Motivation is when you do something you really want to do. If you think about that sentence, it’s no wonder we don’t do whatever “it” is, because we genuinely don’t want to!
So, what has to happen to change from ‘not wanting’ and not only be able to force ourselves to do it, but to overcome the objections and actually want to do it?
The answer is to distort time in your mind, and imagine how amazing it would be if you had already done it and cashed in on the benefits. We have essentially two ways of thinking, one immediate, instinctive and totally reactive, and a second which is more analytical and slower. We use both systems of thinking all the time in different situations, for example if you see a face you perceive as angry coming towards you, it evokes an immediate response, whereas if you’re presented with a complicated anagram to solve, then you have to do some processing before you arrive at your answer.
When we’re exposed to every day triggers, like vending machines full of the foods you’re trying to avoid, often our quick thinking automatically evokes a response and strong desire for the food. However, if we can take a fraction of a second (which is the difference between using fast or slow thinking) then we have the ability to keep our eyes on the prize and not have the chocolate.
Keeping ‘Your Eyes on The Prize’ (EOTP) was the subject of an interesting study where they took unfit overweight individuals and presented them with a route to power walk. Half of the group had been taught to focus on the benefits of the activity and defocus their surroundings, looking only at the finish line, and the others had no instruction at all. The EOTP group assessed the distance either accurately or to be less than it actually was, whereas the other group overestimated how far it was. Immediately the perception of how hard the activity was going to be had changed. The study was repeated but this time the group were given weights and taught to power walk. The EOTP group completed the exercise on average 23% quicker, and burned more calories.
So what can we learn from this? For a start, it’s clear that the EOTP method is a valuable strategy when facing an otherwise unpopular task! And this in itself engages our slower thinking.
One of the ways to do this is to be really clear what the benefits of the changes you want to make are going to be. If you want to lose weight – why? If you’re using the same reasons that haven’t yet worked as a strong enough incentive, then they are not going to work any better now. You need a new reason. If you are keeping your eye on your prize – what is the prize?
Those of you that have trained with me know that I have a very strong belief that we need to treat our bodies with a loving respect, as they are where we live. You might think that the building you sleep in is where you live, but it’s not. Your body is your true home. Without you in it – it’s just a corpse, but your spirit and life essence gives it life. It’s a divine gift, something beyond precious. And yet many people disrespect their bodies on a daily basis.
If you truly looked after your body, how would it repay you? Just think about that for a moment, and write down everything that comes to your mind. Imagine your body had a voice and said…
“Hi – I am doing my best to give you an amazing quality of life’s experiences here, but I need a little help from you. Here’s the deal: stop filling me with stuff that it takes all my energy to process (that’s energy that could be doing amazing things for you) and then let me stagnate for hours on end. If instead you nourish me with energy giving foods that allow me to repair and renew my cells, and create better moods and feelings, and if you move me around so that I can become supple and slim, I promise I will enrich your life experience in ways you cannot possibly imagine.”