Monday, March 4, 2013

What's My Motivation?

Pinterest has proven to be a fast way of circulating information, both helpful and, well, not so helpful. With healthy recipes, fitness tips, and work out pictures a plenty, we might even say Pinterest can help us reach our fitness or weight loss goals. But lately I've seen a few pins that have bothered me big time.

These memes are supposed to help us become motivated to work out. They suggest that when we're tempted to slack off, we need to imagine what positive things other people will say when we've reached our weight loss or fitness goal.

Losing weight is hard. It's hard to say no to the cookie. It's hard to get out of bed early in the morning to  work out. It's hard to make choices that glaringly contrast those of friends who are staying up late, drinking, ordering pizza, and binging on ice cream. Willpower does not come easy. I feel it's important to have a phrase to repeat internally when motivation is low. But I have a big problem with mantras that connect fitness success to the accolades and congratulations of others.

Between my sophomore year and senior year of high school I slowly became overweight. From my senior year through my freshman year of college, I lost all that weight. I don't remember every single workout but I do remember every comment someone made about my body- because that's exactly what a compliment on weight loss is! People looked at my body, noticed that it had changed and told me what they observed. Though positive and well-meant, I was terribly offended by every compliment.

"Wow you've lost weight!" was supposed to be followed up with "Thank you," but I never felt like thanking the compliment-giver.
"You look good," in my mind translated to, "You looked bad before."

The world did not open itself to me once I became skinny again. My insecurities didn't just go away. I wasn't 100% happy all of a sudden. Changing the shape of my body did not change the beliefs I had about myself.

If a friend of mine asked for my help in keeping her motivated to lose a few pounds, I wouldn't dare to bait her with anticipation of all the compliments she'll receive. So why would I do the same internally? Do we have to look a certain way in order to be loved and accepted? If we really need to hear words of affirmation, we must make our needs known in our relationships.

The reason we should take care of our bodies is not so that our friends will tell us how hot we look. We should aim for our own optimal weight or fitness levels so that we are healthy and that we can enjoy life without any hindrances. Perhaps that includes feeling happy about the way you look but that, too, is an inside job.

Talk to me: Have you ever gotten compliments on your weight loss? Do they make you feel good or bad?

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