Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Motivation and Habits


Today I arrived at my training class pretty early. There was one other man who arrived at the same time. He casually asked me why I was there so early and I responded with "Oh, I went to the drill hall on base to work out and then came straight here." A few minutes later he says, "How do you have the motivation to deal with the logistics of going to the drill hall before work?"

It was an intriguing question and phrased in a way that I haven't been asked before. 

My response: "Well, I've been doing this for a while now and it's just sort of habit." 

The question got me thinking about motivation. What motivates us as individuals to eat healthy and exercise regularly? And what motivates us to keep doing these things?

Everyone's motivation is going to be different. In order to be successful in your goals and ambitions you will need to find what motivates you-- not what motivates your family, coworker, or friend. You need to determine when you are most productive and work your schedule in such a way that you set yourself up for success. For example, I know that if I wait to exercise until after work, the chances are 50/50 of whether I'll actually do it. On the flip side, if I wake up early knowing that I plan to go for a run or to the gym, I can guarantee that it will happen. 

It takes roughly three weeks to form a habit and once habits are formed they can be difficult to break. I'm at the point where I feel lost if there's more than one rest day in my week. It's now a habit for me to pack my lunch and gym bag at night, go to bed early, and wake up at 4:30am to run or get to the gym. 

So what motivates me to run as much as I do? Chocolate of course :) Kidding.. well sort of. Running is a great way to burn calories and I do love sweets so this is one way for me to not feel guilty for my chocolate indulgences. In all seriousness though-- there are two primary motivations for my dedication to fitness and a healthy lifestyle. 

1) I've seen firsthand how much pain can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle. I can't control people. I can't make anyone exercise or eat a well-balanced diet. But what I can do is be an example. I can be a positive force in peoples' lives. I can encourage and let them know that, yes they can do it. 

2) As someone who was plagued by anxiety, and would go through most days feeling slightly sick, I know what it feels like to be unhealthy. I never want to go back there. Don't let me fool you-- the anxiety has not magically disappeared. But running, yoga, general exercising, reducing stimulation from caffeine and sugar, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables has significantly helped me control my problems with anxiety.

Finding your motivation can be tough but I promise you that it will be worth it. You actions might be impacting someone else's life without you even realizing it. And always remember-- progress, not perfection. Tomorrow is always a new day and a chance to start fresh.

What motivates you to live a healthy lifestyle? What ways have you found to help you form healthy habits? I'd love to hear :) Please feel free to share in the comments below!

♥AK