Finding Fitness Motivation

By Jennifer Bright

November 19, 2019 5 min read

Something that's always perplexed me is why it's so easy to pick up an unhealthy habit — like eating a fourth meal — yet so hard to pick up a healthy one.

When I need to make a healthier habit, I turn to my greatest superpower: my obsessive organizing skills. I'll "hook" the habit onto something I do already, such as stretch after I brush my teeth, and I usually set reminders on my calendar app.

Here's how our mommy M.D.s — doctors who are also mothers — manage to stay motivated:

"I go to the gym with my husband most of the time," says Sonali Ruder, D.O., a mom of one, an emergency physician at Coral Springs Medical Center and a recipe developer and blogger at The Foodie Physician. "Having a workout partner helps to motivate me."

"While I was losing weight, there was a time when I had only one bra that fit!" says Jennifer Hanes, D.O., a mom of two and a wellness physician at "I really didn't want to go out and buy more bras because I knew that I wanted to lose weight. I vowed that when my bra size got under 40 inches, I would splurge and buy more. That was very motivating!"

"I remind myself that it took a long time to put on the weight, so it will also take a long time to lose the weight," says Jennifer Bacani McKenney, M.D., a mom of two and a family physician. "It's important to keep a goal weight in sight because you won't know if you're there if you don't know where you're going."

"When I'm really busy, anything that takes extra time or effort is a real challenge," says Amy Baxter, M.D., a mom of three, CEO of and a researcher at the National Institutes of Health. "Having a workout buddy works best for me. I might not make the time for myself, but I certainly won't stand her up. We're both competitive, so when we have weight loss bets, the contest is motivating."

"Since having kids, I'm less critical of my body," says Heather Orman-Lubell, M.D., a mom of two and a pediatrician in private practice at Yardley Pediatrics of St. Christopher's Hospital for Children. "Don't get me wrong, there are days that I step on the scale and think, 'Are you kidding me?' But mentally, I can bounce back more quickly from those feelings than I could when I was 20."

"When I was trying to lose my pregnancy weight, I needed motivation, so I created a deadline," says Edna Ma, M.D., a mom of two, an anesthesiologist in private practice and author of the bilingual Chinese children's book "Travel, Learn and See." "I scheduled a photography session for a family portrait at my son's 6-month birthday! That was a deadline. That pressure was the extra motivation I needed! I knew that those photos would become a permanent part of my baby's history, so I wanted to look my best."

Dr. Rallie's Tips

If wanting to lose weight was all we had to do to succeed, we'd all be sashaying around the house in our skinniest skinny jeans! Unfortunately, that's not all there is to it.

Finding that spark of motivation is the most important part of your journey. From that tiny spark, you'll need to light a fire, fan the flames and build a giant bonfire of red-hot desire. It has to be huge, and it has to be powerful. The motivation it provides has to be strong enough to carry you through the tough times, when you're feeling a little down and discouraged and your friend shows up at your house with a bottle of wine and a 2-pound box of chocolates.

To find that special spark of motivation that speaks directly to you, you have to ask yourself, "Why do I want to lose weight?" Then list the most powerful, meaningful reasons that come to mind. — Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky

Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran-owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy M.D. Guides team of 150-plus mommy M.D.s and co-author of "The Mommy M.D. Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: StockSnap at Pixabay

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