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What is this elusive thing called Motivation?

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Sometimes I wonder how it is I can become motivated to stick to something for a long time, when other times I can't no matter how hard I try.

For the whole of 2013 I could not get a handle on my bad eating behaviors and lack of activity. I felt stuck. I was unhappy and yet it seemed like I couldn't get started on any sort of plan to improve my situation. By the end of the year, I had worrisome physical problems. Namely, I had a pain in my right side that scared me. It came and went, but sometimes I'd even wake up with it. I suspected it might be a gall bladder problem that was caused by my food choices and excess weight.

When 2014 rang in, I'd finally had enough. I made a commitment on January 8 to get back on a healthy path and get rid of the pounds that were weighing my mind and soul down just as much as my body.

It was hard. After a long time of overeating, eating sugary high fat foods, and spending most of my time sitting, it was painful to change all that. I had food cravings often. My appetite had gotten so large it was hard to cut down my portions. I started doing indoor walking DVDs and struggled to get through 2 miles. I had to force myself to exercise, and I didn't start out doing it every day. I got anxious and depressed often. It seemed so unfair I had to have this weight problem and endure so much "suffering".

The only thing I can say about that time is I had decided that getting to a healthy weight and feeling better physically became just a little bit more important than soothing myself with food and getting distracted by sitting at the computer or watching TV shows. It was enough to push me over to the side that says just do it.

So, I just did what I had to. Every day that I did it made the next day that much easier. I'm not even sure exactly when the turning point was, but it eventually became less painful to eat less and exercise more. Then I started to see results. The pain in my side vanished after a couple of weeks. At first, the pounds were coming off each week, but I couldn't see it. Then, after I lost about 10 pounds, I noticed clothes fitting a little looser. I had gradually increased my walks and suddenly I was doing 5 miles. Instead of feeling exhausted, I was feeling energized afterwards. The pendulum swung completely over and my commitment grew.

Today, 8 weeks later, I'm feeling great. I have lost 15 lbs. I went shopping a few days ago and fit into the next size smaller. I liked how I looked in the mirror for the first time in over a year. Yesterday was slightly warmer (in the 40's....it's been a BRUTAL winter this year) and so I decided to go for an outdoor walk. I walked 6 miles in 1 hour, 20 minutes. I enjoyed it so much. I felt like me again. This is how I'm meant to feel.

I still don't know where motivation comes from and why it sometimes goes away. It's like the elusive butterfly that you can't chase after because once you try too hard to catch it, it quickly slips away. The only thing I can know for sure is that it's better to not think so much about it and just take action. Do it every day. Do your best. Even a tiny improvement will build over time. Never give up and never allow yourself to think negatively. Don't label yourself as someone with a slow metabolism or someone with too big a sweet tooth. Describe yourself as someone who likes healthy food and enjoys exercise. Then, just do those things. Just do it, then just do it again. Once you get past a relatively short time of discomfort, it really does get easier. Then, suddenly, you're on your way!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AQUAPIXIE 3/14/2014 3:04PM

    Oh- I meant to say- LOVE LOVE LOVE your wallpaper!

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AQUAPIXIE 3/14/2014 3:03PM

    YAY! Wonderful post!!! Several years ago, you were very supportive of me. I dropped off SP for quite some time. I just restarted in March, and have loads to catch up on. I have continued walking all along-about 4 miles, several times weekly. My food choices have been ok, but portion control is my biggest issue. I just need to be more consistent. Your success along the way is very motivating. emoticon

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MAZZYR 3/10/2014 10:07AM

    Fantastic blog! For me, your words and experiences were spot on. I kept thinking, so true as I read your thoughts. My new favorite motto is, JUST DO IT!


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GABBY308 3/9/2014 10:16AM

    Congratulations! You have been doing awesome. If someone could find the perfect "one size fits all" answer for finding and keeping motivation, that person would make a fortune.
I'm so happy that you found yours.

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KTISFOCUSED 3/8/2014 6:44PM

    Awesome blog and awesome job!!! You remind me it an be done. I've been struggling with motivation, not on exercise but on eating/attitude. Thanks for the inspiration.

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LIFECHANGZ 3/8/2014 1:09PM

    emoticon so glad you're back on a roll! emoticon

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NOW2DAY 3/8/2014 1:03PM

    Great blog. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TIGER_LILY_613 3/8/2014 10:47AM

    Fantastic blog ! emoticon

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HEALTHY4ME 3/8/2014 10:24AM

    OMG OMG YOU ARE DOING IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am off and on still, doing it then falling back on old habits. I have a ton of stress right now, and also a great deal of pain, I am making sure I walk at least 10,000 steps a day, but some days my knees and back don't want to move. I do it then come home and actually collapse but I am not stopping. I have joined the 100 day challenge and I will do this even when I hurt, cos I hurt all the time.
Right now in process of starting to apply for disability govt pension, and still have lawyer fighting my insurance co. Finances are nill and hubbys having a huge issue with 2 of his sisters. SOOOOOO I am doing very well not eating junk cos none in house but not losing. Told hubby has to be my body making cortisol cos we are eating well and healthy and I am moving...... but haven't given up
SO SO SO happy to hear from you and hope it continues as I am sure it will, spring is on its way.........

Cindy emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Farewell 2013, Welcome 2014!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I always love New Years Day....a fresh start, full of possibilities. My recurring intention for the upcoming year is always the same: reach my healthy goal weight by my birthday in October and maintain it throughout the holiday season.

You'd think I'd lose faith after failing to do this in years past. But it took Thomas Edison over 10,000 attempts until he successfully invented the light bulb. You don't fail unless you give up.

I am done with crazy diets. No "flavor of the month" diets for me anymore. No gimmicks. No elimination of any food groups. No quick weight loss schemes.

My plan for this year is to achieve balance and moderation in my eating and to simply eat clean 80-90% of the time. I have a plan and it involves tracking. I have often resisted tracking. It's not that it's hard to track or even that it takes too much time. The truth is that I don't track when I don't want to stay on track. Tracking puts it in front of me and I don't want to face it when I'm in the mode of wanting to eat whatever I want, whenever I want.

Weight loss starts in the mind. Once I have the mindset that "I will do this and nothing can stop me", I do what it takes. Once I have developed that deep commitment, I get on a roll and gain momentum. Then I reach the pinnacle of success whereby it's harder NOT to do the healthy habits I established. That's when the magic happens! It all starts in the mind.

I feel very optimistic about 2014. Let's make it a good year!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MORERED 1/1/2014 9:10AM

    Mary, Happy New Year!!!!! As always, you are so articulate and inspiring!!! Let's really do it, this year, by our mutual birthday, one day at a time!!!


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HEALTHY4ME 12/31/2013 6:43PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MAZZYR 12/31/2013 1:37PM

    WTG, Mary!

Here's to a healthy and happy 2014!

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KTISFOCUSED 12/31/2013 11:35AM

    Great plan-very similar to mine . We can do it!!

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KTISFOCUSED 12/31/2013 11:35AM

    Great plan-very similar to mine . We can do it!!

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How do you enjoy the holiday season and stay on track?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Today starts my most challenging time of the year. I'm thinking about it now so I can come up with some sort of strategy to not let it derail me.

First off, today is my birthday. My dearest husband made me a delicious veggie, ham and cheese omlette for breakfast, and for dinner he's broiling lobster tails and grilling steaks. It's a beautiful fall day and I plan to take a long walk this afternoon and then do some flowerbed clean-up. I have lunch plans with one friend tomorrow and lunch plans with another friend on Sunday. Eating out is a challenge for me most of the time, but especially on my birthday since I seem to always have a sense of entitlement to have whatever my heart desires. I always give myself a free pass. It's probably best to do so, because restricting to the point where I feel deprived tends to backfire later. So, maybe it's okay to restart on Monday the 28th (?)

P.S. I turn 62 today. Although I no longer relate to or find inspiration in pictures of young fitness models, one of my true inspirations is model Cindy Joseph who is now 63. It's proof that beauty has no age and there are definite things you can do to look your best in your older years.

Another "hero" of mine is Kathy Smith, who will turn 62 on December 11:

Then there's Christy Brinkley who will turn 60 on February 2 next year. What's her secret? She still looks like she's in her 30's!

Next after my birthday comes Halloween candy. We bought a huge bag at Sam's Club and there's sure to be leftovers. Those tiny treats are actually a good once-in-a-while snack if I could stop at ONE (which history shows, I can't). I think it's best to get the leftover candy out of the house.

The following 3 weeks don't pose any big challenges, and I could ultimately get a good positive start to motivate me through the holidays.

Thanksgiving is always a meal loaded with carbs and fat: mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, rolls w/ butter, misc. other fat-laden casseroles, cranberry sauce loaded with sugar, apple pie, pumpkin pie, oh my! (Then I have all those leftovers to contend with the following week). Even taking a small portion of everything is way too much food. That is never good - I end up feeling too full and regretful afterwards. It's not realistic to say I'll only have turkey and veggies; however, I do have to look at the rest and negotiate with myself as to what I am willing to give up. So, here goes........I can do without the mashed potatoes, rolls, & cranberry sauce and have a moderate amount of dressing, gravy, broccoli casserole, and one piece of pumpkin pie. I enjoy a tossed salad which we rarely have on Thanksgiving because of all the other dishes. Even if I'm the only one to eat it, I think I'll be sure to make a green salad with a big variety of veggies. I'll eat the leftover salad & turkey during the week and DH can enjoy all the other leftovers.

I've eliminated a lot of the pre-Christmas stress by keeping things simple and minimal. Last year, I had what I called a Zen Christmas and I intend to do the same this year. We don't exchange gifts with anyone, and all the grandkids are at the ages that they'd rather get money. I stopped sending cards and opt to give distant relatives a call. I no longer bake dozens of cookies.

The one big temptation is that on Christmas Eve I make pierogie. It's a family tradition that I'm not willing to give up. It's tough to limit my portion because they are a favorite dish that I only have once or twice a year. If that's my ONLY splurge day, it shouldn't cause too much damage.

We always stay at home and cook a special New Year's Eve dinner. One year, I broiled salmon and had salad, roasted sweet potatoes, and a couple of cooked veggies. It was satisfying and healthy.

I think the key for me will be to plan ahead and keep an image of how I want to look on my mind. Imagine how I want to feel. Keep focusing on the end result and not the immediate gratification. Think to myself, "how will I feel tomorrow if I eat all that today?" "will this choice bring me closer or further away from my goal?"

Is this:

Worth giving up feeling like this:

How will you stay on track over the holiday season?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HEALTHY4ME 10/31/2013 10:23AM


Dear Mary I hope you had a great birthday, So sorry to have missed these blogs!!

I so agree I love Cindy Joseph and have one of her work out dvds. I hadn't heard of her before that. and Kathy Smith too. Well Christie she looks as if she had to have done soemthing she is way young looking. I also like that Cindy, has kept her hair long and grey someting that I am attempting. lol

As for the food I think you have it down pat, we both know what we need to do, and how to do it... deprivation doesn't work. and if you have stuff you want you will do it. I did great on our thanksgiving and didnt deprive myself but made 2 gf desserts had one piece of the pie and that was it, no mashed tatoes etc. but man 2 days later I was on a 4 day sugar binge for some reason. Still no idea what caused it!

HUGs as you start this tempting time of year. But I know you can do it. HUGS emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/31/2013 10:24:08 AM

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SUE5007 10/28/2013 1:17PM

    Planning ahead is so important. It sounds like you have a good one! Leftovers are really hard. Try to send them home with family. Maybe freeze them for the hubby so you aren't as temped to "just have a taste"? Keep looking at your plate, and how full it really is with the foods you planned to eat, and repeat to yourself that you don't "NEED" a serving of everything. You remember how it all tastes, you don't need it. (Even if you want it) Try to keep a positive attitude about it, instead of feeling like a victim. And savor every bite. It's easy to eat and visit and then suddenly, where did my food go? Try to pay attention to each bite.
The other thing I do the morning of Thanksgiving is go for a walk! It's great knowing that before lunch time I have already walked off 300 calories or more.

P.S. emoticon

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KTISFOCUSED 10/26/2013 2:08AM

    Happy Birthday, my friend. Sounds like you had a great day. 62 is just a number spoken by one who will also be 62 next birthday. emoticon

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MAZZYR 10/26/2013 2:00AM

    Happy Birthday!

I hope your day was special...just like you!

How do you enjoy the holiday season and stay on track?

These days I remind myself that I have a plan. Most days I follow my plan automatically. I try to think of special occasions as one meal or one item and I enjoy it.


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LOSE4LIFE47 10/25/2013 11:01AM


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Trying this again

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

After a long absence that was preceded by sporadic activity, I find myself back here again. Using SP helped me to take off 40 lbs. back in 2007. I've tried a few alternate routes since then and have come full circle.

I like the new Spark START page. I like the look of it, and everything is organized well. I set up my motivation board, set some goals, read a bunch of articles. I'm still not going to jump onto any teams at this point. I don't want to end up spending a lot of time on the site when I should be up and moving.

The week's been good so far. I went outside walking yesterday and today. I used the tracker today. I'm not sure how long that will last because it's not something I like to do. What I did find was that by eating lots of veggies and preparing healthy meals today, I am at the very low end of my calorie range. I may track for a few weeks just to create awareness of calories. My main focus is on eating nutritious foods and I don't want to be tied to measuring things out and tracking it every day. That becomes tedious for me. I do need awareness, though, so I think I'll always keep a written log of what foods I'm eating.

This has to be a lifelong habit-changing process. No more crazy plans for me. Nothing to go off of. If my food is satisfying as well as nutritious, and my exercise is something I enjoy, there's never any reason to ever do anything differently.

This is one of the pics on my motivation board -

It says it all. It's time to permanently change old habits by replacing them with ones that will make me feel good and proud at the end of the day.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KTISFOCUSED 10/24/2013 8:32PM

    Welcome back, friend. So nice to "see" you. I've missed you and know you will do great! Once you set your mind to something, there is NO STOPPING YOU!!!!!! emoticon

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MAZZYR 10/24/2013 6:44AM

    Yippy...my girl is back! I was just thinking the other day how I missed more interaction with you on SP.

I'm with you on establishing healthy lifestyle changes by adding healthy habits. Welcome back to SP.


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JACKIE542 10/24/2013 1:38AM


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MORERED 10/23/2013 9:55PM

    Hi Mary! Glad to see you are back and replacing old habits with new ones. I've also found myself on spark again...like u tracking but not spending much other time here. Like many times in the past, you and I are in similar stages! Love the idea of replacing old habits with ones that make us feel good about ourselves!


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I LOVE this visual

Friday, April 26, 2013

This picture truly inspires me. I have it as the screen saver on my computer so I can see it everyday and affirm that my transition, although slow, will be complete. I can imagine myself getting slimmer and slimmer as the days and months go by and then jumping for joy at finally reaching my goal in a healthy, sustainable way.

I feel so free without the scale. It's the best decision I have ever made. My goal is not to reach a number; my goal is to eat healthy unprocessed foods. I gauge my success on the qualify of what I eat and the activity in my day. I am learning how to hold myself accountable every day without having to know my "number". It doesn't matter what the scale says. It only matters how I feel inside.

I am learning how to be mindful and tune into my body's hunger and satiety signals. By paying attention to my thoughts and feelings, I can recognize when I'm longing for food as merely a drug. I can eat less because I am more aware of the taste of food. Food tastes better also because I've kicked the sugar and chemicals habit.

Right now, I am happy and confident. I can reach my healthiest weight without diets or scales.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DEBC1232 5/15/2013 8:02PM

    Thanks for sharing Mary-helps me to remember to focus on what I'm doing right...esp when the scale doesn't want to budge! emoticon emoticon

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ERIN1957 4/28/2013 8:56AM

    I love this too! Thanks so much!

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GETSALONG 4/27/2013 10:52AM

  emoticon pics emoticon Yes! emoticon

emoticon nice 2 c u found your mojo again :)

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MAZZYR 4/27/2013 7:54AM

    Great blog Mary. It's so motivating because you kept hitting on the truth. Xo

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HEALTHY4ME 4/26/2013 2:48PM

    Mary you are doing so well. I am doing okay but having a very hard time finding stuff to eat, not that I want sugar or dairy or wheat, just what to eat beside meat, potatoes and salad. Was at naturopath today she suggested 2 websites one I have gone to before, but knwo it is a lifestyle and such but just haven't a clue how I will sustain it, as starting to look for food all the time, so eating too much snacks even though they are good and healthy. I am not learning as you said your bodies signals etc. at all.

But doing well, less inflammation, less pain so will carry on but do have to find a way to do this better than i am.
So so glad you are doing well.!! HUGS

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BUCKEYEMOM8 4/26/2013 1:10PM

Your post is very encouraging. I recently made a decision to give up getting on the scale every day. I realized that post-menopause weight loss for me will be neither linear nor constant. The feedback from the scale many times a false positive or false negative given the prior day's exercise/eating patterns did little to advance healthy eating patterns. Instead, I have tried to focus on healthy eating-especially the elimination of sugar and exercise with the help of a good personal trainer to approach the weight loss journey... this umpteenth team around. Thank you for articulating this approach so clearly. Love the visual too! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ERIN_POSCH 4/26/2013 9:20AM

    thank you

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KKKAREN 4/26/2013 9:03AM

    It really sounds like you have it under control. Keep up the good work.

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