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4 hacks for staying motivated to reach your goals



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Photo: Emilija Manevska / Getty Images

Motivation is not just a puzzle. "Research shows that what one eats, how much one sleeps, and other factors can directly affect the drive," says dr. Daniel Fulford Assistant Professor and Clinical Psychologist at Boston University These physical influences affect the perception of effort or how much work you think is important for an action that can determine if you're moving forward, Fulford says.

Here's how the process works: Your brain assesses the difficulty of a task or a goal based on your physiological state. "It uses signals, such as how hungry or how tired you are, to determine if physical activity is worth the effort," says Fulford. For example, if you are exhausted, your brain may judge that you need to go to the gym now because it is far away. If you go eight hours after you sleep it will be harder for you to convince yourself.

To keep your motivation high, you need to keep your perception of effort low. (Related: Five Reasons Your Motivation Is Missing) Shape worked with experts to find four strategies that have been scientifically proven to do exactly that so you can achieve any goal.

. 1
Pour yourself a pick-me-up

A cup of coffee or black tea not only invigorates you, it also feels better. "Caffeine lowers the level of adenosine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that makes you sleepy, and because your mental fatigue subsides, the tasks are less difficult," Dr. Walter Staiano, Research Director at Sswitch, a neuro-performance company. Certain sugary drinks may have a similar effect as described in the journal Psychology and Aging . Adults who consumed 25 grams of glucose 10 minutes before the memory search test were more dedicated than those who drank a sugar-free drink. Researchers do not yet know if other sugars, such as sucrose in table sugar and fruit fructose, give the same results. So, for a sure thing, choose glucose gels, tablets or drinks.

. 2 Workouts that demand you

If you exercise regularly and keep exercising, anything else you work on can be less difficult, says Staiano. "We found that 30 minutes of demanding cognitive tasks that left most people spiritually depleted had no impact on the cycling elite," he says. "We think it's because when you train your body, you also train your brain, and it becomes more resistant to mental fatigue and wired to deal with things that require a great deal of effort." Any physically strenuous activity will have that effect and reduce the perception of effort, says Staiano. Just push on to lift harder, move on, go faster, or stretch deeper. (Here's the hardest workout you can do with just a dumbbell.)

3. Be Strategic for Sleep

If you can not get enough rest, it can all be more difficult, says Fulford. On a typical day this is not a big deal – sleep well the next night and your motivation will recover. However, research shows that if you throw and turn the night before a major event like a race, you can distract you. "The lack of sleep affects your goal and reduces the brain's energy supply," says Fulford. "Your mental stamina and effort decrease, which reduces your performance." The good news: Being aware that drowsiness affects your motivation, not your physical ability, is enough to help you get back, says Fulford. To get through, just remember that you have the skills to be successful.

. 4 Eat Carbs – But Set The Right Time

Just being a little on the hungry side is good for motivation. "It's a physical sign for your brain that action must be taken [to find food] so that you can be more motivated," says Fulford. "Saturation, on the other hand, puts the body into hibernation." Choose carbohydrate-rich foods like bread and pasta to quench your appetite and strengthen your mojo. "They release glucose very quickly, which can increase energy in the short term, and high-fat foods such as avocado need more energy to digest, which can divert energy from the brain and increase the perception of effort," says Fulford. (Associated: The Healthy Women's Guide to Eating Carbohydrates)

Avoid eating large or high-fat meals before you have to be productive. And when you realize you've crossed the line between hunger and hunger, grab a small, carblastic snack like a banana to clear the line.


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