Motivation: Challenge vs. Reality

Monday, March 17, 2008

I’ve been asking myself lately, what’s the secret to stay motivated when it comes to losing weight and maintaining the ideal weight. The word plateau comes to mind. There are lots of things written about motivation out there but I could not find anything that worked for me.
Here’s my situation: I’m working a lot lately. I realize life is not about following a weight loss plan only. I get up and have to work – a lot. I have to take care of the house, the bills, etc. Life just doesn’t stop because I am losing weight. What is the secret to stay motivated through life’s busy seasons?
The answer wasn’t as simplistic as I hoped for. I had to start by deciding what my personal motivations to lose weight were. I realize there are good and bad reasons to be motivated about a weight loss journey. Here are the reasons that did not work for me:

The Skinny Pair of Jeans
I lost a great amount of weight ages ago (1996). I bought a pair of jeans that was a size 4. Even when I started gaining the weight back, I looked HOT in those jeans. When I could no longer fit them, I kept my skinny jeans in the closet because I was going to wear them again. 8 years later I realized I wasn’t going to hold on to a piece of clothing with hopes to lose weight. The process could not be that simple.
I lost the skinny jeans but I held on to many, many other ‘skinny’ clothes. It was hard because in my mind I insisted I was going to fit in those clothes one day. At the same time I felt depressed when I looked at those clothes.
I faced reality when I couldn’t find the meaning of having a closet full of clothes I could not wear. In ‘Live your life for half the price” Mary Hunt says: “we wear 20 percent of the clothes we own while 80 percent are banished to the dark side of our closets.” Reading this book also encouraged me to face the truth and get rid of clothes I couldn’t wear.
I found freedom when I lost the skinny clothes. In a way, skinny clothes were a reminder of my many failures. When I think about that pair of skinny jeans, I realize it was good while I was a size 4. I am no longer where I was in 1996. I’m not what I weigh, I’m a better person, thank God.
I will be a size 4 again but fixing my eyes on a pair of skinny jeans just didn’t give me motivation enough to follow my new lifestyle in busy seasons. Maybe other people who would ‘encourage’ me could do the trick.

If you’ve been overweight since childhood, chances are you’ve been teased before. I was teased, mostly by siblings. In my early teenage years, I was teased a little less. One of the things that come to mind happened when I was 15. I don’t know why in the world I allowed a guy called me ‘the ugly one’ during a mission trip. I kept that on the inside for years. During that instance, I decided to be nice to him anyhow. I actually pretended it did not happen.
I never thought about losing weight because that guy teased me. When I was a child, I never thought about losing weight because other children teased me. I just couldn’t find a foundation strong one to support that quality decision.
I know a person who lost tons of weight after she was dumped by a boyfriend. Through a difficult life situation she found the motivation to start exercising and losing weight. That just didn’t happen to me.
Before I got married to my great, loving husband, I dated a guy who told me, ‘look at your tighs! You are gaining weight!’ When Zeke came into my life weight was never an issue. I thank God for delivering me from an evil relationship where I was judged not by the content of my heart but by the size of my thighs.
No matter how cruel people have been to me so far, I have find forgiveness and I have given forgiveness through Jesus. The most challenging situation I had recently, happened in the beginning of my lifestyle change while I was leading a Bible study called You are Not what you Weigh. I was approached by a person at church who gave me a disapproving look while telling me “what are yall doing in that class? You’re not losing any weight.” Those words hurt me a lot. Somehow I knew that was a test of my faith. It took me a while but I can finally pray God’s blessings over that person. Because people cannot encourage me to lose weight I started wondering if I could find that encouragement in myself.

I remember waking up after a not so perfect day on diet and saying: I have a brand new day full of opportunities to lead a perfect diet. Guess what? I didn’t. I had three snacks back to back. My self motivation led me no where. It seems like it works for a little while but it has no lasting results.
I love this verse: “I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory;” Psalms 44:6. Without God I could do nothing. Without Him I always fail.

A Diet
If you’ve been a reader for a while you know I no longer believe in diets. I believe in changing your lifestyle with the help of God. I’ve followed diets before. At first, I followed one prescribed by a doctor. I thought that was taking too long so I prescribed my own. That’s when the yoyo began.
How could I expect that a piece of paper would keep me motivated? A diet will not talk back to you. It will not tell you what you’re doing right and what you need to improve. A diet offers no support, no encouragement. A diet offers no mercy. If you do not do what it tells you… you are a bad, bad person.
I guess you get my point by now. A piece of paper could not give me lasting motivation. What about something I could look forward to?

An Event
There’s always an event to attend. Milestones events always inspired me to lose weight. I wanted to reach my goal by my wedding for example. I lost a great deal of weight but I didn’t reach my goal. A week or so after the weekend I could no longer fit in the dress.
I bought a small bridesmaid dress with hopes of losing weight one time. I didn’t lose the weight so they had to work a miracle and add some fabric to the back of the dress. I should post that picture here…
I’ve been tempted twice to lose weight because of two weddings. If you’ve seen my before picture on the left of this blog, it was taken at one of those weddings.
There’s proof that events (milestones or not) did not help me to keep motivated on my weight loss journey.
Who could save me from this vicious cycle???