All of us have been significantly affected by the coronavirus. Whether it’s physical, psychological, relational, or financial, our lives have been upended by this terrible pandemic. We’ve heard from many people how difficult it has been to stay healthy while being stuck at home and hearing constant negative news. We want each of you to know that we are here for you. Our providers are available, and we encourage all our patients to maintain a connection with us.
We thought it was a good time to reprint an article we wrote many years ago after an especially bad hurricane season about how to stay motivated to be healthy.
Each of us has a different reason for losing weight and getting healthy. For some, it’s the energy to play ball with your kids. For others, you’ve been seriously frightened by a near-fatal heart attack. Maybe you’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Or maybe you’ve seen people around you hurt, economically devastated, just folks who’ve lost so much, and you suddenly appreciate your health and want to improve and preserve it.
Typically, the main reasons for wanting to lose weight are to feel better and look better, but the nuances to those motivations are as varied as the people who have them.
During tragic events, we considered the dramatic motivation these events can offer to someone who needs to get healthy. But most of us are inspired to lose weight by something far more mundane, so it can be helpful to figure out ways that even the humblest motivations can support our overall weight-loss efforts.
Identifying personal motivators
Patients facing a new weight-loss attempt aren’t always terribly excited about the prospect. Some don’t want to change, but their health problems have forced them into it. Many have been browbeaten into it. Others have tried before and failed.
Often the first thing we have to do with patients is help them identify their own motivation for losing weight. There’s usually some compelling reason that gets people to start a weight-loss effort. For a woman, it might be a question about when your baby is due—but you’re not pregnant! For a man, he might notice that physical activities are getting more difficult.
These turning points are often the impetus for an effort, but by themselves, they won’t keep us on task. No single incident or experience, no matter how jarring, can continue to stand up to the daily onslaught of “eat-more” messages and our own ingrained, unconscious habits. We have to dig a little deeper to find values that are at least as ingrained as our bad habits, to identify positive goals that we want to achieve as much as we want to avoid the negative consequences of our overweight.
If you are getting ready to take another stab at losing weight and getting healthy, or even if you just need some new vigor to a current effort, try this simple approach for getting focused.
Get yourself some index cards. Sit down and think about what benefits you hope to get from losing weight. Write one such benefit per card, as many as you can think of.
- “i’ll be able to wear my red dress again.”
- “i will sit comfortably in movie seats.”
- “i won’t be winded from going up the stairs.”
- “i will feel more self-confident when i walk into a room.”
- “my life will increase in both quantity and quality.”
- “regular sunglasses will fit my head.”
When you are finished, organize the note cards by your own priorities. If you’ve got 60 or 85 or 100 reasons, the mental exercise might take a while, but there’s a benefit to the very process. You have to look at each idea, think about it, weigh it against others, let it sink into your consciousness.
Identify your top five most important benefits of losing weight. Write these top five on some other index cards, and keep one in your purse or wallet, another in your car, another at your work. What you’ve done is identify what truly motivates you. Take a look. It might be quite different than the reason that “made you” decide to lose weight.
Play offense, play defense
Now you have a tool to help you do the mental work of weight loss. That’s helpful in a couple ways. You can review this deck of personal motivators daily. Start your day by flipping through the cards. Take the time to read them slowly. Try reading them out loud sometimes.
Pretty soon you will memorize your motivations, but go through the stack each morning anyway, to keep it green and fresh in your mind. The physical act of doing this actually helps embed these ideas in your memory, just the way writing new words several times helps kids remember their spelling better than just reading them.
If you are stressed, anxious, tired, or just a bit grumpy, lowering your cholesterol could be the furthest thing from your mind, and it could be hard to remember what you wanted to lose weight for.
But if you’ve recently reviewed your list of benefits, it’s a little easier. If you have it written out and you can actually look at it in black and white, it’s easier still.
Everyone has good days and bad days in any effort to change habits and lifestyle. On days when you are feeling strong and committed, your list of benefits will feed that feeling and further serve to inspire you.
But they’re perhaps even more useful when you’re strength is not at its peak. The daily practice of reviewing your motivations will help you bring these goals to mind quickly and easily when temptation strikes, as it always does. And that’s when you need them most.
Through Thick & Thin
Attitude and motivation are critical in successful weight loss efforts. It’s important to understand the health benefits that come from losing excess weight, but for sheer inspiration, it’s most helpful to identify the reasons that you personally want to lose weight, and use them to keep you going.
If you need someone to start you on your journey to health, to help you stay motivated, and to keep you accountable, call Cederquist Medical at 239-249-3647 to book an appointment.