Do you want to lose weight? Or have your friends, your partner or your doctor told you that you could do with dropping a few pounds? What is your reaction? Do you pat your muffin tops or your belly and agree, then forget about it? Do you starve yourself for a couple of hours, or perhaps a couple of days, then gorge yourself, because you’re starving? Maybe you get a diet cookbook and find the meals are nothing like what you’re used to and give up in despair?
How To Develop Motivation
Developing motivation is a virtuous spiral (you know, the opposite of that “downward spiral” we all get into sometimes when we have dropped off the bandwagon and decide there’s no point in continuing because it’s just too hard).
It’s a spiral because you move in a circle to take your first baby step and then continue round that circle but at a higher level. Each turn of the circle is a small step, as small as you want, but it’s in the right direction.
First ACKNOWLEDGE The Problem
Did you pat your belly or muffin tops (or some other overweight or jiggly bit) or look in the mirror and agree with the speaker, or say to yourself, “I need to lose some weight”? What happened then? Did you forget about it? Maybe you sighed and said, “I’ve tried but it’s no use”, or perhaps you starved for a couple of hours, then reached for the ice cream tub? Maybe you said, “Everyone puts on a bit of weight as they get older”, or perhaps “A bit of extra weight won’t hurt”? This is called DENIAL. If you deny you have a problem, or even agree that you have a problem but do not intend doing anything about it, then you are denying there is any problem at all. At this point, you have removed yourself from the virtuous spiral and won’t be able to continue on around it.
What Does “Acknowledge” Mean?
In this case, it doesn’t just mean “Agree”. It is possible to verbally agree with your reflection or with someone else that you could do with losing a few pounds (or more) but mentally not accept the position. If at that point you forget all about it or do not recognize the situation as being serious then you are either in denial (I hear what you said, I don’t accept it but I am not going to argue) or you have recognized the problem and chosen not to do something about it (I admit that there is problem but I won’t tackle it). That is of course, your choice. If you acknowledge there is a problem but having thought about it, decided to do nothing, then you CHOSE that course of action. I have done that in the past too.
Acknowledge = Accept = Agree = Admit
Provided you acknowledge that you have a problem, either one you have recognized yourself or one that someone else has pointed out, then the next small step is to QUESTION.
Second – QUESTION
You may find it difficult to agree with your eyes or with your friend, even though you have acknowledged that there MAY be a problem. With weight loss, as with so many other changes we feel we need to make (or others WANT us to make) there can be a reluctance to actually engage with the problem. We feel there is a barrier of some kind maybe protecting us from making changes. This can be so. Very often, our body or our mind does not want to accept that there is a problem because if we truly accept there is a problem, then that means we have to change. Change can be scary even if it is to protect our health because it means moving out of our comfort zone. Sometimes the only thing scarier than accepting we need to change is getting a life or health fright, like having a heart attack, a stroke or diabetes. Getting an event like that can provoke life changes because the event was so frightening that no change is as bad as that event was, but without a scare like that, our body or our mind may put up a barrier that we cannot see and that we find it hard to cross or push through, that stops us making changes and keeps us in that comfort zone, where nothing changes, so nothing gets done!
What Type Of Questions?
The sorts of questions you could ask yourself (and write down your answers, so you can look back on them) could be: Do I really need to lose weight? How do I know? Why did they say that? Who mentioned it? My doctor, a friend or relative, myself? Did I see a photograph of myself that horrified me?
Is there a particular reason I have put on weight recently? What? Have I always been heavy? Am I under stress at the minute? Is something happening in my life that means I am turning to food for comfort? Am I eating because I am bored? Is my mouth bored and just wants something to chew? Am I on medication that makes me get bigger?
What effect will excess weight have on my health? Have I been told I am in danger of a heart attack, a stroke, going blind, getting diabetes? Are there any other problems I have been told I might get because of excess weight?
Am I having any problems with my health at present? Am I finding it hard or harder to move? Are my joints suffering from carrying extra weight? Am I puffing or panting when exercising, when I didn’t used to? Are my clothes getting too tight? Do I have to wriggle on the bed to pull up those trousers I used to fit into easily?
What am I actually eating? Junk food, too much sugar or sweet stuff?
There is a free downloadable workbook available if you want something in which to write down your answers to keep.
Third – INFORMATION
Now you have asked yourself questions and maybe provided some answers or thoughts on these, you need to go and find the INFORMATION you need. What you NEED will depend on your answers to the QUESTIONS in step 2. For instance, if you are not sure whether you need to lose weight, check out your BMI and see what the official guidelines are. You need to be cautious with this if you are a bodybuilder or athlete because you may appear to be overweight using the BMI guidelines when you are not. But for every other adult, the BMI is a good guide to whether you need to lose weight (or even gain it!).
If you don’t know what the health effects of excess weight are, then check these out on line. Google is your friend here. For instance, there is a video from WebMD on the effects of extra weight or there are a number of informational pages from NIH. Basically, excess weight can lead to increased blood pressure (hypertension) diabetes, which can lead to possible blindness, amputation of limbs and many other problems.
If you are not sure whether your diet includes a lot of junk food, then you could check this page on WebMD for information.
Fourth – PLAN
Now that you have acknowledged that you have a problem, questioned yourself about this and gained information that will help you decide what you need to do, it’s time to PLAN WHAT to do. You may find that the information you gathered has frightened you or at least made you very much aware that you may have a problem that needs dealing with NOW rather than later. This can be helpful in planning what to do, as long as you plan a sensible and healthy way of dealing with it, rather than jumping immediately into an unsustainable crash starvation diet, which you just as quickly crash out of!
What Sort Of Plans?
If the information gathered shows that you are carrying excess weight and you decide you want to get rid of it, then you need to plan HOW to do this. You may have been on diets previously and found them difficult to stick to. You may have concerns about feeling hungry or tired. You may not know what sort of diet would suit you and your lifestyle or you may have health problems that mean you need to be careful when changing your diet. These are all the sorts of areas you need to cover in your QUESTIONS and INFORMATION sections and now PLAN to cover as many of these as possible. Your plan may include getting more information, perhaps on a particular diet, or on the kinds of food that would suit you best. Your plan might include speaking to your medical adviser, especially if you have other health concerns. It might include getting started on a particular diet and getting in any special items you need for it. It could be planning to buy a set of food scales or a set of bathroom scales or even a diet cook book for your preferred diet.
But what ever plans you make, the next step is to take ACTION
Fifth – ACTION
There is no point getting a lot of information and planning down to the last detail if you do not TAKE ACTION.
What sort of action? It can be as small a step as you feel comfortable with. You might actually purchase those bathroom scales or food scales. You might start eating more healthily, cutting out soda, candy and cookies, or taking a large glass of hot water and lemon first thing in the morning. You might go to your library and borrow books on nutrition or a particular diet plan or you might join a slimming group. Whatever you have planned to do, TAKE THAT ACTION.
Back To ACKNOWLEDGE
Now it’s back to “Rinse and Repeat. Remember, this is a virtuous spiral and you have come full circle, back to the top and “ACKNOWLEDGE”, so you need to keep going round it, improving as you move through each level. What do you acknowledge this time? You may want to consider whether you bought your books or scales or diet plan or joined a slimming group. or started on your diet. What did you DO with what you learnt and planned? How did your ACTION pan out? Then move on again to QUESTION: did you find out anything particularly worrying? Do you need to take medical advice? Do you need more information? Do you need to try something different? Get more INFORMATION and PLAN your next step, then again, TAKE ACTION.
Follow these steps round this spiral, improve your information, give yourself feedback, plan your campaign and take action on the next step, motivating yourself to lose weight.