21 Mar 2012
Many people in my life have known me from “before” as a (funny) obese, chain-smoking couch potato and are fascinated by my transformation into a (funny) healthy living advocate and runner. One of the questions that I get asked most often is where I found the motivation to change my life so drastically.
Before I get into the answer, I think it’s important to establish exactly what motivation is. By definition, motivation is “that which gives purpose and direction to behavior.” (Source) With this in mind, it basically means we are looking for something to drive us to exercise and eat well – something to get us going.
Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to change their life, which can include everything from losing weight and breathing better, to eliminating the need for medication, to feeling sexier and fitting into smaller clothes.
I was young enough when I started to change my life that I didn’t have any serious medical issues yet, but knew I was on the road to an early grave. My father, who I largely take after (pun intended) has every disease under the sun related to being obese – Type II Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. I still can vividly remember being 6 and walking into the hospital room where my dad was hooked up to more tubes than I could count because he had suffered a heart attack at the young age of 40.
While avoiding a future full of medications and complications from something that was preventable was definitely one reason I wanted to lose weight, I was also getting to the point where I was simply tired of being fat. I had been obese for so many years of my life, but I was blaming other things and people even though deep down I really did want to change.
I blamed my parents for fostering my obsession with food and for not leading by a healthy example.
I blamed the food itself for being so delicious and for being hard to resist.
I blamed the clothes that didn’t fit because they were made so small and not true to size.
I blamed moderation for not being a part of who I was.
You get the idea. The bottom line was that all I knew was it wasn’t my fault.
Then one day in late 2008, I visited my doctor for an annual appointment, and she asked me what was going on with my weight. I didn’t know how to respond at all, and so she asked me what my plan was and why I didn’t just join Weight Watchers. I do NOT like being told what to do, and certainly not from someone who didn’t understand the true reasons behind my obesity.
I was completely humiliated. I left the office feeling defeated, embarrassed, angry, mad, sad and like I had been seriously wronged. After tossing these negative feelings around in my head for several days and then letting the anger subside a bit, I started to reconsider what she had said.
I realized that maybe she was in tune with the reasons for my obesity. She asked me what my plan was. What was I going to do to fix the problem.
And then it clicked.
Motivation is not something that happens to you – it is something you make happen. Those who are motivated are not waiting for something or someone else to get them motivated; they are making it happen for themselves. I was only successful in changing my life this time around because I finally accepted personal responsibility for my obesity, rather than succumbing to the excuses I had developed a true knack for making over the years.
So now back to the original question – where did I find the motivation to change my life?
I just wish I had known it was within me all along.
I’m really interested to hear your thoughts on this. Was accepting responsibility a turning point for you? What would you say motivates you to live a healthy life?
BethCheck out my latest posts here