Why Motivation Doesn't Work


How many times have you fallen off track with an exercise or diet program?  You start the program with excitement, eager to become the new you… that sassy, confident, motivated woman with the hot body you know lives inside you.

You’re determined that this time will be different and you are going to be a new woman in the next 28 days or less!

And then…life happens.

We have a late night and don’t feel like getting up and working out the next day.

Stress from work is keeping us anxious and it’s easier to get lost in social media to “zone out” than take a walk when we get home.

We ate a cookie earlier and now that we’ve blown it, what’s the point of trying to stay on track?

And we’re convinced that we just have the kind of personality that can’t stay motivated, so this program will fail just like all of the others before it.

I find myself in these situations all the time…these moments where my intentions hit reality and I have to make a decision. And I’d like to let you in on a little secret…self-motivation does not work.

This is because self-motivation relies on feeling.

And I can honestly say, I don’t often feel like getting up early to work out.  I don’t often feel like eating broccoli instead of a brownie. And I don’t often feel like making a healthy meal instead of binge-watching episodes on Netflix.

So, if we can’t rely on self-motivation, how do we get things done to help us reach our goals? I’m glad you asked, because it’s simpler than you may think…

Here are my top 5 mindsets to keep on track, even when you don’t feel like it:

  1. Set realistic goals

The easiest way to lose momentum is to set goals that are unrealistic for your timeframe and situation. Want to lose 20 pounds in a week? This isn’t realistic, unless you’re going in for surgery! One-two pounds per week is realistic, understanding that sometimes there will be no weight loss (like when you’re on your period or you’ve gained some extra muscle). And know that some habits take more than 21 days to establish. [1] So give yourself adequate time and patience to reach your goals. And overall trends are more important than day-to-day occurrences.

  1. Don’t expect to do it perfectly

Progress is better than perfection. Often we feel like giving up if we aren’t doing something “just right.” I’m guilty of wanting to be as “perfect” as the woman leading my health program or workout videos. But the reality is that we aren’t “that” woman. So, how can you create the best you in a way that is uniquely you and works with the rest of your life?

  1. Focus on the positive

Maybe you didn’t achieve everything you set out to do today. But there are probably things you did accomplish that you can recognize yourself for. Did you take the stairs instead of the elevator? Did you take a 5-minute break when you knew you were headed into overwhelm? Show yourself gratitude for what went well for you today. By focusing on the positive, it provides momentum to keep propelling you forward. [2]

  1. Focus on what you are gaining from the program

Change is hard.  Sometimes this prompts us to look back at everything we’re letting go of and get scared. We can freeze and stop progress. But if we focus instead on what we are gaining…renewed energy, new and exciting foods, less pain, and a smaller waistline…we’re encouraged to keep going. And after a little while, we don’t miss the worn out, hurting version of ourselves that we’ve left behind and we would rather be our new vibrant selves.

  1. Don’t think about it, just do it

I recently read Mel Robbins’ book The 5 Second Rule…which I highly recommend! The book explains that if we give our brains more than 5 seconds to think about doing something new or intimidating, we will usually talk ourselves out of it. So the key is to countdown from 5…4…3…2…1..and then take an action. This works for getting yourself out of bed in the morning, going for a walk, speaking up in a meeting at work…basically anything! [3]

Which of these mindsets most resonates with you? I’d love to hear your feedback.  Simply comment below and let me know which of these have worked for you and which you'd like to try.

Here’s to Loving the Skin You’re In,


  1. Dean, Jeremy. (2013). Making habits, breaking habits: Why we do things, why we don’t and how to make any change stick. Da Capo Press: Philadelphia, PA.
  2. Health Coach Institute. (2016). Become a Health Coach Certification program.
  3. Robbins, Mel. (2017). The 5 second rule: Transform your life, work, and confidence with everyday courage. Savio Republic.