I have gotten some really great feedback recently that I have been inspiring people. It’s so weird—I don’t know what I am doing to have such effect, but I can see it all around me, and it’s a neat feeling. I think I can count maybe 6 people who have started running because of me. What?! That’s so weird that I am somehow convincing people to run. I can barely run myself sometimes, and I have been bumping into some obstacles with my own running plan recently. But, hey, I’m excited that people are going for it!
Also weird is that the whole reason I finally got my act together to start working hard towards the goal of losing weight was because I had a girls’ weekend at the end of June with two of my best friends, and they had both lost weight, which inspired me! Now, both of them are asking me about my motivation since now they are both struggling with exercise and staying on track. It just goes to show that having a community of support is so effective, because the encouragement and inspiration flows in all directions when we need it or when we have it to give to others!
Anyway, I thought I would list some of the tools, mental exercises, and tricks that I have been finding effective so far. I am constantly gaining new insights, and so I think it’s a good time to write down this list, so that I can refer to it later when I am forgetting what works and struggling with motivation. These are the inner dialogs I have when I am facing challenges. Hopefully, these will be useful to others as well!
1. This is not an all-or-nothing game. Relax. If there is pizza, and you want the pizza, eat the pizza. Savor the pizza. Don’t beat yourself up over the pizza—why turn something pleasurable into a big ol’ guilt trip? Nobody is affected by your eating that pizza other than you, so you can decide to eat it or not. Eating food shouldn’t be fraught with self-hatred, IT’S JUST FOOD. We need it to live, and it is enjoyable. If you go overboard, fine. Do you feel good afterward? If not, then remember it for next time and don’t do it again. If you do feel good, and you enjoyed it and had fun eating it with someone else, great. Awesome. That’s what life is all about. We can’t live our lives depriving ourselves of all pleasure. Now, you can’t binge, and you have to track it, and it wouldn’t hurt to do a little more cardio. And so, again, it’s not all-or-nothing. There is no more, “I screwed up and ate pizza, so f--- the rest of the day/week!” No, you don’t do that anymore. A little exercise here, a salad for lunch there, stay well under the upper limit for calories for a few days—it will eventually even out. And if you don’t lose any pounds this week, you learned something about your metabolism, or your calorie needs, or your exercise level, or how your body responds to what you put in it, so take the lesson and roll on.
2. Figure out what works, what is fun, what you like, and what you don’t. Try new things. Like running, or Fiber One pancake mix, or raw apples, or going down to two cups of coffee per day, or getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night, or Wii Active, or lunchtime ab classes, or breakfast smoothies, or (mostly) quitting TV, or starting school. All of these things were new for me, and I liked them, so I stayed with them. Failed experiments include Fiber One cereal, and, um… I can’t think of any others. So pretty much everything new I’ve tried has worked out. New things on deck to try include running a race, biking, taking swimming lessons, growing a garden, getting CSA produce… The point is that life is about adventure. Try new stuff. This is not about a diet, this is about LIVING! If we never try anything new, we will never get new results.
3. Stop with the “poor, poor me” bullcr@p. I gained this weight because I felt bad about not getting pregnant. In the past, I gained weight because I was in a bad relationship, and because I had a stressful job, and because for various other reasons I was depressed and feeling out of control. But now I know, and will forever understand, that eating = control for me. So, I recognize that pattern, and it’s not a lesson I can forget. And the great thing is that when I am feeling out of control, I have also figured out that…
4. …the solution to taking back control in my life is to find those things I do have control over and do them. This means that when life is crazy, it seems a lot more manageable when I am exercising, eating right and getting enough sleep. As a matter of fact, taking control of these things has a remarkable way of bringing other things into alignment.
5. I have to take care of myself before I can take care of anything else. I know, I’m a mom, and I’m supposed to be selfless. Bullsh!t. I will not martyr myself for my family. I can not be the best mother, wife, employee, friend, daughter, sister, PERSON if I am not taking care of myself. I am responsible for taking care of me, no one else can do it, and I deserve it. Others are depending on me, which is exactly why I must take care of myself.
6. When I am feeling down and getting into self-destructive behavior like drinking too much, binging, or secluding myself, I force myself to start doing the OPPOSITE of what I feel like doing. Sometimes, what I want and what I need are two separate things. When I feel myself starting to head in a “down” direction, I force myself to stop and analyze my thoughts. If I’m thinking, “I don’t feel like talking to anyone today,” that is a big red flag that I MUST call someone. Making conscious choices about my thoughts and how I react to them has pulled me from the brink of full-blown depression several times, and this is an excellent coping strategy.
7. Since becoming a parent, the #1 most motivating tool is my daughter. Period. I MUST set a good example for her. Before, if I screwed up, it only affected me, so whatever. Now, I have responsibility for a whole other person, and I will not let her down. If I want her to eat healthy food, I must eat healthy food. If I want her to be active, I must be active. If I don’t want her sitting in front of the TV all day, I can not sit in front of the TV all day. She is my conscience. And, at the same time, she is my playmate. My daughter thinks everything is fun. Playing is her job. She is teaching me to have fun and play right along with her!
8. Our bodies are not built to be sedentary. The body is built for running, jumping, climbing, lifting, bending, stretching, etc., etc., etc. It is not natural to sit at a computer all day and then sit in front of the TV all night. I’ve gotten to the point where I barely stop or sit down on the weekends, and, on Monday mornings, I am literally feeling like I am going to jump out of my skin having to sit in a chair all day. I love being active, and I hate sitting still. I didn’t used to feel that way, but I have figured out that this body was made for moving!
9. This one is thanks to PINKCOCONUT (https://sparkpeo.hs.llnwd.net/e1/my
dual.asp?blog_id=2368315): motivation is NOT the same thing as consistency. Motivation is that exuberant feeling of excitement to accomplish something, but most days, motivation ain’t there for me. Most days, I have to rely on consistency. I run every other day, because that is my training plan, and I need to do it consistently. I eat fruit and vegetables because that is what is healthy, and I do it consistently. I go to ab classes on my lunch break because it is just part of my routine. I don’t DECIDE every day what I am and am not going to do for my diet, I just do it, and I do it consistently. And sometimes, I really, really, really don’t feel like it. But I do it anyway. This has become a lesson I have applied to other areas of my life as well, especially housework, and it has really helped me to think differently about procrastination, in general. I have finally, finally figured out that the things I don’t do today will just make the list of things I have to do tomorrow longer and harder.
10. And #10… Well, I have 9 other lessons, so I feel like I should have a 10. I guess I will add something that really isn’t so much about weight loss as it is about life, and that is to REACT with LOVE. This is something I am working on, and it isn’t one I have mastered yet. I tend to REACT with FRUSTRATION, or REACT with IMPATIENCE, or REACT with I-CAN’T-EVEN-THINK-ABOUT-THAT -RIGHT-NOW-BECAUSE-I-AM-THINKI
NG -ABOUT-A-MILLION-OTHER-THINGS. But another lesson my daughter has taught me is that I just automatically react to her with love, even when she is crying, or throwing a fit, or not doing what I want her to do. It is just natural that I react to her with love. It got me thinking that I should really react to everyone that way, especially my husband, who sometimes bears the brunt of my frustration, and also including myself, whom I sometimes beat up for no good reason. Reacting to difficult people, situations, and feelings helps me to think more positively, makes me a better listener, and helps my relationships. I can choose not to react with frustration and negativity, and instead react with love and positivity. I can’t help my feelings, but I can help my reactions, and sometimes that makes a lot of difference.
So there is my list of lessons learned so far. Please let me know if you have tools or insights that have worked for you, as I want to learn something new every day. If this list helps to inspire you at all, please let me know that too. Thanks to all of my Spark buddies who have inspired me to learn or relearn these lessons during the past three months! You are awesome!