Staying motivated into the New Year

Healthy eating and physical activity motivation tips.

What motivates you to make healthy choices and be physically active? What do you do to stay motivated with your health? Motivation is different for everyone and is crucial in maintaining long-term healthy eating and physical activity. But, it can also be one of the most challenging.

Motivation can be present in many ways. You may notice looser fitting clothes that are a result of portion control and eating fewer calories. Taking the stairs does not cause shortness of breath anymore because you have increased your physical activity. These are two sources of motivation, but – motivation can also be difficult to maintain because you have accomplished these results. It is ironic that our progress itself can make it difficult to stay motivated in our healthy goals.

It is possible to stay motivated long-term and is key for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Some tips to help you stay motivated:

  • Always be aware of the goals that you have already reached and the goals that you plan to reach.
  • Recognize your successes – credit yourself for all of your positive changes and work on keeping the momentum.
  • Keep visible signs of your progress – post a graph of your weight loss; or mark your activity on a map of your neighborhood or a destination you would like to visit.
  • Keep track of your weight, eating and activity to help prevent slowly drifting back into old habits. Track what you eat at least one week per month and monitor your weight daily if you start to gain.
  • Add variety to your routine – this helps to keep from getting bored. Experiment with a variety of low-fat dishes and add fruits and vegetables to your meals. Don’t deny yourself social eating, but have a plan that you can stick to before the festivities.
  • Find ways to challenge yourself – these should be specific and short-term, like “I will eat breakfast three days this week.” The reward does not need to be fancy or costly. It could be allowing time to start a favorite hobby. Do not reward yourself with food.
  • Create friendly competition – connect with a friend to see who can be physically active every day for a month. If you both are, what will be your reward?
  • Slips are normal. If this happens, immediately figure out how you can get back on track. Slips help you look forward rather than back.
  • Look to others for support and help to stay motivated.

There are many ways to stay motivated. Pick the way you believe will work best for you. If it does not work as well as you believed it should, pick another and try again. You can accomplish great things and take important steps to a healthier life. Keep sight of your successes and progresses. Knowing what you can do helps keep you motivated to continue.

Michigan State University Extension is available and welcomes any questions you have on health and nutrition. To learn more about chronic health, prevention and nutrition contact an educator in your area or visit

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