Home It's All Mental Dying For Motivation: An Open Thread

Dying For Motivation: An Open Thread

by Erika Nicole Kendall

On this post, I received this comment:

Interesting. I’m dealing with this motivation issue. With all the information, with all the tools one would neeed, fitness plans and workout clothing. Yet and still me sedentary days and bad meal days outweigh the good ones. I don’t mind exercising. I hate eating right. Its bland, its boring, its of no feel good value. Its like going off of drugs I’d assume. Its the hardest thing I’ve ever tried and the one thing I keep failing to accomplish. And since exercise is 20%, if my diet is a wreck what’s the point.

I clicked on this hoping to be, inspired. I wasn’t. Read more of the same. Its in you. You have to do it. Your health, better you. And I’m still not motivated or driven to do better.

I’ve got to be honest. I don’t believe in “motivation.” I think it’s a myth… foolishness. I think it’s something created by people who profit off of selling me that “motivation.” The idea that someone could create a mythical emotional entity between my brain and my brain’s ability to make me move… is probably the most profitable thing I’ve ever seen in my damn life.

I don’t need to be motivated to pay my electricity bill, because I know what happens when I don’t pay my electricity bill.

I don’t need to be motivated to brush my teeth, because I know what happens when I don’t brush my teeth.

I don’t need to be motivated to walk my dogs each day, because I know – unfortunately, all too well – what happens when I don’t walk my dogs.

And now, I don’t need to be motivated to eat like I have some sense, because I know – again, all too well – what happens when I don’t eat like I have some sense.

Why do I need to be motivated to make appropriate decisions each day when it comes to what I put in my mouth? Why do I need to be motivated to take care of myself? Why do I need some external source of compulsion to make me do, for myself, what NO EXTERNAL SOURCE can make me do? I’m a grown woman – at this point, not even my Mommy (who I know is reading this right now) can make me do something I don’t want to do.

What is this motivation that people keep talking about? What happens if you never receive motivation? What happens if, in fact, that “thing” that you’re looking for never comes? Back when I used to host weekly chats on the FB page about different shows, people swore up and down that those shows “motivated” them, compelled them to do the work. What happens when the season is over and the show is gone?

In all seriousness, I actually fear ever having an external source of “motivation.” What happens when that thing that makes you go… goes away? All the women I know who were losing weight trying to get a man, and once they got that man… the motivation was gone, as was the drive to lose weight/keep it off.

I’m sorry, but it feels like people just overthink it. It’s not a matter of sitting down and contemplating putting on your kicks and heading out the door. It’s a matter of putting on your kicks and heading out the door. The minute I sit down to think about it? I’ve already lost. Why? I’ve already sat down… the “thinking” part is just me giving myself an opportunity to talk myself out of it. It’s not a matter of needing to be “motivated.” I don’t need a reason to take care of myself. I just get up and go.

I mean, the comment mocks the idea of “it’s in you,” but it’s not whether or not it’s “in you.” You just feel like you have more reasons to eat poorly, and less reasons to eat sensibly. For you, it’s more valuable to eat whatever you want than it is to pursue flavors and tastes and foods that are enjoyable. I don’t know what that “it” is that is, apparently, in me… but what I do know is that once I had my “come to fitness” moment, I made a conscious decision to leave my emotional eating behind and figure out a way to enjoy the foods I had relegated myself to… and even though that mental transformation didn’t happen overnight, every day that I made an active decision to not give in, was a day that I got a little bit better at it. It was a day that I got closer. Progress matters.

So, consider this an open thread. Someone – anyone – please… help me figure this motivation thing out. Where did it come from? And, for goodness sake, how can we make it go away?

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46 comments

Tasha July 8, 2011 - 2:43 AM

Hmmm, I know this my not bode well with the masses, but my grandma use to tell me you will change things “when you are tired of just being tired” of whatever the situation is.

If you do not have the “it’s within you” to change then simply don’t. I know people who portray they are happy with themselves and eat whatever they want, drink whatever they want and lead lifestyles however they want.

But, part of my thinks this person does care otherwise why write the email. I suggest for now you simply decide what you want to do and if you don’t want to change then don’t. Ultimately it’s their life.

I have my reason I got tired of being tired of hiding in pictures, being ashamed of how I looked, getting tired of buying bigger and bigger clothes until one day I just said ENOUGH I want to care more about myself, take care of my body which ultimately can lead to a hopefully longer and healthy life to share.
I don’t want to grow old and be barely able to walk or move. I want to be able to still run, enjoy life, travel, rather than hooked up to some type machine or downing meds just to have any sentiment of a life.

As for me, I made the change for me..cause it’s my life and I control my destiny and for me I want health and living a productive life paramount for my destiny.

Gloria July 8, 2011 - 3:56 AM

I agree with everything you said here, Erika. I think…maybe we need to make exercise and clean eating more of an acceptable, ordinary process. Sort of like showering, lol. I shower every day, and sometimes it’s a great pick me up in the morning, while other times it’s a relaxing way to unwind after a long day. Sometimes, it’s a little bit of an annoyance because “I don’t have much time/I’m too exhausted/there is no hot water left in my house, and I hate cold showers,” but I still don’t skip my shower because I want to be clean. Even if it’s just a quick scrub and rinse, I’m still going to shower. I think we need to do the same thing with working out and clean eating.

Too often, exercise is either glorified or demonized. People will tell you that working out is this amazing experience, that they LOVE the burn, and that their is nothing better than the feeling you get during an hour long run/bike ride/swim/dance class. Other people will tell you that working out is a great way to get injured, that it only hurts if you’re out of shape, and that “working out is not for everybody.” No one ever says “it is what it is.” I truly do love running, but I would be lying if I said that I love (or even like) every run. Some days, I really don’t want to run, but I do it anyway, because it’s what I do. *shrug* And I swear to you, running is (almost) never as bad as I think it will be, or anywhere near as bad as my elementary school gym teachers used to make it seem (remember…running was a punishment!!!!). I think once we stop expecting exercise to be either “the most amazing experience EVER” or “a voluntary torture session,” exercise will become more simple.

I think clean eating might be a little harder, because a sugar/fast food/processed food addiction can be harder to overcome, but it is still kind of the same principle. Drinking water instead of soda may not be a party, but it’s not like drinking poison either, lol. Sometimes I love it, sometimes it’s boring. It just is…what it is.

Peggs March 16, 2012 - 1:30 PM

So true.. we have to simply.. keep it simple. You want to be healthy.. get up and do what you have to do. You want to eat.. get up and do what you have to do.. PERIOD. I go to work everyday.. some days are easier than the next. I exercise (most days) .. some days are easier than the next. It’s life.. get over it. It’s not hard if you just get up and let it go. Thanks.. I think you were the most motivating today.

Cookie July 8, 2011 - 8:13 AM

wow, this is deep, and very true! ive never thought about it this way. Great post

peech July 8, 2011 - 9:13 AM

(IMHO) It came from the diet industry – another way to get people to spend money. The diet industry is a hamster wheel (run as long as you want, you’re getting nowhere) and it’s done a great job of convincing people it’s more than that. With “motivation” to eat right and work out comes a need to buy this book or that dvd or these workout enhancers – and because motivation requires you to be constantly on guard (and no one can be constantly on guard), it’s inevitable that you will fail – and need more motivation, more thinspiration (the photos of thin girls plastered on your fridge, anyone?), more diet pills, more workout items, new gym memberships, accountability partners, and whatever else they can throw at us to make us feel like we will only be whole people when we reach that magical 100lb/120lb weight class.

This is only my opinion, but I think “motivation” (and, in connection, the disparaging and harmful ways we see ourselves when we realize we are not “motivated” (because, in the diet industry, if you are not motivated to lose weight, they will tell you it means you do not care about yourself or your health and life)) regarding weight “management” and weight loss will go away when we collectively realize exactly how much wool the diet industry has pulled over our eyes in effort to blind us from how often they pick our pockets.

Eva July 8, 2011 - 10:34 AM

Motivation doesn’t come from outside yourself, it comes from within. It’s like what the Bible says, “the kingdom of God is within.” No person can motivate you, only you can do it, with God’s of Higher Power’s help, but you’re the one who has to do the work.

cosmicsistren July 8, 2011 - 12:53 PM

For me I look at others that have accomplished what I want and I say to myself that if they can do it so can I. I use that for motivation. I usually love your posts but this one rubbed me the wrong way. For you you didn’t need motivation. For others (like myself) I need it. Losing weight for me has been frustrating and hard. You now have gotten to the point where eating right and excerise is a daily regimen for you like brushing your teeth. Others are not there yet. I wish you would remember that instead of making comments about “help me figure this motivation thing out. Where did it come from? And, for goodness sake, how can we make it go away?”

Not everyone is so enlightened as you.

Erika Nicole Kendall July 8, 2011 - 1:08 PM

This isn’t a matter of “some people need motivation and others don’t.” this is a matter of waiting for something to compel you to do what you already believe you need to do is OBVIOUSLY a harmful philosophy and if YOU are someone in that position, you need to do some thinking.

I stand behind what I said, mama. The minute people let go of this “oh, I’m not motivated” thing, the sooner they stop waiting and just start trying to go for it. It’s not about me or what I “needed” it’s about debunking this silly theory that people cling to and, ultimately, turn into an excuse. If you want to make this about me “rubbing you” the wrong way, that’s fine, but in all sincerity it feels like you’re working overtime to miss my point instead of assessing why you need to be “motivated” to take care of yourself… and I say that with love.

I know “motivation” is like this sacred cow for the weight loss industry, but I’m not giving in. Sorry.

cosmicsistren July 8, 2011 - 1:18 PM

I’m not working overtime to miss your point. I will re-read your post. I am just being honest about my feelings. Right now I feel I need motivation to get to the gym and eat right. I love your posts and will continue to be an avid reader . Just this one made me go “I’m not feeling this”. Maybe you hit a nerve with me that I need to address. Anyway…I absolutely LOVE your blog and there is nothing you can do about it!!

Erika Nicole Kendall July 8, 2011 - 1:39 PM

I’d never want you to NOT love it mama, because trust me. Y’all make the blog far more dope than I ever could. That being said, all I am asking is why wait for something that may never, in fact, come? I know that people are inspired by the stories told here but “motivation?” You need to act right because your body depends on it, not just because you saw someone else who has what you want. That superficial shit just never lasts and it leaves everyone – me included – hollow after it wears off. It’s not enough, because it’s not supposed to BE enough, you know? If anything, I want to challenge that kind of thinking… nothing more.

LaDonna July 8, 2011 - 3:41 PM

I got what you were saying when I read the post. But I’ve never looked to an external event. I am searching for internal…drive (I think is a better term). How do we develop perpetual internal drive? Especially when we’ve spent a lifetime undriven? And doing what feels good rather than what’s right?

Erika Nicole Kendall July 8, 2011 - 6:29 PM

I think that the best answer is the one that Anjee gave. You try something, you receive results, you get excited by that and then you continue. You’ve just got to jump out there initially, I think, on faith. I have a post titled “Putting All Your Faith In Fitness” that talks a lot about the working out aspect, but it applies widely to food as well.

I see your comment – you know which one – that I haven’t approved because I may respond to you via e-mail instead. I respect vulnerability, but I protect it as well. 🙂

Chaka July 8, 2011 - 3:59 PM

Erika, I understand what you are saying but you know life is not that simple. In my opinion, you described motivation to a “T.” My borderline high blood pressure is what “motivates” me to maintain my weight. If we just did things because it was the right thing to do, then you wouldn’t need this awesome blog. Motivation isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that we have no self worth. It is what drives us to do the things we know we need to do.

Erika Nicole Kendall July 12, 2011 - 2:22 PM

I’m not sure that I said it means you have “no self worth,” either. It’s not that you have no self-worth, it’s simply a matter of this not being something that you attach to your self-worth. Just like some women attach “straightening their hair or not” to self-worth and some don’t, this is the same. In fact, I KNOW I’m not saying “you have no self-worth” because considering how few of us grew up with fitness in our homes, it’s highly unlikely that we were even TAUGHT to connect the two. So, no… I’m not making that statement. What I AM saying is that since it is in your best interests to make that connection NOW, DO so.

Eva July 8, 2011 - 1:28 PM

“For me I look at others that have accomplished what I want and I say to myself that if they can do it so can I.”

That type of motivation comes from inside of you. I believe what Erika was stating was external motivation, “I need to lose weight to get a man” or “I need to lose weight to get a job.” It’s not about the losing of the weight, or getting healthy, it’s about the external goal. If you look at people who have accomplished what you want and say, “I can do that.” That’s internal motivation.

It’s like with me and swimming. I wanted to learn how to swim because it’s the only exercise that I can do now since I have bad knees, and I saw women older than myself who were doing laps and I said, “I want to do that!” I didn’t learn how to swim to be in an “in crowd” or get a boyfriend.

cosmicsistren July 8, 2011 - 1:38 PM

@Eva – Thanks for clarifying. I get it now.

BAnjeeB July 8, 2011 - 2:20 PM

I look at it like this, my weight gain was a result of my actions and my actions alone. I didn’t have a health condition that contributed to it. Yeah, life and stress happened but it didn’t put the food in my mouth. Therefore, any weight I lose will also need to be the result of my actions. Eating clean is a challenge for me as well, I’m a picky eater, but I do my best. When I slip up, just as with anything else, I wipe the crumbs off my face and keep it moving. I just try to have more good days than bad.

I believe it’s a change that has to come from each of us looking honestly at what got us to the point we are and honestly deciding if that is where we want to be. If one doesn’t mind their current weight and fitness level, then cool, do you. But if a person wants to live a healthier life, it is their responsibility to do what needs to be done to get there. Seeing the success of others may help show what’s possible, but when it comes down to it’s up to me to change my way of thinking and my habits. I can get support and encouragement, but if I don’t put any value on living differently or if I’m doing it for the wrong reasons, then I won’t be willing to put in the work to do it. But honestly, the thing that keeps me going is looking at the progress I’ve made that is the result of time and effort I put forth.

LaDonna July 8, 2011 - 3:56 PM

I understand what Erika is saying and comicsistren. Comic brought up a point that I got very well. Erika you make some valid points. Using external motivation when you should have all the internal motivation on your own.

But if I inherently had it, or by virtue of consequence had it I wouldn’t be struggling. None of us would ever have been overweight. There is an it moment that came for you. You said it yourself. A very real conversation with the owner of the gym you joined. You’ve also said that even after that the wrestled with the food factor still. Working out and seeing no results because you didn’t adjust your diet.

To me, in a sense your approach here is like me saying “well duh, didn’t you know when you worked out you had to change your diet too”? Obviously you didn’t. Had you, you would have.

Brushing teeth, paying bills on time, etc, all learned behaviors that were either taught, or you learned to be consistent in by default of consequence i.e.- electricity turned off or bad breath and embarassment). Every habit we have is learned, a rule of society.

This motivation vs. inspiration argument is interesting. The motivation factor became, I believe, the engine driving a health industry in an unhealthy country where over indulgence is promoted. Its like two contridicting dichotomies bombarding my senses.

Should I be influenced by the outside. NO. Am I? Yes. Weren’t, and aren’t we all? Yes. Because were we not, none of us would struggle with discipline. It would just be there.

The point is you didn’t get to discipline and consistency overnight. That conversation you had with that gym owner didn’t trigger an all inclusive realization that “ahhh, I need to change all at once”.

Whether you call it motivation, inspiration, an awe moment happened somewhere, or maybe serval in various areas of this struggle that propelled you to success?

I don’t want to loose weight to obtain male affections, or world acceptance. I am not in danger of illness because I’m not morbidly obese. Not high blood pressure. My inspiration if you will…is better health conditions, running, pushing weights. Making it a hobby.

The food monster is in the way. And I haven’t figured out how to conquer that mountain. Knowing eating better is right doesn’t change the fact I’m in the battle of my life to do it. So what’s the solution you found worked to overcome that hump?

Erika Nicole Kendall July 8, 2011 - 6:24 PM

I know that I talk about the “come to fitness” moment, and that’s the moment at which you decide to commit to what you know you need to do. If you’re committing and you’ve only got half the knowledge, that’s one thing. THAT isn’t what YOU typed, though, mama. You said “I know I need to work out. I know I need to eat better. I just don’t.” We’re talking about two different things. You said that you knew what you need to do, you just don’t want to because it tastes bad/isn’t appealing/what have you. I’m specifically questioning THAT.

It’s one thing to have an inspiring conversation with someone that gives you the push. YOU eventually have to keep going once that push is gone, though. And I’m well aware of the fact that there are plenty societal implications in the way of “us” learning what we need to learn to take care of ourselves. That’s MAD different from admitting that we have decided that we KNOW what we need to do, and still not doing those things YOU have already said you need to do because you’re waiting on something to compel you to do so.

I’ve touched on this inspiration vs motivation thing, before. You can be inspired all day every day, but that compulsion? That HAS to come from within, and it IS learned. It may sound like I’m making it easy to the point where its insulting, but I also speak from the perspective of someone who HAS overcome it, and I do serve as a reminder that it can be defeated… so don’t take that the wrong way.

It’s SEVERAL moments, I think. It’s trying something – testing something out – and then seeing results. It’s that first moment when you’re able to achieve something you couldn’t before. It’s knowing that trying something repeatedly will result in getting better at it. I’ve written about my first pole class on this blog before when I couldn’t even hold myself up, and now I can pull myself up and hold myself in the air with only my hands (try lifting yourself up off the ground with just your hands on a table.) Committing to stuff that is FUN as WELL as challenging (for my mind AND body) and seeing that I’m succeeding at it is my motivation. I can only get better.

As for the food? I learn about different cultures’ food. I eat channa masala one night, pizza bianca the next, hummus the third and biryani the fourth. I make risotto, chipotle-loaded sweet potatoes and semi-freddo. I explore food outside of the stuff I used to indulge in, and it’s good and fun. It motivates me to turn down stuff that I KNOW is no good, and it motivates me to save my experiences for the good stuff. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you’re not even willing to give it a shot (namely, when you’re AWARE that it’s something you should do), you’ll never know.

I’ve got to get ready to take my Mommy to the Sade concert, so if y’all aren’t seeing your comments post its because I wanted to wait to respond to them so I won’t forget. This convo is kind of kick-ass, but I doubt I’ll get to see Sade again, LOL.

Daphne July 8, 2011 - 4:49 PM

Hmmm. Interesting question. I wonder if the rise motivation came along with the rise in psychological analysis of why people overeat and gain excessive amounts of weight? I tend to think that, whatever psychological or emotional obstacles you have to overcome, you still need ACCESS to certain kinds of (usually processed) food in order for the physical impact (weight gain) to result. So a certain amount of navel-gazing IS encouraged, rather than taking the steps to eat better. I don’t know, I have some issues with the general concept of working through your issues = you’ll automatically eat better. That may be true for some, but there are also people without emotional issues who don’t eat healthily and are severely overweight.

So yeah, I suspect that motivation become a buzz word when food and nutrition began to be perceived via a pathological lens.

lynaya July 8, 2011 - 5:24 PM

I think its a lot like kids. We start with external and move toward internal motivation. So reading this blog is motivation, otherwise I wouldn’t read it. Its helped me to make some improvements. That does not mean however, that there was no internal motivation. I absolutely had to want to change in order to do so. Reading about the thinking behind healthy and unhealthy decisions helps me begin to analyze my thoughts and actions. So in all, external motivation plays a small role. When combined with sTrOnG internal motivation, results can happen.

Michelle of Chellbellz July 8, 2011 - 7:15 PM

My friend use to say, she was motivated to eat cupcakes because they were good. I feel like I’ve written an email like this to you and then didnt send it because I thought it out myself. I lack motivation to work out sometimes, and sometimes i indulge, but I know that I get serious about drawing the line at processed foods. I don’t need any motivation but what has happened to my stomach when it comes to processed foods. If i eat right, I end up making a damn life decision while in line at a fast food place LMBO People hate me, but I found myself without my lunch and with 5 dollars. I ended up buying a bag of apples, and side salad from somewhere else. It took me about 10 minutes to figure that out while in line. so i guess i’m not all that bad, i just know i have a little ways to go especially when working out at home.

LaDonna July 8, 2011 - 7:46 PM

Erika…now I see the context you’re coming from. I shot myself in the foot with how I put it. I meant to relay that’s at my worst. On those evil days. When the drive is dead. Maybe something bad happened and I’m overwhelmed. I have a very stressful lifestyle. And the urge to lau on my couch, cry, sleep and eat something comforting overrides all I know. I’ve been in that space a few times. Then the things I know to do will fade and the I don’t care kicks in. Those are thee most miserable, defeated and frustrated moments in the process. Then it all explodes. Its like what’s the use. You’ll never win this fight. Your right…what I said was extremely opposite of what I meant. Sorry.

Tiana July 8, 2011 - 8:01 PM

is it safe to say that this was motivation for me to stop looking for motivation? lol – seriously though, this hits it right on the head!

jas July 9, 2011 - 2:00 AM

In nature, self preservation is the only motivator and as we’ve evolved, self peservation has become more difficult to hold on to.

Humans used to travel miles for food and water but now that we have easy access to our needs, the desire for self preservation is weakened.

To seek motivators outside of yourself is the new natural for some in our society.
Whatever ways/claims that is used to be healthier will lead to progress. Luckily blogs like this exist so that regardless of where you are in your journey, there are others that have been there to guide you

NinaG July 9, 2011 - 8:14 AM

I don’t think motivation is completely made up. IMO, knowing the negative consequences of not taking your dog out or brushing your teeth or paying your electricity bill are motivating factors to do those things. I think for each person, if we consider the negative consequences to not be that great, we may not be able to motivate ourselves to do those things.

kishonda July 20, 2011 - 10:19 AM

Erika I agree one hundred percent. Its ashamed we think we need motivation to do a basic and necessary thing like take care of ourselves by eating right and exercise. This is as necessary as all the other routine things we do. Listen if we don’t pay our bills our lights will get turned off. If we don’t take care of ourselves we will die an early and painful death.

kishonda July 20, 2011 - 10:23 AM

And I think we can replace the word motivation with love. If we loved ourselves enough we wouldn’t need anything external to push us.

Colleen September 17, 2011 - 5:18 PM

It’s a shame that she hasn’t found healthy food she enjoys. I used to feel that way about healthy food, like maybe 15-20 years ago – but through exploration I have found lots of delicious things that are good for you – oatmeal is one of my “comfort” foods, also hummus also comes to mind…and there are lots of ways to add flavour without fat – seasonings, garlic, lemon, fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar…of course there are many days I wish I had someone to do the work of actually preparing the stuff for me, and that tends to be my downfall, not that I don’t actually like healthy food! LOL But if she is talking about low-fat versions of processed foods then yes I would have to agree that most of those are pretty depressing!

Galyn Fergerson September 17, 2011 - 6:08 PM

This is what I call Reverse Psychology 101! If this “You don’t need motivation” post doesn’t motivate you, then nothing will. I loved it!

Ruby A September 17, 2011 - 6:15 PM

I can vouch for this. Motivation as we know it isn’t motivation at all.

I write and I run. Writers spend more time bemoaning their lack of motivation to write than actually writing. It’s far easier to whinge into the ether than to pick up a pen and just *write*.

Runners spend far more time bemoaning their lack of motivation to run than actually running. It’s far easier… you see where I’m going with this.

If we wait around for this magical ‘motivation’, we’d be waiting a hell of a long time. Back in 2008, I became a massive gym bunny because I was ‘motivated’ by heartbreak. And when I was happy again, I stopped going to the gym. My last big ‘motivation’ was training for a half marathon early this year with a team of people, and raising money. And when that was done, I struggled with my running.

Truth was, I wanted to lose weight anyway, but decided to row/run/lift my feelings away instead of eating them. In the second case, I needed to be prepared for a race, and to get people to see I was serious so they’d give my team money. So I agree that ‘motivation’ as we know it is a myth. That wasn’t motivation; it was context.

You have to find a constant source of inspiration in yourself, and that can’t be found in one circumstance or feeling. Those things have a nasty habit of changing.

When you want to sit on the couch and eat Skittles for dinner, or wait for inspiration to strike, chances are you’re thinking about how you could be actually DOING THE DAMN THING instead of talking yourself out of it. And you probably feel a bit guilty too, but that’s still not enough to make you stop and do the right thing.

I’d say that if you’re thinking about doing it, then you’re already in a state of being motivated. Awareness of a need or want to change, and desire to make it happen.*That* is motivation. Hoooowwwwever…

If you’re waiting for the rocket-powered insatiable urge to do it – that thing we wrongly call ‘motivation’ instead, which gets us off the couch – it’s not gonna happen. I think what people really want to know is ‘OK, I have that desire; how do I turn it up to 11’? I’d suggest that you don’t. You can’t operate on full throttle all the time, but you do have to step (or vault) over the hurdle marked ‘I Don’t Wanna’ consistently and often enough to make your action-to-change a habit.

Stop thinking in terms of motivation, and think in terms of DOING. And, like my fellow writers and runners, your best bet is to stop thinking so much and just take action. You don’t need anyone else to affirm your reasons why!

Tachae November 11, 2011 - 10:39 PM

I’m hella late, but I see it like this. Nothing “motivated “me to be 185 pounds. I learned a certain way of eating, it had consequences that scared the shit out of me, and though it is tough I practiced better habbits. The better habbits: eating healthy, being active, getting emotionally and mentally healthy garnered positive results. Those reinforced that these decisions were worth it. I had to decide for MYSELF it was worth it. If you’re not convinced something is positive for you, no one is going to be able to force you.

donna_b December 21, 2011 - 1:52 PM

Ruby you hit a nail on the head. I can’t say I’ve gotten over this hump. But I did discover some issues underlying the yo-yo experiences I’ve been having. I’m currently in the process of getting assessments and trying to get better mental and emotional health so the rest is not the task its been.

Been at the back and forth a little while. Been doing some counseling and its helping me get to a place of realization about a lot of where these habits stem from.

Heliconia4 February 13, 2012 - 8:00 PM

Self sabotage happens when you are highly motivated to retain the weight and not motivated to lose it. That’s the situation in which I find myself. Hard enough living the celibate life with the male attention I have now – which only increases when I hit the gym. I keep thinking whether I can deal with it – would be such a shame to slip up.

Aja July 8, 2012 - 1:14 PM

While I agree with the premise of this post, I don’t actually think that its “motivation” itself that is wrong, just the way that we use the word as it relates to weight loss. Motivation is really just the reason behind your action, which I think every one of us has. My motivation came when I realized that I was busting out of my size 8/10s and that on a tight budget it would be a lot more cost effective for me to maintain my weight than get a whole new wardrobe. From there I found more motivation to stay healthy into old age, be a good example for my children, look and feel great etc. and those are the things that I remind myself to stay motivated when I feel tempted to eat something I shouldn’t or lie around instead of exercise. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping those motivators in mind, I don’t even think there’s anything wrong with knowing we occasionally need an external push to keep us going (i.e. sometimes I visit this blog or look up a healthy recipe, or try on my progress dress) I think it’s when we are constantly looking toward those external factors or waiting for them instead of using them as occasional support in our overall lifestyle change that it becomes a problem.

Courtney July 23, 2012 - 4:42 AM

I’m late to this post but I wanted to tell you how much I love everything in it. As you have written, tying motivation to many of our actions is completely unnecessary. I have a former friend who almost does nothing but endlessly complain about everything (her social life, lack of fulfilling job, weight/body, the list goes on) and she is a former friend because eventually I got tired of having the same conversations over and over again, always to the same end. She already knows the actions she should take to change her life, but she’s “not motivated” to take any of those steps. If we remove our feelings out of the equation, it’s a lot easier to do things. I know if I had a kid who “didn’t feel like” going to school, their feelings would be a moot point to the fact that they’d be going anyway. Why do we give our own feelings so much control over the things we know we need to do?

Jamilah July 23, 2012 - 10:40 AM

There is a saying that “reminders benefit the believers.” If I tell you the house is on fire and you don’t rush to get out, then one may assume you hear me, but don’t believe me, or are insane.

Sometimes we know we should eat this, we should move like this, but we still haven’t shifted our belief system to accept that eating recklessly equals disease and obesity. It may be that its not motivation, but knowledge that many of us lack. I mean, who doesn’t know cake=bad, veges=good. But once I really devoted time to reading about why and how these things are true, learned a little bit of the science behind eating sugars, white/processed carbs, and chemical concoctions in processed food, I began to “see the light.”

Now, I still read articles, check out the food documentaries, and read blogs like this for the reminders and tips, but not for “motivation.” Like someone mentioned, the only “motivation” is knowing what will happen to me if I don’t get myself together, i.e., knowing the negative consequences that are inevitable if I don’t act on what I’ve learned to live a better quality of life. Some folks, for whatever reason, just aren’t there yet.

Kent November 18, 2012 - 12:40 PM

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Jenaee January 10, 2013 - 2:19 PM

You literally have to just WANT TO MAKE A CHANGE. I’m talking a life-changing, “Come-To-Jesus” moment that you have with yourself. For most people, its hearing from the Doctor that they have Diabetes… or the lose of a loved one to obesity. FOR ME…. it was just being TIRED of looking and feeling FAT all the time…. KNOWING that I had a nice body under all that CRAP, and what was I gonna do about it???

I have been trying to lose weight my entire life, but never got to my goal weight. I woke up one morning in July of 2012 to go to an event, and I HATED everything I put on. I looked horrible… even with SPANX and undergarments sucking me in every which way. It was LITERALLY at that point… looking in the mirror… that I said…

“Ok… I’m sick of this. SERIOUSLY…. I’m sick and tired of looking and feeling like this. I am a lazy, fat a&$, who has completely let herself go and I am OVER being this size. I’m OVER IT!!”

It is now January 2013, and I’ve not only finished training for a 5K (which is something I NEVER thought I would do), but I’m actually consistently running in 5K races, and I continue to run 4 miles, 3 to 4 times per week.

The results?…. Down 43lbs, stamina is through the roof, body is starting to get “cut”…. clothes don’t fit anymore… and compliments up the WAZOO! In other words…. I’M ALIVE AGAIN, and not that fat chick sitting in the house feeling sorry for herself (depressed and emotional eating) and devouring an entire, ‘family size’ bag of Lay’s Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips in one sitting….

This feels MUCH BETTER… and I am NEVER GOING BACK to who I was. I still have 60lbs to go, but I am MORE THAN CONFIDENT I am going to get there… and soon.

YOU HAVE TO JUST WAKE UP ONE DAY, AND SAY…. I’m changing my life. It is just THAT DRASTIC of a mind shift. And until you get there, NOTHING is going to change. Straight talk…. no chaser.

Belinda January 13, 2013 - 9:09 AM

So cool and I agree! I just woke up and decided enough was enough!! On my way to a healthier me

@Curvy_Jones June 17, 2013 - 9:19 AM

I’m in total agreement with you. Either you want to do it or you don’t. There’s no motivation, only inspiration. I can be inspired, but still sit on my butt because I don’t WANT to do what I need to be doing to be a healthy happy person. Until you get to the point where you want to more than you ‘don’t care’, you’ be ‘unmotivated’. And no one can do that for you. You can’t work out for that person, you can’t eat for that person. You can’t think or want health for that person any more than they can want it for themselves.

When I was in that place, I just had to wait. Wait until I wanted it more than I wanted the crap I was about to eat and wanted it more than I wanted to sit on my butt. And if I didn’t want it yet, there was no sense in wasting my time half doing a work out and wasting my money buying healthy food that will rot in the fridge.

Kathrin August 25, 2013 - 8:48 PM

For me it is about habit. If I left it to motivation, I would still be 420+lbs and miserable. I am motivated by food which…well that got me to 420+lbs in the first place. I work out every day at 130-230 because that is what I do. It is what I have to do to get to where I want to be…and I really like how it makes me feel. I sometimes may not want to do it anyway because I have goals and that’s part of the package. The first 30 days were rough, but then it became part of my daily life. It is as much a part of my schedule as brushing my teeth. As to eating clean, that’s the first thing I changed and I felt so much better – after 2 weeks of feeling like crap. Now, when I eat processed food, I get ill.

Barbara September 16, 2013 - 9:52 AM

I think often we have to just DO it, and motivation comes later, actually. Think that’s a kind of faith. If we wait for motivation – internal or external – sometimes we wait too long.

ubuwan November 14, 2013 - 6:48 PM

mo·ti·va·tion [moh-tuh-vey-shuhn]
noun
1.
the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way. Synonyms: motive, inspiration, inducement, cause, impetus.

I just keep it simple. I don’t think motivation is something pulled out of thin air solely for pecuniary gain (but I know folks are racking up $$$ based on it). Based on the basic definition, I was motivated or had a reason to finally get moving and lose weight. I was SO tired of being very overweight, so I (finally) made a change. I also knew I was at risk for diabetes. Something just clicked within me and I went for it; I haven’t looked back after almost 10 years. Also, I totally agree about the over-thinking part of weight loss. We can talk all day about it, but it all comes down to action. That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned on this journey. Just DO. Thanks for this post, I never really thought of motivation in this light.

Karen January 11, 2014 - 7:23 PM

For me, feeling good is the “motivation,” as it were. So, as the saying goes, “act as if” until you start feeling (and seeing) the results. Now not only is it a habit to take care of myself, but I know from experience I will feel and look crappy if I don’t. And that girl needs to try some hot sauce on her food! Seriously, it rules.

Ricky Hunt April 30, 2014 - 6:11 AM

Being healthy is one of our greatest priority. Because our health is our only asset that we need to take care of.

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