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Motivation 101: Keeping Your Elephant On Track

By Andrew Rimmer |
You must have been in this situation before:

Feel really motivated to lose weight, get in shape and feel healthier. You start going to the gym every night after work, taking a salad to work for lunch and you start to feel better.

But results are slow. After a couple of weeks, you’re only 4lbs down, you feel less bloated, but don’t think you look that much different when you look in the mirror.

Work is busy, you feel under pressure and your stress levels increase.

Motivation starts to wane and cravings start to creep up again. Eventually these get the better of you and after a tough day, you just need a few glasses of wine and a bag of crisps to help you de-stress and unwind.

Then next day, you beat yourself up, think, “what was I thinking, I was doing so well and I’ve just sent myself backwards,” and feel guilty.

So you go hardcore again, until the same thing happens again and again…

It’s alright when motivation is high and things are going well, but when things get hard and motivation is a bit short, then it becomes easy to reach for the sugary, high calorie treats and booze to chill out.

This is because your brain has 2 parts, your emotional brain and logical brain.

Your emotional brain is like an elephant; big and strong and makes decisions on what feels good to it at the time, so it can easily get dragged off track.

Your logical brain is like the elephant handler. It thinks clearly and logically and works hard to keep the elephant on the logical path.

Take the example above, you’re trying to lose weight, so when you get offered biscuits, or cake in the office when you feel stressed, your logical brain is going, “no I’m on a diet, you shouldn’t be eating those,” but after a while, when it gets tired, your emotional brian (the elephant), runs wild and goes for as much cake as it likes.

When your logical brain regains control, it beats the elephant for going off track, this is what kicks out the feelings of guilt, disappointment and frustration with yourself.

So how do you get your logical brain and emotional brain working as a team and pulling in the same direction?

First of all you need to set clear, specific and measurable goals that give your logical brain the path to follow.

You need to know exactly what you want to achieve, by when and write it down.

For example, “I want to lose 2 stone, be a 34” waist again, be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping and feel like I’ve got loads of energy by Christmas”

After this, you need to attach some positive emotions to this, that appeal to your emotional brain, that make the elephant want to follow the path that the logical brain has started you off on.

Why is it so important for you to achieve these goals?

What are all the benefits you will gain?

How will your life be better?

How will it benefit your friends and family?

How will you feel when you’ve achieved those goals?

Will it make you more productive at work?

Will it help you deal with stress better?

How will your health improve?

By attaching these positive emotions to your logical goals, when you are faced with these high calorie treats, or using alcohol as a stress management tool, your logical brain thinks it’s a bad idea and your emotional brain would rather pass up the short term pleasure of some sweet foods, or a nice wine, for the long-term happiness of looking and feeling great and being healthier and able to spend better quality time with the family at home.

So what do you want to achieve and why is that so important to you?

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