For everything we do there needs to be a motivation. Sometimes we say we want to do something but that we’re not motivated enough to put in the effort or we start something but quit a short time later. The things worth having take a lot of work to achieve. In order to put in that hard work you must have the motivation to want it badly enough.
Your Weight Loss Journey Does Not Have an End Date
When I started my final weight loss journey on January 21, 2017, I was approaching it with a mindset I had never had before. In the past I had tried to lose weight with a specific end goal in mind, e.g. I was going to graduate school and didn’t want to be fat for it, I was going to be a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding and wanted to look good in the dress, etc. All of these attempts had a perceived end point, they weren’t undertaken with the idea that they would be a life-long journey.
While specific events are good secondary short-term motivation sources, they won’t last over the long term. You have to find your motivation inside and then cultivate it and keep it alive. What motivates you may change over time but fundamentally it starts with you.
Find Motivation Within
When I started this final weight loss journey I knew I no longer wanted to be overweight. As I got older I knew trying to lose weight was only going to get more difficult. My son was growing up, becoming more active, and I wanted to be able to keep up with him. I was always tired and wanted to have more energy. Overall, I wanted to be a better version of me. I was my motivation. Me.
I entered into this journey with the mindset that this was going to be the last time. It wasn’t the last time because there would be a defined beginning and end, it was the last time because this was for the rest of my life. Going into it knowing that, as well as knowing that this time I was doing it for me, was what I believe contributed to my success.
Resist the Urge to Quit
I know what you’re thinking, that’s all well and good, you went in with the best of intentions, thinking you wanted it for the right reasons, we all do that. What do you do when things get hard and you just want to quit?
Take Progress Pictures
In the early days of my journey I would take regular progress pictures and compare them against my starting pictures. Being able to visualize how far you’ve come can help spark your motivation. Seeing the differences also helps you see the results of all your hard work.
Try on Clothes
I would try on clothes that had either gotten too big or clothes I hadn’t worn in awhile because they had been too small before; many times even those clothes were too big. Being able to see the results of the many months of hard work was motivation in itself.
Read Success Stories
I would read success stories online or in magazines. Reading about what others have gone through and their successes kept me motivated. Knowing there were other people out there going through similar things was very helpful to me.
Seek Out Support
I would visit weight loss message boards and read and respond to posts. Sharing your struggles with others who are going through the same thing can be therapeutic. I would also talk to my personal support system who were always there to help or listen.
White Knuckle It
Sometimes you have to “white knuckle” it to keep going, i.e. hang on until a new day dawns. I have found that many times the white knuckling is due to an outside stressor and I’m trying not to eat my feelings. Sometimes I succeeded with white knuckling and sometimes I didn’t. If I didn’t I always forgave myself. Usually I would kick myself the next day anyway saying why did I do that? Once you do that enough times your ability to stop yourself before things get out of hand improves.
Weigh Yourself Daily
I weigh myself daily to keep myself in check. Many people say you shouldn’t weigh yourself daily and that you become too reliant on the scale and let it have too much control. I agree, if you let the scale have that kind of power over you then you shouldn’t weigh yourself every day. If you don’t let it have the power, the information you gather can be very useful. I weigh in daily as a means to keep track of how I’m doing. I also use it as a guide over time.
No one weight alone determines success, it’s the overall pattern over time that matters. No weight loss journey is going to be a straight line, it’s more of a rollercoaster ride. There will be peaks and valleys but as long as the general trend is going in the right direction you’re still on track. If not, then you can take the time to understand why and make any necessary corrections.
I use daily weigh ins to better understand how my body reacts to things. If one day the scale is showing my weight up a bit I think about why that might be. Maybe I’m retaining water or had a heavy dinner the night before or maybe I drank some wine with dinner. Usually those small fluctuations aren’t permanent and things right themselves over time. Getting to learn about and understand your body is a key part of the overall journey.
The moment I stop weighing myself daily is when I get into trouble. When I find myself avoiding things it’s usually because there’s something I need to address but don’t want to. As the saying goes, ignorance is bliss. The problem with that is the longer you avoid it, the worse it gets over time until you reach a point where you just give up.
Weighing in daily has become part of my morning routine. I don’t dwell on it, I just step on the scale, let the number register, and go on my way. I capture the daily weigh-in information on my phone automatically so the data is there for me to look at later.
Check In Regularly
The most important thing I do is regularly ask myself why I’m doing this. I ask myself questions like:
- Why is this important?
- Do I really (still) want it?
- Am I willing to continue to put the time and effort in to keep things moving in the right direction?
- Do I want to go back to the way I used to be?
- How will my son feel if I’m be too tired to play him?
- Do I want to have to struggle to find something to wear because all of the clothes in my closet won’t fit?
- Why do I want to throw away all the hard work I’ve put in to get this far?
I take the time to really think about the questions and my answers to them. Having those honest, real ‘conversations’ with myself help keep everything in perspective and strengthen my desire to see what happens if I don’t quit.
You Can Quit, Just Not Today
I recently watched a clip from an interview with Nastia Liukin, a US Olympic gold medalist in women’s gymnastics. She talked about the times she wanted to quit gymnastics. She would come home from the gym tired, sore, and saying she didn’t want to do it anymore.
Nastia would tell her mother she wanted to quit gymnastics and her mother said okay, you can quit, but not today. You have to go back to the gym the next day, and the next day, and the next day, until you have one good day. Nastia was incredulous, saying what do you mean? I want to quit now. Her mother said she’d never force her to stick with gymnastics except for today.
So Nastia would go back to the gym and a few days later she’d inevitably have a good day. At that point her mom would say, okay, good, now you can quit gymnastics. We’ll get you enrolled in public school and find you another activity you enjoy. Nastia, once again incredulous, said, “what are you talking about? I never said I wanted to quit!”
Never Let Bad Days Drive Decisions
The moral of the story is we’re all going to have bad days, that’s a given, but you can’t quit just because you had one or even several bad days. On a good day if you come to the conclusion that something isn’t for you or find your interests have changed, that’s fine, but you can’t let your bad days dictate your life decisions.
If you want to see the clip I reference above, you can find it on Facebook at:
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for finding motivation, you have to figure out what drives you personally to keep going. I always try to remember that every day is an opportunity. Yesterday I may not have eaten as well as I should have but today is a new opportunity to do things better.
Learning how to find your motivation is an ongoing process. It’s not something you’re always going to find overnight. Over time you start to better understand yourself and figure out what works and what doesn’t. With the right motivation you can achieve whatever you set your mind to, you just have to want it badly enough to continue to work for it, bad days and all.