Getting Healthy: How to Stay Motivated

Get a buddy—whether it's your dog or an online community

The nice weather—and the skimpier clothes that come with it—definitely gives me the kick in the pants I need to reignite my health efforts. But even though I’ve started running and eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, my scale is creeping upwards. Not fair! With a wedding dress fitting jsut around the corner, and the walk down the aisle in September, I am so not willing to accept even a five-pound weight gain, no matter what the experts say about not focusing too much on the scale.

In an attempt to dial down my frustrations, this week I’ve decided to turn to the women on the iVillage message boards for some inspiration and support.

My first stop: the Dieting Buddies board. There, delightfulscents2008 asked her fellow dieters, “What’s the hardest part of getting healthy for you?”

According to rjohn99, snacking is her downfall. “I am working on not snacking. I do well during the day, but in the evenings, I nibble. I try to eat meals, otherwise I get so hungry that I just eat EVERYTHING!”

For ga_girl40, it’s resisting the food that she buys for her teens. “They like their junk food. I try to buy healthier foods for them, but sometimes they want their pizza. I have to plan my meals the day before to be successful.”

Luckily, I usually don’t have to contend with any else’s food preferences but my own. I do the grocery shopping and never buy junk food. But snacking has never really been a problem for me. It’s my portion sizes. I eat out a lot and I am always a member of the clean plate club. I try to divide my meal in two and doggy-bag the leftovers, but you know how that goes. A long dinner conversation with uneaten food sitting in front of you is not the best combination for summoning your will power.

As for my exercise efforts, I’ve always been a power walker. Growing up, I would go on a two-mile walk with my mom and dad after dinner every night. I loved the combination of exercise, fresh air and family time. Every time I visit my parents, who are now 64 and 71, we venture out for even longer jaunts, often covering five or more miles a day. But without them I definitely have a hard time motivating on my own.

So I turned to the girls on the Walk On Rock On Community Challenge board. Walk On Rock On is a four-week walking challenge led by fitness expert Leslie Sansone. She provides daily walking assignments and coaching, and participants can talk about their efforts on the message board. I decided to drop in on their conversation about how they stay motivated to walk every day, and whether they like to walk alone or with a buddy.

“I enjoy walking with a buddy. However, many times that buddy is my Rotty. She will walk to the ends of the earth with me—a true friend and buddy,” says lindal2007.

I can totally relate. When my German shepherd was younger, she made the best workout partner. All she’d have to do is stare me down with her big, imploring eyes, and we’d be out the door within minutes. There’s no better motivator than that.

During her daily walks, Amy, aka knittingdevil, enjoys some hard-earned solitude. “As a soon-to-be mom of four, I prefer [to be] alone with the dog and my iPod. It is a nice way to de-stress after a day of chasing the kiddos and homeschooling, along with the regular housework stuff.”

Maybe Amy’s point is what I need to remember when I don’t feel like working out. I do feel incredibly relaxed after a walk or run, and much more able to handle all the little stresses in life, especially wedding planning. Instead of focusing on how many pounds I have to lose to fit in my dress, I should just zero in on the relief exercise brings me. I do know that even when I have a horrible workout, I still feel a huge sense of accomplishment for finishing it—something I definitely don’t get from the clean plate club.

Video: Gail Saltz, MD: Stick to a Fitness Routine

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