Motivation Articles

A Little Imagination Can Boost Your Motivation

Building a Better Body Image

623SHARES
“I really want to lose weight. I hate the way I look and feel, and I know things will be much better when I get the weight off. But I just can’t stay motivated to do it. I think there must be something wrong with me.”

If this sounds like something you say to yourself, I’ve got good news for you. There probably isn't anything seriously wrong with you. You have a very common problem that affects many people who want to lose weight—expecting your negative feelings about your body to do something they can’t do.

The motivation you need to successfully lose weight is like a fire. It will burn hot and long when you provide it with the fuel it needs, but it will die out quickly if you don’t. Disliking how you look and feel might provide decent kindling to get the weight-loss fire started, but it's not the proper fuel source to keep it going.

When you’re driven by negative thoughts about yourself, you just don’t have the raw materials that are necessary to achieve the results you want. This problem lies in how our minds work. If I were to tell you, for example, that I'll give you $1,000 if you can manage to not let the thought of "chocolate" enter your mind during the next 60 seconds, do you think my bank balance would be in big trouble? I don’t. It’s certain that some of your next few thoughts would have something to do with chocolate. Most likely, you’ll wonder how you can stop yourself from thinking about chocolate for 60 seconds—oops, too late! You lose, and my $1000 stays safely in my bank account. It’s virtually impossible to not think about something for a minute, when that’s what you set out to do. Try it for yourself.

The same thing happens when you set out to lose weight because you don’t like your body. The first thing you’re likely to do every morning is notice how fat you still are, think about the food you can’t eat, or lie in bed, wishing you didn’t have to get up early to exercise. You might as well throw a big bucket of ice water on that motivational fire of yours, because sooner or later, you’re going to get very weary of this constant struggle and give up.

So, what’s the alternative? What do you do if the reason you want to lose weight is because you don’t like the way you look or feel? Where do you find the right fuel for your motivational fire?
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • BAMAJAM
    Coach Dean-- Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your knowledge !
    I am your fan -- always appreciate your articles! - 2/18/2014 2:38:32 PM
  • I think I've found mine. It does start with "I don't like how Iook" but it progressed to "I don't like how I feel." That includes "I don't like my knees aching all the time" and "I'm too young to feel this old" and "I'd like to have the endurance to do the kind of walking I'd like to do with my hubby when we sight-see." - 1/20/2014 2:20:22 PM
  • It's all good and well to not have a negative self-image, but wanting to lose weight shouldn't be just about looks, it should be about getting healthier. I am not going to pretend that my extra 50lb are ok, because being overweight puts me at bigger risk for all kinds of nasty diseases and limits my mobility. Why yes, there is a group of rich people who promote youth, health and fitness - they are called DOCTORS. So, yes, love your body, but realize that it's your job to keep it healthy and active. It's not about being attractive, folks. Its about YOUR HEALTH. - 7/18/2013 1:26:28 AM
  • I am in tears. I never, in all my 60 years considered this viewpoint. Thank you! - 6/2/2013 8:58:50 AM
  • Thank you for this article. This is exactly what I needed. I'm printing it out and placing it around my apartment. I wish there was I could bookmark, so I could come back to it when I need to.

    Again, thank you. :-) - 1/27/2013 12:17:24 AM
  • FISERV
    thanks for this article. It made my day!!!! - 10/16/2012 3:45:16 PM
  • Great article! I really needed this today
    Thank you so much - 4/20/2012 8:28:45 AM
  • My body is the solution?! What a mind-blowing thought... - 3/23/2012 11:36:02 PM
  • Great advice...........
    .for me the negative thinking always keep me in the disgust mode. Especially, when I constantly compare myself to what society expects. At the end of the day, I know it's a mind thing and I need to be happy within myself first. - 3/11/2012 5:52:04 PM
  • I think it's funny that so many folks here say yeah I hate my body (which I do too!! - I'm right there with ya!!) but what's funny is I look at some of you all and go I would KILL to have a body like yours!! and there are probably some people who would KILL to have mine!! I have had people compliment my "success" cause I use to weight about 50lbs more than I do now, and I still see myself as a failure because I have 150 more to go. - 3/5/2012 6:38:08 PM
  • BILBYGIRL
    I really enjoyed this article and know that I don't really hate my body but have been freaked out about my loss of mobility and inability to buy clothes, not to mention other people's reactions to me and what I am trying to do in my day to day life. I have always enjoyed how strong my body is and I like the way it feels when I work physically. I like the fact that I rarely get sick though the bummer is that I'm developing arthritis - something I notice everytime I decrease the fats I injest. This article has really given me something to think about - a good direction to head.
    Oh and BTW, I agree with JSAMERO that your statement:
    "You could imagine, for example, that a secret group of very rich and powerful people use the media, fashion and advertising industries to convince people that they need to be thin, hard-bodied, and youthful to be happy, so they’ll keep buying diet books, magazines and gimmicks." is the actually the truth. - 3/5/2012 4:49:44 PM
  • Thank you for this article!! I suffer from exactly what this article says I should NOT be thinking and feeling. It makes perfect sense as to why I am where I am!! What an awesome beginning step for me to accomplish--lovin
    g me!!!! - 9/20/2011 6:38:53 AM
  • I had just walked by a mirror after exercising...sure
    , I had the healthy glow but I WAS WEARING SPANDEX. Then the thought came to me-would I still do this if I knew I was always going to look the same? The real epiphany was yes, I would because I feel so much better. Then up popped this article...coincid
    ence? - 7/23/2011 5:16:38 PM
  • JLFEATH829
    This article came just when I needed it. I find myself paralyzed by my disgust or disappointment with myself, rather than being motivated by it. There is just too much self-loathing sometimes, and I need to stop thinking so negatively and start rewarding myself for even small steps. I need to have reasonable goals and expectations, and be proud of any (even tiny) thing I accomplish. - 3/9/2011 8:31:20 AM
  • MARTY32M
    Building self-esteem by avoiding negative thoughts is part of the process. But once you have got rid of the wrong reasons for changing your lifestyle, what reasons do you have left? You now have to think of the right reasons by thinking positive thoughts: you will feel better, you will be healthier, you will be stronger, you will be more energetic. You can add tricks to evade your impulses to pig out or skip your workout, but they're just tactics to support the real goals. Thinking of distant goals is another pitfall. Don't wait until you're thin, until you're strong, until you're healthy. You already feel a little better, a little stronger, a little healthier, and you can keep moving along like that as long as you want to. You have to be dissatisfied with the way you are, but in a way that you believe you can do something about.... Right now, I want to be more fit and agile at 80 than I was at 77, and at 79 I'm already more fit and agile and still building on it. I still have a tummy lump to work off. - 3/5/2011 8:35:03 AM

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