Friday, July 23, 2010

I'll Take an Order of Dedication with a Large Side of Motivation, Please

Today's going to be a long one.  There's a lot involved with dedication and motivation, and I don't want to leave anything out - especially after how much information I've provided all week.  Technically, I should of started the week out talking about dedication and motivation.  That's because without dedication and motivation, everything else I've said doesn't really mean anything.  If, however, you have read the posts this week - and still really want to lose weight and live healthier...then you've already shown that there's some dedication there.

Just having some dedication, though, won't be enough.  I will tell you that for 10 years I have been dedicated.  I've always wanted to lose weight, I've tried more times than I can count - but it would last a week or two, sometimes a month, and then I would slowly fall back into my old habits.  So, what's different this time?  My large helping of motivation and my realization that diets don't work - I needed to change my life, that's what. 

If you actually started reading this blog when I first started writing it over a year ago, you'd see the problems that I had.  I was dedicated, I was somewhat motivated - but the crazy things I was doing just wasn't something I could spend my whole life doing.  I would eat bad one day and then BAM - I'd give up, because I thought once I'd made a mistake - it was over.  I finally gave up, and then this past New Years I did something I'd never done before.  I made the decision that I WASN'T going to make the resolution to lose weight.  Every year for 10 years, I've made that stupid weight loss resolution - and for 10 years I've never kept it.  I decided that this year, I wasn't messing with it.  I thought I was destined to be fat forever, and that I wasn't going to upset myself anymore by trying to change it.  Then something strange happened my first week into January.  A saw a friend of mine that I hadn't seen in a long time.  She had struggled with her weight for as long, if not longer, than I had - and she was skinny!!  I was happy for her - really happy - but something inside of me flared.  All I could think about the days after was "if she can lose all that weight, why the heck can't I?"  It was at that point that I decided I couldn't give up - I had to do what I had to do.

I started out with trying weight loss pills.  I am NOT a fan of weight loss pills.  I will admit, they worked for me for a while, but I just couldn't limit myself to what the pills required.  I needed a change - something had to change in my lifestyle, something I could do for the rest of my life so I knew I wouldn't be playing this yo-yo game forever.  That's when the new healthy me started to emerge.  I started to really think about what I could do to help me lose weight, but something I could do forever.  My dedication had finally reached it's level of success.

I'm not going to share what's happened over the past 6 months to get me where I am today - you can read my blog posts for that..LOL  What I am going to share today are what drives me every day to continue, what I do when I falter, and what happens once you get to "the happy place".

Let's start with what drives me every day.  When I first started out, I decided to take a photo of what I looked like.  My original plan was to create an album full of my progress photos.  That way, I would be able to look back and see my changes.  That's still what I'm doing - but when I saw that first photo of me, it made me realize that there would be much more use for that photo than just putting it into an album.  Here's what I saw that first day:

When I looked at that picture, I broke into tears.  I hated that person, couldn't believe I'd let myself get that way.  So, I immediately uploaded the photo, made a few copies...and made sure that the person in that picture haunted me wherever I went.  I posted a pic in front of my treadmill and on my fridge.  When I got on the treadmill, having that person watching me made me work harder - I had to get rid of that person!!  When I felt the urge to eat something I shouldn't...she was there reminding me of what my binge eating had created... I couldn't let her win.  Even though I've made drastic changes since I took that photo 6 months ago, I still keep that photo up.  It helps me, now, by never wanting to be that person again.

In addition to having to look at that photo, I realized I had to make drastic changes to my family's lifestyle.  Making changes in my diet and adding exercise was great - but what about the rest of my family?  It's a pain in the rear to buy food for me, and then buy junk food for the rest of the family.  Do you know how hard it is to eat healthy when your whole family is chowing down on pizza, fried foods, or snacking on chips and cookies? Damn near impossible!  I decided if I was going to eat healthy - then so were they.  Now, I know that this is easier said than done for a lot of people.  I'm actually quite lucky in the fact that I have a fiance that doesn't mind eating healthier.  He likes to cook, and cooking with fresh ingredients is a plus for him.  Rather than completely take away all of the things they loved, I designated a day that I wouldn't be home in the evenings as their "junk day".  Being that I wasn't there - they could eat something unhealthy for dinner one night a week.  That way, they were eating healthy when I was around, but I wasn't depriving them of enjoying something unhealthy one day a week.  I started making my meal plans every week - and even though, in the beginning, it took a while to get everything all planned...I enjoyed having some structure in knowing what we were eating and when.  I stuck to my shopping list, and found that the temptation to "cheat" never occurred - because there was never anything in the house that gave me the option.  Now that I have my eating completely under control, I enjoy a "junk day" once a week.  I don't eat bad all day - but I do treat myself to something..maybe it's pizza for dinner, maybe the family eats out, or maybe it's a dessert...just something that I can enjoy.  I didn't start out doing that, because I really had to limit my failures - but now I can do it with confidence without feeling guilty.

So, I found a way to get my eating under control, but what about exercise?  I will admit, I was NOT a fan of exercise.  I bought DVDs, I spent tons of money equipping myself with a Wii Fit and all the extras to go with it, I bought a treadmill, I bought a home gym...and at the end of the day, after spending hundreds of dollars, all I had was a bunch of exercise equipment that hardly got used.  I started doing the Wii Fit - that lasted about 2 weeks and I got bored of it.  Then I moved on to the DVDs - they were too hard.  I started walking on the treadmill - not too bad, probably the best thing I had invested in - especially with "Fat Joanna" keeping me company from the wall in front of me.  I realized, I could handle walking - so I bought another DVD called Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Fat.  It's basically an entire workout of walking, with some extra exercises thrown in.  Finally, I'd found a DVD that I enjoyed doing, wasn't too hard, and added some variety to just walking on the treadmill.  I started using the DVD 3 or 4 times a week - but after about a month of that...the 5 mile work-out became easy, and so I was back to being bored.  By this time, spring was in the air.  I decided, I really enjoyed walking inside - it was time to take it outside.  I started going to the local track early in the mornings on the weekends - and LOVED it.  The air, the peaceful.  It was time to step up my game, and my difficulty level - and so I started jogging.  I was able to jog for about 10 seconds at a time...not great, but better than just walking.  I then got the urge for a challenge.  I heard about the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure that was happening in April (by this time, it was early March).  I thought - I should do that.  So, having that challenge on my brain - I started working.  After I completed the 5K, my drive started to dwindle away.  I didn't have that challenge on my mind - nothing was driving me anymore...I had to find a new challenge.  That's when I stumbled across an ad for the World Gym bootcamp. I signed up, and knowing that I was going to get my butt kicked while in bootcamp - I started working out again to get myself ready for the challenge of bootcamp.  That's when my "aha!" moment hit.  I needed something to motivate me, to challenge me, in order to really make me work-out.  While in bootcamp, I did another 5K.  After bootcamp ended, I signed up for another round that begins in August.  I have finally - after 6 long months - got to the point where I enjoy working out...especially running.  Yes, I said running.  I can't run for a long time - but when I'm not running, I'm jogging. 

Has everything been a bed of roses the past 6 months? Not at all.  I have had several days where I've eaten things I shouldn't.  It was how I dealt with those "set backs" that really made me realize that I'd changed.  Instead of feeling like a failure, I just didn't let it bother me.  I'd enjoy my "bad food choice" and then the next day I'd make a deal with myself that I'd do better and work-out a little harder to make up for it.  There have been intervals where my exercise hasn't exactly been consistent.  I found that when I'm not being challenged with my exercise - I have no desire to do it.  Now, I keep myself constantly challenged.  If it's not a 5K, it's bootcamp.  I have already planned my challenge for once the second bootcamp is over - I've made arrangements to have a professional photo shoot done at the end of September.  I want to show the changes I've made - and do something I've never wanted to do...have some great photos taken. 

Just recently - I'd say only since bootcamp ended last week - I have reached what I call "my happy place".  What I mean by that, is that I've finally gotten to the point where I no longer feel the threat of failure lurking around every corner.  I do my work-outs without feeling like it's a chore that I'll do anything to get out of.  Actually, yesterday - for the first time, ever - I actually WANTED to work-out, even though I wasn't scheduled for one.  I got out of bed yesterday and thought - I want to work on the weights...and I did.  I went for a run last night (that was scheduled) and rather than jogging around for 30 minutes, I decided I really wanted to run HARD.  I warmed up by walking for a mile, and then decided to give it everything I had.  I took off running.  I decided to time myself, because I really want to start the next round of bootcamp running a mile faster than the 14 mins I ended the last bootcamp with (my current challenge).  I ran the first half a mile pretty fast, had to slow the pace down by the second half a mile.  I looked at the watch just as I was turning the last corner and decided to sprint to the end.....this is what I saw when I crossed the starting point:

Lastly, I owe most of my motivation to this blog and my Facebook page.  Having people follow what I'm doing, supporting me with words of encouragement, and having the notion that there may be one person out there that's counting on my success in order to achieve their own drives me more than anything else I do.  I started this blog over a year ago with that in mind - but I didn't have the whole package to make it work.  I couldn't just count on people reading my blog to motivate me - I had to succeed and share my successes in order for the blog to work.  Last night, I finally reached 100 "likes" to my Facebook page - and felt such a sense of joy.  Knowing that there are 100 people out there - from literally all over the world - watching everything I do holds me accountable.  I'd like to say it's not about the attention - cause at the end of the day, it is.  I will admit, I like attention - but that's what moves me, motivates me...helps me reach my goal.  Again, I will say if there's just one person out there reading my blog that decides "I can do what she's doing" and does it - my blog is a success.  I really want to help people - I've always had that nature - and if this is how I can do that...I have to give it everything I've got.

It's little accomplishments like this that drives me everyday.  I can't say that my tools of success will be your tools of success - but hopefully, my tools can steer you in the right direction.  If you take anything from this blog, and I hope you do, then you will also see your accomplishments start to stand out.  If I had to give a list of the motivational tools that I think would work for everyone it would be these:

1.  Post your "before" pic everywhere that you need it.
2.  PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!!  Meal and work-outs.
3.  Challenge yourself with your exercise - even if the challenge is as small as going from walking to running.
4.  Tell everyone that you know that you're changing your lifestyle - hold yourself accountable for your plans.
5.  Track your progress.  Take photos of yourself every couple of weeks.  You may not see changes at first - but it's the greatest feeling in the world when you can look back at that first photo and see how far you've come.

That's it.  Just try these five simple steps -and hopefully you'll find the motivation and dedication you need to succeed.

Hopefully you've found some useful information this past week has offered.  I've shared everything that I'm doing in 5 hopefully you're thinking about giving it a try.  Maybe you decide that everything I'm doing isn't for you - but there's some things you'd like to try..GREAT!  Tomorrow, we start putting the plan into action.  Would you like more information on planning your meals?  OK, then that's what we'll do tomorrow.  I will explain EXACTLY what I do to plan, give you a couple of examples, and prepare you for heading to the grocery store.

Till next time.  ;)

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