Reader Questions: How Do You Stay Motivated?

When I started this blog, I really had no idea that anyone would care about what I had to say.  Receiving comments and e-mails is one of my favorite parts of blogging! And while I still plan to dish out my unsolicited opinions on a regular basis, I also welcome your thoughts and questions.

If you have a question or comment about clothes, food, workouts or anything else I ramble about incessantly, feel free to submit the question by going to the “Ask Kenlie” tab at the top of my blog.  It might even appear on my blog at some point.

I’m still catching up with e-mails, and one of the recurring questions is about motivation. Obviously, I’m no expert. If you read my blog, you know that I am constantly searching for motivation, often lacking it, finding it then starting over again. But I’ve been doing this long enough to know what works when I’m doing it right. ;)

Ashley writes…

Hello,

I too, am overweight. According to all the charts I am “obese.” And the very sad thing is, I haven’t always been. B/w poor diet, lack of exercise, quitting smoking, and medication, my weight has gotten out of control. I would love to know what motivates you to get up every day and lose the weight. I can’t seem to get motivated. After college, I lost a lot of weight and was wearing 4’s and 6’s. Now I am 32 and wearing an 18, and I am not motivated to get up and lose weight every day. I am only 5’3 so, the extra weight is hard on my body and my bones. I am feeling the extra weight with each pound and each Birthday.

I would love to hear your thoughts and get any feedback that might help me get going and sticking to it.

Thanks for your time and being there to inspire others.

~Ashley

Hi Ashley,

This is a tough question, but here are my thoughts. I’ve said before that we often look around for motivation when we should be looking within for the will. And it’s true. I think we often confuse motivation with willingness.

Some mornings I wake up ready to complete a killer workout.  More often, there are days in which I spend the entire day making excuses in my head about why I can’t workout or why I should do it later. But I know that those are the days in which dragging myself into the gym or outside for a walk are the most important days because by doing it (even though I don’t feel like it) I’m proving that I’m worth the effort. And that willingness and confidence breeds motivation.

This journey is ebb and flow. Sometimes I do everything right – I track my food intake, exercise, eat fruits and veggies, sleep at a decent hour. And other times I fight tooth and nail with myself. At the end of the day, at least for me, it’s not about feeling motivated to make healthy choices. It’s about being proud of myself for finding the will to make healthy choices.

And as far as exercise goes, pick an exercise you like. And look, “I hate every exercise” is not a good answer. Think about it…try swimming or riding a bike or loading your iPod with upbeat tunes and taking a spin around the block. Just start somewhere. Do more today than you did yesterday because those little successes add up and create big results.

Thanks for reaching out Ashley!  I sincerely hope that you find that willingness and start taking steps in the right direction.  It sounds like you have already overcome SO MUCH! Congrats to you…Now it’s time to add one more thing to the list.

Best,

Kenlie

What do you think?  What can Ashley do to find motivation?  What do you do when you fall into a rut?

 

25 thoughts on “Reader Questions: How Do You Stay Motivated?

  1. Great topic, Kenz! I can definitely relate to feeling completely unmotivated, even defiantly doings that I know are harmful to my body and health. For me, what has been hugely motivational was breaking down the big, daunting task of weight loss/lifestyle change into small, achievable pieces. My favorite Weight Watchers leader used to call herself “The Queen of Small Things,” because she drilled into us the mantra that “we all have the power of a million, tiny choices.”

    So that’s what I started with a few years ago — the little things that I could control and work on, one at a time, to change my lifestyle. I weaned myself off regular wine drinking. I went cold turkey on the “red light” foods that I knew I could live without. I stopped inviting friends who I knew would enable me out to eat. For me, setting up small, achievable goals and then achieving them became my motivation to keep going. I didn’t exercise because it was big and scary and I wasn’t motivated to do it — but once I was ready (and agreed — pick something you like!!!!), it was easier to kick start into a lean-and-mean lifestyle because I had already worked on a bunch of little pieces with my eating and behaviors.

    ALSO — allow OTHERS to be motivation! I look to friends who are making positive changes, as well as a circle of weight loss bloggers, for reinforcement and motivation. When I don’t have the personal willpower to do something — especially exercise — I set myself up so I’m scheduled to do things with people that I find inspiring and/or don’t want to let down. Can’t bail from a workout if you promised your friend you’d go :)

    Oh dear. Long comment is long. Sorry!

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  2. Motivation can really challenge me… and I am the mayor of excuses village! “I had a hard day, I need to rest. Oh, it was stressful so one piece of candy won’t help. Oh, I’ll work out tomorrow to make up for it…” and it’s one great big spiraling snowball. I have to remind myself that we are responsible for our own actions, and If I want to be a success story, I have to work hard for that success – just like everything else I have accomplished in my life. Good luck to you, Ashley -you can do it!

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  3. I agree with you 100% that it’s about finding your willingness to change. Motivation can last moments. The changes you need to make need to last a lifetime or the weight is going to come right back on. This is not an easy journey. I struggle every day. Some days are easier than others, but there’s always temptation to eat something that may not be the best for me or skip a workout.

    I am never 100% perfect with my eating habits and exercise. If I was, I wouldn’t be missing out on a lot of great and fun opportunities. It’s when that occasion is over that you need to rethink your priorities and “get back on the wagon” as I like to call it.

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    • “Motivation can last moments. The changes you need to make need to last a lifetime or the weight is going to come right back on.”

      Brilliant Marla…

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  4. I also find it hard to stay motivated for the long haul. I’ve been on the chunky side my entire life, but in the last 7 years I gradually went from chunky to obese. I have been a member of WW online since 2002. I initially lost about 50 lbs and kept it off for about 3 years. I then became involved in a relationship that revolved around eating out 4-5 times a week and took a job in NYC that involved a 2 and 1/2 hour commute each way. Needless to say the weight came back, plus 25 lbs and I weighed more than I ever did, even when I was pregnant.

    Long story short, I was transferred to KS and had an opportunity to reflect on what my life had become and make some changes. I’m down 20 lbs and while I often slip back into what I know are unhealthy choices, I remotivate myself by jumping online and reading the blogs on WW and online. They provide support and sometimes a kick in the pants to get me back on track. I am going to start blogging for additional motivation as I am going to be unemployed at the end of the month and finally returning to the east coast. I know I’m going to have additional challenges as I look for a new job and try and keep my significant other out of the restaurants and at the gym with me, so I will be relying on my online world to help me be accountable.

    Thanks for letting me ramble.

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    • You are always welcome to “ramble” here Peg! I’m excited that you’re going to start a blog. It has helped me more than I could possibly tell you! Please come back and share your link with us!

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  5. Hi Kenz,

    This is the hardest thing for me. I look in the mirror and wonder WHY am I not motivated. But, something happens to me…I just lose my mojo every once in awhile. I think the ups and downs are very normal in a weight loss journey. They stink, but they happen and usually pass.

    I’ve been in a major slump lately. The good news is I haven’t regained weight. The bad news is I’ve just stayed put…and I am not finished losing!

    Thanks for all of your advice and support!
    J

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  6. Yep, Kenz! Yep!

    You really have to WANT to be healthy…to lose weight…be thinner…in order to be successful. You have to want it so bad that it trumps the desire to eat a 2000 calorie sundae and/or to just lounge around on your couch all day eating a bag of chips. You have to be willing to work for it. As Jillian Michaels says in her “30 Day Shred” that those nice abs “don’t come for free.” Ha, ha!

    For me, it was simple: if I don’t lose weight (and get comfortably thin) I’ll die from obesity or an obesity-related illness. That thought RIGHT THERE made me WILLING to actually take weight loss seriously (forever). I don’t want to go that route! I want to LIVE. In turn, that’s become my motivation. :)

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  7. I just started reading your blog after I saw you on CNN. Love it! When I get into a rut, I take on a “fake it til I make it” mentality. I go to the gym, pretend I love it, and eventually I get back to the place where I like going.

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  8. Great question, and great answer! I’ve been struggling with ‘motivation’ lately and I’m realizing that motivation really doesn’t mean anything until I make the decision day after day to put one foot in front of the other, until I reach my destination. I think motivation can be the catalyst for change, but it’s determination, will and CHOICES that will get us to our ultimate goals.

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  9. I really liked this post. I hate when people say they hate all exercise. There is no way that can be true. I know it can be very hard to start off, but it’ll get better everyday you wake up and try to be healthy.

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    • I think people often believe they hate all exercise. I believed that at one time, but now I know I love to run. I also love to bike and swim. And I love aerobics and strength training..:)

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  10. Motivation can come in so many different forms. For me it simply to want to live my life to the fullest. I can’t do that while weighing 292 pounds (my highest weight) as well as I can at 205 (my current weight). I know that I’ll be living an even fuller life once I reach my goal. Moving more, enjoying life and having the energy to do it all is motivation for me. Great post, Kenlie!

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  11. This may sound a little woo woo, but I have found that lack of motivation/willingness etc. has more to do with blocked energy than any kind of character flaw or defect :-) And trust me, I used to think that my lack of motivation was a character flaw. Several years ago I stumbled upon something called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and I found a practitioner in my area. EFT is often referred to as acupuncture without the needles. I know it sounds cliche, but it changed my life. It made me want to do the right things for myself. There are great resources online and you can do it to yourself, or work with someone. Two good sites are: http://www.eftuniverse.com/ and http://eft.mercola.com/

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  12. i read this on weightwatchers.com website in 2006 and i keep it in my inbox to read when i’m feeling unmotivated and like giving up….

    The next time you are feeling that Weight Watcher’s is “Too Hard”. The next time you feel journaling, weighing and measuring food is “Too Hard”. The next time you feel exercising is “Too Hard”. The next time you think waking up early on a Sunday morning to weigh in and stay for your meeting is “Too Hard”.

    I say the next time you feel “This is Too Hard” consider how hard it was/is to:

    Shop in Specialty Clothing Stores (Layne Bryant, The Avenue, Catherine’s) your choices are limited.

    Missing Out on Pool Parties because you’re too embarrassed to wear a bathing suit in front of your friends.

    Not being able to wear your favorite outfit because it’s too small.

    Not wanting to hug those close to you because you don’t want them to feel your rolls of fat.

    Not going to the movies, because squeezing into the seats for 90 minutes is too uncomfortable.

    Not dancing at weddings because you don’t want people staring at the “fat chick” on the dance floor.

    Not attending family gatherings because you don’t want people to see how big you’ve gotten.

    Not going to a picnic or summer barbeque because you’re afraid the lawn furniture won’t hold you.

    Not attending your high school reunion because you don’t want old boyfriends seeing how much weight you’ve put on. Or old friends thinking “what happened to her?”

    Not riding on amusement park rides with your kids because you can’t fit in the safety harness or the seat.

    Not fitting in the booth at your favorite diner because there isn’t enough space between the bench and the table for you to sit.

    Having to ask for a seatbelt extension on the airplane.

    Yes, journaling, weighing and measuring your food, exercising, and attending weekly meetings is hard but being over weight is much harder and so much lonelier.

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    • Rochelle,

      You’re beautiful inside and out..and you’re right…losing weight is tough, but sitting on the sidelines of life is harder..

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  13. I love all of these comments!! I think one of the biggest things to keep me “thinking right” is knowing that I am not alone. Finding others via their blogs and twitter is truly inspiring. You can watch others as they struggle and succeed. You understand their frustrations yet you see their triumphs and know that you can do it too. I’m new to the social community as far as weight/health issues go but already I have found so much from these fabulous people online!

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  14. I loooooove your new site! You use WordPress now, right? It looks like it based on the design. It’s beautiful (just like you!). Stay motivated, girlie! You’re doing a fantastic job!

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  15. One of the things that helps me is to make it easy to start. I want to exercise in the morning? I lay out my clothes the night before. I want to eat something healthy? I buy all the ingredients, and maybe do some time-consuming prep work ahead of time. I want to do an annoying project around the house? I collect all the tools and materials together in one place (nothing lets me put off house stuff indefinitely like having to look for the tools I need).

    Also lying to myself helps. “Just get out there and all you need to do is a short walk,” I say to myself. Well- once I’m dressed and walking, it’s easier to say, “Aw, this isn’t so bad, I can do the extra distance.” And even if I don’t, some exercise is better than avoiding it altogether.

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  16. At one point in time I had a life coach tell me basically this: When you don’t feel motivated and not wanting to work out: Give it one minute. After that minute reassess yourself. If you don’t feel like doing anymore stop. But more than likely you will say well I did one minute, I can do two minutes. Then keep doing that until you say you want to stop. But always start with one minute (one step, one bite, one whatever). I used that and it worked. Then I moved to. Lets see if I can walk to this certain place. Then when I got there I could decide if I wanted to continue or stop. More than likely I would want to continue. Her reasoning was that you can’t sit around and wait for motivation. You have to make the first step and then the motivation will come. And she was very right. It pushed me. I ended up working out alot and losing quite a bit weight. And this is very useful when you are really not wanting to do anything. Just give it one!

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