No-one is immune to motivational declines –even the most determined and dedicated athletes I have worked with have times when, staying on track with nutrition and training can become a real effort.
While a decline in motivation may be inevitable, there are still some processes that can be put in place that can help prevent recurrent episodes. These include having a fundamental understanding of the following.
Managing your lifestyle and being self aware can be pivotal in preventing a lapse in training or blip in your nutrition.
Often when we overload our lives, we become stressed, fraught and overwhelmed. We try to balance family life with work and training commitments. Many of us have the inability to understand when we are reaching our limits, taking on more and more; we are unable to demonstrate self-compassion; yet if a friend is in need, struggling with having taken too much on, we will be the first to offer help and advice.
So why do we struggle to allow ourselves anytime off the hook? In fact, more to the point, why do we berate ourselves when our body and mind doesn’t want to play ball?
What would actually happen if you eased your foot off the pedal just a little? Would everything really unravel and fall apart?
Becoming more self aware and understanding just how much you can cope with is a key part of keeping on top of motivation, whether at work, training or maintaining relationships.
While it may sound a little extreme, actually assigning time to work, training, family and relationship can be a very powerful way of not feeling over loaded.
How many of you have gone into a training session, stressed out from a work meeting, only to find that this negative emotion affects your performance?
Similarly, how many of you have put so much pressure on yourself within a particular training session which doesn’t go to plan, only for you to take this out on your partner?
Being able to allocate time to each of the areas of your life and ensure sufficient “recovery” time between each, can be a really useful form of stress management. This may simply be a case of sitting in the car, on returning from work, for 5 minutes before going into the house. Use this time to switch mindset, leaving work at work and turning your attention to your family.
Planning is not just about making time, its also about saving time. Many of us feel the pressure to put on a gourmet meal every night –we hear so much in the media about “healthy eating” but can take this to extreme. Remember healthy eating is actually about the balance over 7-10 days. So if on some days, you don’t have the energy or time to cook a full meal, don’t beat yourself up about providing something simple such as eggs on toast or a baked potato with tuna salad. Both of these are nutrient dense and have the main building blocks needed for a balanced diet.
Taking some time to be organized, becoming more self aware and understanding what are appropriate food choices to make around your daily life will help two fold; firstly, it will reduce stress as you will have a vague plan of what you are going to prepare daily. This in turn will ensure that you eat regularly and thus prevent fluctuating sugar levels which often results in poor energy levels and concentration. When we feel tired, our motivation wanes.
Here are some ways to help you manage your load:
Renee is a registered dietician with 20 years’ experience working in clinical and performance nutrition. She is the author of best-selling books ‘Training Food’, the ‘Fast Fuel’ series and ‘Orthorexia, When Healthy Eating Goes Bad’. Renee is regularly called upon as an expert contributor to many national publications, as well as radio and TV, including Newsnight and BBC 5 Live. As well as being the nutritional lead for Forth, Renee works with a number of national governing bodies, including Scottish Gymnastics, The GB 24 hour Running Squad and The England Ballet company.