The Oomph Factor

The poor woman was horrified.  She had been trying on a dress in the dressing room.  Granted, the size was a bit of a reach, but she got it on.  Couldn't breathe, but she had it on.  And then, the unthinkable.  She couldn't get out.  The zipper broke. There was no way she could get the dress off.

The women who were asked when the baby was due, but they weren't pregnant. Then there are those that woke up after seeing high blood sugar levels, and hearing the possibility of developing diabetes, as my husband did. Some people are only ready after having a heart attack. I had the experience of reading the diagnosis: OBESE on a physical form.  But it wasn't until a few months later when I had get my wedding rings cut off my finger, that it really hit me.

It takes a big kick in the rear for most of us to get motivated enough to take action toward working toward a health goal---a negative motivator.  We get so fed up and angry that we reach the end of our rope.  We are ready to make a change.  Working on a health goal requires hard work, so you need strong motivation to start the journey of change.

These negative motivators work well as initial motivators for most people, and can keep you fired up and focused for quite some time.  But, what happens over time? For most people, they weaken, they aren't as powerful.  If your health goal is to lose weight, you may have lost 10, 20 or 30# and you look and feel better.  Your blood sugar levels are lower.  Great.  But, the initial urgency, fire and motivation is gone.

Many people, at this point, start slipping into their old habits:  more TV time and less working out, more chocolate and fewer veggies.  They wait until they've gained all that weight back and more, or until their blood sugar is off the charts,  before they are fed up enough to take action again.  I used to be that way, only knowing how to be motivated by negative feelings.

One key to long term success is to learn to create a positive motivator that you can reach toward as you work your way to your goal. Try to avoid focusing on the numbers, for example, what you want to weigh, how low you want your blood cholesterol or how fast you want to run the mile.  The numbers may be too finite and not realistic for your body. Instead, go inside your head and try to imagine:

  • How do you want to feel?
  • What do you want to be able to do?
Create a visual of yourself walking up the stairs comfortably, without losing your breath or happily strolling down the beach in shorts---a positive image that you need to visualize often.  Use this positive image to pull yourself toward as if you are pulling yourself into the image. This is a positive motivator: you want this to happen, not running away from that.

Along the way, when you feel motivation dwindling, reach out for support.  As was so eloquently said in our support group, "motivation starts the journey, support sustains the motivation."

As I love to say, Fire Up, You Can DO This!!