Thursday, January 23, 2014

The motivation myth


For years I have been asked about how you get motivated enough to lose 200+ pounds.  The Mr and I did countless diets over our lives both before and after we met.  From Cabbage Soup to WW style programs to the low fat craze of the 90's.  Dieting has been a part of my life since I was young.  My mom was always dieting at one time or another and the smell of yogurt makes me want to barf because 1) it reminds me of the times that would be all she had for breakfast and 2) that chit is nasty.  All I saw when she dieted was deprivation and I continued that train of thought because back then, none of us knew better than thinking 70 calories for breakfast might not have us become seething beasts by dinnertime.  I had plenty of things that could've motivated me to lose weight over the years.  In high school, just having a school boyfriend wasn't enough to kick me into gear after two failed pseudo-relationships my freshman year.  When I finally got serious my Senior year is when I met the Mr and we both just lost about the same amount and even though we were still fat, we accepted and loved each other.  Why keep dieting?  We gained weight as the blissful dating period carried on and then came the engagement.  Surely a wedding would be enough motivation to lose weight, especially when back at that time bridal gowns went up to 24 with one or two bland ones thrown in for the 26 girls.  Well you know how gowns run smaller?  Well I was a 26 and bought a 24 that fit like a 22 and with a 2 year engagement, surely I could get the weight off.  Nope.  I should've been at GOAL weight for my wedding and had to sell the dress to get another one but I was basically the same weight I was when I bought the dress which meant gussets and darts.  For those not down with alteration lingo, that meant they had to add panels to the sides so my big azz would fit into it.  I look at our wedding pics and I still see how ill fitting that dress was and it makes me sad.

After many family issues from diseases and deaths and eating our feelings...work stress and eating our feelings...had a good day, had a bad day, had a boring day...ate our feelings we got to maximum density.  Even becoming a hermit and literally not being able to fit into society anymore at restaurants, first class plane seats with discomfort (don't be fooled, first class seats aren't much bigger than coach), not being able to fully enjoy vacations we paid stupid money for or feeling like people were staring even when they weren't was NOT ENOUGH motivation to lose weight.

The only thing that did it for us initially at 494 and 455 lbs was the Mr having a health scare and it was weight related.  It finally caught up with us and because I loved him more than myself, I knew we had no choice but to do something.  Was it motivating when the weight seemed to melt off and the compliments flowed like fine wine?  Sure.  Of course it would be.  But then we "settled in."  Life gets better, we can do things we never thought we would be able to do, we can walk confidently down a street without fear of someone yelling at us because we're not the biggest people there anymore and walking to the kitchen doesn't make us winded.  Then the compliments stop and it's not like we need them to know we're doing the right thing but that "shine" of the journey has worn off.  This is just life now and even though we want to be smaller, we say things like "I want to lose more but if I *HAD* to stay this weight the rest of my life, I could be okay with it."  But it's not really okay.  We went off the rails over the holidays and some of it I don't regret.  I don't regret having an uber college football shindig with a friend where I made way too much food or going out with the Mr's mom mid week to a horrifically calorie laden meal and sharing turtles from a chocolatier from their old neighborhood.  I don't regret the cups of hot cocoa while watching the Christmas lights every now and then.

But even after all of the indulgences comes that feeling of just being uncomfortable.  Things fit tighter.  The rings don't slide around like they usually do, the jeans fit different, hell...the underwear fit different, those more hollow parts of the body are now filled back in with bloat, inflammation and fat.  I stuffed my face with every cookie, candy and sweet I wanted over the holiday season.  No, I have no idea how much I really gained because we both knew if we weighed ourselves at the time we made a plan that it could send us into a spiral even further downward.  We made up some rules about how we were going to approach Saturdays and the weeks ahead and we said he had to support each other no matter how ugly it got.  Then we went all Nike and just did it.

We were not motivated to do it.  Far from it.  I actually resented having to do it.  We might've exercised throughout the holiday season but my heart wasn't in it and I'll be honest, sometimes it rarely feels like my heart is in it.  I try to catch myself when I feel like I'm half assing it and push a little harder because I know going through the motions doesn't burn crap.  I get tired of having some of the same old dishes but I'm not always motivated to think of something else.  I did do a new dish this weekend on the fly and we both liked it but it was out of using what we had left not because I felt creative.  It doesn't matter that we have a vacation coming up within the next few months because do you know how many vacations we've tried to lose weight for?  ALL of them.  It doesn't matter that a decade ago I told myself that by my birthday this year I'd better have been at my goal weight for at least two-three years by now.  I'm probably two really angelic years off from that and it sucks.  But honestly, I'm at an age where I can't rely on cutesy things like looking good in a dress or a reunion or some crap like that.  I mean, if that works for others, more power to you.  You're better than I am.  But don't wait around for some kind of motivation voodoo that they try to sell you to get healthy that likely will never show up at your door.  You don't do it because you're motivated to do it, you do it because you're a grown ass woman or man and when you check off your daily box of "to do's", you should be at the top of the list.  Because if you're worried about everyone else, you're not doing them any favors by keeling over and leaving them because you couldn't "find time" to exercise or eat better.  If we can "find time" to catch up on the DVR, crush fake candy on the phone, gripe to a girlfriend or any of the other things we seem to make time for then we've got time to exercise or plan meals for the next day/week.  Not because we're motivated and gung ho with pom pom's in our hands but because it's what needs to be done to get us to where we want to go.

I want to keep making good decisions and learning and improving this weight loss adventure and not give in to thoughts like 'it's not a race' or some other excuse we tell ourselves to justify how slowly we're losing because we're not really doing everything we can to get the job done.  But I'm not getting any younger and just the regular affects of aging are starting to rear their heads here and there.  I don't need to add still being 100 lbs overweight to that.  If you told me 7 years ago when we started this whole thing that I still wouldn't be at goal, I probably wouldn't have bothered to start because that would just be depressing to be that long in and still not in a healthy weight range.  For 3 years we've stayed relatively the same and last year I started the last month of the year at the same weight I came into the year.

That sucks.  Period.

I used to wait for that motivation as an excuse to do something.  It never came.  Instead potentially life threatening repercussions started throwing pebbles at our window and that doesn't just happen to the super morbidly obese...it can happen to anyone choosing to not get committed to a plan and stick to it.  I care about each one of you and I want you to put YOURSELF first.  I care about the Mr and I living a good, long life together that is going to be fun to look back on when we're on the front porch resting after a kayaking session when we're 90.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some meals to plan and maybe some exercise too because I've slacked on pre-planning that and that needs to stop.

What steps have you/will you take to get on track and stay there?  Are these just words or will you put them into action?

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19 comments:

  1. It is so true that motivation is not really what makes it all happen in the end. That's not to say that motivation doesn't come in handy at times but you ultimately need more than pure motivation to be successful at this game. Especially at the point in the journey that we are at because we have to just continue to chip away day by day and there is absolutely nothing motivating about that day in and day out. If we relied solely on motivation we'd have given up years ago like we have in the past. The reason we're still chipping away is because we've finally learned to change our behaviors because we know deep down that we need to for our health and for our happiness.

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    1. "Especially at the point in the journey that we are at because we have to just continue to chip away day by day and there is absolutely nothing motivating about that day in and day out."

      WORD

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  2. This post is so good, any comment I make would just distract from it.

    I'll just say this. I did a hard reset on myself at the start of the year (acting as if I've never lost an ounce) and it's helping. So is my sticker reward sheet (yup, I reward myself like a toddler learning to use the potty--but I don't care how ridiculous it looks, it's working).

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    1. Girl, we used sticker sheets for YEARS, no shame in that. You do what you need to do to get the job done, yo!

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  3. One of your best posts ever. Paragraph 3 is amazing.

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    1. Aww, thanks! Now I have to go back and re-read paragraph 3! LOL

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  4. Good post, really good.

    I'm maintaining my loss, I'm at my goal (which is MY goal, not the goal range you'll see on any damn chart, but I goal that is realistic for me) but maintaining is hard.

    I feel like I ate as you and the Mr. did over the holidays. I did maintain but I felt like crap. I've done a re-set, it actually began on Tuesday by tracking my eating and getting back to a decent calorie range and good food. It's not easy and probably never will be, but I do it for ME!

    Like you said, I want to grow old with my hubby and be active and healthy. It's no fun being sick and sedentary! (What the heck did I work so hard for and save money for retirement if I can't enjoy the money???)

    Thanks!

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    1. Good on ya for maintaining and being at a goal that is comfortable for you. It's like I don't know that I'll ever reach that sweet spot on the medical charts but I'd be happy being under 200. As tall as I am, I think that would look fine on me because 150 ain't happenin'. Here's to being healthy old ladies! :-)

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  5. I agree, great blog. It's so funny because I remember when I Sparkmailed you or something when I first started losing at my heaviest....I asked you how you got motivated and I think you told me something like 'there is no such thing as being motivated'. (I probably got that wrong but I think it's the jist.) I had no idea what you were talking about at the time but now I get it. I was waiting and waiting for motivation to just strike me but it never did, so, I just got off my butt and did it.

    I agree with a lot of the other things you said too. The past two months I've been at what I was calling a plateau. Really it was just me not doing all I could to make things happen. It had nothing to do with my body chemistry. I've lost 70ish lbs and I'm now at my "normal weight" which is still really heavty. Sometimes I think what you did, I could live at this weight....but what would my qualitiy of life be? How many years of my life would I be wasting?

    I always thought I was so darn selfish but I've been realizing that I've done nothing for myself health wise my entire life. What a slap to the head. It takes effort, we slip, we get back up and get at it again.

    Finally, this isn't an option for me anymore (and it did take a health scare for me too--my Mom and Dad) and waiting for motivation or Monday isn't going to get it done. One foot in front of the other lady! Thanks so much for being a support system!

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    1. Yeah, I'm sure I did say something very similar and I try to make that point to anyone who asks. (Now I'll just refer them to this post! LOL) It can be hard to understand but I think we tend to get so wrapped up in this myth that we have to be gung ho and have our hearts in it for weight loss to happen and we don't. That magical feeling that some get when the calendar flips or when they've had their "a-ha moment" only hangs around for so long.

      I can't remember who said it but I was griping about not losing weight and they referred to our plateau and I said "this isn't a plateau...three year plateau means you gotta be real with what you are or aren't doing anymore to get the job done." So let's all keep putting one foot in front of the other and reach our goal, whatever that may be, together.

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  6. Wow, an amazing, emotional post, thanks for sharing! I am in exactly the same place trying to find Motivation and it's not working but very insightful post to Keep me thinking THANK YOU!

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    1. You're very welcome! I hope it helps and never give up!

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  7. Ouch - this one hits close to home and heart. I have all kinds of plan swirling in my head, but somehow they never reach reality. There are so many things that "have to" get done every day (dishes, work stuff, feed the kid...) that many of my "need to" things (workouts, meal planning...) get shoved to the back burner. The my "want to" list (books, the dvr...) end up getting attended to first because I'm too mentally exhausted to do anything that needs thought. I have to find a way to reorder my events of the day.

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  8. Great, great post. It took me a while but I figured out that a special event, wedding, class reunion, just did not motivate me to lose weight. I wanted to lose weight for my wedding, but I didn't. I have gained and lost weight so many times over the last several years and I finally figured out, with a little help from a therapist, that I was never doing it for me. I thought being skinny would be the answer to so many things and it just isn't. The last couple of years 10 or so pounds crept back on and have stayed and I was ok with that because I needed to deal with and still am dealing with the mental weight. So, I think I am ready to do this for me, lose the last few pounds and keep them off, but I'll be ok if I don't because I am slowly but surely liking myself better. That is what is motivating me right now, that I want to do it for me.

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    1. Good for you for working on you. Many of us who are overweight or obese tend to think magically all of our problems will be solved when we're thin/fit. They don't go away until we work on ourselves.

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  9. You have just basically told my story, only it took several health scares before I finally got motivated. I was almost 60 years old and knew the doctor telling me, "The EKG seems to show you've already had a heart attack," was NOT GOOD. My mother and grandmother both died in their early 60's of heart incidents, and I was scared. Seriously scared. You'd think the thought of going back to that place where I was so afraid of dying, would be motivation enough to keep the weight off. You'd think. It's not. I was on 5 meds for blood pressure control, none of which worked all that well. Now I'm on NONE. I don't want to have to go back to taking all those expensive and ineffective prescriptions for something that can be controlled so easily, by losing the weight. Like you say, I can walk down the street without fear of rude comments being tossed about. I fit into the regular sized seats of the world, and going to the doctor (I'm having surgery next Tue.) is no longer a completely humiliating experience, with gowns, instruments, and even examining tables which are too small for me. Everything fits and that is good.

    But like you, over Christmas I was BAD. Really BAD. And it is hard (just as I knew it would be if I ever went that far off track) to get back ON TRACK. Really hard. But everyday I wake up with new resolve and so perhaps there is still hope? Du went with me to my pre-op physical yesterday and heard my weight (169)....so he has made a few comments about making sure to get those extra pounds back off. He said something about how I needed to not let those people down who look at me for inspiration. He never said anything before to me about my weight, even when I weighed 328 lbs. And I find myself resenting him saying anything to me about it now. It doesn't motivate me at all when others try to push me into losing weight, so I avoid that with my morbidly obese middle son. I worry about his weight (close to 500 lbs.), but I know there's nothing I can do or say, so I try to lead by example. My example, lately, hasn't been all that good, but with every day....there's new hope!

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    1. Yeah I definitely don't take kindly to someone saying something about my weight needing to be addressed. (Thinking of the old days) But I also go to the other perspective of seeing my mom who even though she's had WLS, has regained weight and it is limiting her mobility and I see a shortened life in her future if she doesn't get it under control, I have talked to her about how scared I am for her if SHE mentions her weight. I'm sure Du, particularly given his current situation, was saying it from a place of love knowing that if you should one day be without him, he wants you to be healthy. Unless it was said with an attitude, then tell him to mind his bidness! LOL No but seriously, don't be a statistic. The one that says people who lose large amounts of weight are doomed to gain it back. Show them up. I know people look to you for inspiration but don't take that on your shoulders. You have to live an authentic life that is true to YOURSELF. It can be nice to be inspiration to others but we are also not responsible for their journey, just our own.

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  10. For me, OA has made a HUGE difference in how I view myself. I still struggle with verbally abusing myself, but OA has taught me how to take one meal, one day at a time...and to mind my own business. I don't have to focus on anybody else's program/choices (nor should I). What works for someone may not work for me, and vice versa. One of the best things I've heard in my meetings is "Don't Tease the Disease". And boy oh boy has that taught me some serious lessons! I used to think I was *strong* and *I got this* if I forced myself to walk down "those aisles" in the grocery store (i.e. trigger aisles) or put myself in a social situation where I was surrounded by temptation. Truth is, that would eventually bring me to a place of self-justification and I'd eat something that would lead to more eating, and so on and so on and so on. I've learned that certain foods are just out and out triggers for me and they have no place in my life--and shock of all shocks, I'm still alive! =o) It's been a real eye opener to me (and this is recently) and I'm able to say goodbye to certain foods because they truly don't bring me joy (food shouldn't anyway for me) and I spend too much time stressing about them. I guess it goes back to not taking that first compulsive bite, then I don't have to worry about any of the ones that follow. I finally have a food plan that works for me and that's truly doable instead of obsessive/not realistic. I'm very excited that I'll be working about 3 miles from home starting in February, so I can come home at lunch to let the dogs out and eat my lunch then. That really opens up my options for meals. Very excited!

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