According to one definition, motivation is, "providing with a reason to act a certain way" (thank you, dictionary.com!). When I was young my mom used to try to motivate me to clean my room. The reason behind it was that if I didn’t, I would be a in a lot of trouble, so her reasoning was plenty good enough for me at the time! As a child, I didn’t want to clean my room all too often, but due to the parental pressure my mom was able to put on me, and the power she held over the consequences if I didn’t respond, I would eventually give in and get the job done, albeit reluctantly. Hearing my mom recite the benefits of a clean room, however, was not enough to cause me to commit to keeping up with it, and every few days mom would have to, ahem…shall we say, “encourage” me to clean my room once again. It wasn’t until I moved out into my own home that living in a clean and orderly environment really became important to me. Then, I no longer kept things neat because someone was looking over my shoulder and forcing me to, or trying to get me to buy into their way of thinking about it, but instead, I embraced the idea for myself and it became a part of me. I keep my home nice because that’s how I want it to look.
This same principle holds true where weight loss and healthy choices are concerned. It seems like everywhere you look, someone is trying to motivate you by shouting, “You need to loose weight!” It might be the pressure of society that holds to a stereotypical view of what constitutes beauty. This may come through portrayals in media or through the attitudes and opinions of people around you, sometimes even from close relationships. Life and health insurance companies may be applying the pressure for you to meet their underwriting guidelines. Your doctor may be telling you that you’re facing serious health issues if you don’t get your weight down. Somewhere along the way, someone is trying to get you to do things differently for reasons they deem important, whether you buy into their reasons or not.
No matter where the voice originates, having someone else tell you that you need to make a change is rarely received well, especially when it deals with something as personal as your weight. At best, some people temporarily cave to the pressures others put on them in this area. They might lose a little weight initially, but because their reasons for doing it are not truly their own, it doesn’t take long before they falter and often regain what they lost, and then some. This results in greater frustration and feeling worse than they did before.
So, how do you lose weight successfully and keep it off? One of the answers to that question is that the motivation, the real reasons behind it, must truly be your own. You need to know that you’re passing up fast food because your body functions so much better when you eat wholesome foods, not because someone else makes fun of you for eating french fries. You have to want to give yourself the best chances at living a long life by reducing your weight, rather than having someone try to make you feel guilty that you may not live to see your grandchildren if you don’t drop some pounds. You have to want increased strength, endurance, and the ability to function better in daily activities for yourself, rather than feeling like you have to look a certain way to impress people. You have to believe that your body was a gift from God and should be treated with respect and well cared for, instead of accepting the super-sized portions and nutritionally void options that are so cheap, widely advertised, and readily available.
Having the proper motivation puts the “why” behind the “what” and enables you to make the right choices and leads to a healthy lifestyle!