the motivation curve
Back when I was in the midst of what I considered an unhealthy life, I lived for all-or-nothing. Something would light a fire under me and I’d decide it was time to “get healthy”. I’d go out and buy all the diet foods I could find and plan out an overly-aggressive workout schedule. I’d say things like, “I’m never eating dessert again.” or, when I was really in the depths of my disordered eating, “I’m not eating anything at all today.” Obviously, these extreme expectations were just setting myself up for failure. I might last a few hours, or sometimes a few days, but eventually the extremes would prove impossible and my plans would implode. I’d slip up and miss a 5am workout or I’d not be able to resist a cupcake and with those hiccups, my all-or-nothing approach would fail. I’d throw all caution to the wind after a hiccup and end up eating a dozen cupcakes or swearing off the gym forever. There was no room in my plan for missteps, learning curves or mistakes. If my record wasn’t perfect, then I might as well make it as bad as possible, right?
Wrong. I mean, if I got pulled over for speeding and got a ticket, I wouldn’t say “screw it!” and then go on a crime rampage, would I? So why was I applying that philosophy to my health?
I think the moment I “got healthy” was when I realized that true health came from forgiveness. There is nothing at all healthy about the all-or-nothing philosophy. We’re not perfect, and the expectation that we are going to fit into a perfect set of health guidelines is simply absurd. Life is full of bad days, low willpower and stress, and if we don’t plan for those, we’re of course going to fail.
Part of forgiving myself was realizing that, as a human being, I ebb and flow in all areas of my life. Sometimes I’m a rockstar at my job. Sometimes I’m terrible. Sometimes I’m the best wife on the planet. Sometimes…not so much. And sometimes, my health and wellness motivation is sky-high and sometimes it isn’t. This is what I call the motivation curve. And it’s totally normal and healthy. It doesn’t mean I’m weak or not dedicated, it just means I’m human and realistic.
It’s basically understanding that there is a bigger picture. Bigger than a missed workout or an extra cupcake. The motivation curve is the sum of all the decisions made over an extended period of time and is constantly moving and changing. Sometimes I’ll have lots of motivation and you’ll see me at the gym twice a day for weeks on end. Sometimes I can’t find a drop of motivation and you couldn’t pay me enough to start sweating. Neither of those worry me. Because the motivation curve always balances itself out overtime. Would it be awesome if I was 100% dedicated 100% of the time? Of course! But that’s certainly not my nature, and I don’t think it’s the nature of most of us, either.
So whenever I find myself in a motivation lull (like, uh, right now) I try not to worry about it so much. Because in the end, the motivation curve will balance it all out. Just as long as I’m aware of where I am, I’m fine. I’m aware that I’m currently in one of deep low points of my motivation curve, but I’m also aware that it’s not permanent, and I wont lose my vigilance.
I might not be all that motivated right now, but I find myself in a much healthier space than I was a few years ago. I’ll pick the go-with-the-flow mentality over the all-or-nothing one any day. I just hope my motivation curve hits an upswing soon.