Why motivation is a critical step to eating right
Somewhere along the way, after counseling thousands of clients about food and nutrition, creating hundreds of handouts, writing books and articles, teaching classes, delivering presentations and providing media interviews, I realized that all of the valuable nutrition information I was disseminating did not automatically motivate those on the receiving end to eat better. The only real measure of success for all of my efforts has been the improved knowledge about food and nutrition people have gained from me. But seeing that knowledge put into practice is another matter entirely.
Finding the motivation to act on one’s knowledge of how to lead a healthier lifestyle is a private matter. It cannot be taught, but must be discovered within. And it must be a deeply powerful motivator because we must draw upon it every day, several times a day, to reap the benefits. Making good food choices just three out of seven days a week doesn’t cut it. Nor does exercising like a fiend after every binge.
My motivators for eating right and exercising regularly have been clear to me for most of my life. I had the motivation long before I had all of the knowledge acquired as a registered dietitian about the do’s and don’ts of living well. Those forces have never weakened their hold over me. With each new day and every new situation I have faced, the decision to make wise food choices and remain active have always won out over all other temptations and distractions. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that my life is a bore – far from it. I just don’t lose sight of the prize.
Here’s what has motivated me to maintain a healthy body weight for over 50 years and better than average stamina, strength and flexibility for a woman my age:
Low pain threshold. I don’t like to hiccup, let along cough. Knowing certain behaviors can increase my risk for pain and discomfort is like an inoculation against living carelessly.
Belief in prevention. Most treatments involve some risk and lots of side effects, not to mention pain, so preventing injury and illness has always made more sense to me. By living clean I pay it forward.
Fear of hospitals. Maybe it was that first time I visited a hospital as a little girl and smelled that smell when I exited the elevator on the ward where my grandmother was a patient, but I can still recall wanting to run away as fast as I could. I have never gotten over my aversion to hospitals and do all that I can to avoid them.
If you haven’t found your personal motivation to eat smart and stay fit, this is where your journey should begin. If you have found it, I’d love to hear what works for you?