Adjusted Motivations for Healthy Eating and Weight Loss

Motivation Image for post

Once upon a time, a writer gave birth to one child, then another, and woe to the weight she had gained. Nine months later, the weight was gone, lost through lots of hard work but the details of which were lost to the new-baby-haze memory issues. That’s not entirely true. There is one strand of memory in which the young mother desperately wanted to be attractive to her husband again. Shopping ensued, and the horrors of a lingerie shop mirror send the mother – who was quite lovely and had nothing to hide – running. And the weight returned, unchecked.

Baring my soul here, there’s a reason for this. I had a revelation yesterday, on Facebook of all places. A woman posted about her own weight loss issues, and she learned what motivated her, and how once she lost the weight, she was lost on what to do. She’d always been trying to lose weight. She was there, as I was once. Both our motivations were wrong. She made me see this.

So I had to rework my process, figure out why I’m trying so hard. Sure, everyone wants to be attractive to their spouse, right? I need more than that. I want to be a role model for my children, to teach my son to respect women no matter what they looked like, to teach my daughter that strength not fear of obesity was important. I’m strong. I often tell my mother than when I’m helping her with stuff around the house or taking her arm as she steps down a steep curb. And I am. Karate taught me that. My strength is a good direction.

One of the areas I’m exceptional at is making goals for my writing and making ways to meet them. I measure my progress by what I’ve completed and each year I strive to improve those. I’m using that approach to improve my health and fitness life.

The weight on the scale is but one measurement which is often screwy. Very technical term here I know, but I’m dead serious. Changing my body from fat to muscle means creating a tighter more compact form that may actually be heavier than a non-muscular body of the same size. So I can’t go by the scale anymore. I need to measure what my body can do.

Since I love Excel, I drew up a bunch of spreadsheets tracking monthly:

  • body measurements (for evidence of fat loss) including BMI;
  • cardio distances covered in 30 minutes in various ways: cycling, walking, running, rowing;
  • plyometric:
    • pushups, sit-ups, burpees done in one minute;
    • chin-ups and pulls ups in one minute (none right now, but give me six months)
    • planks and length of time held.

Monthly measurements and comparisons will help me see first that I’m getting stronger, and second, when the scale doesn’t move, it’s going to remind me that I AM changing, I AM improving, and that scale can go to hell. It’s just one number.

The theory is that by working on my strength, I’m not focused on one end goal. I’m working on different goals that will always be there in one form or another. For example, I can currently do 8 pushups in one minute. My goal is to hit 25. I’m better with sit-ups. I can walk great distances at a decent pace but my running is severely lacking. My goal is to run a 5k eventually and get my time under 50 minutes. At the moment, my goal is to be able to run for 30 minutes without a significant break. Eventually no break. These are all measurable and the kinds of things that motivate me. Be a better me than I was yesterday or last week, or last month.

If you or someone you know is struggling with weight issues, I encourage a rethinking of philosophy and approach. My way may not be anyone else’s way, but don’t be afraid to turn things upside down. There should be something there to get anyone where they want to be.

I’m strong. I want to be stronger. I can do this. We can all do this. Or maybe you’ve got something else that’s working. Tell us about in comments. It’s not easy being healthy, and it can be a lonely road sometimes.

Live Strong,



Photo Credit: Joshua Santino via


6 responses to “Adjusted Motivations for Healthy Eating and Weight Loss

  1. That’s a seriously complicated realization, but yay for better reasons than just matching society’s messed up idea of what is good. I’m heavier than I have been for years…and fit clothes I never could when I was at this weight (baby weight here too), but it’s because of the workout I do every morning without fail to keep my shoulders from dislocating. Took me a while to get over the scale number though.

    And as far as examples for your daughter, taking Mom and Me karate was a pretty clear sign in the strong direction :).

    Good luck with your marathon goal, though it’s not really luck at all.

  2. Your goals look good! . It’s so easy in our culture to focus on appearance rather than performance.

    Good luck with the chin ups / pull ups. I’d like to be able to do a pull up (just one!), but not badly enough to train consistently.

    • Thanks, Elizabeth.

      As far as the pullups go, the gym at my job sponsored a pull up challenge last year and provided instructions on how to train up to do a pull up. We also have one of those adjusted weight machines so I can work on pulls up at a % of my body weight. I can pull up roughly 40% of my body weight right now. Which is way less discouraging than saying I can’t do pull ups. Perspective!

      • The adjusted weight machine sounds like a nice piece of equipment. I have a pullup bar that I can lower so I can squat on the ground and use my legs to help, but it’s hard to control how much work my legs are doing.

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