The right motivation can make all the difference.
Q: I try to make myself eat less and work out more, but I end up not doing anything that I promised myself I would. How can I stay motivated?
Answer: Motivation — it's the most elusive ingredient in any get-healthy plan, and the most essential! So think about why you want to become healthier: to protect brain function, to dodge disease, to not break a hip? Whatever it is, recognize that when you drop the ball you're really saying to yourself that those things don't matter. But they do! So...
1. Inspire Yourself
Write out what it will mean to you if you stick with your plan to become healthier. Refer to it frequently, especially when in the vicinity of cake, fries or the couch!
2. Set Reasonable Goals
Don't plan on going from zero to 100 in a flash. When it comes to wellness goals, small changes can have a large impact. Add one serving a day of a vegetable to your diet in week one. Add another each week until you reach five or more servings a day. Plan on walking 20 minutes a day for a week; 30 minutes daily the next week; 60 minutes a day in a month.
3. Cultivate Consistency
Set a reminder on your phone for each day's physical activity — beep, beep, beep! It's 7:30 a.m. (or whatever works for your schedule); time for a walk. Every Sunday write out your week's healthy menu plan; stock the house with the food you need.
4. Get Support
That can come in the form of an online therapist, a trainer, a diabetes educator (if you have diabetes), a nutritionist, an exercise group — say a cycling or walking club, a friend, family member or gym pal. Remember, you matter!