Uproot yourself and keep going!

While motivation might wane, a changed mindset won't

Sunday, October 28, 2018

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YOU just started your health and fitness journey, you are locked in on making the changes you know you need for a fuller, healthier, pain-free life. You have decided to push your old fun but damaging habits away, and you have even found a solid weight-loss diet system with an available support. You are off and running.

You started off fabulously, following the plan and packaging your nutritional, healthy meals, resisting all temptations. You don't even have the desire to eat the sugary, nutritionally weak, illness-inducing foods. This is it for life!

Now, one of four things is going to happen:

1. Your weight is falling and you are motivated because you are moving away from that weight you disliked so much.

2. You are completely on track but your body is beginning to resist the change.

3. You are discouraged but stay focused and continue to live the life, contacting your coach for support, knowing that this is how it works — ups and downs, plateaus and drops — and that eventually you will get there. This is, after all, your new lifestyle.

4. Your old habits just won't leave you alone and you are beginning to justify putting your “reasons” before the potential for a healthy, pain-free, more vibrant future. But you keep resetting and trying because you know that no “reason”, be it work, stress, finances, depression, family pressures, time restrictions or any other, can responsibly take priority over wellness and future health — after all, what wouldn't you pay for relief from your future diseases and pains?

Sadly, you just give up, sliding back into the rhythm of stress eating, inactivity, drinking, taking cues from work obligations, your friends' eating patterns and partying without holding onto the guidelines of the life-giving system the best parts of you absolutely know are right.

You need to ask yourself: What exactly separated the first two options from the last two? Is it self-discipline? Will-power or strength? Laziness? Greed? Perhaps even motivation? The most common, non-self-deprecating answer would be motivation.

So, why are you not motivated? You know what is right, you know the true suffering and horrible life struggles which will come about sooner or later if you continue along your old path.

If you are thinking that you are the odd person out, you are not. This absence of motivation is so prominent that a shockingly high number of people refuse to change their lifestyles even after a life-threatening health scare.

The sad truth is that even the success stories only live for five to 10 years; we become comfortable and relapse. Even a large percentage of the gastric-modification surgery recipients, who are “motivated” by the discomfort, pain and absolute restrictions of the surgery, regain weight in five to 10 years.

What makes motivation fail?

Motivation is not a decision; we make decisions when we are motivated and expect our motivation to keep it going. Motivation is an emotion, dependent on influences and affected by weariness and other emotions. In most cases, you cannot depend on your motivation to keep you on a path of sustained change.

In all addictive, behavioural and lifestyle changes, the fragility of motivation is observed. Only a small fraction will succeed, and roughly just five per cent of those maintain the change.

Under the pressure of work — and yes, work is a slow killer if not managed responsibly — the stresses of life, family, discontent, distractions and more, we default to our need for comfort, release our motivation, and often even defend our known damaging habits.

What does change require?

Change does not require a bursting need to lose weight quickly. This is only evidence that you do not intend to continue in a new direction, rather, intending only to hit what you believe will be your happy weight, then, as many have said, “go back to eating normally again” — the same normal which got you there in the first place.

Change and the readiness for real change is not a sudden switch, it is a process. Some stages may be subtle and imperceptibly small, some may be striking, but they are all there. Pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance begin the journey to change.

You must uproot yourself from your perceived survival biases and know that they have been leading you down the wrong path. Finally, there is one thing you must nurture and grow, something more sustainably powerful than motivation: Mindset.

Mindset: Your true asset for lifelong change

Most vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians, like myself, know “the struggle is real”. Issues with not eating meat, at some point for varying reasons and enjoying it no matter how inconvenient, costly or annoying it was to their friends and family. Their old mindset had changed, and a new mindset was cemented in place.

For general healthy eating this is not as easy as for most the potential compromises — a little here or there won't hurt you, special occasions and so on, — prevent the cementing of the easy absolutes a vegan lifestyle will bring.

It is on you to develop a mindset which includes seeking and accepting guidance, support, and obedience, and a willingness and permission to fail, adjust and recover, until you understand and have adapted enough to make lifelong choices in this new, healthy lifestyle.

The correct understanding is important to support your mindset knowing what healthy eating is and why it is important, and changing your eating for all the right reasons, not only for wrong ones.

A new mindset is not nearly as brittle as motivation. It will constantly oppose or correct against the tendency to indulge old habits, temptations and behaviours.

When developing a mindset for lasting nutritional wellness you must:

• Have a mindset of health, learning the lifestyle changes over time even more than weight loss. Weight loss is a short game, not a life change.

• Know that even in weight loss, plateaus are inevitable. It is a physiological mechanism which allowed your ancestors to survive. Embrace a general healthy lifestyle.

• Embrace the truth that you and your health are priority. Arrange work, family, and all things around this truth. You are your greatest asset, and everything around you must support your goals and protect you first.

• Understand that it will not always be easy. Expect biological, mental, emotional, and social pushback, and get the support to overcome it.

• Make everyday changes to your activity.

• Understand how important reaching out for support is, either directly or through informational material.

• Decide to be obedient to your support.

This is why we call ITK “living”, because more than everything else, it is not just life, surviving, or a lifestyle — it is living. Cultivate and embrace a mindset of health and wellness and greater living, it may take time, but done correctly it will do what diets seldom do — it will keep you on a maintained, successful, healthy path.

Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 968-8238, or visit their website at

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