Drew Harrisberg: Managing Your Motivation When It Comes to Health and Fitness

Drew Harrisberg

In his first column for TheLatch—, Drew Harrisberg shares his tips for finding your motivation when it comes to your health. It’s easy to fall out routine with your fitness goals, especially with the current COVID-19 pandemic interrupting normal life, but Harrisberg explains how his shock diabetes diagnosis spurred him on to prioritise his health.

Hey, I’m Drew Harrisberg. I’m an exercise physiologist, sports scientist, diabetes educator, and most importantly, I’m a happy and healthy guy thriving with type 1 diabetes.

My world shifted when I was first diagnosed at the age 21, but after making positive changes to the way that I live, eat, move, and the mindset in which I approach life, I can honestly say I am happier and healthier today with diabetes than I was before my diagnosis.

So in a way, you could say that diabetes gave me the gift of health. I’ve not only accepted living with it, but I’ve also learned to love it and manage it so that it doesn’t manage me.

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When I got invited to talk in front of 2 thousand people at the world’s largest conference on happiness and wellbeing – Happiness and Its Causes 2019, I immediately got flooded with butterflies. That’s when I knew I had to do it. I had to say yes. Why? Because the moments that give you butterflies are the moments that lead to immense self-growth. Butterflies are a sign that it’s important. A sign that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. Nothing great comes from your comfort zone. If your instinct is to say no to opportunities that scare you, or your default mode is to shy away, to look for an excuse or a way out, remember this message…your nerves are telling you that it matters and to live your bloody life! Sure, you could opt for risk mitigation and live a safe, conservative and comfortable existence but you’re just robbing yourself of potential growth. Instead, start saying yes more often. Say yes to signing up for that marathon or endurance event. Say yes to meeting your friend for that tough workout at the crack of dawn. Say yes to that job interview or meeting. Say yes to that public speaking gig. Seek moments that give you butterflies. Seek moments that make your heart race. Those are the moments that take you a step closer to your best you. ? Video on YouTube ? Link in bio

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My background as a qualified health professional and my personal experience with successfully managing diabetes has ignited a passion to share everything I know, which is why I created Drew’s Daily Dose — a home that inspires, empowers, and enables people to thrive rather than simply survive.

My mission is to equip you with the tools required to take control of your health so that like me, you can live your best life!

Living with diabetes has taught me so many invaluable lessons about how to live my best life but one of the most important gifts it has given me is a crystal-clear ‘why’ — a deep and meaningful reason/purpose to move through life with a spring in my step. When you know your ‘why’, you don’t have to search for external motivators because you’ll have all the internal motivation you need with you all the time.

Without a clear purpose, external motivation is required to reach your goals. But here’s the thing about motivation — it’s only required to do the things you don’t want to do. You don’t need any motivation to go home after work, eat chocolate and sit down to watch a movie. Those things come easily.

So, instead of trying to find the motivation to do the things you don’t want to do, what if you could find a way to want to do them instead? That way, they’d become effortless and enjoyable without requiring truck loads of willpower and motivation.

How to achieve your goals

What’s your ‘why’?

Start by defining the reason why you want to achieve something. Next, attach a positive emotion to it that aligns with the joy of being alive and happy, rather than fear of sickness or death. For example: “I want to live a long, healthy life because it will make me happy and fulfilled to see my grandkids grow up” rather than “I’m afraid of dying and not being around to see my grandkids grow up”.

Once you’ve defined your own personal ‘why’ repeat it over and over and over until it becomes your mantra. On days when you encounter hurdles, you’ll have some extra drive to overcome them.

When you’re dreading going to the gym (or doing a workout at home) but you know you should go, remind yourself about your ‘why’ that you’ve committed to. You could even write it down and stick it to your bathroom mirror. Look at it every day before you go to bed and first thing in the morning. Read it and repeat it to yourself with conviction. Do whatever it takes to imprint it in your mind.

The reason most people fail to achieve their goals (or more commonly their New Year’s resolutions) is they set goals that are not in alignment with their values. Before you set any goals, get to know yourself a little bit better by defining your value hierarchy — i.e. the things in life that are most important to you.

Your values are your compass. They are there to guide you and assist with decision making. You can rely on your value hierarchy system to test if something is a negative or positive thing in your life. If you find yourself lost or on the wrong path, you can use your values to course correct and get back on track.

Need help defining your values? Your answers to these questions will give you some insights…

  1. If you could have any career, without worrying about money or other practical constraints, what would you do?
  2. When you’re reading news stories or scrolling through Instagram, what sort of content tends to inspire you?
  3. What content triggers you?
  4. What do you want to change about the world or yourself?
  5. What are you most proud of?
  6. What brings you joy, happiness or fulfilment?
  7. What makes you angry, sad or disappointed?
  8. What do you do in your free time?
  9. Where do you spend most of your money?
  10. You wake up and there’s 10k in your bank account. What do you do with it?

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The only kissing I’ll be doing for a while ?? It’s funny how all of a sudden everyone is an expert on infectious disease. We can all have our opinions and conspiracy theories but what we should be doing is… ??Listening to the REAL experts who have dedicated their lives to infectious disease research and have the resources and data to provide proper recommendations. Sure there are some sensationalised, fearmongering, clickbait headlines in the media but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious issue. Don’t fall for the false dichotomy. It’s a logical fallacy. ??Living in a state of fear and panic is NOT productive but being sensible and considerate IS! ??Don’t ignore the scientists and medical professionals like certain governments and politicians are *ahemmmm #ScoMo #ScoMoMustGo* ??There will always be deniers of the climate crisis and the extent of the virus pandemic etc despite expert opinion suggesting otherwise. Don’t be ignorant. ??Just because you have a ‘strong immune system’ doesn’t stop it spreading to other people who might die from this infection. ??It’s not just about you or me, it’s about the system. It’s about flattening the curve. It’s about reducing the burden on the healthcare system which will help save lives. ??We don’t want the spread of the virus to exceed the capacity of the healthcare systems. We’ve already seen this happening in Italy and other countries. If we run out of hospital beds and ventilators etc it’s kinda a big deal folks. – WHAT CAN YOU DO? ??Control the variables that you can ??Personal hygiene ??Social distancing ??Exercise daily ??Prioritise sleep quality and quantity ??Eat real whole food ??Spend time in nature ??Soak up some sunshine ??Hang out with your dog ??Practice mindfulness ??Breathe ??And most of all – don’t panic! Just be sensible, considerate to others, and enjoy your bloody life! ??? #covid19 #coronavirus

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There are hundreds of values but here are a few examples of some common ones: integrity, dependability, reliability, loyalty, commitment, open-mindedness, consistency, honesty, efficiency, creativity, compassion, positivity, passion, respect, health, service to others, relationships and environmentalism.

On a personal note, after being diagnosed with diabetes, my values became clear: my health, my relationships, and being of service to others, to name a few. My ‘why’ changed to optimally manage my diabetes, not just to avoid the frightening short and long-term complications, but to make the most of the gift of life I’ve been given.

With a new outlook on life post-diagnosis, I see exercise as a form of medicine that I can freely and happily administer to myself. I love the entire process. I no longer need motivation because it comes naturally from within. I choose to eat real whole food because I know it will enable me to thrive. I practice mindfulness daily. I live my life in alignment with my values and purpose so that I can extract the most out of every moment.

Check-in once a month for Drew Harrisberg’s column with TheLatch— for advice and tips to make your life healthier. 

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