We're all looking for that magic way to lose weight or keep it stable. We all have eating habits we'd like to change and many of us ask "Why can't I just stick at it?!"
We can be hard on ourselves, despairing that we seem repeatedly to fail in our attempts to change how we eat. But it's very unlikely that we'll be successful if our thinking is coming from a negative place. This means that we continue to pile on the pressure as well as the pounds!
We need to learn how to create positive motivation to remain resilient and focussed. Here are three motivation techniques to improve your chances of success:
1. Aspirational motivation
If we're constantly thinking about what we DON'T want to do, this is what we think about and it makes us feel rubbish about our previous behaviours. It's like being constantly reminded of our failings. It creates a bit of a mind-worm!
Instead, try to focus on what you want to achieve, looking forward to what a new way of eating might look like. How would you like to behave around the biscuit tin? What would you like to do when you have a choice to eat another portion which you know you don't really need? What do you want to be thinking about yourself and about food? How can you change your thinking to make it more constructive? With some of my clients we describe this new version of oneself to make the motivation as real as possible, sometimes we even name it.
2. Memory motivation
Reflecting on times when you have been at your best can really help create powerful positivity. It might be an achievement at work, a good deed which made you feel proud, something you are good at which brought you satisfaction. It could be how you felt during a recent visit somewhere stimulating or beautiful, when everything seemed aligned and comfortable.
Take a deep breath and with eyes closed, try to relive that moment, capturing how you felt and what you were thinking. Recalling these memories can help bolster your positivity in moments of difficulty.
3. Intrinsic motivation
Often it feels like the world has the power, food has the power, something else has the power and we can't manage how or what we eat. But in fact we do have huge power over our lives. If we focus on internal reward, in other words doing things for ourselves and not for others, the shift of power changes.
According to Daniel Pink, author of The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, there are three types of intrinsic motivation:
Autonomy - a desire to direct our own lives
Mastery - the desire to continually improve at something that matters
Purpose - the why of anything we do
If you can create stronger purpose for your life you will build a solid foundation to change anything you want to. For example if you focus on the reason why you want to lose weight and give it high clarity and importance, it can really make a difference. By thinking more clearly about these motivations, our inner feelings can create meaningful reasons for a change of behaviour. You may ask yourself these kinds of questions: Why do I want to lose weight? What will it bring me? How will it change my life? How important is it to me? How might it make me feel? What would it enable me to do?
If you create intrinsic motivation you are more likely to be engaged with the process of changing your relationship with food. Research also shows that it increases the levels of persistence when things get tough.
Change how you think and change the end result.
Think about your own motivation and how you can improve it to help both how you eat, and in many other areas of your life.