How to stay motivated to eat well and exercise

The answer is not more willpower or self-discipline (it’s easier than that)

Kaki Okumura
4 min readApr 12


Illustrations by Kaki Okumura

How do you stay motivated to eat well or exercise regularly?

It’s a common question and challenge for people who are looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle. There are many tips and tricks out there to help, such as getting an accountability partner, keeping track of your progress, visualizing where you want to be, etc.

But I usually start off with a simpler answer:​

Stay present.

Why we lose motivation (it’s not a lack of willpower)

We face a unique problem in the modern age when it comes to motivation, in that we face a much higher opportunity cost than people used to.

Opportunity cost is what we give up with every choice we make, and with the Internet, there is an infinite opportunity cost– we are constantly bombarded with images, ads, and advice on what we could’ve or should’ve been doing with our time instead.

I should’ve been cooking dinner instead of watching Netflix.

I should’ve been grocery shopping instead of going out to brunch.

I should’ve been working out instead of taking a nap.

With the Internet, we have become much more likely to be reminded of what we could’ve been doing with our time instead, and consequently, we feel bad about the choices we make– even if we made them in our best interest at the time.

And if we feel bad about how we spend our time too often, we begin to feel confused, then stuck. When it comes to our goals, we begin to think: what is the point of trying?

In a world with so many options, I like to reflect on the Japanese spirit of ganbaru (頑張る)

​In a world with so many options, I like to reflect on the Japanese spirit of ganbaru (頑張る)– which roughly translates to putting your best foot forward. And there are 2 main reasons why it’s so effective.



Kaki Okumura

Born in Dallas, raised in New York and Tokyo. I care about helping others learn to live a better, healthier life. My site: 🌱

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