Thursday, November 12, 2009

Motivation Is Overrated

Today's topic is why motivation is overrated in exercising & striving to living a healthier lifestyle. I have received a few emails, post, calls, text messages about how motivated I am and how people wish they had a pinkie toe drop of my motivation. I will be honest and say I think motivation is highly overrated.

Most of you who know me well like my family, people who I went to high school with, college, law school, and/or worked with me or for me know I am a go getter. I have been this way my whole life. If I set I goal, I go after it, tackle it, pin it down, get my 3 count, drop the mic and leave...End scene. That's how I do. I am happy to say that life has just worked out realllly well for me over the years. Now I recognize I am truly blessed and God looks out for me even when I don't deserve it but I truly believe in the bible verse "Faith without works is dead." I work hard and I enjoy the outcome of the hard work I put in.

I can honestly say I have achieved almost every goal I set for myself thus far. Everything from college, to various scholarships I have received, to getting into law school, to passing the Maryland State bar exam on the first try, to buying my first home, to my jobs, to my sorority, etc... Check, check, check...
I am a work in progress so its not like I am "done." I do have some other aspirations in terms of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Junior League and of course the ever popular world domination plot are goals that are underway.
With that being said, the only goal I have found the most challenging to secure is weight loss. I have tried over the years and I have had some success but I always seem to get distracted by some other goal that takes off a lot faster. I am all about immediate gratification. In January of 2009 I found myself very frustrated not motivated about my health. I was on pre-hypertension meds, I was at an all time high in terms of my weight and clothing size, and I was unhappy & frustrated about where I was. This however was in a bubble like it has always been because everything else was going GREAT! Great job, great friends, great trips, great life! And not that fake I am dying inside but put on a happy face great life either. I am happy, I enjoy life, I am seeing the world, I am making good money, I am coming home to MY house, I have supportive friends and family members....Life is good... But just this weight...that frustrated me.

I think the real issue I had with this goal was that this was the ONE thing totally in my control. I mean I am fabulous but in everything else someone had a hand in it whether it was an admissions counselor, a scholarship committee, the 2/3rd vote from my would be sorority sisters, the approval for my mortgage or offer on the townhouse I bought, etc. you get the picture. But what I eat and how much I work out...that's totally on me. Do you know how frustrating it is to pass a 2 day, 6 hour each day, bar exam in one shot and not pass by a McDonalds? Losing weight is hard. But as someone on the Weight Watchers messaged board always says "Losing weight is hard, being over weight is hard...pick your hard."

Back to the message....
In looking up what frustrated means I found " defeated: disappointingly unsuccessful. Frustration is an emotional response to circumstances where one is obstructed from arriving at a personal goal. The more important the goal, the greater the frustration. It is related to anger and disappointment. Sources of frustration may be internal or external."

That's about right. Motivation was no where in the picture. The fact of the matter is my metabolism sucks. Probably always has, might be genetic, but whatever the case this isn't a level playing field for me. Some people will always be thin no matter what they eat...some people will always be bigger no matter what they eat...The only thing that can balance the scales of injustice is EXERCISE. For me, weight loss without exercise doe not work. So I knew going into this I had to do it.

I set a plan in action and it didn't happen over night. I took bits and pieces and built up some momentum. Between Jan and August I lost 28 pounds I wasn't ready for the full on Weight Watchers program I just needed to make small changes before I got back into that. The fact of the matter is I am very competitive and that can work for you or against you in weight loss groups. In August I rejoined Weight Watchers and told myself it was time to get another personal trainer. I really didn't want to spend the money, I will be honest and say that, but I knew it was a good way to turn my sporadic workouts into sure nuff workouts. I committed to going 2 days a week until Christmas. I told myself anything above and beyond those 2 days would be fat free gravy. I joined Chizel It when one of my Sorors told me about their Socarobics class. I knew Charles Harris from television and the other events like when Barack Obama came to Baltimore on the way to DC (he did the warm up for the crowd) and I havent looked back since.

In about 10 months I am down about 60 pounds (depends on the day) so that's about 6 pounds month. My goals was 2 pounds a week/10 pounds a month but I'll take what I can get. I was wearing a women's size 26/28 and I am now in 18s and most importantly I feel better. I set an intial goal of 100 pounds we'll see where that gets me. If need be I will re-evaluate my final goal.

All of this was to show you motivation really did not factor into my plan to get healthier only fustration and despration did. I needed to change to imporve the quality of my life. Trust and believe if I could still eat fast food every day and have as many cheesecakes as I could hold anytime I wanted I would be doing it! With a smile on my face in fact. In fact, I hate people (YES HATE) who can eat without a care in the world and look as if they are the picture of health. But that's another rant for another day about what being healthy "looks" like.

A/w before I leave you I wanted to share what I read about motivation being overrated. One piece stood out called Motivation Is Overrated By Bonnie Pfiester it said: " You cannot rely on feeling motivated to help you reach your goals. It is a plan and total commitment that gets you to your goal - period. Relying solely on motivation puts your success on something that is variable. This applies to other areas of our life like putting money away or paying off debt. You only get success when you commit and follow through - whether you feel like it or not. Similar to going to work or church those days you really don't feel like it, it has to become a priority. Like work, the discipline pays off. "

Note: The whether you feel like it or not part. I sometimes go into the gym with a sour face on and my trainer Charles will ask me what's wrong and I'll tell him "I'd rather be watching Good Times!!!" (Waiting to Exhale reference) or sometimes I'll say "Do you know Oprah is on?!" He just got a flat screen tv for the treadmill area and I kinda feel like he got it for me *blush* lol

Another Blog I like called Squart Rx added this : "Motivation is over-rated. Stop waiting to get motivated. Motivation and enthusiasm will always come and go. Even the best athletes in the world don't always "feel like" training, but they do it anyway. Instead of waiting, start training for something and train frequently. Do NOT destroy yourself every training session, but do something almost everyday. Make training a habit. By making it a habit, you are virtually eliminating emotion from the decision-making process and, if the habit is ingrained deeply enough, there is no decision to make about training or not - you will train period.Creating the right habits, mentally and physically, will help sustain you through the valleys and long plateaus."

Note: I love this guy. I mean really if this doesn't say "Suck it up & take it like a woman!" I don't know what does! Again he notes motivation will come and go you can't rely on that if you are serious. I remember reading and article about the top CEOs in the world and one thing they all or about 90% had in common it was that they exercise regularly. One CEO said he doesn't think about it he just wakes up brushes his teeth and goes to the gym. I remember thinking WOW Who does that?! I usually had to wake up pray, think about it, toss and turn, exhale a few times and slowly get it cracking...sometimes I would some times I wouldn't. Now I set my appointments and since my blackberry runs my life when the Pearl says its time for training I get moving. Habit.

Working out Mondays & Saturdays has become a habit at this points; it is what I do. I don't really think about it at this point I just do it. I do try to read health & exercise related magazines, books, and watch positive healthy shows like Dr. Oz to help reinforce the habits I have picked up. I try to surround myself with like minded people which is why a gym setting works best for me. I like going to Weight Watchers meetings because as a foodie its good to meet up with other foodies and share foodie stories about avoiding candy at work and sharing recipes that are good tasting and good for you! I also get support and encouragment. Do you know I love my stupid lil weight watcher keychain and washer, magnets and stickers?! Its the small things. Anyway that's my take on motivation... Thanks for all the love & support along this leg of this life long journey!

WW swag :-)

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