I have been overweight since childhood and so, for me, losing weight was something that was always on my mind. I was always thinking about dieting, or I was on a diet, or I was gaining weight after a diet. It was an endless cycle. Most of the time when I attempted weight loss I only lost a few pounds, but there have been a few times in my diet history where I successfully took off 50 pounds or more, only to gain it all back. I know from experience that the times I was able to stick to a diet more long term, I usually had a strong motive to get me started. My motives have changed over the course of the years from wanting to look good in a wedding dress, to wanting to have more energy to run around with the kids, and to the classic “sick and tired of being sick and tired”.
For this, my last and final attempt at weight loss, I had a number of goals in my head: two short-term event goals and three long-term lifestyle goals.
My two event goals were wanting to look good in a dress for my son’s upcoming wedding and an upcoming trip to India with my partner, Sanford. I couldn’t imagine surviving their repressive heat with being more than 100 lbs overweight.
I knew my event goals would come and go no matter what weight I was, and while I did sincerely want to be slimmer for these occasions, it was my long-term lifestyle goals that were my primary drivers.
My upcoming retirement in December of 2014, which was just a little more than a year away, was my first long-term driver. My partner and I were planning a life of travelling and fun and I feared my weight would be in the way. I wanted to reach retirement slim and have my life take off from that point. I had a vision in my head that was so crystal-clear of Sanford and I biking and hiking with me being equal to him, rather than the usual me huffing and puffing behind him and struggling to keep up.
My second long-term driver was my desire to keep my health in tact. At 285 lbs I was having mobility issues. I have osteoarthritis in my right knee and I was finding it difficult to walk. I was at the point where I required a knee brace and I had to take anti-inflammatory medication in order to keep moving. I was pre-diabetic and terrified I would get the disease as both my parents were diabetic, and my sister is currently living with it. Other than the osteoarthritis, I had no other chronic conditions but felt that I was a ticking time bomb waiting to go off if I didn’t change my lifestyle and I wanted my retirement years to be as healthy as possible.
My final long-term driver was probably my biggest desire. After a lifetime of fighting with food, I wanted to be free of compulsive overeating and the constant thinking and craving of food. I have been morbidly obese for most of my adult life. To maintain that type of weight, it takes a lot of food on a daily basis. I did a lot of eating. And it wasn’t good eating. It was cakes, cookies, ice cream, chocolate, candy, etc. Everyday I would have that stuff and I was never satisfied. I would always want more and more of these foods. The cravings were always there and never went away; I felt very trapped and tortured by these thoughts. I wanted them to end. It was very evident to me that if I didn’t change, I would be just as consumed with food and suffering its affects when I would be 60, 70, and beyond. I was in my late 50s and found the thought of continuing to be obsessed with eating in my 70s to be truly terrifying.
Those were my motivators. But I have to say, that as strong as these motivators were for me, I was really scared to go on yet another diet. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the emotional effort it takes to get started and then to fail yet again. Notice I said “to fail yet again”, I have to say I didn’t really believe it was possible to lose the weight. I didn’t want to go through that again. It was just too painful. But I knew I didn’t want to stay at the weight I was. It was a tough spot to be in.
Motivation to lose weight is just one of the keys to a successful weight loss strategy. It is critical because if there is no driving reason to lose weight then the time, effort, and energy required for the journey will not happen, but it is just one of many factors. Motivation will get you started and can keep you going for a long time, but I think equally important is the program you use to lose weight. If the diet chosen does not fit into your lifestyle or is not nutritionally sound, motivation will only take you so far before you give up.
My next installment of Taking it Off will be about picking a weight loss program.