Motivation: How to Get Motivated and Stay That Way

Quick question – 

Have you ever been in a situation where you know there’s something you need to do but you keep putting it off? It could be building a tree house, starting a book or a million other things, but you just keep kicking that can down the road until one day something finally hits you and you tell yourself, ‘I am going to get that done now.’

You get a tremendous burst of energy, you’re all charged up and you feel like you can go out and just conquer the world. So you set your goal, you get your plan together and you jump in with both feet…at first. And as time goes on, your project seems to dwindle. It starts to fade and you start to rationalize and make more and more excuses as to why it doesn’t necessarily need to be done now.

Or maybe New Year’s resolutions are your thing. On January 1st, millions of people resolve to get better, be better and do better. As a matter of fact, year after year three of the top four New Year’s resolutions are to:

  • Exercise more,
  • Lose weight and
  • Eat healthier

But most people who make New Year’s resolutions on January 1st, give up on those resolutions by January 19th – on a day which is fittingly known as Quitters Day[1]. And as many as 90% of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up on them by the middle of February.

So we find ourselves in this never ending ‘new year, new you’ cycle, where in the spring we strive to get in shape for the summer. But we relax those routines when we find a swimwear that covers up the areas we didn’t shape up. Then we give ourselves a pass around the holidays because well, it’s the holidays. And we tell ourselves that next year, next year is the year we’re really going to just buckle down and get in shape.

We all know that cycle.

Goals and Motivation: The Difference Between the Two


A couple of things all of these have in common is that they all have goals to a certain extent and they never get completed. Motivational quote “Goals are the destination. Motivation is the vehicle that gets you there.” ~Lacey Stephens, Founder, iHeartFitness | Millions of people set goals, but most never reach them. Why? There’s one crucial driver that can’t be overlooked – motivation. Motivation is a driving force in reaching our goals. This article shares how to get motivated, and offers tips on staying motivated to help improve your chances of success.The question is ‘why?’ There are actually multiple layers to the answer but motivation is at the heart of it all. Please don’t misunderstand. Specific goals are absolutely necessary, but goals are the destination. Motivation is the vehicle that gets you there. Goals do need to be SMART. They need to be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic and
  • Timebound

So New Year’s resolutions to exercise more, lose weight or eat healthier are all in the same category as limiting your intake for example. They’re all very good ideas but they’re all very vague ideas too (and really hard to track).

There’s a saying that I love, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” That same concept applies here. An idea without a goal is just that, it’s just an idea. But setting a SMART goal to lose 10 pounds by June 1st will help put things in a completely different light. As a matter of fact it’s the foundation for your plan of attack.

The Art of Staying Motivated


My dad had a heart attack when he was 49 and died of heart disease when he was 52. I was pretty athletic until after I had both my girls, so I always considered myself to be in pretty decent shape.

And just so you know, if your mother or sister has a heart attack before she’s 65 or your father or brother has a heart attack before he’s 55, you might be at higher risk for heart attack too[2].

Knowing this and the closer I got to 49, the more I knew I needed to do whatever it took to make sure I didn’t have a heart attack like my dad did. I refused to become a statistic.

So I set a goal to get fit by my 50th birthday. Yes, I did reach that goal but here’s my point. I didn’t confuse my goal with my motivation. My goal was actually made up of several small goals but they were all smart goals. They were all specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound. That time has passed but my motivation to maintain the levels I set in those goals to help make sure I stay in shape hasn’t changed one bit.

How to Get Motivated When Excuses Creep In


Anytime I know I need to work out but I really don’t want to – I go back to my motivation. When I start to rationalize and make deals with myself about eating the way I should to help make sure my heart stays healthy – my motivation kicks in. Well, it slaps me in the face sometimes, but it definitely keeps me going.

My motivation for staying in shape is very simple. I want to do what my dad wasn’t able to – I want to see all my grandkids grow up. That’s it, that’s my motivation. And since neither one of my girls has kids yet, I’m in this for the long haul.

So when you’re ready to put your ideas into action here’s what you need to do.
1) Set SMART goals
Set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound so that you can measure yourself against yourself. You can see your progress and celebrate your progress. But you have to be able to see it in order to make changes if changes are in fact necessary.

2) Find your motivation
Find whatever drives you, find that thing that will push you and sometimes even pull you along to make sure you cross the finish line and you reach those goals.

3) Buckle your seatbelt.

It just might be a very long ride.


[1] Haden, J. (2020, Jan. 3). A Study of 800 Million Activities Predicts Most New Year’sResolutions Will Be Abandoned on January 19: How to Create New Habits That Actually Stick. Retrieved from

[2] Sandmaier, M. (2007). The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

3 Steps to Heart Healthy Meals Using Healthy Foods from the DASH Diet

What do you think of when you hear the term ‘heart healthy eating’? For some it conjures up images of small portions of bland, tasteless foods. Actually, that description couldn’t be further from the truth.

What Foods Are Considered Heart Healthy Foods?


Heart healthy eating stresses fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry (chicken, turkey, quail and hen), fish, nuts and non-tropical vegetable oils[1].

You’re actually encouraged to eat all these foods.

So before you dismiss heart healthy eating as rabbit food, close your eyes and imagine a steaming hot plate of pecan crusted salmon with baked potato wedges and sautéed green beans. Or substitute a juicy chicken breast for the salmon.

Both of those sound absolutely delicious, and yes, both of those are examples of heart healthy meals.

It’s not always what you eat. Sometimes it’s how you eat it.

And like most weight loss and maintenance programs, heart healthy eating limits sugar-sweetened foods, sugar-sweetened beverages and sodium[1].

It goes one step further by also limiting red and processed meats.

Notice I said limits, not eliminates

Is Heart Healthy Eating the Same as DASH Diet?


High blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the risk factors for heart disease, so the DASH Diet is a form of heart healthy eating with specific emphasis on sodium.

The DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) Diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy[2]. It limits fatty meats, full-fat dairy and tropical oils. And like most weight loss and maintenance programs, the DASH Diet also limits sugar-sweetened foods, sugar-sweetened beverages and sodium.

Image from 3 steps to heart healthy meals using healthy foods from the DASH diet

Let’s face it – the best foods on any eating plan are the foods you love the most.

And the best part about heart healthy eating is that you can actually customize a heart healthy plan using the foods you love.

How to Customize Healthy Meals

Customizing your eating plan is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1) Clarification

Get clarification on whether your doctor or healthcare provider has suggested that you

limit certain foods, or eliminate them altogether. In either case, make sure you understand why the change is necessary.

2) Information

Whether you’re told to limit or eliminate, you still need to know your numbers.

Typically, knowing your numbers refers to A1C, blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.

But the same concept applies to your total suggested daily limit for fat, sodium, sugar and added sugar.

The term ‘limit your intake’ is vague, but tracking your specific targets is actionable.

Having that tiny bit of information could absolutely change your life.

3) Modification

Modify your portions to fit within your goals.

You may be thinking the information sounds good and you’d like to give it a try, but you’re not sure where to start. The best place to start is right where you are, using the foods you love.

Once you’ve gotten clarification and information from your doctor or healthcare provider, set daily goals for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, nuts and non-tropical oils.

Start by making 1 healthy substitution a day, and add to it.

For example, look for opportunities to:

  • substitute fish for meat in some meals,
  • substitute leaner cuts of meat when you do have meat, and
  • if you’re up for it, just skip meat altogether 1 day a week. Meatless Monday’s can be magnificent!

Use the same process to set limits for fat, sodium, sugar and added sugar.

And there you have it. You just customized your very own heart healthy eating plan using the foods you love!

When you build your most important muscle firstTM, your other muscles will follow.


[1] American Heart Association. (n.d.). Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia). Retrieved November 15, 2020, from

[2] DASH Diet. (n.d.). Retrieved February 26, 2021, from