Home > General > Staying Motivated (or – How I Keep from Crapping Out…)

Staying Motivated (or – How I Keep from Crapping Out…)

February 2, 2010

When you’re making lifestyle changes and trying to lose what can seem like an overwhelming amount of weight – there are inevitably times when you just want to say, “screw it,” and eat the jelly doughnut. I will say those times get fewer and farther between the longer I do this, but sometimes when it’s time to jump on the treadmill, or time to pass over a deep fried menu item that’s calling your name, you have to have some strategies to keep yourself motivated. Here are a few of mine.

1) If they can do it, so can I… So far, I think this has been the single most useful strategy for me.  Basically, I seek out stories of others who have lost large amounts of weight – a lot.  Almost everyday, I check one of my favorite websites that profiles people who’ve achieved their health and fitness goals.  One great one in my city is our local paper’s website – the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  I have a link to their Weight Loss Success stories on the right hand side of the screen under “Resources.”  They also profile a new weight loss success story about once a week, and keep a link on their homepage under lifestyle.   The Today Show also does great profiles of weight loss success stories, including the weekly Joy Fit Club segment, profiling those who’ve lost 100+ pounds.  I finally realized that I’m no different from these people – if they can do it, so can I!

2)  Old pictures can haunt you… Last week, I came across some photos of myself at my highest weight ever, around the holidays in 2008.  It’s remarkable these photos even exists, as I avoided cameras like the plague at that weight.  If I saw a camera approaching, I’d ask nicely that the eager and smiley friend or relative (turned photographer) retreat, then I’d threaten, then I’d take evasive maneuvers – stealthily disappearing from the situation as the shutter clicked.  Somehow, these photos slipped through the cracks.  Just to see the difference in the weight I’ve lost so far (37 pounds from when I started this journey in October 2009, and probably 45 pounds lighter than my weight in those photos) is enough to keep me away from the french fries and on the treadmill most days.  The thing I notice most is how uncomfortable I was in my own skin.  One of those photos is tucked in the corner of my bathroom mirror now, so I see it and rededicate myself to these efforts each and every morning.

3)  Accountability… I’m a people pleaser (in some ways).  Maybe the better description is that I keep my word.  If I tell someone I’m going to do something, it’s important to me to do it, so having some mechanisms for accountability in place are crucial for me.  I’d tried having an exercise/diet buddy a couple of times in the past, and for me, that just didn’t work.  A friend or family member, no matter how honest they’ll be with you, also has a history with you that you can’t totally divorce from their encouragement in this area.  It’s not a bad thing, but losing weight can be a touchy subject, and sometimes that history – whatever it is, needs to be checked at the door, which just isn’t possible to do.   What I really needed was someone detached and knowledgeable to whom I was accountable, and I found that in my nutritionist and my trainer.  These are my “coaches” in this effort who keep me on track.  And while it’s not for everyone, blogging has provided great accountability for me, too.  I mean, would you want to put all this stuff out on the freakin’ world wide web, and then not follow-through?  Yeah – me neither.

4)  Cut myself some slack… I’ve said this before, but I really do believe that you can’t make any food or foodgroup verboten if you want to be successful long-term.  I know there are some rabid healthy eaters out there who think refined sugars should never pass our lips and high fructose corn syrup is the devil’s nectar (and it well may be), but if I tell myself I can NEVER have something again, that just does something psychologically to me that makes me not want to pursue this at all.  So while I’m not saying you should eat foods like that regularly, a realistic lifestyle change, at least for me, is to say that most days of the week I’ll eat lean, nutritious foods, but if every now and then I want something kind of unhealthy like key lime pie (which I had for my mom’s birthday dinner tonight) or hush puppies (yes, I’m southern), I have them.  In moderation.  It isn’t cheating or going off my diet, and it doesn’t mean I’ve fallen off the wagon and should binge.  It just means it’s a treat that I don’t have all that often.  Nothing more; nothing less.

So that’s what I do to stay motivated; what about you?  Leave a comment and share your strategies!

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  1. February 3, 2010 at 12:13 AM

    I think for me the biggest motivator is setting goals. My original goal was to lose weight and get down below 200 lbs. Now it’s getting down to 160. And my goals are constantly changning and further fetched than before. My near plan is to run a 10K under 50 minutes. Then my longer term plan is to run a marathon. My even longer plan is to qualify for the Boston marathon.

    I also like accountability. That is part of the reason why I blog about my journey. I want to share my success with all my readers and it gives me motivation not to fall off the wagon.

  2. February 3, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    I like looking at other folks blogs as well. I find it very motivating. I’m also a believer in setting goals. Accountability is crucial as well.

  3. February 4, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    I love it, another great post from you.

    What motivates me and keeps me on track are a number of things, one is my blog. It keeps me on track, and keeps me accountable. Another is the fact that I feel better, can do more, look better, can buy nice clothes now, etc etc etc. I don’t ever want to go back to being 300+ pounds.. that’s my motivation.

  4. February 4, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Great points. That’s so true about the photos. I’m straight up haunted by old images of myself, and even certain current bothersome physical attributes. I take it out on the gym equipment. As far as bad food avoidance goes, I make it clear to myself that eating that leads to a person I don’t want to be. Works most of the time. Also I tend to pack all my meals and not eat anything else. Don’t want the food to go bad, right.

  5. February 4, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    I use similar motivational tools as you. The one that I have trouble with though is #4 – I try too hard to be perfect so when I make a mistake I feel like I’ve ruined everything!

    • Chad
      February 4, 2010 at 9:09 PM

      I think what you mention, Carla, that feeling of not having been perfect, is probably the single biggest reason I’ve failed at diets in the past. And that’s what feels different for me this time around. I think something has clicked in me that I’m not dieting, I’m living my life. I’m just trying to do it more healthily. Having something decadent every now and then is part of life for me – I just try to do it less often and with better portion control than I used to. I don’t remember where I heard this quote, but I love it – “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good.” Maybe I’ll devote a whole post to this sometime soon – because it’s a big thing I’ve struggled with through the years.

  1. February 7, 2010 at 9:58 PM
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