What Motivates You to Stay Healthy?

As the end of the year draws near, many start to focus on developing "get-healthy" resolutions for the New Year: Dump the diet soda, walk the dogs more, eat more kale, try hemp seeds. Resolutions are great—they represent the intent to make positive changes. But how do these improvements progress from short-term goals to lifestyle changes that last the whole year and beyond?

Embracing a healthy, active lifestyle is much harder than the alternative. It takes dedication, preparation and, most importantly, motivation. When you are truly motivated to do something, you're much more likely to actually achieve it.

What inspires you to live a healthy lifestyle? Is it your children? Your general health? Your race season? Follow these steps to find out how what motivates you so you can learn to stay in that strong place all year long.

More: Make This Your Year to Succeed

Set Your Goals

Whether your top priority objective in the new year is to feel better in your clothes or to PR in a race, defining your goals is the first step. With goal setting, the more specific, the better. You want to be able to measure your success when the time comes, and this isn't easy with vague objectives. Example: Reduce body fat percentage from 32 percent to 25 percent by April 1.

More: 52 Simple Strategies to Lose a Pound a Week

Determine How This Goal Will Be Met. Set Mini Goals

Decreasing body fat percentage requires exercise and a healthy diet. Setting a few simple weekly goals of exercising four times a week (for 30 minutes minimum) and reducing carbohydrate intake by 10 percent will pave the way to success. Your mini goals must be attainable and sustainable.

More: 5 Tips to Eat Away the Fat

Look Inside to Find Your True Motivating Factors

Spend some time thinking about what truly motivates you in relation to your goal(s). Everyone is different. Two people with the same goal of reducing body fat percentage to <25 percent may have completely different reasons for wanting to accomplish this objective. Example: one wants to improve lab numbers, the other wants to fit into a special-occasion dress.

More: Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight?

Use Your Motivating Factors to Keep You on Track

For the person wanting to improve health parameters, having a copy of the most recent set of unfavorable labs taped to the fridge may provide the inspiration to stay on track. Every time he heads to the fridge to grab milk for a big bowl of cereal, those labs are a constant reminder of the task at hand. For the woman who wants to fit into a special-occasion dress, posting a picture of the dress on her mirror can keep her focused on her goal. Constantly remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing.

More: Train Your Brain to Crave Healthy Foods

Staying motivated to accomplish goals for a month is easy, but for 12 months it's not as much of a cakewalk. Take baby steps in the right direction, celebrate small victories, and use motivating factors to stay on track. You'll get there.

More: Motivation to Lose Weight: 10 Ways to Inspire Yourself

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About the Author

Brooke Schohl

Brooke is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching/Destination Kona Triathlon Store in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having recently completed her third Ironman. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific fueling plans for her clients.

Brooke is a registered sports dietitian and the owner of Fuel to the Finish Endurance Nutrition Coaching/Destination Kona Triathlon Store in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is an avid triathlete, having recently completed her third Ironman. She integrates that personal experience and knowledge into developing customized, sport-specific fueling plans for her clients.

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