A common question that I am asked by my patients is: “What motivates YOU to stay fit and healthy? It is a personal question, but one that I don’t mind sharing for the greater good. I love how most people think that I workout and practice yoga daily, I eat a vegan diet, never indulge in a treat and sing kumbaya with my friends and family (ok I made the last one up, but you know what I mean). I am truly flattered, but I am human, people! I live a normal life with daily stresses. I try to exercise 3-4 times a week, and do my best to eat whole foods that nourish my body, with a few indulgences every now and again. I am not perfect, but I always strive to do better. I decided to get a little vulnerable and share the answers to this question because I think it is important for you to understand me and what drives me to stay healthy and fit. Maybe you can relate and connect with some of my biggest motivators.
Motivator #1. My Patients/Followers. Yes, that is you! I believe whole-heartedly in the motto “practice what you preach”. When I spend countless hours each week blogging and posting content on social media or advising people in my office to eat well, manage stress, exercise etc., it acts as a reminder for me to do the same. It is not always easy to do but I strive to be a good role model for all of you. I am authentic by nature and what you see is what you get. I also understand that if I don’t take care of myself, I cannot take care of others. So thanks to all my patients, near and far, you motivate me as much as I motivate you.
Motivator #2. Self-Love. This was not something that came easy for me and it is something a lot of people struggle with. A lesser known fact about me is that beginning in adolescence and into my teenage years, I suffered from a condition called anorexia nervosa and in later years, binge eating disorder. Both of these conditions result from a lack of self love. In fact, it was an act of neglect, abuse and hate for my body. It wasn’t until I started my Naturopathic Education where I learned how to love and appreciate myself. I was taught self-care practices and how to prioritize my needs and wants. I want to clarify that self- love is not arrogance or boasting about one’s self; instead, it is the love that feeds the body nourishing foods, allows for rest, ensures healthy activity, talks positively to one’s self, is forgiving and creates safe boundaries in relationships. Once you have this love, all your choices and actions will come from this, including being positive and living more healthy. Start slowly by choosing one activity a day that demonstrates self love. It could be ensuring you have 3 meals a day or getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night. This may sound silly, but I give my patients a self-love journal to fill out each day. It holds them accountable and acts as a gentle reminder to think about themselves a little more. It amazes people how little they care for themselves. Try it yourself for one week. If you want a great read pertaining to love and self-love pick up Loveability by Robert Holden. I highly recommend it.
Motivator #3. My Future Goals: Although I understand that focusing too much on the future is not a good thing; however, in regards to the motivation aspect, this keeps me focused on my health and fitness priorities. My goals for the future are to have a healthy family. I want to be a healthy mom who can play an active role in my children’s life and their children’s lives. I love to travel and would love to travel with my husband with no limitations. I want to live life to the fullest in all stages of my life. I don’t want to exist or merely survive on this planet, I wish to THRIVE! This means that I must care for myself NOW. My glimpse into the future every so often keeps me motivated each present day. I create a vision board each year and although it changes, there is always a picture or vision of good health, fitness and vitality. If you have not made a vision board before, (one of Oprah’s favourite things to do and she claims it works!) give it a try!
Motivator #4. My Positive Mindset/Attitude: This takes practice and on-going effort, but when mastered, you can do anything! In the past, I had a very negative attitude towards my health and my habits reflected that. I was very restrictive with my dieting and calorie counting. I saw food as the “enemy” and was scared to eat it. I would compensate by exercising excessively and would feel guilty if I didn’t exercise, especially if I ate “bad” food. Does this sound familiar to anyone? The best part is, through all this I was not reaching my fitness goals of losing weight and was straight up miserable. I entered a vicious cycle of regret, guilt and blame. I realized that my negative attitude was not helping me achieve the goals I wanted. So I slowly started to change my attitude. It was only when I changed my thoughts to be more positive was I able to lose weight (40lbs!) and keep it off. This did not happen over night. How did I do this? I started by forgiving myself for all my self-destructive habits. This is very hard, but essential in keeping a positive mindset. I then started working on enjoying things in moderation with NO GUILT. Yes, weight loss and weight maintenance can happen with a cheat meal every now and then, but only if there are no negative thoughts and emotions around it. I admit, I sometimes eat chocolate, ice cream and Ketchup chips (my salty indulgence). This is seldom, but when I do, I have no guilt. Imagine that! What a freeing experience. Research shows that “skinny” people have a different mentality than overweight individuals. Skinny people do not obsess over food. They eat when they are hungry and they do not have emotional attachments to the food they eat. I urge you to lose the negative thoughts, the “all or nothing” approach because it will not help you lose weight and keep it off. Instead, keep your thoughts positive and have an attitude that you can do anything. If you slip up, forgive yourself and be positive you will do better.
There you have it! My top 4 motivators for staying healthy and fit. If you would like more of where this came from, sign up for my newsletters to be sure you don’t miss out and you get the goods in your inbox.
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Dr. Jen Cisternino,ND