Monday, August 27, 2012

Positive Motivation

When I was in high school I suffered from anxiety attacks. They were awful. So awful that my concerned mother made me pay a visit to our family physician.  The physician, being somewhat unconventional, told me that she was “reluctant to treat my condition because stress and anxiety are the factors that Type A people use to motivate themselves to work harder”.  She knew that I had dreams of going to medical school, and believed that my anxiety would help me to reach my goals.  Being that I was a young, impressionable teenager, her argument seemed reasonable.

In college, my continued issues with stress and anxiety led to chronic headaches, horrible acid reflux, frequent illness and insomnia.  All of these were issues I was willing to deal with because I was doing excellent in all of my classes.  Every time I was plagued with anxiety, I would think of what my doctor had said, and considered it fuel for my academic fire.  

It wasn’t until my second year of medical school that I took a step back, and realized that all of this “using anxiety to push myself” stuff was absolute crap.   What is the point of being a fantastic student, and later a successful physician, if you are a miserable human being?   It was at that point that I put on the brakes, changed my career path, and started using health and happiness as my primary sources of motivation.

Using negative energy for motivation is clearly never a good thing.  We all know this, but for some reason when it comes to weight loss, we seem to forget it.  We do squats because we want to get rid of our “fat thighs”, we exercise to the extreme in January as "punishment" for what we ate in December, and we starve ourselves because our jeans are starting to get “too tight”.

Sound familiar?  Here’s the thing, if you look in those giant mirrors at the gym and concentrate on your “jiggly arms”, you will always see flab when you look in the mirror.  Even if you do lose weight, you will be so stuck on the skin hanging down from your arm that you will be completely unaware of the fact that you have developed some really rockin’ triceps.  

During my weight loss journey I went through stages where I would use negative motivation to try to push myself.  Over and over again, I discovered that this method does not work for sustainable weight loss.  Why?  I’ll give you the two biggest reasons.

1.  You have to actually ENJOY being healthy.  Eating well and exercising are things that need to be thought of as privileges, not punishments.  You can only sustain something you hate for so long, therefore finding the joy in being healthy is very important.  As corny as it sounds, it is necessary to say things like “I want to go for a run this morning” instead of “I HAVE to go for a run”.  The mind is a powerful thing.

2.  Thinking negatively about your body may cause temporary motivation for change, but over time it just leads to depression, and a serious lack of confidence.   Confidence is one of the most important things in weight loss.  If you concentrate on the positive changes that are taking place in your body, instead of the things that still need work, you will feel more motivated in the long haul.  

The best way to stay positive is to remember that this is a journey, and that a journey takes time.  If you start to feel guilty and push yourself too hard, you will never make it to the finish line.  Slow and steady really does win the race, I promise.  Don’t forget to take note of the little changes taking place in your body and relish them.  

Be proud of yourself.


  1. Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Thank you for reading! It really does mean a lot to me :).

  2. Loved this article. Thank you for the continual substance your provide on your blog. Better than the articles I pay to read ;D

    1. What kind words, thanks so much! I think the problem with most of the articles out there is that they are written by people who have never had an actual weight problem themselves. It is one thing to provide information to people, but it is perhaps more meaningful to have a story to share along with it.

      Thank you for reading. You made my day :)

  3. Most of the times its psychology that leads to all the problems. In your case, you made positive use of negative things. This makes the story amazing and sharable with many

  4. Very nice and motivational post!! I really like your blog. Keep up the good work and well do I really have to say it? Of course I should! You look AMAZING :)

    At the other hand I understand you as I also had anxiety issues. I was even diagnosed with nervosis... I started to drink some alcohol to calm my nerves and gained extra pounds... now I quit cigarettes and I'm starting my journey back to shape and well being :)

    1. Thank you MJ, you are too kind! I wish you the very best of luck on your journey. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help :).