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If not happiness, then why?

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Yesterday I was thinking about the saying "weight loss doesn't make you happier." So why do it? Why maintain? I guess one right answer would be for health. The funny part is I'd written nearly a page before recalling a vision statement I composed last fall, which was the idea of my body as a temple. Another fine answer. But is it really why?

What occurred to me is that the reward of any enterprise needs to be sufficient to the obstacles we encounter. I talked about this a few weeks ago, about the Stanford study where they taught maintenance skills first. At the time I felt they were mistaken to look for conservation of motivation. To put an analogy to it, it's like my old approach of not wanting to work out more simply to eat more.

I don't work out to eat more, but I do workout to maintain my metabolism. And I guess it's true that a familiarity with what maintenance involves clarifies what motivation is required to succeed. Not knowing what maintenance might involve used to cause me anxiety. I would hear that it's harder than expected and wonder why. I'm operating on the theory that understanding as much as I can about maintenance equips me to know, in a sense, how much motivation I need. I think motivation is a capacity, like strength or endurance. Maybe it's a skill like cooking.

It's funny to look back and see my initial reaction to the 5% maintenance factoid. I listed the reasons I felt I would succeed, and they turn out to bear some similarity to the National Weight Control Registry predictors. And that may be part of what drove my search for more information, because it seemed too simple. The parts I was already looking for were simple. The parts that didn't fit my preconceived notions took some time. But I know enough now that I'm not anxious about it.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Interesting information.
    1778 days ago
    Great blog you always make me think.
    1778 days ago
    Weight loss sure made me happier. I will soon
    be maintaining for over three years. And I
    am delighted! emoticon

    These three years have extremely difficult,
    some of the hardest years of my entire life.
    And yet my maintenance success has sustained
    me. It is one area of my life that is working
    well, better than it ever has. emoticon

    I feel joy; I feel pride every time I realize
    what I am doing. You are new to this phase
    of your journey. I had a lot of jitters early on.
    As time goes by, you will gain confidence in
    your ongoing ability to stay with maintenance.

    1779 days ago
  • MKELLY72
    I like looking at my increased knowledge about health and relying on that to keep my motivated too. I am finding it easier in some respects because of that building knowledge, but obviously just the knowledge alone doesn't get us to our goals or magically make us maintain it, but it's a vital piece to the whole puzzle. We really need to be deeply connected to our "why" to maintain that success, and that "why" is unique for each one of us.
    Sometimes, when motivation wanes, just the continued practice of what we have learned can sustain us until we find that internal spark to be actively engaged in the pursuit to maintain our optimum health.
    I work out, because it makes me feel good as I do--even a simple walk- I enjoy the relaxing and centering sensation I receive from it, and it makes the rest of my day go more smoothly (at least in my mind--and isn't that where the bulk of our success lies?)
    Thanks for sharing this.
    1779 days ago
  • KANOE10
    Both of your blogs are excellent. You are right about familiarity and knowing what to expect and to do, increases motivation. The more you understand what works for you and motivates you, the more you will stay on track.

    I also exercise for the metabolism and health. Health is my main focus.
    1779 days ago
    But if you are obsessing about weight loss, getting to goal WILL make you happier, if only because you won't be obsessing about it any longer. I remember a Jenny Craig ad with Valerie Bertinelli. She said that for the first time in decades, when she made up a list of New Year's resolutions that losing weight wasn't on the list because she'd already done it. What a wonderful discovery!
    1779 days ago
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