When Weight Loss Isn't Self Motivating Anymore: Building Castles
When I first started losing weight, it was self-motivating. At the beginning of this blog I did not have any support, or readers, or comments for awhile... and that was fine! I was using this as a record of the journey (and wow, what a record it has become). I didn't have any lost pounds yet, or smaller sizes, or better health to make me want to keep going yet. When I decided to change my life, the change itself was motivating. Just *knowing* I was doing something big... something that could lead me down new roads... was exciting. Just getting up and planning to eat a salad at lunch felt great! It didn't bother me much that I wasn't eating candy or cookies, because just *being on a diet* was so rewarding to me. I felt empowered and in control, instead of so stuck in the way things were. It was like an awakening, and just the decision to do it was freeing. I *liked* choosing to go for a walk, because just doing that made me feel like a new person (not even the walking... just the deciding to walk!) Each choice I made was kind of exciting and joyful, even when it was hard. Every choice... eating some carrots for a snack, buying chicken breasts, drinking a glass of water, doing some stretches... was like a piece of a puzzle I was working on. It was kind of like building a giant castle out of Legos: with every block I searched for and snapped into place I knew... I had a vision of... what it was going to be. And that was really a driving force, just like when you are in the middle of building a Lego castle on the floor or a 5000 piece puzzle on the dining room table. It can be frustrating, and tedious, and sometimes it takes awhile to find the right piece but you are DETERMINED to find it because you are building something! You are creating something. The process itself is motivating. That is how weight loss felt.
Imagine that thrill of getting that Lego castle project. You buy it because you love how that castle looks and you can't wait to work on it and have that feeling of accomplishment and see the castle forming from your efforts. You have all the pieces, you even have directions, and you are confident. It's really fun and even if there are hard parts and you need a break, you just *know* how proud you will be when it is done. Now imagine you get 3/4 of the way through building your castle and you can't find the next piece. You look everywhere and it is not there. You try every piece you have and can't figure out what to do. While looking for that missing piece, you bump the tower on your castle and it breaks off and falls to the floor, scattering Legos everywhere. Now you are *really* frustrated. But you start rebuilding the tower, muttering to yourself. It is not as fun as it was before. It is kind of annoying. I should not have to be doing this part again! While you are rebuilding the tower, you press a Lego too hard and an archway beneath it collapses. It's a small part of the castle, but this just adds to your frustration. You walk away. You need a break. This used to be really fun but now it is getting old... but you really want to finish the castle. While you are off getting a drink and a snack, your dog runs through the room and knocks another small section of the castle off. You return, ready to work, but there is even *more* work to do now! You have to sort and find and re-place each piece! But you sit down and get to it, because you still want the castle.
You get through rebuilding the section and the arch, and the frustration is finally starting to fade. You feel good again. You've got this! You're careful... you won't knock anything over again and the dog is locked out of the room. But when get about halfway through rebuilding the tower, you realize you are going to get back to the same place where you need that missing piece! You still haven't found it. What good is all this work going to do without that essential piece?
You take a break. You talk to friends and they understand. They will help you! So you take a bathroom break and when you get back to your castle to work on it again... someone has come and dumped a huge box of extra Lego pieces in the room with all the castle pieces. This is not fun anymore AT ALL. Now you not only have to sort through the castle pieces... but you have to sort all those extra Legos that your friends brought. You look at the piles of Legos and the partially built castle, and there is absolutely nothing self-motivating about this project anymore.
I know it's not a perfect analogy. But that's how it has felt to me. It's like in the beginning, just the idea and the excitement and seeing progress and imagining the beautiful end result was motivation enough. But now, I feel like I am sitting in a room scattered with piles of random Legos and a partially-built castle. I want to finish it... but dread the task.
I know the hardest part is starting, and the second hardest part is continuing. I don't like this project anymore. I almost want to throw it all in a box and shove it in a closet. But instead, I have to find motivation outside myself... in my family, in the value of my life... and just make myself start sorting pieces and rebuilding. I know there will come a time I will get to that missing piece in the tower and I hope by then I'll have done enough sorting to figure it out. I know that once I get going and start to catch the vision again, it'll get exciting for me again. I believe it will become self-motivating again at some point. Until then, I just work at it piece by piece for the simple reason that I don't want a half-finished castle and piles of Legos filling up my life. And for now that has to be reason enough.
I am 38 years old, female, a degree-holding stay-at-home-mom, and I weigh 278 pounds. I have been obese for ten years now. Time to get out of this fat prison I have made for myself.
--This is the original introduction I wrote when I first started this blog in 2007. I leave it as a reminder to myself of where I came from. Currently, I am 46 years old and weigh significantly less...see the blog for details. I lost 103 pounds, then had a partial regain, and am once again working at weight loss and better health.
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