Friday, January 6, 2012

What it takes to inspire yourself to lose the weight

When you're invited to a National Weigh-In Day, dedicated to inspiring people to shed or maintain their weight, and your first thought is "Wonder if they'll be serving food?" this is a sure sign that you need to confront your weight issues.

I've still got the pounds I put on when I had my kids; Max is 9, Sabrina is turning 7 next month. I am a master of procrastination: I'll start eating healthier and exercising more on Monday. Or Friday. Or when I finish this big project. Or after that big party. Or when it gets a little warmer. Or colder. Or when it's a lunar eclipse! Really, any excuse will do.

The Special K people, who sponsored the event and this post, want to help women focus on what will motivate them to take off pounds. I love the question they're asking: "What will you gain when you lose weight?" They're offering personalized plans to get people to reach their weight goals. While none of the plans involve machines that exercise you as you sleep, alas, they do involve eating the cereal, a childhood favorite of mine, and lots of fruit and veggies. There's also a My Special K app to help you shop and plan menus.

At the event, I stepped up to the "Weigh-In." Mercifully, my weight did not pop up on a screen in the middle of Grand Central Station (dying of embarrassment is not a recommended way to solve your weight problem). Instead, a motivating word appeared: energy. Thing is, I already have plenty of that, though I sure wish someone would buy me a speedier metabolism.

One helpful way to appear slimmer: blurry photos.

The top three emotional reasons women want to lose weight are happiness, confidence, and a sense of achievement, according to a Special K survey of women ages 25 to 54 around the country. Other inspirations: fitting into old clothes, healthier eating habits and living a more active lifestyle.

Nope, nope, nope. Nada. Negative. Nyet. None of those are major motivations for me. All week, I kept pondering what might spur me to shed pounds. Then last night, as I was reading Max a bedtime story, I absentmindedly ran my finger over his foot and he giggled. "Mooooore!" he said. So I tickled his neck, and he cracked up. And then I reached under his Cars 2 pajama shirt and tickled his belly, and he made his joyous Max squeal that I can't describe except to say, nothing can be wrong in the world when I hear that sound.

As we lay there, both of us laughing, I realized my motivation has been staring me in the face all along: Max. I need to be at my healthiest so I'll be around to care for him for a long time. Sabrina too, of course. But Max is the one who's going to need me most.

The next time I reach for the chips at 11:00 p.m. or feel like skipping the gym, I am going to think back to our ticklefest. I want to hear that squeal of his for many years to come. Maybe I'll tape some photos of the kids to the inside of our pantry door; it would be hard to snarf down a Yodel with Max and Sabrina staring me in the face.

The first question you get when you choose the "Achieve a Goal Weight" plan at Special K is: "What positive change are you hoping for, besides slimming down?"

What I typed: "I want to be healthier so I'll be there for my son for as long as is humanly possible."

How about you: If you've had success losing weight, what's motivated you? Or if you've struggled to find your motivation, what do you think might help?


  1. exactly the same as you! my daughter has smithmagenis syndrome and i need to get slimmer and healthier for her!! not only forthe present to be fit enough with the life shethrows my way but also for the long term!! with 50pounds plus to loose perhaps mow is the time! jane xxxx

  2. I've lost 23 pounds since September using Weight Watchers (and I'm now at goal and have just started maintenance, eek!). My motivation was both a borderline bad report at the doctor and seeing a picture of myself from a summer birthday party - one where I was in the background, unaware of the camera so there was no sucking in or standing tall. It was embarrassing and I was over it. Now I'm excited to go clothes shopping again and I am not hiding from cameras - new stuff! I have learned that whatever program works best for you is the right program if you'll stick to it - WW worked REALLY well for me!

  3. My motivation is the same as yours. My son as ASD and will probably never be able to live fully independently, so I want to be here for him as long as possible. I'm obese and my last blood glucose test was too high for comfort, so I recently joined Weight Watchers Online and hope to be at a healthy weight within 18 months. Having that health scare is the boost I needed.

  4. Ok, your first paragraph made me literally lol (the guy sitting at the next table at Starbucks gave me a sideways glance) because that's the exact.same.thing. that I would have been thinking :)

  5. My husband lost 40pounds since April. Our daughter was born. I was out of commission so he suddenly realized he had to get healthier to be there for Bertrand & for our little girl. (He is sooo wrapped around her little finger. ;) Best wishes!

  6. Ellen I thought we talked about this you shouldn't expect that Max will need more help from you when he's older than Sabrina will rather focus on teaching him how to take care of himself

  7. Oh yes, my son is my motivation too. I need to get started.

  8. I wish that I could find that motivator. For the life of me I just don't know what it will take for me to lose the 30 or so pounds I need to lose.

    The best thing is that once I find that motivator...and I drop those 30 pounds my body is really good at keeping a steady weight. I might go up or down 5 pounds one way or the other but for the most part, if I'm weighing in at 100 pounds I'll either weigh 95 at my lowest times and 105 at my highest days. (((Which is a great weight for me because I'm only 5 foot tall with shoes on)))

  9. Last year, I spent the year focusing on losing weight - I succeeded, losing 80 pounds. I decided that I needed to lose the "grief" weight I'd put on since my twin pregnancy and my daughters accident. I had been living with comfort food and treating myself "because I deal with a lot and I DESERVE it." I was done with the grief weight. I decided I wanted it gone. After I lost the weight, we decided to have another baby, so now here comes the weight again, but it's HAPPY weight, not grief weight.

  10. Breastfeeding and carrying my little guy has helped me lose the baby weight, but I'm still 20 pounds overweight!

    I want to be as healthy as possible for my son too.

    It's especially important to lose weight because I also have fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome. It basically makes you feel like you have the never ending awful flu...15 years for me thus far.

    Losing weight will help me stay healthier, so I can play with my son and be there for him as he grows up. Oh...the therapy too!

    Thanks for visiting my site. I appreciate it. Your comments are heartwarming. You are my inspiration for starting the blog. Thank you!

  11. I have discovered another motivation for losing weight, and it is this: Post about it on your blog and Facebook. You will then be too ashamed to NOT doing something.

    Marla, congrats. Sadly, even bad cholesterol has not motivated me.

    Nisha, listen, as much as I hope that Max will not need me that much when I am older and that he will be independent to the best of his abilities, he WILL still need me. You've never met him, so you will just have to trust me on that one. I'm not being overly protective, just realistic.

    Rebecca, being able to maintain is a gift! I wouldn't know, tho as I need to first GET to maintenance mode.

    Jenny, congratulations on your happy weight! :) I know what you mean about grief weight. Some of the poundage I carry around is from Max's first year, when I did the opposite of take care of myself.

    Bea, I've heard how awful fibromyalgia can be. I am glad you're finding motivation in that delicious boy of yours.

    And Marla and Cynical (may I call you that? :), WW is an excellent program.

  12. My motivation is definitely my son, but also to feel back in control of something. I have finally come to realize that I have no control of what the future holds for my little guy, despite everything we do to try to get him to the point where he's not only the happy little guy he is, but independent as well. All the therapy and love in the world will only do for him whatever is meant to be.

    Since I'm a control freak, it was hard to give that up. So I've decided to take control over something I weight. It's been out of control for the past 2 years and it's time to take it back! Fingers crossed that's motivation enough. :)

  13. My motivation is exactly the same as yours. My Emma needs me to be around for her a long, long time. Gotta work on this weight, for real.

  14. I think you've read my post about my inspiration to lose weight before. But I'll link it up here anyways. I did Weight Watchers 3 years ago and lost 40 lbs and have kept it off for 2 1/2 years now. You go girl!

  15. I have enjoyed reading your blog, and I thought I'd weigh in on this one ;) I saw this nytimes article recently ( ), and
    it made me understand why its easy to get frustrated that it is so hard to do.
    Also, for me, joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) has been a fun way to work on eating healthier

  16. I lost 55 pounds 3 years ago and have kept it off through running. I need to be healthy and on this earth for a long, long time. My T-man and JD need me. and I need to be strong, mentally and physically for the next 50 years!
    PS. enjoyed your article in Good Housekeeping, Ellen!

  17. love your posts Ellen :) im only 21 (22 in a week) but ive struggle with weight issues a long time (anorexic at 13 followed by several years of being borderline over weight) I'm not a healthy weight, but having trouble with conceiving has made me and dh look at our diet and exercise (or lack of :P ) both of our sets of parents aren't very healthy and it makes me more detiremined to do anything i can to make sure i'm here for my (future) children.
    Good luck Ellen, I'm sure the thought of Max's giggles will keep you going
    Liarna :D

  18. I'm fat. I get a lot of exercise in my work, too, but I am a big girl and that's just that.

    Me and a mirror just aren't good friends!

  19. Felicia, I would love to say I have big bone structure, but...I don't. :0

  20. Ellen, it's so important for us moms with special needs kids to exercise regularly and keep weight off! We need to take care of ourselves, we need to boost our endorphins, and we need to FEEL healthy. I would suggest picking a charity and then training for a walk/run for it. I plan on running a marathon in about a year or a year and a half and picking a Down Syndrome related charity (or charities) to go with it. That way I know I am exercising and losing weight for a good cause!

  21. Ditto. Only...daughter.

    Short term I would like to get back in most of the clothes that hang in my closet.

    I have gained a lot of weight in the last two years because of a health issue. I have never been an active person, but I did have a great metabolism. It seems to be gone now.

    I know I need to exercise, but I don't honestly know what will motivate me to do it short of someone whipping me if I don't!


Thanks for sharing!

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