New York, how are your nutrition goals coming along? Do you feel motivated to stick to a plan? This week's article presents a different point of view on the idea of motivation, and why the idea of commitment might be more useful.

Reading time: 5 Minutes

MWi Hack:

  • Learn one simple tip to get motivated with your nutrition goals!
  • Discover another perspective on nutrition that can support healthier habits

MWi Summary:

  • Motivation is fleeting. Commitment is what helps us stay dedicated to our nutrition goals.
  • Commitment can help us look over the short-term sacrifices and focus on the long-term gains of our choices.

The ‘secret’ or ‘hack’ to dealing with motivation when it’s dropping or nowhere to be found is simple:  


Get rid of it!

That probably sounds strange, but I literally mean to disregard it; remove it from your mind as something to be bothered with. 

Instead of motivation, we should use commitment. 

If you’re committed to something, then motivation doesn’t matter. Motivation can be flying high and you can be all fired up, OR you can be feeling like doing anything BUT sticking to your nutrition plan. But it doesn’t matter how you feel because you’re committed to following the plan. 

For me, a good example is “meal prep”. I do it every weekend for the week ahead. Here’s the thing: I absolutely hate it prepping meals. I would rather chew my arm off than cook for 3-5 hours and clean up for 2. My meal prep involves a total of 30 meals – 15 each for my wife and me. It’s a huge undertaking and really eats up a lot of my weekend. If I want to do anything else on my Sundays in particular, like go mountain biking (one of my favorite things to do), or other chores like taking care of the yard or washing the cars, etc., I have to still figure out a way to work in the meal prep, and I get grumpy and frustrated. So you can see by my complaining, motivation is never particularly strong. 

"motivation can swing high or low but with commitment, you can stick to the plan and achieve the goals you've articulated"

Dr. Nathan Jenkins

 But, regardless of the circumstances or how I feel about the task, I still do it, not because I’m motivated to do so, but because I’m committed to the plan. I choose to stick to that commitment because as much as I don’t enjoy the short-term sacrifice (my time on the weekends), I value the time saved and the relatively low-stress lifestyle I get to enjoy through the majority of the rest of my time, i.e. the ensuing week. Come Monday morning, all I have to do is grab the food from the fridge and simply go about my day, every day, heating up the meals whenever it’s time to eat. The only “drag” throughout the week is washing all the containers, but that’s an okay problem to have. And one benefit of meal prepping on the weekend is no cooking and minimal clean up on the busy nights of the week. 

Anyway, that was a long and probably winding explanation, but I hope it helps illustrate the important distinction between motivation and commitment. Motivation is entirely an emotion, and if you only rely on that, it’s not a very dependable driver of behaviors because it’s so inconsistent. Commitment, on the other hand, is a steadfast, unwavering ‘staying the course’ regardless of emotional state… motivation can swing high or low but with commitment, you can stick to the plan and achieve the goals you’ve articulated, come what may.

MWi would like to Dr. Nathan Jenkins for sharing his expert insights with our community.  Follow this link to find out more about Dr. Nathan Jenkins:

About the Author

Dr. Nathan Jenkins is a tenured professor of exercise science at the University of Georgia. His scientific expertise is in the area of exercise and dietary approaches to treat and prevent obesity, type diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Specific recent areas of study have included the impact of exercise on fat and carbohydrate metabolism after meals, the influence of prescription drugs and supplements on dietary responses, and characterization of the metabolic effects of high-intensity functional training. Dr. Jenkins has published over 75 peer-reviewed articles in academic journals. He holds the CrossFit Level 1 training certificate. 


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Disclosures: Dr. Jenkins reports consultancies with CrossFit, Inc. and Renaissance Periodization, LLC.