When you start something new, whether it’s a healthy eating plan, a new workout program or even pandemic-related safety practices, many people tend to be gung-ho.
But as time goes on, motivation can wane along with those new health practices – especially if they have not become ingrained as daily habits.
When my patients experience this kind of low motivation and fatigue, I tell them this is normal because people typically only have so much energy in their day to devote to doing things differently.
However, I then share what I’ve learned over my almost 40 years of practicing as a weight management specialist as the best ways to turn this around in their favor.
I hope you find these same tips helpful.
1 – Stop Judging Yourself
Self-blame can be common in these situations. You may also feel guilty, discouraged and even pessimistic that you’re having a setback.
But these feelings end up robbing you of the energy you need to problem solve better ways to move forward and set a new course.
Instead, I tell patients that lapses are expected and just a part of the human condition.
Understanding this will improve your mindset and help you feel better.
Right now as we’re all in the midst of a pandemic, be kind to yourself and recognize that we are all struggling to find a new normal in regards to our daily habits.
Let self–compassion replace self-blame!
2 – Determine Your ‘Why’
Yes, we all want better health habits but digging deeper to identify WHY you want to be healthier is key:
- Do you want more energy so you can keep up with your children or play with your grandchildren?
- Do you want to be physically able to pursue fun hobbies like bike riding, hiking, golf or dancing?
- Do you want to avoid having to take medication or be able to get off some medications?
- Do you want to live longer to be able to do things on your bucket list?
It can be helpful to write down your ‘whys’ on a notecard and refer to them when you’re feeling low motivation or health habit fatigue.
Even momentary reflection can help you make better choices.
And remember that your ‘WHY’ needs to be stronger than your ‘WHY NOT’.
3 – Change it Up
The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly brought new challenges to all of our health habits.
In addition to trying to eat better, move more, manage stress and sleep well, we also need to be social distancing, washing our hands often and wearing face covers.
Changing it up can help counteract some of your health habit fatigue that may be setting in. Here are some examples:
- Pick a time that it’s safe to walk outside, change the scenery by changing your route or meet up with friends or family for social distancing walks or bike rides. Getting fresh air and being in nature is good for your body and mind.
- Can you schedule a bring-your-own (BYO) social distancing lunch or dinner in your backyard or at a park? Being with people you love and care about is extremely beneficial, despite having to be 6 feet away from one another.
- Find a Farmer’s box you can order in your area with fresh produce to nudge healthier eating. A Farmer’s box we recently received had peaches and tomatoes that we made into a delicious avocado, soft mozzarella cheese and basil salad, onions and peppers that we roasted and added to our turkey burgers and fresh celery and carrots that we used for our homemade lentil soup.
- Make a music playlist of songs you find empowering as music can be a great de-stresser and can give your mood a needed boost. Some of our playlist favorites are Beautiful Day by U2, Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen or Viva La Vida by ColdPlay.
As the country is easing pandemic restrictions, you also need to become more comfortable with the new choices you’re making to maintain your relationships, along with your health habits.
This is a fluid process. Be patient as you focus on progress, not perfection.
Stay safe and be well!
Robert Kushner, MD