Many of us are motivated by external goals like training for a race, looking good for an event, or feeling good in a bathing suit. As we know, a lot of these external motivators have been postponed or canceled. So how do we stay motivated when no one’s watching? After surrendering myself to quarantine life for the first week, I realized no one was going to get me out of my funk but me. So I thought about how I would take control of my situation and (hopefully) come out better for it in the end…
CREATE A ROUTINE
Did anyone else find themselves thinking they had all day to get things done, and then suddenly it was 4 pm and you still hadn’t showered? Between sleeping in, eating, talking on the phone (a lot), eating again, and reading quarantine memes, who has time to be productive? The answer is no one. Now that we have all settled into our new normal, we should have a pretty good idea of what each day looks like. The only difference is, we don’t have many of the external cues reminding us to stay on track. Among the first to go are designated meal times and exercise. Without a routine, we often find ourselves skipping meals or continuously grazing, eating late into the night, forgetting to drink water, or pushing off exercise until the next day. So how do we stay on track?
Be mindful of consistent meal & snack times: You probably don’t have a co-worker next to you asking if you want to go to lunch. Make a point to set (loosely) structured meal times so you don’t skip meals or go too long without eating. Set reminders on your phone or put a schedule on the fridge. Aim to eat something every 3-4 hours… hangry decisions are never good decisions.
Schedule exercise like an appointment: Whenever we say, “I’ll get to it later” we rarely do. Schedule a live class, plan different workouts for different days, look at the weather ahead of time and commit to a long walk, run, or hike. Without a plan it’s easy to fall off track.
Leave a water bottle at your workspace: One of the first things to forget about without a routine is hydration. Drinking enough water not only increases energy level and boosts metabolism, but it helps strengthen our immune system as well. Aim for half your body weight in ounces.
Set a reasonable time to get in bed: It’s easy to fall out of a normal sleeping pattern when you’re working from home, but staying up later also means we are often eating later into the night. Be mindful of how late you are snacking and WHY you are snacking. Try setting a “cutoff time” for yourself and a bedtime reminder until you adjust to your new schedule.
FIND YOUR INTERNAL MOTIVATION
When your external motivator is gone, it can be easy to lose sight of what your goal was in the first place. Maybe you stopped training for a race, maybe you gave up on your summer bod until further notice. But at the end of the day, it’s still something that was, and is, important to you. So, how do we keep ourselves motivated?
Find a deeper reason: Staying motivated for a weight loss goal can feel relatively easy when you know you’re going to be in a bathing suit all summer. But when you’ve worn nothing but sweat pants and pajamas for the past couple weeks, it’s easy to postpone that goal. Finding a deeper reason might be what keeps you on track long term. Instead of viewing food as “good” or “bad” try looking at what food can do for your body. Whether you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, your blood sugar, or the number on the scale, food can be a powerful form of medicine. Diets high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and spices like garlic, ginger, and turmeric, can help boost immunity and promote gut health. While processed foods, added sugar, unhealthy fats, and artificial ingredients… not so much. Staying on track to look good in a bathing suit might not be your motivation anymore, but trying to prevent a cold, flu, or virus could be.
Set small, attainable goals: When we try setting overly ambitious goals it can be easy to give up on them completely. If you’re finding it hard to stick to your normal exercise routine, whether it’s out of your control or not, ask yourself what you would enjoy or be willing to do instead. Don’t feel like running? Go for a long walk or bike ride. Can’t go to the gym? Try something you might not normally do, like yoga or a dance body moves class... it's quite the workout! At a time like this, our mental health is as important as our physical health, and something is ALWAYS better than nothing.
Spice it up: When you find joy in an activity, it becomes easier to do. If you’re getting sick of the same meals that you usually cook, try recreating a few of your favorite restaurant go-to’s. If you usually rely on the food court for lunch and takeout for dinner, now is the time to practice cooking and making meals you enjoy. Your bank account will thank you.