Motivation vs. Discipline: How to See Results & Never Diet Again

Embarking on a nutrition journey can be exhilarating, especially when you witness the initial progress fueled by motivation and the excitement of starting a new routine. In the first month, rapid changes may occur, including the loss of water weight, which can overshadow later weight loss efforts. However, as time progresses, motivation might wane, and the journey can begin to feel like hard work. This is where the power of discipline and understanding your “why” become essential. Today, we’ll explore the interplay between motivation and discipline, and how to maintain a healthier lifestyle while navigating life’s many bumps in the road.

The Power of Motivation and Instant Results

At the beginning of your nutrition journey, you’re full of motivation and enthusiasm. The anticipation of change and the thrill of new habits push you forward. During this period, you’re likely to witness quick progress, and your brain is wired to associate these results with your newfound efforts. Some of this early progress may be due to losing water weight, which might give the impression of faster results than later stages.

With any change in diet, you’re eating less than you normally would and this naturally includes eating less carbohydrates. With every gram of carbohydrate consumption, you gain 3 grams of water! If you reduce your carbohydrate consumption by 50 grams, you will lose 150 grams of water. This may not sound like a lot, but if you’ve been on a diet before, you know exactly what I’m talking about! The first week of your new diet you lose 5 lbs and you now have this expectation to continue to lose at that pace. Personally, I’ll have my clients start off slow. I don’t want them radically changing their habits to then one day hate this new lifestyle and miss their favorite foods and dietary habits to then quit and gain it all back. But say this is you, you lose a ton of weight in the first couple months and then your weight loss stalls. What happens next?

Discovering Your WHY: Reigniting the Motivational Spark

As time goes on, motivation can dwindle, and sticking to a healthier lifestyle might start feeling like a challenge. Like previously stated, your weight loss drastically slows down; maybe losing a pound a week or nothing at all. This is when it’s crucial to revisit your “why.” Why did you embark on this journey? What are your deeper motivations for wanting a healthier lifestyle? When creating your why, it has to be meaningful to you. If you just say, “My why is that I want to lose weight and look good.” Well… I have bad news for you. It’s just not enough.

Your why should be connected to something that is meaningful to you, that can bring you out of a slump when you feel like giving up. A few common ‘why statements’ include losing weight to play with my grandchildren with no aches and pains, being medication free and visiting the doctor less, and to be able to look in the mirror and finally love my body. These examples show that it’s not just about losing weight and looking like a ‘supermodel’. They have value and meaning to my clients and it’s a beautiful realization when someone finds their true why. Finding your true why can help you connect with your core reasons by reigniting that motivational spark and give you the strength to persevere.

The Transformative Power of Discipline

When motivation takes a back seat, discipline comes to the forefront. Discipline is the key that keeps you going when the initial excitement fades. It’s the driving force that enables you to follow through with your healthy habits consistently. Discipline is activated when you realize that maintaining these habits makes you feel good and leads to tangible results. I’ll be honest, this is why I continue to live a healthy lifestyle is because it makes me feel good inside and out. Eating plenty of vegetables and going to the gym help me feel good, but also live a happier life. To me, this is priceless and this gives me the motivation and discipline to perform my daily healthy habits because I never want to go back to the way I felt before. 

But it’s not always easy to have discipline. Sometimes in the moments of life when you feel like it’s too hard to move forward, discipline fails and it’s because of your current mindset. For example, in the midst of chaos, the last thing you want to tell anyone is to relax. If you say that, you may receive a few choice words from the person in the middle of a meltdown. So what to do when you feel like the world is crumbling and discipline seems too difficult to achieve… reframe your thoughts, breathe the feelings in and then out to release them, and engage in a coping skill (listening to music, going for a walk, talking with a friend who can be empathetic). Give it some time and within a few hours, you can then tap into your discipline!

Embracing Setbacks and Room for Failure

No journey is without its challenges, and your nutrition path is no exception. There will be weeks when you feel unmotivated or times when you fall off track. The key to success is not to be deterred by these setbacks but rather to embrace them as part of the process. Creating a kind and supportive environment for yourself, allowing room for failure, will help you continue to grow and learn from your experiences.

Treat yourself with kindness when life’s many obstacles come your way. It is highly unrealistic to think your journey will be without failure. It’s how you react to these moments that change your nutrition journey. Like I always say… if you never give up, do you really fail?

Strategies for Cultivating Discipline and Staying on Course

  • Set clear, achievable goals: Break down your long-term goals into smaller, manageable steps, celebrating each achievement along the way.
  • Establish a routine: Incorporate your healthy habits into a daily routine to make them second nature.
  • Seek support: Join a community of like-minded individuals or enlist the help of a nutrition coach or a friend to stay accountable.
  • Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that progress takes time. Treat yourself with the same understanding you would give to a close friend.

In the journey of nutrition and healthy living, motivation sets the wheels in motion, but it’s discipline that keeps them turning. Embrace the initial excitement, discover your deeper motivations, and nurture the discipline required to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Remember that setbacks are natural and, rather than deterring you, they can serve as stepping stones toward growth and success. Stay focused, stay resilient, and your nutrition journey will lead to lasting results and a happier, healthier you.

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