Keep Yourself Paleo Motivated In Less Than a Minute a Day

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One of the big questions I often get asked is how to stay motivated. It is one of the most difficult challenges of this lifestyle.

Usually, the excitement has worn off, the weight loss has slowed, people are giving you stress now they realize you haven’t gone back to your old ways after a few weeks like you did when you dieted. They’re wondering could this paleo thing be permanent? The horror!

Cake’s lookin’ good…doggone it.

And you want to join in, be normal, one of the gang, don’t you? I know. I’ve been there, too. If you’re like me, you’ll be a goner if you take two bites. After one bite you can stop, but two? The whole cake could disappear. Knowing that just two bites can do that to you can be depressing and the rest of your life without cake seems like a long time, huh? Poop.

Good guys finish last.

Then there’s the drag of life – the kids are fighting, the boss is moaning, your nosy neighbor is calling, you’re doing everything right and not seeing results. Time isn’t your friend, your patience has abandoned you and exercise feels like the nice guy you were always too busy for because you just didn’t like him enough.

Get inspired.

So as a big list-maker and someone who coaches others in life and writing, I’ve got something to keep you motivated. One that will keep you on the straight and narrow if you follow it.  It’s a three step process – takes ten minutes to set up then less than a minute a day thereafter. You’ll start to feel in control and unconflicted in seconds. It’s that easy. Commit to it as a habit.

Motivation Step One: Write out all the reasons you’re paleo.

Take a piece of paper and handwrite every single reason you live paleo. I think hand writing works best because it is slower, more tactile, and done infrequently so it alerts the brain that this is a special activity. But typing is a decent alternative if it pains you to handwrite or you’re in danger of not doing the exercise at all unless you type it. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good and all that.

So go on, write down every possible reason for being paleo that you can think of. Don’t limit yourself. You can tidy up the list later if you wish or you’ve too much overlap between reasons.

It is best to start from scratch with your own thoughts and words, but a short cut is to start with the list below, cross off the ones that don’t apply and add your own specific reasons. Get as detailed as possible.

Reasons To Be Paleo, 1, 2, 3…

  • I’ll look better
  • I’ll be less self-critical
  • I’ll feel I’ve accomplished something major
  • I’ll feel better physically and mentally
  • I’ll like myself more
  • I’ll be happier when I look in the mirror
  • I’ll be more assertive
  • I’ll have more success in life
  • I’ll be in less pain
  • I’ll get better sleep
  • I’ll be more productive
  • I’ll have less anxiety
  • I’ll have more strength
  • I’ll be able to encourage and lead others
  • I’ll have more energy
  • I’ll have more self-confidence
  • I’ll feel more in control.
  • I’ll enjoy my family more
  • I’ll use my time better
  • I’ll be able to play with my kids
  • I’ll get off my meds
  • I’ll earn more money
  • I’ll have healthier children
  • I’ll be more patient with others

Motivation Step Two: Put your list somewhere easily accessible.

This is essential. If you don’t do this step, most of the effort of writing your list will be wasted. Put this list somewhere you can easily see it on a daily basis. Think of somewhere where you sit regularly and place it there. Pin it on the wall at the place where you stare when you hit a point at work where you need a time out. Or write your reasons on a card and stick it at eye level on your bathroom mirror.  Stick it on your dashboard. I have my list in my phone.

Motivation Step Three. Review the list at least twice a day.

I read mine while I’m waiting to pick my kids up from their multifarious activities. You might stare at it on your cubicle wall as your brain takes a break. Perhaps you read it just before you get up and just before you go to bed. Or while you’re cleaning your teeth. Whenever and wherever you do it, make it work for you twice a day.

Motivation Bonus Step: Whip out your list under threat.

Have a second copy of the list and keep it with you at all times. When that cake appears, when you’re on your way to Thanksgiving, when the Halloween candy is calling your name, or you feel like slumping in front of the TV rather than doing your exercise, pull out your list. Read it. Just the act of doing so will interrupt your thought processes that were, just a second ago, hung up on eating temptation itself. Reread your list until you feel strong, take a deep breath and go do what you know you need to. Keep your list close by so you can whip it out again if necessary.

——

I constantly talk about the need to be a paleo warrior, assessing threats, developing strategies and training hard so you go into non-paleo battle in great condition. This list is part of your paleo armoury. It’s your first line of defense. Use it, train with it, exploit it. This little tool can slay dragons. And it only takes seconds each day. How can you not use it? Now go write your list! :-)

Do you have a technique to keep you inspired? Tell us in the comments. I know we’re all ears! :-)

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amazon, modern no nonsense guide to paleoAre you struggling to sustain a paleo lifestyle change? Or not sure how to start? Or perhaps those around you are resistant and you're feeling undermined and unsure. The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo provides practical tools to ease the transition to a full-on paleo life. Each chapter includes strategies, tips and checklists to identify the actions to power you on your paleo journey and create sustainable change. Buy it at Amazon.com.

Written by 

Alison Golden writes on the topic of paleo over at Paleo/NonPaleo. She aims to share ideas, inspire and motivate readers by teaching them how to live paleo in a non-paleo world. She is also the author of the bestselling book, The Modern, No-Nonsense Guide to Paleo, a unique tool that gives the reader hundreds of strategies to navigate the learning process to successful paleo living.

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Aimee October 2, 2012 at 7:19 am

This is great! I have really been needing someone or something to keep me on track lately. I, too, and a list maker and have sticky notes plastered all over my desk. I am sure there will be room for this new list!

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Alison Golden October 2, 2012 at 8:38 am

Aimee, me too! if I don’t have sticky notes, I am incapable of anything.
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Paula October 2, 2012 at 7:36 am

Fashion, clothes, keep me inspired. Jeggings in small sizes, that I could never wear without awful deprivation and struggle in my prior grain indulgent life, now fit with ease and no dietary hunger or restriction. Yipee!

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Alison Golden October 2, 2012 at 8:42 am

Great that you have that self-knowledge, Paula. That’s so important. I, OTOH, had to look up ‘jeggings.’ :-)
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stacey October 2, 2012 at 7:39 am

Hi Alison,

Love your list. Here is what I wrote for mine:

Reasons to stay Paleo:
AVOID gas and stomach aches (can be very embarassing!)
Have energy during the day
Fewer aches and pains
Great dental checkups
Lose weight (130 lbs here I come!!)
Better skin
Fewer hormone problems
Feel like exercising
Feel HAPPIER – really!
Easy meal preparation
Less hungry between meals
Sleep better
Cope better with stress
Stay off medications
Be a good example for my kids and husband : )

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Alison Golden October 2, 2012 at 8:43 am

GREAT list, Stacey!
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HL October 2, 2012 at 7:50 am

I have been struggling since summer to get back to where I need to be and have gone down hill how I have felt. Thanks for the tips.
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Alison Golden October 2, 2012 at 8:44 am

You are very welcome, thank you for commenting. :-)
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Shannon October 2, 2012 at 7:59 am

This post felt like you were reading my mind with how I was feeling about my eating. Thank you so much for having such great insight and the ability to identify issues and provide recommended solutions. This is something I havent tried before and I am certainly going to do it TODAY!!!

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Alison Golden October 2, 2012 at 8:45 am

Thank you, Shannon. It is a great little technique. I misplaced my phone just now and had to ring it in order to find it so I could read my list after school dropoff. :-)
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Carol October 2, 2012 at 9:11 am

Thanks for this post! I seem to do great with Paleo during the week, but I feel like a “blow it” every weekend…then the first couple days of the next week is just getting back to feeling better (usually by Tuesday, but some times it drags out until Wednesday!), just to have the weekend come around and do it all over again!! I’m making my list and going to have it at my desk at work and on my phone so I have it with me. Most importantly, a 3rd copy to have someplace visible at home for those pesky weekends :o)

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cyndidee October 3, 2012 at 10:53 am

Me too. I’ll lose 2-3 pounds between Monday and Friday and by Sunday night I’ve gained them back. I told my group of friends this and they laughed. (I was naively thinking they’d feel sorry for me.) I’ll have to post my list at each of their homes. ;)

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NJ Paleo October 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Speaking of cake…..I had a piece today at work. And guess who feels like garbage now? I’m amazed at how quickly and adversely the sugar and the wheat affect me now that I’ve been primal since the end of February. Having a piece of cake = puffer-fish sensation. And I’m thinking it really isn’t worth it…..

So to add to my list — no more puffer-fish!

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Nancy October 2, 2012 at 8:14 pm

NJ
That’s about my whole list. I’ve been doing paleo for long enough now that if I eat sugar/dairy/grains I feel AWFUL!

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Lindsay February 25, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Ha! That is a great word / image for how grains feel!! I have been paleo for a few months, and decided to cheat with some (gluten-free) bread. Wow! I feel puffer-fish all over. Thanks—this will help me in the future ;)

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Michelle October 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Great post! Going away for a girls trip with my two college friends who are not paleo. My goal has been to cook for them tasty, amazing paleo meals, and get them out moving. Last year, I fell off the wagon big time on our girls trip. This year, I want to stay on track & help change them, as opposed to them getting me off track. I wrote my list, and I will keep it by my side! Thank you!

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Dr. Brad October 2, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Great article. It all starts with having a big enough WHY and then the How just takes care of itself.

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Sue October 2, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Vanessa, will you comment on the difference between Eurithritol and Xyletol? Is one better than the other? And, are these better than Stevia? It’s all so confusing! Thanks!

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Sue October 2, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Sorry wrong post earlier!!!!

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Linda Esposito October 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Well–since I’m a paleo-poser, I can’t really weigh in like the others (no pun intended ;)).

And not to sound vain, but I am most motivated by healthy eating because I look better in those “skinny” jeans. I’d love to credit healthy skin and hair, but honestly, I feel good on most days, so yeah, it’s the vanity thing :).

Thanks for keeping “paleo” within my vernacular, Alison :).

One contribution I’d add is to post reminders anywhere other than the fridge–we lose the motivation by the sheer mindlessness of opening and closing the door. That sexy, hot woman with abs of steel blends in with the latest Thank You card, my kid’s school event, and notices from the vet about vaccinations…
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julie October 3, 2012 at 1:54 am

Thanks Alison! So worth doing–with all things that I need to stay motivated to do! Loved the list too. A great jumping off point!

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Brooke October 3, 2012 at 9:52 am

Perfect timing! I have been paleo for just over a year, and though I have no desire to go back to the SAD way of living, occasionally I fall into a pattern where I tell myself this small bite of “cake/pie/ice cream/cookie/candy” won’t be too bad. It’s just ONE bite after all, right? But then that bite turns into the whole candy bar (mini-size or not), and then that candy bar turns into a week or two of small cheats. I’m coming up on the end of my two weeks of small cheats right now, and of course I’m not looking or feeling all that great. It finally hit me this morning that I needed to stop. I think this list is an AHHHMAZING idea, and I will implement it today. THANK YOU!!!

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Kel October 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm

This is great! I’m sure like others one “cheat” of something sweet or any carb and I’m in a full out binge eating anything bad in site. Since, no one in my house is paleo it makes it very difficult to stay paleo. I think this will definitely help! Thanks again!

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Felicia October 4, 2012 at 8:28 am

I’ve been essentially “paleo” since about 2005 because of what I thought was IBS. Turned out to be thyroid/adrenal issues which I just figured out this spring with the help of a Dr./naturopath/endocrinologist. Anyway, what I have used for emotional support in all things (also since 2005- that was a VERY interesting year!) is Emotional Freeing Technique. The official site is found here: http://www.eftuniverse.com

I’ve been accused of spamming people about this so I’m going to say right up front that I do not mean spam at all and I sincerely apologize if it comes across this way! I’m not a professional tapper and I am in no way affiliated with the official EFT folks. However, I am thrilled with how EFT has helped me get past all kinds of emotional, mental and physical blocks especially relating to food, stress and PTSD. It’s free to learn and can completely revolutionize your life. I don’t know where I’d be without it. Between EFT and eating the paleo way I’m much, much better off than I was before them. I welcome emails about it, too, if anyone is interested in my personal story and all the things I’ve been able to get through and over using EFT.

Thanks for your posts, Alison! I love reading them and always learn a ton.

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Lindsay February 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Hi Felicia!
I’m a strong believer in EFT—I have been for a long time! I am wondering what kinds of images or words you use to stay motivated for Paleo! I can think of plenty for myself, but I thought maybe you’d have some ideas to add :)

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Felicia February 26, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Hi, Lindsay,
I actually don’t have many problems staying on the mostly “paleo” path but that’s because I’ve been doing this for as long as I have, about the same time I started doing EFT. I haven’t focused on food issues at all but have worked on pretty much everything else from a burnt tongue (my first attempt and an IMMEDIATE success!) to stage fright (90% healed) to incest trauma (also 90% healed), etc. I guess I would suggest really focusing on the emotions you feel when you have a craving and where it is located in your body and see if it relates to anything in your earliest memories. If it doesn’t, I’d say turn to Tapas Acupressure Technique and use that instead as it’s so good at clearing more broad or unnameable issues. Also, look behind the cravings- what are the cravings distracting you from? What would eating the wrong thing tranquilize in your emotional or mental body? Be as specific and descriptive as you can in your phrasing and be willing to really dig and keep tapping even if “bad stuff” comes up.

Also, make sure you don’t have any underlying health issues. Figuring out about thyroid and adrenal malfunction was HUGE for me in terms of understanding why I felt the way I did. If you keep tapping and don’t effect any positive changes in your behavior I highly suggest seeing a doctor, preferably one who is both an MD and an ND (naturopath) to rule out any physical issues. And a professional therapist who is experienced in EFT (and other “energy” healing modalities) would be my next suggestion.

Honestly, the real reason I’m motivated to keep eating this way is that over the years the cravings for sweets or grains have just faded away. I rarely think about them anymore unless I get really tired- then I will have a sort of vague wish for sweets or salts, but I do my best to aim for salt and something good for me rather than anything else. Also, I really believe in this diet. I really believe that most food available is not really food at all but a way to keep people addicted and sick which I really don’t want to take part in. Lastly, I make sure I have good food around all the time and as little “bad” stuff as possible! But, if I really want something “bad” I eat it and enjoy the heck out of it as much as I can, every bite, and I don’t obsess about it before, during or after.

I hope this helps. If it doesn’t, please talk to a professional. There are a lot of them listed in the official EFT site. I don’t think I’d have made it last year without the help of two very compassionate and skilled therapists. It’s expensive but you are worth it- and many of them have sliding fees if money is an issue. Or take a class- that’s another great way to learn more about tapping and how to apply it to your specific issues.

Best wishes for successful and happy health in all ways!

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Rusty October 9, 2012 at 6:36 am

Hi Alison, I have been a lurker on your site, and I LOVE it!

Right now, I am still “high” on Paleo, but I certainly see the wisdom of making a reminder list.
Between Paleo eating and hCG, I have dropped more than 126 lbs. My life motto is “I am only one slice of bread from 325 lbs.” So, staying Paleo is in my best interest!!!
Thanks!

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Alison Golden October 9, 2012 at 6:53 am

OMG, that is a fantastic motto! And congratulations on the weight loss – what an awesome achievement. You’ve made my day and it’s only 6:52am where I am. :-)
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Doug October 10, 2012 at 10:49 am

If we could monitor our bodies as we’re being tempted by a slice of pizza, cake, etc… we would see the “addictive” centers of our brains lighting up at the same time hunger-causing hormones are being secreted.

In essence, the unconscious parts of our bodies are sabotaging the conscious parts of us that want to eat Paleo, get healthy and look awesome naked.

Using the list you suggested is a tool I have been using for over a decade.

Whenever my emotions/urges are telling me to chow down on some junk food or to skip a workout, I whip out my list and make a conscious effort to think about what I REALLY WANT rather than give in to my CRAVINGS.

Great post – will be RTing

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Alison Golden October 10, 2012 at 11:08 am

Thanks, Doug. Agree 100%.
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Lindsay February 25, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Hi Alison!

I found this post while searching for “what to do to stay motivated on paleo.”

I’ve been official/full paleo for two months now, and decided to start cheating last week with (way too much) fruit and a lot of gluten-free bread. I thought I’d be okay since they’re the lesser of all the evils, but man—I feel awful! I was really having a rough time tonight, wondering how on Earth I’m going to stay motivated enough to stop cheating and feeling bad! Your list idea is excellent, and I can’t wait to use it tomorrow and the rest of this week. Here are some of the items going on my list of things I hate about cheating:
—Bloating and stomach pains are guaranteed
—Hair falls out and seems to get EVERYWHERE
—I get emotional and cry for no reason
—Headaches
—Feel stressed
—Spending hours in front of the mirror dealing with blood blisters and other acne-like symptoms
—Nails break off

Things I love about following the paleo lifestyle:
—I love how regulated my hormones feel
—Stomach, hair, nails, skin, head are all nice!
—I feel very even-minded, I don’t get upset about much of anything
—It seems like other people are great, I get along with people nicely
—The compliments I get on my skin are wonderful
—And it’s great to have people checking you out when you feel so good!

Thanks again Alison!!

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ConnorBryant September 22, 2013 at 10:19 pm

This is good stuff! I really like the tips to make things more accessible.
Building a good routine can be very important too.
My book
http://www.learningthesteel.com/books/
Gets into building motivation/willpower etc too
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Steve September 23, 2013 at 5:15 am

Thanks very much for sharing this idea! I really needed this as a tool to stay motivated. I’ve already hand-written my list (no time like the present!), converted to digital and will add it to my calendar to automatically pop-up twice a day.

Cheers and good health to you!

Steve

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Alison Golden September 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Hey, that’s a great way to build on the idea Steve – have it pop-up automatically. Good idea!
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Zara October 4, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I love this idea! So practical, so easy, and so effective! We all have our own reasons :). I will say that I cringed when your first one was body image. So often that’s the first reason people get discouraged – because as you even allude to – they’ve hit a plateau, or reached their goal. That’s all. I would encourage folks to move it down a few notches and re-evaluate what is really important to happiness and quality of life… like the rest of your awesome list :).
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Lynette March 17, 2014 at 9:44 pm

This is the most practical, helpful tool I’ve seen. An JUST what I needed after a 2 week long (injury induced) pity party marked by too much SAD food. I’m getting offline and making my list right now! Thank you.

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Alison Golden September 5, 2014 at 12:57 pm

You’re very welcome. I keep my list on my phone. I either seek it out when I need to, or I see it as I’m scrolling around and it acts as a reminder.
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