How do you stay so focused?

Fitness Motivation
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image by Salim Virji

How do you resist temptation?

I just can’t give up (fill in the blank). I don’t know how you do it.

As both a personal trainer and someone who lives healthy and fit, I hear these things a lot. It’s not always easy, especially in the beginning, to not ditch a workout or eat an extra slice of pizza when out with friends.  The best advice I can give people is to really understand what your motivation is and then make the decision to let that be your compass.

I know that many times when I hear the above questions people are still searching for their motivation. They haven’t found that one overwhelming reason to make permanent and meaningful changes to how they live. Everyone’s source of motivation is different so, as a personal trainer, all I can do is try to help guide you to that place.  For some it is a specific goal, like running a 10k or being able to stop taking a certain medication (like blood pressure medication, with a doctor’s approval of course). For others it can be something a little less specific, but equally important, like being able to keep up with the kids on the playground or being healthy enough to hike in Hawaii. I’m not a parent, but I can’t imagine not being able to do something with your child simply because your weight impedes your ability to do so.

Once you find that motivation, then it becomes a bit easier. Now that you know, at your very core, why you want to change your life you simply make choices based on that goal. For example, let’s say your motivation is to avoid going on diabetes medication after being told your glucose levels are too high. To do this you have to lose weight by starting to exercise and changing your eating habits. Not going on medication should hopefully outweigh the desire for a donut.

So when faced with a decision that could impact your goals, stop and think about the choices. For example, when someone leaves donuts in the break room, before you reach for one, ask yourself how this adds to or subtracts from your ability to reach your goal. Think about how you will feel after you have the donut.  Will it really make you feel better to eat the donut or will it feel better when you hit your weight loss goals?

I call this process of finding your motivation and using it to make your decision finding your compass.  Like the captain on a ship, you have a destination to reach and the job of keeping passengers and cargo in good shape. The compass is one of many tools used to help guide the ship to that destination. Your compass, along with your tools of exercise and balanced, healthful eating, will get you to your goal.

My compass is my desire to be fit to travel the world, healthy enough to do anything else I want to do and manage my type 1 diabetes so I can be first in line for a cure. What is your compass and how did you find it? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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