I have been thinking a lot about motivation lately, particularly how and why I have been able to stay on track all of this time. You see, back in November when I made the choice to really revamp my health, I was sure that this was it for me, that I wasn’t ever going to look back on a life that I wasn’t 100% happy with. When I showed up to my first WW meeting, I couldn’t believe how excited I was. I kept waiting for the doubt to start creeping back in. I kept waiting for the morning when I wouldn’t get out of bed to work out because I just didn’t feel like trying anymore. I kept waiting for the moment when I would run out to a restaurant in secret and binge on the things I hadn’t had in a while. I wasn’t just waiting for doubt, I was waiting for feelings of deprivation and apathy. But they never came.
There have been blips of course, a few mornings when I didn’t get out of bed to work out (mainly because my kid had a rough night and in turn, so did I). But then somehow, I always made those things up by taking my whole lunch hour to go on a walk or working out at home that same evening. Sure there were mornings when I would hesitate under the warm sheets, maybe reset my alarm for another hour. Some of those morning I really thought I was going to stay in bed. And then…I didn’t. I was up and getting my shoes on before the next snooze went off again. And of course I have done my fair share of nachos, wings, beer, dessert, etc. along the way (most of those just this week!). I’ve cheated on some of the 30 Day Shred moves (thanks for the inspiration 30 DS Natalie!). I sometimes go down a level or two on the stair-master instead of pushing through it. But I am different. Totally and utterly different.
Sure, I feel guilty when I make less-than healthy choices but instead of a “oh I’m being fat and lazy as usual” guilty, it’s more of a “hey body, I’m really sorry I did that too you, I plan on making it up to you as soon as possible!” guilty. That right there, that voice inside my head that is apologizing to my body, that’s what I mean by different. Before, my feelings of guilt came from shame, self-doubt and what I thought the world around me thought of me. Words like “fat”, “lazy”, “fluffy”, “out-of-shape”, “unsuccessful”, these are not words that organically come from my mind. These were the labels I knew were being given to me by others because of how I looked and although, I didn’t necessarily believe this about myself, I also didn’t think of many alternatives.
The truth is, it was my refusal to ever fully believe the negative, external things that have allowed me to essentially flip the switch on my behavior. Now I think I am suffering from extreme motivation. I know right? Sounds pretty serious! Don’t worry though, you won’t find it on WebMD, it’s all good. Somehow, I have broken through what ever wall I allowed to remain all these years. Perhaps I waited until the right moment to get serious about my health. Up until this past fall, I have always had something big on my plate. Starting with 5 years ago, I met the love of my life and we dated long distance for the better part of the year (1). Then he moved to Chicago and we quickly got engaged and started planning our wedding (2). While planning my wedding, I started graduate school while also working full-time (3). The wedding happened and shortly after, I learned I was pregnant (3). Baby came and my internship started (4). Then I graduated and started my job search (5). Finally, I landed a job and all I had to do was go to work and raise a kid. That’s it. No more classes. No more job hunting. No more major plans to make. I had a window of opportunity and I took it!
So here is the formula that has worked for me: find an appropriate time when I can commit fully to new habits and behaviors before attempting to move my physical and mental health to the top of my list. It’s obviously not a mystery that I am an ambitious person and I may not be the most organized person in my day-to-day life but I know how to prioritize the big picture stuff. After having achieved pretty much most of the things I set out to accomplish in my 20’s, I can feel good about taking some time out to work on myself before the next round of baby-havin’, degree-earning, professional growing, etc. begins once again.
I finally found the joy in feeling as though I have even more of a purpose than ever before. I was really happy with being a mom, a spouse and a professional. But now, I have this additional purpose that is truly all mine that will also benefit all other areas in my life. I can only be a better mom, spouse, friend and professional if I am the best me that I can possibly be (cue the Disney music!). I know that this might seem simple but after years and years of trying to get to this point, I can only offer what I have learned thus far: think about all of the good that comes from making better choices and all of the growth that comes from admitting and owning-up to your not-so-great choices. You will find yourself making one choice over the other everyday, it’s what you do with the result of those choices that will shape the path to your final goals.
That’s a lot of thinking for a Saturday night so I will leave you with this: