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The Mystery of Motivation

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

How does motivation work? What makes us pick up our feet and do what we gotta do?

Well, for me, motivation works the same way, backwards and forwards. It's like this...


I eat one Hershey's Kiss. I am motivated to eat more.

My job is mostly sedentary. I am motivated to be less active.

My co-workers (mostly healthy weights) like to snack (on unhealthy foods). I am motivated to do the same.

I find comfort in certain foods. I am motivated to drug myself with them.

None of this takes much effort. I am motivated to do even less.


I read a success-story blog on Spark. My endorphins kick in. I am motivated to want success.

I skip an unhealthy snack. It isn't as hard as I thought it would be. I am motivated to do it again.

No pasta or pizza till I can't breathe, and I sleep better. I am motivated to eat more healthfully and lightly.

Moving, even a little bit, raises my energy. I am motivated to move more.

What we feed grows.

If we feed the negative in our lives, it gets bigger. It becomes an unending cycle of drudgery and pain. And it continually gets worse. I am an EXPERT at feeding the negative. I think we all know how to do that.

If we feed the positive in our lives, it gets bigger. The cycle is now made up of health, strength, and energy. Feeding the positive, well, that's a learning experience for me. It takes planning and effort and action. It takes overcoming LAZINESS, which I believe is a huge part of my negative cycle. I'm not so good at feeding the positive.

This weekend I've been feeding both. Talk about confusion. No wonder my mind and body can't quite get it together. I've fed my negative cycle with poor food choices and poor sleep. I've fed my positive cycle with lots of water and some great physical exertion. It's a start. My goal is to replace the negative with positive. Looks like my work is cut out for me.

How do you feed the positive in your life? What makes you pick up your feet and do what you gotta do?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • KJACOBS1111
    Thank you for such a great blog post!
    1650 days ago
    Great way to think about motivation. It's something I struggle with too. I want something but when the time comes I lose my motivation and say "I don't feel like it I will do it tomorrow or next weekend".

    When I am really watching and staying focused that is positive for me. When I start hating myself and feeling stupid that is
    negative for me.

    I will try your way and see if that works.

    1705 days ago
    Great post! Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I have to talk myself into being active, especially when I've had a stressful day at work. But I find that I need that time in between work and going home to separate the two.
    1706 days ago
    Excellent Blog. You light up my journey, today!!!! emoticon emoticon
    1706 days ago
    This is an excellent blog and an excellent reminder of how when we set our minds in the positive or negative, we reap what we sow! I needed to see this today! emoticon
    1735 days ago
  • BIRDIE501
    Thanks for sharing your insights! It really resonates with me and helps give me a new way to look at things.
    1749 days ago
  • MARIAND123
    that is awesome. I will have to remember this blog. that is some advise i can use all the time
    1760 days ago
    You are SOOO right! emoticon
    Keep going, you can do it!! emoticon
    1794 days ago
    I am struggling with motivation. I need to simply get up and keep my schedule but instead I either starve myself or stuff unhealthy zero nutritional food down my throat. I need to remember that it is in community that one can find the needed push thank you.
    1806 days ago
    You're right, it is so much easier to do the negative. But if you surround yourself with the positive, it makes it easier to make positive choices. Congratulations on all of your hard work.
    1809 days ago
  • DMT1956
    yes it's all in that moment of decision making.

    one instant i do or

    one instant i don't.

    all the best intentions...

    just do it.because it's good for you. less thinking more

    action. emoticon changing our thoughts actions and behaviour

    and making new habits little by little day by day = healthy

    lifestyle emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1822 days ago
    And thanks for yet another great post! Now I'm pumped! I want to read some more of your blog posts and add you as a friend... because I need so much motivation right now.

    Thank you so much for sharing your encouraging, motivational thoughts with us.

    1826 days ago
    Ouch! It hurt but at the same time felt good. We need to shake ourselves out of our old way of thinking and using food to stuff our emotions. Thanks for a great post. Wish I could set your blog on a daily or weekly reminder to reread and apply.
    1829 days ago
    Thank you for the motivational messages. This is what I need most since I have no friends to support me.
    1829 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your great ideas.
    1831 days ago
    Thanks for pointing out the sabotaging thoughts. I share MANY of them.

    Just a word to myself.... I don't do well changing when I judge myself harshly or call myself names. I want to remember how I would be with my beloved little nephew if I saw him making unskillful choices. I'd like to connect with the need that underlies the reach for the junk food, acknowledge it and lovingly offer a different thought. Thought becomes action, action habit and habit character.

    Sometimes it's a preemptive strike. Like popping in some chewing gum before I go to Costco (and I was raised with the mantra that chewing gum is ugly and trashy!) or cook a meal that tempts me to lots of tasting. I congratulate myself on doing this.


    I had a boss who did this and I adored him. I'd have walked across a desert on my knees for him because he was so focused on the positive. I'm the boss of me and I want to be a boss like he was.

    I don't always do it but I do it so much more now and I truly believe that's the change that makes for change.
    1833 days ago
    excellent blog - this is forward motivation
    1833 days ago
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    1836 days ago
    Sometimes we must remember that you can get as much from the journey as you do the destination.

    Keep taking those small positive steps and you will get where you want to be.

    Good luck

    1837 days ago
    Congratulations for being able to share!! Sharing my progress and challenges works to motivate me. Seems the same way for you. Let's keep getting up on our feet when we might rather sit. Once I'm up and out, such as power walking (not shopping) at a mall or to the corner of my block, I feel proud and get rid of the guilt (of not moving) at the same time!! Every little bit helps. Keep-up the good work!!
    1837 days ago
    It sounds so simple....and it is! Surround yourself with positive things and your life will be the same but the same goes with negative choose the positive road. Good luck, stay happy.
    1841 days ago
    This is so true! Thanks for expressing it this way. Keep making those healthy choices.
    1849 days ago
    Fantastic blog. I know exactly what you are saying. why can't I eat like they do and not gain weight. In stead I should ask what are they doing that I do not see to maintain their weight?

    I will continue to try and eat healthy not only to lose weight but also to improve my life:

    Able to move about more
    Prevent further damage to my system
    Get off meds
    Feel good about myself once again

    I will take it one day at a time. Be glad not for a pound lost or not lost but for being able to say no to a second helping, eating one serving and not the whole bag, etc.

    Ny reward will be feeling better and being able to do more.

    Keep up your good work and thank you for getting me motivated again.
    1851 days ago
  • SHEILA8383
    Nicely said. I love your words of wisdom of what we feed grows. It is very timely for me. Thank you!
    1853 days ago
    You just gave me awesome motivation for a blog thanks!!! Positives in my life? family and friends. What makes me want to move and happy? music!!!
    1855 days ago
    Thank you for the words of wisdom..and I will REMEMBER that what we feed on grows
    1856 days ago
    That was very good and sounds just about where I am right now.
    Well done!
    Keep Looking UP!
    1856 days ago
    Very nicely expressed. Good luck in your quest.
    1858 days ago
    very well written, and so true! it is a cycle that CAN be easily broken (in either direction) with the simplest thought: "i didnt sleep well last night. im too tired to go to my zumba class. and since im not going, i might as well have pizza." Even if you choose NOT to eat bad(you may say "i didnt sleep well last night, so i'm too tired to go to the gym. but i'll make sure i eat a healthy dinner")...either way, its the excuse to yourself "i didnt sleep last night, so im too tired to go to the gym"....i do zumba 4x week and i LOVE IT! whenever i feel too tired to go, i remind myself how much i love it, and how the endorphins make me so happy and motivated afterwards. how it helps my self esteem and i burn 600-1000 calories during a session. i also feel guilt if i DONT go. and if i REALLY dont feel like going, i just say "ill go and take it kinda easy if i have to". but usually, once i get there and get moving, i snap right into action. getting there is 90% of the battle.

    also, i suffer from depression and anxiety. it has been said forever that exercise helps with these two things and i think about how much i want to come off my medicines, and that if i establish a healthy workout regime that i LOVE (like zumba), then i will hopefully be able to maintain an exercise schedule to help with my depression if/once i come off of my meds. its tough because we are our biggest critics, but we also have to be our biggest inspirations as well, because you dont get healthy for anybody else. People can help encourage and support you along the way, but at the end of the day, you have to be doing it for yourself or you will not be successful in the end.
    1859 days ago
    Hi, Shapnup.

    Thanks for the honest account of your experience with the positives and negatives of motivation. Your acknowledgement of motivation being in phases is true. You goal of replacing the negative with the positive is a milestone to be congratulated. Good luck and remember to take baby steps towards your goal! Way to go!!
    1860 days ago
  • OPHELIA1226
    Thank you for your motivation, we all think we are the only ones who suffer with these issues but here at spark people we find others who share the same thoughts and feelings. We are your second biggest supporters besides yourself. Keep up the great work
    1860 days ago
  • ICEQUEEN1994
    You have such insight. It is very MOTIVATING to have a concrete way to change some of my BAD behaviors, not just related to healthy eating and living.These insights spill over for me, to day-to-day living, such a time management (or lack of it!)
    Thank you for sharing-
    1860 days ago
    Great post! Attitude is 90% of the battle for me no matter if I'm fighting healthy eating or cancer. You have it right!!
    1860 days ago
    WOW! Well said. "What we feed grows" I love it!
    1861 days ago
    Reminds me of evenings that either tend to move or drag; great post! emoticon
    1861 days ago
  • SANDYL54
    Thanks for powerful words! No wonder this was the week's most popular blog! emoticon
    1863 days ago
    Thanks for sharing. It helped remember that I can make small changes and like you said exchange the negative with the positive. Good job on the water and exercise. That's so positive!!
    1863 days ago
    Wow. Mind blown. I think I'd better file this one away for a lazy day so i don't let it get the best of me.
    1863 days ago
    This was wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing. This is a very helpful post.
    1863 days ago
  • TONI2011
    Thanks so much for sharing. It really encourages me to know I'm not alone in this journey. You were able to put into words just how I think and feel. So I too will try to encourage the positive and hopefully watch the negative slowly disappear. Thank you !
    1863 days ago
    Woo Hoo! Most popular blog! This is fabulous! You are so right I call it the inertia effect. Once in motion it tends to stay in motion. Once stopped it tends to stay stopped. You wrote it very well!

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    1864 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/14/2011 9:38:00 PM
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    1864 days ago
    1864 days ago
    Thanks, I needed this on a yucky day

    1864 days ago
    wow... incredible insight. Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1864 days ago
    Wonderful and inspirational blog!
    1864 days ago
    Very inspirational Blog, thanks for sharing. You are a motivation.
    1864 days ago
    What motivates me u ask? YOU! What a wonderful true!
    Thanks for sharing :) emoticon
    1865 days ago
    All makes so much sense...thanks so much for your thoughts and help to motivate........Misty
    1865 days ago
    Your write up is my motivation for today:) This sounds just like me. Thank you for making me see a bigger picture. emoticon
    1865 days ago
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