Obstacles and Motivation

I got an email from a reader who had some questions for me. I thought I’d try and address them here.

The vision that motivated me was twofold. First, I was tired of being in pain. I was having a lot of health issues (high blood pressure, pre-diabetic). My back and knees and feet hurt all the time from the extra 100 pounds. Second, I was tired of not being okay in my body. There was definitely an emotional aspect to wanting to lose weight–wanting to be skinny, wanting to be pretty, wanting a life partner some day, wanting to be able to wear cute clothes that actually fit properly. There is definitely a motivating factor in vanity, but I would say that the health issues were the #1 reason I wanted to lose weight.

The biggest obstacle? Good question. I would say there were several. The first obstacle was that the idea of losing 100 pounds was a very overwhelming number. It seemed unattainable. In order to overcome that very scary, very unrealistic goal, I decided I would start small. I was going to be a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding in one year and I wanted to lose 50 pounds by then. I worked really hard and reached that goal and then it didn’t seem so hard to lose another 50 pounds.

Another obstacle would probably be the weight loss plateaus. Those were really hard. I’d be losing weight, feeling better, getting stronger, buying clothes in smaller sizes…and then all of a sudden it would stop. I didn’t know a lot about nutrition, really, and I definitely went through phases of overexercising thinking I could just work off the weight. I see now that that was pretty disordered–like working out for 3 hours because you ate some pizza. That’s not healthy. It’s better to just recognize your mistake and do better the next day…not punish yourself!

I don’t know that I ever “failed.” Failure implies that I gave up or that I stopped trying. I was so determined and so focused on my goals that failure was not an option. I was not going to quit. Even when I hit plateaus, when my weight fluctuated up and down, I kept my eyes on the road and just kept doing what I was doing. And it worked in the end.

These days, I am definitely finding it harder to not look at my lack of weight loss post-baby as a failure. I have been very hard on myself about how difficult it has been to lose even 10 pounds. It can be discouraging and frustrating and depressing. But I am still trying. I never gave up before, and I don’t plan on quitting now.

Whenever I didn’t hit a goal before, I looked at what I was doing and tried to figure out things to I could change. I often got into ruts and switching up my diet helped. Cutting out trigger foods helped (pizza and ice cream). Changing my workouts was definitely good! I started running and fell in love with it and it was very motivating for me in terms of weight loss and just EATING BETTER. I had to re-evaluate everything I was doing to be a better runner.

Training for races helped. It helped keep me focused. It gave me a goal to work towards. It helped me stay motivated to work out. I had something to train for. Something to look forward to. That has been the #1 thing keeping me going–HAVING A GOAL (losing 50 pounds before the wedding, training for a race, etc). I think it’s better to have focused, specific goals instead of vague ideas.

So there ya go, hopefully that answered the questions!

Because You Want to or You Have To?

Do you work out because you want to or because you have to?

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What a loaded question, huh? But I pose it to you because it’s an important question. It can most definitely be both. Don’t we all have those days/weeks? Those days where we drag our lazy butts to the gym even though we’d rather just relax at home?


Because I Want To

Even when I was overweight and eventually obese, I DID go through phases where I was way into the gym. I remember distinctly when I was still living at home around 18 years old, just out of high-school and I joined the nearby 24HR Fitness. It was a small gym, no pool, but it was close to my parent’s house and it was also right near where I worked. I would go to the gym a few times a week but it was also followed by eating a footlong sub from Subway or one of those personal sized pizzas from Pizza Hut for dinner. I was undoing everything I did in the gym with a poor diet. But I was 18 and didn’t know any better and certainly wasn’t counting my calories then!

I enjoyed going to the gym even though I didn’t see any results (again, poor diet). I definitely went through very inactive phases (sometimes lasting years at a time) and that is when I put on the most weight. The image of an obese person hating exercise wasn’t necessarily accurate for me. I was just lazy. I didn’t see results when I did work out, so why bother? (AGAIN! Diet!)

When I resolved to lose 100 pounds, I started swimming a few days a week and then eventually added some gym sessions to that too. I found that I really really liked it. It was such a good stress reliever! The more I worked out, the fitter I got, the more I LOVED how I felt. I felt healthy, I was losing weight, I was getting stronger.

I loved seeing results and I loved the happy endorphins I was getting. Because of that I’ve grown addicted to that feeling. It makes me happy, it relieves stress, it gives me “ME” time, I see results and I found that I loved doing things like biking, running, hiking and swimming. If I take too many days off from working out, my body doesn’t feel good. I feel lethargic, I start to feel moody and certain parts of my body start to ache (usually my hips).


Because I Have To

For me, this is the sticky part. It’s complicated. I definitely have emotional scars and issues related to being obese and losing 100 pounds. There is definitely a fear in the back of my mind that says if I ever stop working out, I will gain back 100 pounds. Is that realistic? Probably not. Is it a valid fear? I think so! I don’t want to go back to where I was so unhappy. I don’t want to lose everything I worked so hard for.

There are days when I DO work out “because I have to.” For me that means “it’s on my calender, it’s a gym day, I have to work out.” Lately I’ve been getting much better at taking an extra rest day if my body or my mind needs it. Sometimes taking 1 extra rest day is the reset I need and when I return to the gym I feel refreshed and excited again. We all burn out sometimes; that’s natural. Switch things up!

If more and more of your workouts are done “Because I Have To”, maybe it’s time reevaluate what you’re doing. Maybe you need to find something else to do that you ENJOY and look forward to it. Check out some of these old posts:

Maintenance 101: Fitness Should Be Fun

Why Wednesday – Why You Need a Break Sometimes

Why I Dislike Fitness Classes

You Are Stronger Than You Think

I touched on this issue a lot in the “Fitness Should Be Fun” post. It should be. It may be hard, it might be exhausting, but if you look forward to it and feel accomplished after it, you’re on the right track!