Poll: Why Do You Really Want to Lose Weight?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  98 comments   :  22,122 Views

Getting fit. Eating better.  Losing weight. All the hard work and sacrifice that goes into those three "little" things can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to stick with these habits for the long haul. While appearance alone is motivation enough for some, it's not a motivator for me. I need something bigger: a compelling reason to stick with it, and a higher motivator. If I didn't have a "big picture" goal, the TV and tub of ice cream would win way too often.
Do you have a higher calling? A call to action? A reason behind your goals to lose weight and get healthier? Or do you just have goals for no good reason?
Last weekend, I checked something off my bucket list. With 11 other teammates (most of whom were other SparkPeople members!), I completed the 200-mile Hood to Coast relay in Oregon, a feat that took us over 31 hours to complete. With little to no sleep for over 48 hours, I ran between 5 and 6.5 miles three times in that short window (as did my teammates). Now if torturing yourself and making your body hate you sounds like fun, then I'd call this fun (haha). I didn't do it for fun. I did it for the adventure—and simply to prove to myself that I could do it. Completing Hood to Coast was an experience that I wanted to have, one that took planning, training, budgeting, and a lot of willpower to keep going when my body wanted to stop. I did it, and I'm proud of myself. It's an experience that I'll never forget, from the people I met to the views of the countryside as I ran, to the overwhelming emotion and feeling of accomplishment that rushed through me as I approached the finish line. As I reflect with the event still fresh in my mind, it makes me feel grateful and appreciative of my healthy, fit body. Without consistent exercise and healthy habits, I would never have an experience like this. Much like my hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon last year, it made me reflect on my choices and my lifestyle.
Exercising, eating right and managing my weight—these are not the real goals. Sure, they are "goals" and they take planning and determination to sustain over the long haul. But the REAL goal is something bigger. The real goal is exercising, eating right and managing my weight so that I can… [FILL IN THE BLANK]. These are simply the means to achieving greater things in life, from crazy sleepless running relays to hiking one of the most beautiful places in the world, to even more basic things like getting around easily, traveling, riding a rollercoaster, being able to run around and play with my future kids (and even-more-future) grandkids. Exercising, eating right and managing my weight are not the real goal—they are the tools to living the life I want—one that is fun and long and happy and full of adventures and memories that I'll never forget. These are the "big picture" goals—the real reasons I do what I do.
When you keep your big picture goals in mind, it makes getting off the couch and prioritizing your healthy habits that much easier. Write them down. Think about them. Remember them. Next time you don't feel like exercising, remind yourself "I exercise so that I can [reach your big picture goal]."  When you feel your willpower to make healthy choices lagging, say, "I'm doing this so that I can [reach this bigger goal]."  That is why you do what you do—and that is what will get you through.
What are some of your "big picture" goals? How do you keep them in mind?

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  • 48
    I do all this so I can stay healthy and enjoy an interesting life of exploration (abroad and in the intellectual sense).
    Lucky you - Oregon is so beautiful... - 9/2/2011   2:49:02 PM
  • 47
    I want to get back into shape, because I don't want to have to rely on my inhaler. I want to eat healthier so that I can avoid migraines that pop up every once in a while. - 9/2/2011   1:59:10 PM
  • 46
    It is good to think about why we're doing what we're doing.
    I made a specific goal a few years back that I want to snowboard with my grandchildren. I also don't want my slim wife to have to drag around a fat husband. I want to look in the mirror and like what I see (even when I'm slimmer that will still take some imagination). I want to be able to do things and feel like doing them. I want to be a good steward of the body I've been given.
    There are so many good reasons to get fit, aren't there? - 9/2/2011   8:06:02 AM
    I want to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can, and when health problems do arise I want to have a healthy background to help me weather the challenge. - 9/2/2011   2:26:47 AM
  • 44
    Great Blog!
    I want to be able to do whatever activity that comes along. Right now I'm limited by my weight and lack of fitness. - 9/1/2011   11:15:15 PM
  • TSANC01
    Great Blog!
    I want to lose some weight but the bigger picture is to stay healthy and be fit. I'm 54 and looking at my future retirement. I want to be able to remain active, continue to bike ride and have fun. - 9/1/2011   10:35:39 PM
  • 42
    Since this is the only life I'll ever live and when it is over it will be over, I really want to make each day my best. This past month two women died that I had gone to school with years ago and it made we think how I need to use each day. NOW is my time in life, not doing for my husband or my children, but me. - 9/1/2011   7:21:06 PM
  • 41
    I don't want to be the fat one in the picture when I have pictures taken with other people. I want to be proud of myself and look sexy again, and not have to worry about my belly getting in the way all the time. - 9/1/2011   6:19:26 PM
  • 40
    I want to hike to the bottom of the grand canyon - 9/1/2011   5:36:55 PM
  • 39
    Mine is a modest goal. I have painful arthritis and sciatica and simply want to reduce the pain to a more manageable level, and to maintain my independence as long as possible. I don't like the way I look right now, so would like to be somewhat smaller. I am not willing to make drastic or sudden changes, so this will be a long-term project, a modest change in lifestyle, without losing my quality of life. I refuse to give up chocolate, for example, and prefer to work on portion management, while adding some more nutrtious foods. - 9/1/2011   5:17:01 PM
  • 38
    One of my big picture goals is like _Linda's. I want to stay out of the wheelchair that could be in my future because I also have pretty severe RA as well. But more than that I want to be able to rock climb, hike, kayak and really LIVE. I want to continue to be able to travel. I don't want to have to watch as others do what I "used" to do. - 9/1/2011   4:40:31 PM
  • 37
    I have very severe RA. I have had four joint replacements, waiting on a fifth and have had my feet operated on twice. I have had other surgeries as well. Because I know what its like not to be able to walk, my goal is very simple: STAY OUT of the wheelchair that is in my future for as long as possible and live life to the fullest I can! Sparks helped my lose the weight and is helping me keep it off. I feel better now then when my RA was briefly in remission. I am as fit as I can be and ready to travel and hike where ever I go!! - 9/1/2011   4:22:26 PM
  • 36
    Short term - I want to run a 5k with my 16-year-old daughter and her boyfriend. I have never been able to run very much without getting winded, even in high school when I was much thinner. Now I can actually run 5 minutes without stopping, so I'm getting there.

    Long term - I want to live long enough to see the grandchildren I don't have yet grow up - something my parents weren't able to do due to health problems. My Mom died from complications of a massive stroke in 2000 and my dad died after battling cancer for years in 2010. My daughters are 16 and 18 - my step-daughter is 21.

    I have a LOT of genetic stuff to overcome but I think trying to live a healthier (not necessarily perfect) lifestyle will help. - 9/1/2011   2:40:20 PM
  • 35
    A few hours away from where I live, there is a resort where all of the "rooms" are actually treehouses. You sleep out in the trees, and they have an amazing zipline course. I want to do this sooooo badly, but at my current fitness level I wouldn't be able to climb the ladders to do the ziplines, and I'm JUST below the weight limit, so I wouldn't feel safe. :( This has been my dream vacation for years, but I've never really done anything to work towards it. I've decided I'm going next year, and I'm very determined! - 9/1/2011   2:25:26 PM
    Complete RAGBRAI, a 7 day bike tour across the state of Iowa with 10,000 other riders.
    - 9/1/2011   2:04:40 PM
    I see a lot of comments with really noble reasons (get healthier, etc) but the truth is that I want to look prettier & feel sexier like I did ten years ago, before I gained the weight -- and not have my feet hurt from walking around with an extra 70+ pounds. I'm 42 and have 2 grown daughters, neither of whom has kids yet, but when they do, I don't want to be the "old fat grandma" that my grandmothers were! My motto is: "I'm too pretty for this sh**!" and I just want to have a sexy flat tummy again. - 9/1/2011   12:09:19 PM
  • 32
    I want to stay fit to be able to live long and enjoy my retirement (still a few years away). I also want to look good! - 9/1/2011   12:04:10 PM
  • 31
    I want to be thinner, healthier, sexier, have more stamina, and just look good, when I dress to go out. - 9/1/2011   11:48:26 AM
  • 30
    To lose the weight, my big picture goals were to have a flat stomach, toned upper arms and sexy knees. Now maintaining my weight and gaining 1 out of 3 of my original goals, my big picture goal is to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. - 9/1/2011   11:48:19 AM
  • 29
    My big picture goal is to be able to run a half marathon this fall, and beyond that, to simply feel secure and strong enough in my body to take on any physical challenge I want. I'm done being afraid that my body won't allow me to try rock climbing, or yoga, or spelunking, or running long distances. - 9/1/2011   11:37:13 AM
  • 28
    Seriously, I want to be sexy -- just don't see it right now. - 9/1/2011   11:33:17 AM
    My big picture is to have more energy and maintain my health in order to be a good mom! - 9/1/2011   10:52:36 AM
  • 26
    My big picture goal is to show my kids that anything is possible. I want to stop hurting and fit into the dress I bought just after I met my husband (it hangs on my wall as motivation). I want to have the energy and strength to do whatever my kids ask me to do. I want to be a good example of healthy living for my children so they can make better choices than me. - 9/1/2011   10:50:04 AM
  • 25
    What a great blog. I guess my big picture goal is just to be able to do the things I have always wanted to do, but couldn't because of my weight and lack of physical fitness. I want to rock climb, I want to hike across the mountains, I want live without pain in my knees and ankles.

    In order to reach these goals I have to take care of myself, I have to lose weight and condition my body to do the things I want to do. I can't reach my goals by watching someone on TV, or reading about someone who lost a tremendous amount of weight and climbed a mountain or swam the English Channel. No, if I want to do these thing, I have to do it myself, for myself and by myself. Don't get me wrong, I can need support like what I get here at SP, but in the end, only I can commit to getting this done, and only I can do it. Nobody can do it for me.


    - 9/1/2011   10:24:24 AM
    My big picture goal is I want to be healthy. - 9/1/2011   10:18:07 AM
  • 23
    Great blog. My goal for September is to walk 5 miles 3x per week - 9/1/2011   9:51:13 AM
    Boy what a blog, great . My next trip on my bucket list is to the Grand canyon, but to be able to walk to the bottom is way out of my reach at this time, but you give me hope that by the time I get there maybe I will be able to do it. Thanks for the blog and reminder to have realistic goals. - 9/1/2011   8:51:03 AM
  • 21
    Great blog and an important reminder. For the last two year I have hiked the Sierra Club's "One Day Hike" which is a 50k (31 miles) in Maryland along the C&O Canal into West Virginia. I have started training in January or February each year. The first year was really tough. I struggled but I completed it. My goal for the second year was to do it better. To be stronger and better prepared. And I was. I finished the first year's hike in 12 hours and 15 minutes. I finished this year in 9 hours and 45 minutes. I shaved 2 1/2 hours off my time by making quicker pit stops, keeping a faster pace, and not trying to stay with a hiking buddy. The satisfaction I've felt upon completing this hike is indescribable. Your relay experience sounds similar in terms of being powerful. I've never been an "athlete" and so this gave me a new confidence in my body that I'd never experienced (possibly other than childbirth).

    But I haven't integrated the training into my big picture fitness choices. After reading this I realize that I should be training for this year round - making good food choices (avoiding the dairy that triggers my asthma), getting myself in a good place in terms of cardio fitness (I'm not at this time), and losing weight so I have 20-25 lbs less of baggage to carry with my on that hike next April!!! Thank you very much. I find this highly motivating!!! - 9/1/2011   7:28:28 AM
  • 20
    A walk into the Grand Canyon -- the walk OUT (because that's the 8 miles uphill) was something I was watching on tv and realized I wasn't fit enough to do, so that is a marker for me for getting fit and strong again. While there are no plans to go to the Grand Canyon yet (sniff!), there are plans for visiting Yellowstone and The Grand Tetons in summer of 2012!! I need to get ready to handle daily 5+ mile hikes! - 9/1/2011   6:18:18 AM
    I just wrote in my blog today about why I want to lose weight and be healthy. I have fibromyalgia and deal with constant pain.......especially after exercise. So my bigger picture is just a big fat "maybe".....or HOPE that it will help because at this point I'll do just about anything. - 9/1/2011   4:32:15 AM
  • 18
    My real reason to lose weight and be more healthy is to beat the possible effects of arthritis on my life--replacing the pain and the loss of mobility with activity and joy in moving around. As I get smaller and smaller, I feel better. I love that!! - 9/1/2011   3:01:55 AM
  • ALLIB22
    i think i'm actually going to blog about this today...but my short answer is i want to be active and keep up with my husband, i want to have children and be a mother who actively energizes and encourages them to be active by participating, not sitting on the side lines. - 9/1/2011   2:36:20 AM
  • 16
    At first I was motivated by fear. Both my parents had major health and mobility issues and died younger than they should have, due directly or indirectly to unhealthy behaviors around food and exercise (or lack of same). I too had been heavy most of my life; for many years I was active and healthy anyway, but as I put on more weight and let my eating patterns get more out of control, my own health and mobility began to go downhill, and one day the denial got torn away and I confronted the raw truth that if I didn't do something soon, I would go out the way my parents did.
    Now fear is definitely a powerful motivator, but not the most pleasant or positive in the world! I do have some other potential motivators--my own bucket list, many of the items on it definitely requiring a healthy active body. Like finally fulfilling that pipe-dream I keep entertaining, of buying a small used RV and going full-time on the road for awhile, blogging about whatever cool things I encounter like a 21st century Charles Kuralt. If I ever want to see that become more than just a dream, though, I'm going to have to do a whole lot more than just talk about it.
    The other day I was looking around the Sparkpeople website, and clicked on one of the training regimens for getting ready to do a 10K run/walk. Now I used to be able to walk 10KM at a clip when I was in my 20s--it didn't feel so good at the end, but I could do it, which hasn't been the case for many years. I'm not sure that's a particular goal I have now--but I was struck by how specific and detailed the training regimen was: walk this much on week one, this much more on week 2, etc. My point is that, step by step, I'm getting my brain more and more attuned to what are positive motivating goals for me, and what are real, tangible steps to reach those goals. And articles like this one are definitely helping guide me down this path. - 9/1/2011   1:57:42 AM
  • 15
    I'm managing my weight so I can find out if people treat me differently when I reach my goal. - 9/1/2011   12:53:04 AM
  • 14
    I really saw myself and realized these past few years I have really let myself go. I went through the denial stage, but the mirror doesn't lie...So, my husband and I decided to do it together, Him for Health reasons, me because I want to see that sparkle in his eyes again when he looks at me. A compliment would not be pushed away either. For me, for him, for us to be able to have many more years ahead of us.

    - 9/1/2011   12:36:19 AM
    My big goal is actually rather modest in a lot of ways. I am only in my early twenties, but I want to live without pain (or with as little pain as I can manage) for the rest of my life. I have a propensity towards back pain, so that is no small matter. I also love the thrill of being flexible, the triumph of challenging myself to run long distances. But those goals are, in a way, similar to the goal of staying slim -- cool, but not a necessity. Basically I just want to avoid being in pain. That is the motivation from fear. I like the pursuit-of-happiness type goals, too, though. - 8/31/2011   10:17:38 PM
  • 12
    Thanks for sharing your run with us. I also am a nurse and see people on a daily basis who cannot. It puts things into perspective. Though morbidly obese, I always saw myself as healthy until my blood pressure went up. That was my tipping point. I have grandchildren, and I want to be around when I retire. - 8/31/2011   9:30:57 PM
  • 11
    When you say "I exercise so I can....(fill in the blank)", my "mantra" is just a little different. Mine is "I exercise BECAUSE I can". I work in the Emergency Dept of a large trauma hospital and I see every day how our lives can change in a moment's time, leaving us seriously hurt, disabled or killed. Therefore I remind myself every day that I need to exercise today because I can, and because tomorrow I may not be able to. - 8/31/2011   7:18:39 PM
  • 10

    My big picture is to live. Before I found myself watching others live on tv and movies, wishing I was there or doing that. What stops me from running around New York City? What keeps me from seeing the beauty around me and in me? Excuses yes we all have them but who is saying them when I don't do something, ME!

    So coming up on 4 years of maintaining, I did this for ME so I can live and not watch it all pass before me. I get to live life and experience it and being physically active is a great way I am able to do this. I don't have to do this I want to do this, live! - 8/31/2011   6:00:01 PM
  • 9
    Thanks Nicole, that's a better perspective than exercising just for the sake of exercising. I do tend to focus on the here and now.

    I have been one of the "lucky" ones. Most of my life I have been slender, strong and active. I could pretty much eat what I want, never exercise, and never put on weight. Then, when I reached my fifties, that seemed to change. I started putting on weight (about 15 pounds over 6-7 years) and slowing down. I just turned 60. I put on 30 pounds just in the last year when I quit smoking. I need to be as self-relient and active as possible since I recently moved to the country and there is always something physically challenging to do.

    The time I spend working out is a special kind of 'me' time. And it pampers me just as much as getting a manicure or shopping for clothes. That old adage "use it or lose it" is true. I'm not ready to lose it yet. - 8/31/2011   4:33:37 PM
    Been using the diet tracker for a couple weeks & can honestly say it has been the easiest way to track my daily food intake, excercise, etc. My diabetis nutritionist recommended I start writing down this info daily...who has time & patience? This is making it possible & we can review log on my next visit. Can't thank you enough SP! - 8/31/2011   4:00:58 PM
    I have this vision of me in ten years time as a mother to 2 or 3 small children. And in that vision I am a healthy and active mum who teaches her kids healthy habits by example, and has the energy and fitness to be able to run around playing games, and going on active vacations and stuff. I think I have a veg patch too, which I did a trial of this year with some success.

    I started running recently and am beginning to get goals of different distances in my mind, but the family thing is my primary motivator. - 8/31/2011   3:40:04 PM
  • 6
    I am doing this so that I can enjoy life better, and enjoy my life with my husband through our future years together. Also to enjoy my life with my grandson and future grandchildren. I am also looking forward to spending time with my husband doing some of the things that he enjoys that currently I am not able to do, but hope that with getting healthier will allow me to do. - 8/31/2011   3:30:09 PM
    I eat well and exercise so I can truly LIVE! So I can travel! So I can -- when I'm ready -- have kids! So I can live a long and healthy life! So that when I'm 86 I look as good as my Grandma did! So I can wear a bikini with a camera nearby! So I can go rock climbing, snokeling, zip lining, hiking, and more!

    My goals are nebulous, if you like specificity: health and happiness. But they motivate me to make myself into that girl who can do absolutely anything (including, one day, running!) - 8/31/2011   3:26:04 PM
  • 4
    my goal is to gain muscle and look like I have done it in a real way, defined muscles. I also do want to take that hike with Dennis up that mountain. - 8/31/2011   3:23:37 PM
  • 3
    My big picture is to be able to hike for the rest of my life and never to have to be on cholesterol meds, if that is at all possible. - 8/31/2011   3:17:49 PM
    Thank you so much for helping me to think past the weight loss to the healthier future life. - 8/31/2011   2:46:36 PM
  • JULIA1154
    Thanks for a delightful blog, Coach Nicole. It's a keeper!

    My big picture is simply that I enjoy my body (and my life) SO much more when it's fit and slender that I never, ever want to risk going back to the way I was 15 months ago. Of course, I have come to enjoy much that I never used to enjoy but the bottom line for me is, I like feeling (and looking) fit, healthy and active. I love feeling that I can embrace whatever opportunities come my way because I'm not hung up on how out of shape I am.

    Getting fit took work and discipline but at the same time I view it as a gift - and I don't want to abandon that gift or treat it as anything other than the incredible deliverance that it represents. - 8/31/2011   2:32:50 PM

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