I still remember the first time I felt “fat.” I was in sixth grade and we were put into groups to make D.A.R.E. commercials to share with the class. I was wearing a purple t-shirt tucked into black tapered-leg jeans (I know you’re jealous of my fashion. Give me a break. It was the early 90’s). When we watched the videos in class I thought “I look fat. Everyone else is skinnier than I am.” That’s when I began trying to lose weight. The first thing I tried was Atkins. I gorged myself with meat, cheese and low-carb vegetables. I felt terrible. I couldn’t maintain it.
Then I tried Dexatrim. One, I forget to take pills so that didn’t work out. But the three times I did take it, I felt dizzy, shaky and anxious.
I bought every food labeled low-fat, sugar-free, fat-free and low-carb. I quickly lost interest.
Then I went to college and something positive did happen. I started working out everyday. I found this made me feel fabulous and healthy. I kept that habit and haven’t broken it in 15 years. As far as food goes, I joined Weight Watchers. I felt overwhelmed tracking points and also ate the same low-fat, sugar-free junk I did before. Not only did I not lose any weight but I felt suffocated by the rigidity of the program.
I’ve continued to try everything out there but couldn’t stick with anything long enough to lose weight. Then a year and a half ago, I started what I thought was a weight-loss program, but ended up being something that changed my life.
My friend introduced me to a whole-food, clean-eating diet. I entered into it with a goal to lose weight. But as I cut out the processed, sugar-loaded, artificial crap I noticed something. I felt better physically, emotionally and mentally. When I got to the point when I would normally give up on a diet and decide I was happy with my love handles and jiggly triceps, I kept going. I didn’t want to give up. The thought of putting that junk in my body was appalling to me.
It was then I realized, my motivation had completely changed. I didn’t cut the bad foods out and load up on the good to lose weight; I cut it to be healthy. The more I study the affects food has on our bodies, the less I want to eat anything that isn’t whole, clean and healthy.
So my message is, eating for weight loss is not a sustainable motivation. Eventually you’ll realize your spouse, friends, family, etc will still love you if you don’t lose the weight. You’ll decide you’re happier eating Oreos than fitting into your skinny jeans. Appearance is superficial. It’s not positive motivation and therefore can’t last.
My motivation to eat well and exercise is to be healthy. I want to avoid heart failure, diabetes and other illnesses. I want to have the energy and strength to play with my kids. I want to be able to hike with my husband into our 90’s. I want to be able to play with my grand kids which I won’t have for a very, VERY long time. That’s what motivates me. That’s what makes me load my plate with spinach and say, “No, thank you,” to the package of Ding Dongs. That’s what makes me wake up at 5:45 every morning and pick up the weights or do burpees until I want to scream.
So figure out your motivation. Is it to run marathons, climb Everest, or Swim the English Channel? Is it to feel happier, stronger and have more energy? Do you, like me, want to live a long and comfortable life? Find a motivation that’s lasting and positive. Don’t seek to lose something, but seek to gain something.
What’s your motivation?