Does Motivation Really Help?
Every time I've ever gone on a diet, I had to pump myself up like crazy the day before. I'd go out and got a stack of health/self love related magazines, buy a giant haul of fresh foods from the market, and stay up all night putting together recipes and meal plans.
Every single time, I refused to allow one negative thought to come into my brain. This was it. After almost 2 decades of trying and failing, I was finally going to lose the weight.
But after a few days of being perfect, weighing myself daily, and feeling a surge of confidence... a familiar little voice popped in my head.
"You've been doing SO WELL, you deserve to cheat. Just a little bit. What's one meal?"
I'd try to shake the thought and do anything else, but the longer I ignored it, the louder it got. The thought of food would take over my brain whether I was hungry or not and, no matter how many glasses of water I drank, I couldn't shake the idea. I desperately wanted relief from the hunger in my brain and my resentment grew with every healthy meal that couldn't satisfy my urge.
Before I knew it, the motivation would dissipate and I'd feel miserable. I just wanted to be normal and happy, to be able to eat food without gaining 10 lbs overnight, and I hated the amount of effort it took just to "be good".
So, I'd give up to the urges which usually led to a binge and a whole lotta self hate the next morning.
What Was I Doing Wrong?
I HATED the whole process and loathed that I had no choice. I felt trapped between doing something I really didn't want to do and something I knew I had to do.
Notice how I said I just wanted to be normal. Happy. And for some reason, I assumed that would come from weight loss. I'd done something that most of us do - I attached an emotional association to weight loss that didn't actually exist.
I could've pushed myself to lose weight, but it didn't mean I'd be happy once the weight was off. It didn't mean I'd be more confident, comfortable, or successful. The things I was looking for from weight loss, It turns out, didn't have anything to do with weight loss at all!
But when my MS flared, my mindset changed. Losing the feeling on my right side, the ability to walk for 4 months, made me appreciate the process because of where it would lead me.
Suddenly, that green smoothie wasn't a replacement for bacon and eggs, it was a vehicle to walking without a cane again. Getting to the gym became easier because every time I could do an extra minute meant I was closer to getting my life back.
I put myself in a headspace of working for a goal that made me happy and, even though none of the actual work had changed, it turned out that the only thing that needed to change, was my mind.
So How Do You Enjoy The Process?
When I was heavy, I was already happy. I loved my family, friends, boyfriend and degree. I had everything I wanted, I just couldn't figure out how to the conquer the weight and it consumed me.
I felt like my weight was preventing me from being happy, so I prevented myself from enjoying my life. I put experiences on hold until I could hit my goal and refused to just allow myself to just enjoy the moment because I always had my weight on my mind.
I was MISERABLE trying to lose weight, so how could I ever expect to have any sort of success from it? You would never work that hard to do something you hate...
So once I regained the ability to walk, I knew I needed to maintain motivation. The memory of my illness wouldn't be enough - I needed bigger goals.
I started choosing goals that I loved and actually wanted to train for. I wanted to travel, to ride in a bike marathon, and to hike mountains. Suddenly, my choices weren't based on the scale, they were based on my abilities, and I needed to make the same healthy decisions regardless of the goal. Food became a source of energy instead of calories and trying new and healthy recipes became a game. I decided to try one new "healthy-but-indulgent" recipe a week that would satisfy my sweet tooth, but that didn't ruin my path to success.
I continued to workout, but I started realizing how much I hated certain workouts. If I was going to love my life, I needed to spend my time loving what I was doing, so I chose exercises that felt fun. I tried yoga, hiking, swimming, hula hooping, boxing, dance classes - anything that would make me WANT to get my workout done. Now, I look forward to my workouts every week and I'm always up to try something new!
Lastly, and most importantly, I dedicated time every day to feel grateful for the process. I felt so grateful that my body was able to do these things and as I reflected on that, I got an instant boost of happiness. This kept me on track and allowed me to see the benefits of my work instead of on what I was "missing".
You are in control of your experience. When you sit in the mindset of a negative experience, you can only get a negative experience. So if you're ready to stop waiting for your life to be as amazing as you know it can be, use these tools to make happiness your vehicle to success and let the frustrations fall to the side.
It's time to live your life, Without The Weight.
With love & light,