Wednesday, May 27, 2009

motivation: not the secret to weight loss (seriously!)

I heard a quote that other day that I love, and I've been trying to write a post that'll do it justice.


"There's no such thing as motivation. Just start."


Seriously. Let me repeat that:


"There's no such thing as motivation. Just start."


This quote basically sums up everything I feel about motivation/weight loss/success. I can't tell you how many times I read on blogs, or hear people in real life complain, about their lack of motivation. They can't lose weight because they've lost their motivation. They wonder where their motivation went. They wonder how they can get back.


Let me ask you all a couple of questions. I know what my answers are, and I can guess yours would be pretty similar.


Do you want to lose weight?

Are you unhappy with your body?

Do you want to be healthier?

Do you want to be able to fit into a smaller size / climb a flight of stairs without keeling over / be confident meeting people for the first time?


If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then congratulations, you've got motivation! Motivation is so simple and basic -- no one can even say they want to lose weight without having motivation. I mean, that's what motivation IS, pretty much.


The real secret is that motivation isn't the key to weight loss success. In fact, I believe it's such a tiny part of it, it barely requires talking about. Every single one of us who even considers losing weight, for whatever reason, has motivation, otherwise we wouldn't be considering it. We all have it. ALL OF US. And some of us are successful and some of us aren't, and even the successful people have times of not being so successful. So stands to reason: motivation is not the thing that separates the successful from the unsuccessful. Let's dispel with that notion, right now, that motivation is some kind of weight loss power source. It's not.


Now, don't get too depressed! This is actually great news. Weight loss doesn't require some mystical feeling or cosmic energy. It doesn't require flipping some miracle switch in your brain.


Weight loss requires STARTING.


Losing weight requires actions and decisions and motions, dozens and dozens of them every day. Motivation doesn't make those decisions for you, you do.


So stop waiting for something magical to happen in your mind -- because it probably never will. I sometimes feel like people wait for the 'motivation' to kick in, on the assumption that it will make all those decisions suddenly easy. Like you'll WANT to eat salad and go running and turn down donuts ALL THE TIME because you are SOOOOOO MOTIVATED!


But I really don't think it works that way.


The real secret to my success so far has been this simple phrase: "Oh well!"  It works like this:


Whenever I think I might want greasy fast food for lunch, I say "Oh well!" and then I eat my soup. Whenever I don't feel like going to Boot Camp, I say "Oh well!" and then I go anyway. Whenever I'm tired and don't feel like making dinner I say "Oh well!" and then I make something easy.


Try it for yourself! If you find yourself struggling, just do one good thing, whether you want to or not. Just tell yourself "Oh well!" And then do another good thing, whether you want to or not. Power through the first week, whether you like it or not. Build momentum.


The best news is that it isn't that long before you'll find yourself saying "Oh well!" less frequently. Because your good decisions have started to become good habits. And then it actually IS easier to choose salad, to go running, to pass on the donuts.


I guess what I'm saying is, the key to weight loss success, at least for me, isn't motivation, it's momentum. And the only way to build momentum is to do stuff, again and again and again. Even when you don't want to.


There's no such thing as motivation.

Just start.