I Found a Quick Fix for Motivation!


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  86 comments   :  24,372 Views

By SparkPeople member Megan Gale (GALE.MEGAN)

I've found a quick fix for motivation/body image issues! Want to know what it is?

Sign up for a race.

Mine is a long story, but I promise, itíll make perfect sense, so bear with me! I started my weight loss journey after my fiancť, Kyle, proposed on December 27, 2007. I had always been thin and fairly active (hiking, yoga, rafting, skiing), and had never really watched what I ate.
As the years went on and my metabolism slowed, I gradually increased in my dress size, first from a size 4 to a size 6 in college, then from a size 6 to an 8/10 in graduate school. When Kyle proposed, I began to realize that my body wasn't what it used to be, and I wanted to look perfect for my wedding in August 2009. I knew what I had to do: eat right and exercise.

Diet pills really werenít an optionóI wanted to make a lifestyle change and didnít want a quick fix (a pill) to fix the problem that could lead to more trouble down the road (a screwed-up metabolism). So I joined a gym with my good friend Alie, and signed up for the free session with a personal trainer at the gym. I showed up at the gym in my cute little yoga top and bottoms, fully expecting the trainer to tell me, ďYou don't need to lose weight! You look GREAT!" I got the shock of my life and started to cry when I stepped on the scale: 184. My driver's license (from high school, mind you), said I weighed 150 pounds. I was shocked and angry at myself that I had slowly piled on 34 pounds over the years. My BMI was at 25, directly on the border of healthy and overweight. How could I have let myself get out of control--I didn't even own a scale!

After a rigorous workout with the trainer, Erin, I hired her for 12 training sessions. You'd think that paying for a personal trainer and losing weight for your wedding would provide some motivation to get on the wagon, right? Wrong. Though Erin was amazing, 12 sessions divided over six weeks wasn't enough to get my body back on track. I was working out pretty hard and hungry ALL THE TIME, and was consistently erasing my hard work at the gym by overeating at home (and yup--you CAN overeat on the healthy stuff, too!). I did lose some weight and body fat, but the best thing I gained from Erin was learning how to run.

For my entire life, I HATED to run, but it wasn't until I hired Erin that I realized why: I was running wrong. I'd hit the ground with the ball of my foot first instead of the heel. Though I didn't LOVE it, I felt like after my training sessions, I could actually run with little pain, and was beginning to enjoy it. During our training sessions, Erin was training for Robie Creek, the toughest half marathon in the West. I'd always wanted to race; I had a friend who was a member of "The Breakfast Club," which was a group of friends that would get together every Sunday morning for breakfast and a marathon training run.

Each year, they picked a different marathon to do. The walls of her living room were covered with posters from those marathons (signed by all the members of the Breakfast Club, of course). I always thought that was so neat, and such an accomplishment, but when I was working out with my trainer, I felt like there was no way I could ever do one. I kept up with my workouts, but it wasn't until I joined Spark People last July that I really started to see results. I knew what to eat and how much for the first time. That alone was worthwhile. I learned about balance and moderation. I entered every bit of food I put into my mouth.

As the weight started to come off (I'm at 157, with a goal weight of 140 for my wedding), I started to think I might be able to do a race someday. Kyle was training for the Ironman 70.3, and I was always inspired by his dedication. This sounds TOTALLY cheesy, but when I was watching a recent season of The Biggest Loser, I was SUPER inspired by Helen. Here was this 48-year-old woman, who, three months before was obese, finishing a MARATHON. I said to myself that if she could do it, I could do it.

During the commercial break, I signed up for my first 5K. My new-year's resolution morphed from a rather ambiguous "lose weight and look perfect" to "run a 5K and a 10K in 2009; do a half marathon and a marathon in 2010." After trying to lose weight for 15 months, you can get pretty burned out from the diet restrictions and exercising all the time. I found that when I was training for that 5K, it was easier to focus. Working out had a purpose and the purpose was to prove to myself that I could do it. Fifteen months ago, I couldn't do 20 minutes on the treadmill without feeling like I was going to die. On May 16, I ran 3.1 miles in 33 minutes, and never felt prouder of anything in my life. I know that 3.1 miles isn't very far, but it was the first step to accomplishing my goals. After I crossed that finish line, I had my own Biggest Loser moment. This time last year, I had told Kyle I couldn't do what I just did. Now, eight weeks out from my wedding, I'm training for my first triathlon (just a mini-one: 1/4-mile swim, 5-mile bike, 2-mile run). It's no Ironman, but itís a start.

Speaking of Ironman, Kyle finished the 70.3 miler (1.3-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and 13-mile run!) in 6:08. After the race, as I was collecting Kyleís bags and his bicycle, I met a really friendly man in his mid-60s. He had placed first in his age divisionóthe 55 and older group. He told me he just started running three years ago, and just started doing triathlons two years ago. Now here he was, mid-60s, placing first in his age group on a 70.3 mile race! Again I thought to myself, ďIf he can do it, I can do it!Ē

Since Iíve been training for my 5K and my mini-triathlon, Iíve eased up on myself a little and am beginning to appreciate my body for all it can do--how fast it can go, how hard it can work--flaws and all. Iím far from perfect, but training for races has given me an appreciation for my body the way it is, now, not in 15 pounds, not in a dress size. And all this training will undoubtedly help me reach my goal weight and look FANTASTIC for my wedding. Itís just amazingóand encouragingóto look at what I can do now and what Iím capable of now versus where I was a year ago. And thatís more than I could say 15 months ago. Training for a race isnít about coming in first; itís about dedicating yourself to finishing, and proving to yourself that you can do it.

Admittedly, I wanted to lose weight for my wedding and look ďperfectĒ to impress other people (but donít we all?). No wonder Iíve lost my motivation! But with racing, I feel like Iím doing it just for ME. Iím doing it to prove to the 184-pound version of me that there was a 140-pound person hiding under there and that that person is capable of anything. Iím doing it to prove to myself that Iíll NEVER be that heavy again. Iím doing it to prove I can put in the time, dedicate myself to finishing, and know I can do it. Iím doing it to prove I can, to prove Iím worth itóto myself. And thatís an empowering feeling, something no one can ever take away from me. And thatís more than I could say 15 months ago.

Megan has been a member of Spark People since July 2008. Though always active with hiking, skiing, rafting, and yoga, she gained weight after graduating from college and getting a sedentary desk job. She lives in Boise, Idaho, with her incredibly supportive fiancť, Kyle. They plan on running a 10K in October, the Robie Creek half marathon next spring, and the Portland marathon in 2010. Long term, they want to train for and compete in triathlons together.

Megan hopes she is able to "Spread the Spark" by making healthy lifestyle choices, and living the example she hopes to set. Her new mantra is "If they can do it, so can I!" She wants other people reading this to know that no matter your weight or current fitness level, there is NOTHING you can't do. You may not be able to do it now, but if you keep chipping away at it, you'll make progress and get there!

Do you have an inspirational story you think we should include on the dailySpark? Do you have any funny stories about weight loss? Send them to editor@dailyspark.com. Include the subject line: From the Mouths of Members

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  • 86
    Very cool for you! I am a recent running convert myself. I never remember enjoying to run (even though I'm sure I did alot of it in the Army, I just don't remember it). I've completed 2 5ks and am working towards moving to a 6k.

    Congrats on your successes, your personal triumphs and your goals! You can do it! On a side note, it was exceedingly cool to see one of the bloggers be from my local area! Thanks for putting the Boise area on the map! :) - 5/24/2011   2:05:03 PM
    Fabulous I agree It wasn't until I joined the virtual 5k on here that I broke my weight plateau and organized my excerciseprogram
    WOO HOO - 3/20/2011   9:45:01 AM
    My goal is to be at my best healthy weight by my daughters wedding, August 2011. Otherwise, your story is similar to mine and I look forward to enjoying the same results as you. I just completed my first 5 k and agreed to another. I appreciate your comments about being grateful to your body for how it is and what it can do. These same thoughts have been creeping around in my brain for a while now and sometimes even come right out of my mouth. I'm happy to see I share similar views with such a very successful person! - 10/7/2010   11:06:06 PM
  • 83
    Megan Thank You for the Motivation - I have been wanting to run a 5k and I think by Summer I will have lost enough weight and be ready for that 5k.. Thank you for sharing. - 2/10/2010   8:27:25 PM
  • 82
    This is a great story to inspire people to start running races, even if they've never been runners! I just started running in 2005 and ran a full marathon in 2006! You might have to force yourself for a while, but it eventually does become addicting! - 1/23/2010   2:37:21 PM
    Great motiviational story. I find that the goal of running in a race is a great motivation and the feeling when you finish is even better!! Thanks for sharing! - 1/23/2010   2:17:18 PM
  • 80
    Thanks for sharing. I can't run due to traumatic knee injuries, but I can walk. I started off this year joining the Fitness Ctr at work and have started using the treadmill and elliptical machines. I used to walk every day with my dog, Ripley. After she passed away a year ago, I just haven't felt motivated. Yesterday I received an email from the Baltimore Women's Classic ( a 5K run/walk for families) and then today I read you blog... I think this is my time. :-) - 1/23/2010   8:54:07 AM
    Wow, this is a great motivational story. I never thought that I could run, because I am so out of breath, when just walking, especially up stairs. I always thought it was because I am overweight. But now I believe that I could run, with the proper training. I always thought it would be so rewarding to run a marathon, but never thought I could make it past the first mile. I am almost 43, and I now believe that it is not too late for me to get in shape, and compete in a race. Thanks for story, it has given me great encouragement. I am new to SP, and have a lot of weight to lose to reach my goal, but this has definitely motivated me to stick with it, and become the person, that I know and want to be. See ya at the finish line. - 1/22/2010   11:21:18 PM
  • 78
    Your story brought tears. As I read it it was as if you were talking about my thoughts and feelings. I was so thin until I started college, had a family, and begin working at a desk. My weight has gradually increased. When I see others running I envy them but always feel I "can't." Your story has given me hope. Thank You. - 1/22/2010   12:32:15 AM
  • MOM210
    I am so inspired! I would love to run a race but I'm about 110 pounds overweight. I don't think I can run until I lose some of it. I just started walking! But a few months ago I was barely able to walk, so I know it will come. Thanks for the inspiration and congratulations! - 1/18/2010   7:49:13 PM
  • WSUTTON0315
    Congratulations on finding your motivation and for encouraging others to find theirs and to live a more healthy lifestyle! - 1/18/2010   3:27:10 PM
  • 75
    I would love to run. I tried recently, only to find the pain in my knees unbearable. So I tried doing intervals; that made the pain worse. How does someone who has such horrific knee pain begin to run? Your story was truly inspirational and makes me want to run. I just hate the pain that comes along with it. - 11/13/2009   10:14:50 PM
    This entire past week I've been debating on signing up for a half marathon thats in March....after reading this...I think I'm gonna just go for it! - 11/4/2009   10:36:29 AM
  • 73
    You go girl! This story was truly inspiring and really hit home for me! Keep it up! - 10/5/2009   5:30:25 PM
    Thank-you! What a wonderfully encouraging story. Stories like yours are just the thing I need to keep my motivation up! - 9/28/2009   10:14:30 PM
  • BANOFFEE1981
    Extremely motivational! It also sounds a lot like me. I've spent my teenage and young adulthood walking a lot, exercising like mad and since I started working at 21, I constantly fight with the scales. It's becoming all the more easier for me to pile up (when I was still exercising I would only take on about 3 kg's, which I would lose in a matter of a couple of weeks or a month). Last year, combination of NO exercise, too much work and over-eating I managed to gain 9 kg's and it's a nightmare trying to lose them. Her story is motivational and shows that normal people with normal eating habits (as she said and it's totally like me, she was overeating on healthy food) gain weight. I refused to step on the scales for about a year, like she did.Anyway, I really liked her story and found it very motivational because it shows that it takes an effort to stay in shape and that once you've lost it, it takes determination to get back on track, but you can do it! - 8/28/2009   3:45:39 AM
  • 70
    Perfect timing! I'm really trying not to be discouraged by the lack of progress on the scale & knew I would find something somewhere on SP to help...this is definately it!! I am ready to start looking for some races to sign up for - NEVER have reached that point before - just figured I wasn't cut out for running. Needed a reminder that this is as much an accomplishment for me (maybe even more so?) than the numbers on the scale!
    Thank you! - 8/22/2009   7:36:28 AM
  • 69
    WOW!! what a motivational story! I have been on a roller coaster ride with my weight for a few years now and ready to get it off! I recently started the couch-to-5K running plan and have really liked it. I have never been a runner, I have always been a walker and was ready for a change. I really need motivation right now, I have been stuck in a rut and need to crawl out and get moving to finally lose these 35 lbs. I have avoided signing up for a 5K out of fear, but this story was just what I needed to motivate me. I am signing up for one right after I get done telling you thank you for the inspiring story-Thank You!!! - 8/21/2009   12:18:32 PM
    Loved your story! I, too, signed up for my first race to get me motivated. I took care of a 72 year old gentleman with lung cancer who was missing his first marathon in 30 years (he ran two each year). He told me to just sign up for my first 5k and then go out and run...and then run a little further the next day...I was so motivated by him - I thought, if this man who has been battling lung cancer can run a marathon, then I can surely run a 5k. I have now run four 5k races, have encouraged my friends to run them too, and plan to run another one soon! I think of my patient every time I race and hope he knows what a big impact he had on me! - 8/20/2009   10:15:47 PM
  • 67
    I particularly liked your talking about losing motivation because all you were doing was trying to lose weight. When you changed your focus you made it doable. Also the part about loving and appreciating your body in the moment, not waiting until you are 5, 10 lbs lighter or another dress size smaller. My favorite line when I am shopping for clothes was "when I lose 'x' many lbs it will fit me". I am always looking around the bend and missing the scenery in my presence. - 8/19/2009   2:31:03 PM
  • 66
    Very motivational Megan. Thank you for sharing your life story with us. Take care. - 8/17/2009   1:54:03 PM
    Good Job Megan. I cannot run due to medical reasons, but with eating healthies I am able to build stronger muscles. Way to go Megan. - 8/17/2009   11:30:21 AM
    Great going Megan. I started four years ago walking in half marathons and have completed 15 so far. Not too bad for a 52 year old. I am now doing run/walks and am training for my first full marathon in Jan. Nervous but excited. Good luck on all your races( and life). - 8/17/2009   7:34:12 AM
  • 63
    I followed a similar vein and participated in my first marathon in 2006. However, injury from that event prevented me from doing what I had done previously and waylaid my "best laid plans". After that I completed 2 half-marathons, since it seemed that the "wear & tear" on my body in training & participating in a full marathon was more than I was able to tolerate.

    I have not been able to find a friend / partner to participate in events that would help with ongoing motivation. And my work schedule limited my ability to train and work out. Unfortunately I had added weight in the off time and now need to lose a good 20-25 lbs. I seem to sabotage myself--good ideas but lacking follow through.
    It is frustrating because I was able to do it before. - 8/17/2009   1:35:55 AM
  • 62
    Such an interesting and motivational story!!! You'll make a beautiful bride and a great wife!!! - 8/16/2009   9:19:54 PM
    You go girl. I too signed up for a 5km in October so I can get back in the game. I figured if I didn't want to look foolish, I'd better get off the couch. Today I started week three of my training. - 8/16/2009   8:59:01 PM
  • 60
    Running is OUT for me - Dr's orders - I've had hip problems since I was 12. But I have taken up walking since I had hip replacement 2 years ago. For the first time since I was young - I walk without a limp or pain. Just walking is a miracle to me and I still sometimes feel awe as I am moving around my neighborhood. I have come to appreciate my body for how it functions and moves. This is a motivation I never would have thought of.

    Thanks for the inspiring story! - 8/16/2009   2:06:50 PM
  • 59
    For me, the races and triathlons are my major motivation. Some people do train to race, but I sign up for the races because they motivate me to train.

    I'm glad you shared this with people. - 8/16/2009   12:20:21 PM
  • 58
    Cool beans, Megan! Well done... and I've been thinking about signing up for a mini-triathlon myself, as a workout focus goal. Reading through this has solidified my desire to do one now - thank you! - 8/16/2009   10:42:36 AM
  • 57
    Way to go! I've never been athletically inclined, but this year I too started running! It hasn't been without struggles.... bursitis and shin splints, but that hasn't stopped me! I ran my first 5k this past July, and will do another one in a couple of months. Hoping this 41 year old body can do a 1/2 marathon sometime next year! - 8/15/2009   11:29:28 PM
  • SBELLIS5945
    Very inspirational! I watched my daughter in a 10 k race and was amazed at all the older people, some slim, some overweight crossing the finish line. I felt the same way at the time, if they can do it so could I. I'm not ready yet but I'll get there! - 8/15/2009   4:15:12 PM
  • 55
    Thanks for sharing--Your right I forget to appreciate my body and why I am doing this. I needed this motivation at this very moment.--Off to exercise - 8/15/2009   11:55:40 AM
  • 54
    Thank you for sharing. - 8/14/2009   5:12:49 PM
    I spent 4 years in a wheelchair, which is where I gained a lot of weight. After I learned to walk again, my father died quite unexpectedly from cancer. I was beside myself, but signed up for the 5K Run for Life to raise money for Cancer Research. Not only was it a great way to honour my father, but it felt SO good and motivated me to get going. I've done lots of charity runs and my most recent was a 10-mile Midnight one for a hospice. I love it and want to do more. To train, I just walked/jogged to start and built up a bit every day and now run at least 3 miles a day. Try it - you will get hooked and be helping others as well! - 8/14/2009   12:02:43 PM
  • 52
    Thank you for sharing your motivation with us. I find encouragement in the various and sundry ways that SP members are able to meet their goals. Oftentimes I think like you do,"If they can do it, so can I!" I really enjoyed learing that it doesn't take a lifetime to meet such a goal as you have set. I used to enjoy running myself. Maybe I'll be able to get back to it. Thanks again!! - 8/13/2009   10:55:08 PM
  • 51
    Way to go Megan. Loved your article. I think you just got me back on track just by what you said. I was training for a sprint triathalon, but the swimming wasn't working for me, so, I won't be doing it this time around. Now, I have to find another race or ride. You are an inspiration. - 8/13/2009   10:49:23 PM
  • 50
    Wow! What a motivational story! - 8/13/2009   7:15:34 PM
  • 49
    That is awesome, you're such an inspiration! I would really love to start running again, and I hope I'll be able to someday say I completed a marathon! Keep up the awesome work :) - 8/13/2009   4:32:25 PM
  • SHRUTI23
    This story is so much similar to mine.. Even I am dreaming of running 5k and 10k next year.. It inspires me and I feel I can really achieve this goal.. Thanks Megan! - 8/13/2009   2:14:08 PM
    Wow! I've gotten so many comments and messages on my spark page and spark blog--I'm really touched! It's so awesome to hear what we've all accomplished--no matter our size or weight. Thanks for all your kind words and motivation. Sparkpeople is an amazing place--where else do you cheer on complete strangers! Your support means a lot to me--I'll bottle it up and use it as I'm training for my first 10k! - 8/13/2009   2:05:17 PM
  • 46
    Great story! Your story makes me think that I should start training for races. I've run a couple 5k races but never trained on a set schedule. I always told myself that it was because running was fun to me and I didn't want it to seem like work. Your story makes me think that I am just not pushing myself hard enough, I'm too lazy to train.
    So, I'll find a program and stick with it!
    Thanks- Megan! - 8/13/2009   1:53:34 PM
    I'm not a runner and doubt I ever will but I like cycling. I found a race that is also a fundraiser for Celiac Disease, something that I have. I found about it a few weeks before the ride this year and in no shape to do it now but plan on doing it August 2010! - 8/13/2009   1:19:08 PM
  • 44
    I started running last year. I finished my first half marathon in March of 2009...and I haven't really run since. I feel like I will be a better runner if I lose this weight. I am so bogged down with doing better than my friends (it will never happen) that I am afraid to go out and run at all anymore. If you can do it, so can I. I am going to find another 5 K and start again! - 8/13/2009   12:09:11 PM
    Way to go. I started my journey on Sparks People in June of 2008. I used to be active, but age, a sedentary job and then delivering my first child at the age of 40 (at which time my doctor told me I'd never lose the 60+ Lbs I'd put on), In January 2009 I reached my goal weight of 140 Lbs and I felt fantastic. I knew I had to set new goals. I entered my first running event and completed the Mother's Day 10 K run and walk in May of 2009 in a time of 51 minutes 41 seconds. I completed my first 1/2 marathon on May 31st in 1 hour 48 minutes 30 seconds. I will be running my first full marathon in October of 2009. Entering races has really stoked me and I have been able to maintain my motivation. I even started volunteering at trail races (5 Peaks, a series of 5 trail races run at 5 different venues throughout the summer) in June and this summer completed 2 of them myself (the last one takes place in September and I'll be running it). They are a lot of fun. I'm thinking my goal next year will be to do all 5 races during the summer and continue to volunteer. It's all about the journey and finding ways to motivate yourself. Way to go and have a fabulous wedding. - 8/13/2009   11:32:50 AM
    Congratulations to you! I am 43 and ran my first 5K in March 2009. I have never been athletic or ran. To keep myself motivated and trying to change up my workouts, I decided to start running. Our oldest son expressed interest in running with me, so we have now ran two 5K trail runs. I finished in 34 minutes and 34:11 minutes. I was so proud of myself that I had accomplished something I never thought I could. I am continuing to train and would like to run a couple of more 5Ks and work my way up to 10Ks and maybe even a half marathon and marathon in the future. - 8/13/2009   11:17:33 AM
  • 41
    Bravo! I hope I get the opportunity to meet you at the Portland Marathon 2010, 2009 is my first, of I hope many more years, to run it. - 8/13/2009   11:07:26 AM
    Great Job!! - 8/13/2009   10:07:32 AM
  • 39
    What an awesome accomplishment. I agree, that training for a 5k is motivating. I started in April walking/running a 4 mile walk and just completed a 5k where I ran the majority of it. It is motivating and empowering! - 8/13/2009   9:56:05 AM
  • 38
    Thanks, Megan, for your story. Like another Sparkmember, the words that moved me most were ....."it to prove I can, to prove Iím worth itóto myself."
    Also thanks for mentioning the older people that compete because it gives me hope. I'm 62 and 9 weeks ago got a second "new" knee and was on a walker. I'm now doing 20 min non-stop on the treadmill. Baby steps, I know.... but you gave me hope that I, too, might be able to do a 5K or more.

    Not ALL people can do everything - but all people can improve and do something. I'm not sure I will ever be able to "run" but that doesn't mean I can't walk!!!

    And thanks to the member who left the comment about the C25K (couch to 5K) program Sparkpeople have. I had no idea. Thanks and good luck!! - 8/13/2009   9:55:12 AM
  • 37
    This story really motivates me! I have always needed a goal to keep me motivated. Until now, I've been using pounds and inches as goals to motivate me. Now that I'm in Maintenance, I'm finding it REALLY difficult to keep up the motivation. Lately, I've been thinking that I need yet another goal. Doing a 5k or 10k would be great motivation. My hubby and I have started to walk-run-walk, and we were also inspired by The Biggest Loser season where the participants ran a marathon. I never thought I would run for exercise, but I am in better shape than I was in high school, which is the last time I ran on a consistent basis. Thank you for sharing your story, Megan! - 8/13/2009   9:50:44 AM

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