressure and cholesterol are high and your doctor said you need to change your diet. Maybe tomorrow.

Getting motivated can be tough. You use less salt at home, but will this one sodium-packed meal at Applebee’s kill you? You joined a gym, but it’s so hard to get there, what with your busy schedule. Will burning 300 calories today on the treadmill really make a difference in the long run?

It’s very easy to talk yourself out of healthier behaviors. Why? Because if your goal is something that feels very big (control diabetes), or too “into the future” (lose 50 pounds), it’s hard to connect how a single choice (like getting a Big Mac and large fries for lunch today) will really make much of a difference. You think, Well, I’ll eat better tomorrow, or hit the weights tomorrow–it won’t be such a big deal to indulge or be lazy just this once.

Of course, we all know that “just this once” happens more than just once.

The solution to this problem is not a matter of having stronger will power. It’s a matter of the moment. Rather than focusing on those big goals and big problems, hone in on how your body and mind feel today as a result of eating a gross meal or skipping your workout. Not only will a plate of fried food impact your waistline, it may also cause bloating, gas, or diarrhea. A breakfast packed with refined carbohydrates and sugar will likely have you feeling irritable, sleepy, or both within a couple of hours after eating it. Blowing off exercise may lead to stiffness, tension in your back or shoulders, or low energy. Drinking 800 calories’ worth of cocktails (a few drinks will get you there more quickly than you may realize) will lead to hours of depression the next day.

So begin to pay close attention to how your choices affect you physically and mentally right now. It’s much easier than worrying about how what you eat today may affect the numbers on your medical chart sometime next year. And the great thing is that the foods and habits that make you feel good now will also help your overall health. Now that’s motivation that’ll stick around.


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