Have you ever joined a gym, only to have your membership go unused after the first few weeks? How about a diet that failed, despite your best intentions?
In her keynote speech at the BCBSND Worksite Wellness Summit held in Fargo on Tuesday, October 3, Dr. Michelle Segar talked about the science of motivation and addressed the reasons we often fail at sustaining a healthy lifestyle.
The vast majority of people today struggle to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. They watch their own good intentions and best-laid plans evaporate.
No one sets out to fail. We start out with energy and purpose, but Segar suggests that when we dive into a substantial change, we rarely stop to ask ourselves why we’re making the change. That ends up in a vicious cycle of failure.
The answer to sustainable motivation, Segar says, comes from within. It requires reflection on the societal, cultural and familial messages that have been shaping our beliefs about physical activity for many years. But a deep understanding is the real magic bullet that will let us develop and take ownership of our personalized maps to long-term behavior and better results.
In her book, No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness, Segar details how to turn the cycle of failure into a self-sustaining lifetime of healthy behavior. Here are five principles to doing so:
1. Meaning matters.
Get to the “why” of exercise. Studies show that those who exercise to lose weight or be healthy actually exercise 32 percent less than those who do it because it feels good. There’s a right “why” and a wrong “why.”
2. Think of exercise as a gift, not a chore.
If your “why” is wrong, that is, you have some abstract motive, exercise will be a chore. If you have the right “why,” you’re looking at the immediate benefits, and exercise will become a gift.
3. Look for opportunities to move.
Everything counts—a minute here and a minute there—it all adds up. Think of your day as a treasure hunt of chances to move.
4. Prioritize self-care.
Identify the No. 1 thing you need to do to have a great day and make it a priority. Michelle’s is a good night’s sleep. Her husband’s is a workout.
5. Develop a learning mindset.
With this mindset, you become a constant experimenter and there’s no such thing as failure. You view everything objectively, as data, and use it to shape future behavior.
If you missed the summit, you can find Michelle’s book with most online retailers.