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The “Cheap” Motivations

Monday, June 17, 2013

Recently on the message boards someone mentioned the “cheap” things that motivate her: those things that are not noble, long-term reasons for sticking to your healthy living goals, but are the shallower things that will get you off the couch. I thought this was a great way to describe it!

Although I do have a goal of becoming fit and healthy for myself and my family, lengthening my life, becoming strong, and all that other good stuff, so often the reason I drag myself to a workout or skip an unhealthy snack is something I’m not particularly proud of (even though I am proud of the decision). Here are some of the recent “cheap” things that have pulled me through a dark moment:

1. Money. I am betting with friends that I can lose 4% of my body weight in a month—all the winners will share the buy-in. Although it’s only $25 at stake, and the progress is much more important to me than the money, I can’t tell you how many times not wanting to lose this $25 has been the true reason I decided not to skip a workout.

2. Vanity. I believe I have mostly realistic goals about my weight loss. I don’t expect to look like I did when I was 20. But I have to say that when I was recently able to find a pair of pants at a mall store that fit me (it’s been awhile) I was unreasonably happy. I don’t even really like shopping at the mall, and I disagree with a lot of consumer culture and current beauty standards etc., but if I’m totally honest I was happy that I was no longer excluded from the experience because of my size. I’m not proud of it, but that feeling of success in the change room is something I think about sometimes when I’m not feeling motivated. I have to admit it: I want to wear a smaller size. (Some other time I’ll do a post about my personal body acceptance history—ladies and gents I do think you’re beautiful at any size.)

3. Pride. When there are snacks at my workplace, people tend to take note of whether or not everyone partakes of them (not in a mean way, just in a “noticing” way). Even on days when I probably could have balanced out a small unhealthy snack, I have chosen not to because there were other people watching. I like it when they praise me for my restraint!

I don’t think it’s a good idea to feel particularly guilty about using whatever motivation you need to use to get the job done, so I don’t. I just feel a little sheepish when I’m being honest with people rather than trying to sound noble!

My new motto, to borrow from Woody Allen, is: “Whatever works.”
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