Motivation: Do You Focus on the Positive?

positive motivation

We all need a little motivation now and then. I know I do.

While I am not currently in the weight loss mode, I still have to motivate myself to live a healthy lifestyle.

Some people I talk to look at me and say, “Well, it’s easy for you now because you’ve lost all your weight.” Uh, no.

I still have to be aware of what and how much I eat, I still have to exercise regularly, and I constantly try and learn new things about healthy food.

And, I still have to be internally motivated to do all of those things.

It can be easy to bemoan all the work we have to do to either maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. I am sometimes guilty of complaining when I drag myself out of bed early in the morning to walk before the day gets started. There are times when I sigh inwardly before I pull out my NutriMill and grind our wheat for homemade tortillas or bread. And there are times when I think about cookies in bright blue packages or M&M’s.

While it is fine to sigh inwardly occasionally and grumble to yourself when you are putting on your shoes to go for a run or head to the gym, if you do too much of that complaining, you may demotivate yourself.

So today I wanted to encourage you to motivate yourself by focusing on the positive, especially if you feel yourself waning in your dedication to stay the course in your healthy lifestyle.

Here’s a way to use positive self-talk when you find yourself moving past the occasional grumble and engaging in some serious complaining. I want you to consciously focus on the positive rather than rolling in the negative.

1. Instead of saying, I really do not want to exercise today. Say, I am so grateful that I am able to get up and exercise today.

In my obese days, there were times where I got afraid that if I kept gaining weight that I would be unable to walk any longer. And that might have happened if instead of losing weight 15 years ago, I kept gaining at the rate that I was. So if start focusing on the negative aspects of exercise, I turn my focus to the positive thought that I am able to exercise. It makes a huge difference.

2. Flip around this common statement. Do not say, “I am tired of healthy eating and the effort it takes.” Instead, remind yourself of what your food choices looked like before and how eating an unhealthy diet made you feel.

I actually use this reminder for my husband (sorry John) and my kids, as I don’t get into the complaining mode over healthy living because remembering how bad junk food left me feeling is something I still have not forgotten. If John complains about the lack of “snacks” (read “junk”) in the house, I remind him of how badly we used to eat and what that did to us.

3. Turn around excuses and turn them into goals.

If you say to yourself, “I cannot cook worth a darn.” Turn that phrase into a motivator. “I will learn to cook” and get going on a new goal. If you whine and say to yourself, “I cannot find time to workout. Turn that phrase into a challenge to yourself to find the time and get it done.

That’s how I keep my motivation to keep living a healthy lifestyle positive and upbeat. Focusing on the negative never did me any good, and I would wager that it does not do many of you any good either.

What do you think? Can you think of ways to flip negative thoughts into positive ones? Would it help? Diane

38 thoughts on “Motivation: Do You Focus on the Positive?

  1. Gigi says:

    You’re absolutely right, Diane. Looking at things in a different light really can make all the difference. Instead of taking on the mentality of “I have to”, I try to turn it around into “I want to do this because it’ll make me feel better.” Switching from “have to” to “want to” makes a big difference for me.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      You said it very well. If we want it, we often take the steps to get it done. But if we feel like we “have” to do it, we sometimes drag our feet or do the exact opposite.

  2. Kim says:

    I’m going to refer my sister to your blog – I think you will be very inspirational for her!!
    I love the way you turn a negative into a positive!!

  3. HappinessSavouredHot says:

    I used to work with people on a smoking cessation program, and a lot of them said:

    “When I feel like having a cigarette real bad, I stop and remind myself of the reasons I quit in the first place.”

    Borrowing from their wisdom I talk to myself in a similar way when I feel like bingeing on sweets.

  4. Jody - Fit at 55 says:

    It is hard to maintain year in & year out Diane – I get it! 🙂 This is a life thing & bodies change as we age so more motivating to be done! 🙂

    Yes, we need to realize we are lucky even to be doing what we are doing! 🙂

  5. KCLAnderson (Karen) says:

    Great post Diane! For me the key is understanding how a thought *feels* in my body…because ultimately, it’s how I feel that drives my actions. It’s also about understanding the difference between one of those ingrained negative thoughts that truly hold us back versus our intuition telling us to think twice about something. For example, “I hate exercising” versus “I don’t want to train for a 5K.”

  6. Lily says:

    There are days when I would hate exercise, but I drag my butt to the gym anyways because I tell myself “you can do anything for 30minutes!”

  7. Joe says:

    I think the biggest negative I plant into my head is time constraints. I tell myself an hour is all I need to exercise and the only thing I’ll be cutting into is couch/tv time so what am I really losing? Nothing.

  8. Gwen says:

    First and foremost, I just remember how healthy, more energetic, more in control, and more at peace I feel now, as compared to each and every time I eat poison/junk food. Daily motivation! 🙂

  9. vickie says:

    Everything I had done for myself I have seen as positive. Everything. What I have gained is so much more important than what I have lost. Because mostly what I lost was self sabotage.

    And now, fairly good amount of time in maintenance, I still see myself as moving forward in a positive way. My food continues to improve, my exercise becomes smarter/more efficient, my inner work continues (boundaries, perceptions, etc), sleep, water, socialization, etc. I do not feel as if I am resting on my laurels nor my haunches. I continue to move forward and I see all of that work as positive for me and my family.

    Really good post.

    Diane – what age was your daughter when she read My Antonia? What age does she think is appropriate for that book?

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      She read My Antonia when she was about 15 or so. I’ll have to ask her if whether she thought that was too young.

      I too feel as though I am still making positive changes in my life, even after all these years of weight maintenance and I rarely look on my lifestyle as restricting. Instead I see it as freeing me up to do the things I want and need to do.

      • Babbalou says:

        Totally off topic here, but I have to share a funny story about age-appropriate reading. My friend’s son found a book in the car when he was young and looking at it said, “I can’t read this – it’s not appropriate. They used the C-word!” My friend, shocked, looked at the book later since she didn’t remember it containing particularly poor language. The C- word he was referring to? Cr@p.

        Love this topic (the real topic) today. I have always been more motivated by positive reinforcement than by negative. I remember as a teenager, hearing my mother say on the phone, “I’m lucky – I really don’t have to worry about Babbalou. She’s got a good head on her shoulders!” It made me want to live up to her opinion.

        I have always focused on making healthy choices as a positive, and chosen not to focus on what I couldn’t or didn’t want to eat. My mantra, after a slip up, is “I’m back!”

  10. L says:

    I’ve been challenged lately to do something, anything, just one little thing to improve my situation and make eating right and exercising more enjoyable. It is enjoyable, when the sun is out, and the trees are in bloom. Everything looks new and fresh, how can I not be more optimistic? Add to that my determination to start new habits and add to the them weekly, and I think I’ve created a recipe for success. Thanks for the post, Diane. Good words, aptly spoken.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      That sounds like a great recipe for success. We often throw around the words “small changes” but they are valid and sound words. Small changes not only add up to big ones, but they can also help motivate us!

  11. Tim says:

    Haha, your husband sounds like me when I say the same things to my wife about there not being enough “snacks”. One of my big problems has always been the convenience of junk food snacks (vending machines). Preparing a bunch of healthy snacks ahead of time has definitely helped that … and I definitely feel better physically when I’m not eating all of the junk food.

  12. KarenJ says:

    Great topic Diane! It’s not always easy to do the same thing day in and day out without the excitement of continuing to lose weight. Most of the time I feel very good about my lifestyle, and I NEVER lose motivation, but there are times I feel discouraged. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of friends who share my lifestyle, so it can be difficult when going out or when there is a party at the office. I take solice in the fact that I am healthier and at a healthier weight than most people I know. Feeling good about myself and my accomplishments helps me stay positive. I, like you, feel that I am a role model to those in my circle and that also makes me feel good about what I do.

    • Diane Carbonell says:

      That’s awesome Karen. I have had people who I did not even really know come up to me and tell me that they admire my dedication to healthy eating, etc. Those little things also help keep me motivated because I want to be a good example, not a bad one.

  13. Mike says:

    What an awesome post Diane, really appreciate the tips on staying positive and motivated. I know for me, having an attitude of gratitude really helps me stay positive, and a list of goals I want to achieve helps me stay motivated to pursue them 🙂

  14. Fiona Jesse Giffords says:

    Motivation is always required as it keeps you alive, keep you going and stay focused to your goals. Without motivation we can’t go much far to achieve our goals.

  15. Dr. J says:

    One thing about me is that whether I have positive thoughts or negative ones, I still do what needs to be done. I look at it as being realistic.

  16. Sarah says:

    Great tips.

    Love the one about turning your excuses into goals!

    Its also important that when you speak to yourself connect those words with a positive image and even more importantly with positive emotions/feelings.

    Two books that are excellent on this subject and have really helped me are;

    Release Your Breaks by James Newman

    What To Say When You Talk To Yourself by Shad Helmstetter

  17. Lisa Finley says:

    I just found your blog today and I’m so glad that I did! I’ve lost 50 lbs., but still have 15 to go. But i’ve been a year-long plateau. The pounds have started creeping back and i can’t allow that to happen. I’ve been struggling to stay motivated. Your blog has reminded me of the reasons I started this journey and how much I want to reach goal. Thank you!

  18. Eric says:

    Thinking positively has always been my downside. I need to start focusing on the positive because nothing good seems to happen to me when I’m negative – my weight creeps back up and I just feel a little down. Definitely working on this 🙂

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