So where do we get the motivation? Where does it come from? Because, if there were a place, a shelf perhaps somewhere some identifiable reservoir in our consciousness or bodies, how do we find it? How do we tap into it? How do we keep finding it and accessing it long after the initial enthusiasm for a new goal has long since waned?
These are some of the most challenging aspects of long term weight loss. In one moment we may think, we may know, in fact, that we will feel better. That our lives will be better if we can lose weight and keep it off. Our health will improve, our relationships may improve, we may feel more energetic, we may get more things done, we may accomplish more, make more money, look better, etc, etc. And in that flash, some motivation is tapped and we may even act upon it. But the process of losing weight is not like the process of accomplishing a project around the house or acting upon the one lingering item that has been sitting upon our desk. It is a long term process, a long term process, a journey, really. So how do we tap into that reservoir of motivation so that we may succeed in such a long term journey?
Our patients have taught us a few things and I will share a few of them with you here. One of them is a simple notion that the ideas that we keep in our consciousness are fairly few at any given moment. And each of us is certainly bombarded with many other messages through the course of our day and through the course of our week. Think of all the countless messages about food, snacks, eating at restaurants and buffets and desserts that we experience on a daily basis. Now think how often do you go out of your way to reinsert thoughts of your long term weight loss goals? When you add it up this way, it becomes quickly apparent that our own noble thoughts about change are often drowned out by these other messages we are bombarded with. So what’s the solution?
Well, here’s a simple one. Write down your main goal. Keep it very simple. “Lose 20 pounds by October 1st.” Write it on a note card in big black magic marker and post it where you will see it very single morning. In fact, make three and post one in a place on your dashboard in your car, one on your computer above the screen and one at home in the bathroom mirror. That way you are forced to think about your goals at least several times a day.
Then there is more. It involves digging very deep into what truly motivates us. This is more than simply that you would like to look trimmer. It is the important stuff such as the specific ways in which you would like to be a better parent, or a better partner. It is achieving personal goals like riding your bicycle with your kids or completing a 5K race or some of the other hundred things you would like to do before you die. It means recapturing and not giving up on your dreams. So spend a little time and dig deep and find out what you would really like in life and how being overweight is keeping that from happening. Then put pen to paper and write down some of those deeper, more important goals, the good stuff; the things that make life really wonderful and worth living. Now you have something powerful that you can refer to and tap into when your motivation is ebbing.