What’s My Motivation?
The big reunion is coming up. You want the energy to play ball with your kids. You’ve been seriously frightened by a near-fatal heart attack. Maybe you’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired?
Or, if you live in Florida, 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 the hurricanes, we considered the dramatic motivation that kind of event 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 the activities at this year’s company picnic seemed so much more difficult than last year.
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.”