Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Motivation Hurdle

For some reason I really wasn't expecting this but I have encountered a motivation hurdle.  The motivation to count is still just ducky, though I'm sure you've noticed that my intake has been higher the last two days (still under 1,600 but not by much).  It's the motivation to exercise that is sapped, I take my lunch and think "I'd rather just exercise later and spend my lunch break relaxing".  Then later I think "I would rather take a bath first and exercise later."  Then even later I think "I'm still counting, will it kill me not to exercise today?"

Yesterday I forced myself to exercise but I didn't hit my 300 during lunch and I didn't make up for it after work like I had told myself I would.  It's silly because the motivation to lose weight is still there but I started feeling so good about what I had lost that I felt like I had lost 50 lbs instead of 16.  Looking at the pictures side-by-side this morning was a reality check but this solidifies something I've felt for a long time: I think that I have a tendency to see myself as being thinner than I really am, the way some anorexic girls see themselves as being heavier than they really are.  This is really dangerous and I think it has been a major contributing factor in why I've become obese in the first place.  I've always struggled with being a little chubby but I first became obese while living in Chicago and, even though I had gained over 100 lbs while living there, I couldn't understand why my best friend and my sister both said they barely recognized me when they picked me up from the airport.  I was completely clueless that I had gained so much weight and even now, looking back, I don't remember ever looking at myself and thinking "whoa".

Apparently, this is not an uncommon issue among obese people.  After realizing that I have actually been admiring my reflection for the last week and then seeing my picture today I had a kind of 'aha' moment.  I thought "well I look way better than that in person" but the whole "the camera adds 10 lbs" adage just doesn't cut it here so I went to google for some answers.  I found this article about skewed body image and how 30% of overweight American's think that they are skinnier than they really are.  This is pretty interesting I think because, just maybe, obesity and the trouble with weight loss stems from our inability to see ourselves for what we really are.  I have heard formerly obese people say that they just woke up one morning and decided that they were sick of being fat ... maybe that is because they woke up one morning and realized that they were really fat.  The question I have then is why.  Why do so many overweight people, like myself, see ourselves as thinner than we really are and why do so many thin people think they're overweight?  This would be a good subject to discuss in my psychology class; I think I will ask my instructor if we can broach it.

5 glasses of water
1 cup of coffee with creamer
1 pack Newton's fig crisps
1 banana
1 whole wheat bagel
2 light laughing cow cheese wedges
1 cup boiled spinach w/lemon, salt & pepper
1 red pear
(The following items were eaten at Sweet Tomato)
>>5 pickle slices
>>4 oz pickled beets
>>1 tsp feta cheese crumbles
>>2 Tbsps fat free french dressing
>>1 cup wonton chicken salad
>>1 cup mandarin shells
>>1/2 cup turkey chutney pasta salad
>>1 cup potato, tomato, and spinach soup
>>1/2 cup tomato, basil, alfredo pasta
>>1/4 cup cran-apple cobbler
Daily Caloric Intake: 1,592

30 squats
30 leg lifts (side) each leg
20 lunges (front) each leg
10 lunges (side) each leg
30 push-ups
Daily Caloric Burn: 327


  1. Interesting post. It took a photograph for me to see how bad I look to get me moving, initially. For some reason, the mirror just didn't really do the trick.

  2. Yeah it's always been photographs for me too. That's part of the reason I wanted to post them monthly on here rather than posting them at weight milestones. When I first moved back from Chicago it wasn't until I looked at pictures of myself before I moved and compared them to pictures of myself while I lived there or after I got back that I saw the weight gain that everyone else had already reacted to.

    My boyfriend got a new camera (from me) for his birthday and he looooves to take pictures of it, especially pictures of us together at concerts and dinners etc. There for awhile I kept taking the pictures he would take and photoshopping them to crop out my big arms or my stomach rolls. I got to where my first thoughts when I would see a picture of us were "how can I fix me". That was really what made this whole journey snap for me in my mind. The only way that I was going to "fix" me was to really fix ME!

    I saw this episode of Maury (not my usual TV fare) years ago when I was a teenager and he had girls on his show that were dealing with eating disorders and anorexia. He took a picture of each girl and had it doctored to make them look bigger than they really are, then put the picture side by side with the real on and asked them to choose which one they thought was really how they looked and they always picked the picture of the bigger girl. I think, in conjunction with the article above, some obese or even just overweight people would probably be very interesting to do this same experiment on.

  3. (part 1... I know, I write books!)
    First of all -- I can see a noticeable difference between your two photos -- of the amount of weight I'm guessing you are targeting to lose, I didn't think 16lbs would show in a photo -- BUT IT DOES! You should be very PROUD of your accomplishment! Use that pride to keep yourself moving forward. FIND A REASON -- by which I mean, a *NEW* reason. Not to replace your old reason(s) -- but to enhance them when the going gets tough.

    Next -- as you know, our entire family struggles with obesity and always has -- the only exception is Dad who the last many years has managed to have a really good weight. Not sure to what degree you are aware of it, but even though I maintain the next slimmest-profile in the family, I struggle with weight issues constantly. I haven't actually been in a healthy-range for the last 15 years. Technically, according to my doctor, I am actually 'obese' (not 'morbidly obese', just 'obese') -- though to determine that he used the BMI-method which I have a tendency to think it total B.S. Using calipers I generally come up with BF%'s ranging between about 20-24% -- which are on the high-end of 'average' and just-shy of 'obese'. Personally, I think I carry about 10lbs. of extra muscle in my legs from playing soccer so much as a kid and in my shoulders from weight-lifting in the military. Nevertheless, due to our family-history and my tendency to easily gain weight if I don't try and fight it, I refuse to consider my weight acceptable until I'm solidly in the 14-17% range ('fitness'-level). That doesn't mean I'm as dedicated and focused all the time as you are, it just means that I constantly remind myself of where I truly am, the risk I really do have to deal with, and what I really do look like. Reminding myself of these things helps to keep me from allowing myself to go so much that I slip even further towards the obese side of things.

    And so, I hold goals just like you do -- but sometimes *internal* goals just aren't enough. Because, you are right -- we have a tendency to accept where we are at and to have a body-image of ourselves that is just not correct. To keep myself in-check with regards to my body-image I take note of my pant-size (which is several sizes larger than I wore at my ideal weight once I had fully matured) -- and refuse to let myself wear another size larger ever again. Now, that doesn't mean I squeeze into my baggy-pants and call-it-good when I've lost track; no, I wear some "fat-pants" that I have on-hand -- it just means that I use that to sound the alarm-bells and to take immediate-corrective action to get back into the smaller ones. One of these days I hope to comfortably wear a pants 1 size smaller than I currently do, and then *that* will be my new mark and my current pants will become my new "fat-pants".

    Using pants is my check on where I'm *really* at.

  4. (part 2... sorry, I suck... don't have time to edit and trim...)

    But there's another problem you touched on -- motivation. We have a tendency, even when we realize where we truly are, to want to become "OK" with it and just accept it. I don't believe in that -- not with regards to any major issue in life. It's called stagnation, and I don't believe in stagnation whether with regard to spiritual matters, ethics, intellect, financials, or physical condition. I had a bishop once who was a pretty wise guy and used to teach that life only has 2 directions: forward and backwards -- if you aren't doing the one, you are most certainly doing the other. I don't believe in stagnation because it doesn't really exist -- it's really regression. You are either progressing, or you are not. Granted, sometimes regression is what's called for, so that you can focus on another area that has a higher need of progression. But one should be aware they are regressing, not just feel comfortable thinking they are just maintaining a neutral-position spinning their wheels. Neutral-positions just don't exist. Time doesn't stand still, human life doesn't stand still. If you aren't moving forward, then you are moving backward. So, to keep myself with a goal to aim for when I attempt to move forwards, I think of 2 famous body-builders. The first is Mike Mentzer, a body-builder from the '70s. The second is Dave Draper, a body-builder from the '60s. Mentzer motivates me because of his view on how exercise and nutrition should be approached -- he taught constant and regular balanced-nutrition was the method to a slim waist, regular but moderate exercise (like walking for an hour) was the method to overall-health, and brief and infrequent but insanely-strenuous weight-lifting was the method to gaining muscle and strength. That all clicks for me. Draper motivates me because the guy is now about 70, still wears something like a size 34 jean, is still vibrant and strong as an ox, and from what I can still works all day at his business as if her were still a young guy. At 37 now, I'll obviously never be as fit or strong as either of them. But if targeting them only results in a 10% improvement of myself and if at 70 I can still be wearing the size jean I do today and can work all day without having to take a nap -- well, I'll be ecstatic.

    Using ideal-people as non-realistic targets for myself reminds me of the human-*potential* for excellence -- a potentiallity that technically I have in me as a byproduct of being human -- and even though at my age I can no longer actually achieve that level of potentiallity, I can still at least achieve some portion of it. Knowing that, some days I move forward to progress more than I otherwise would have.

    One last note... it is not only the 'obese' nor the 'anorexic' who sometimes have an incorrect sense of body-image. Even 'normal' people suffer from this. By the BMI method I'm easily 40 lbs. over my maximum 'ideal' weight, by my own guesstimates based on my experience with BF%, I'm at least 20-25 lbs. overweight. So either way you cut it, I'm overweight by a healthy amount. And yet yesterday when talking about it a co-worker of mine who himself is pretty skinny acted pretty shocked when I told him I was at a constant battle with being overweight. He felt I was completely normal. Yeah, well, 'normal' isn't necessarily 'healthy', I reminded him. He still scoffed.

    It seems that the 'new normal' is the 'old fat'.


    Don't be satisfied with where you are at.
    Always strive for better.
    Even if you achieve your goal-weight, you can always get stronger, lift more, run faster, run longer, do more pushups, hike a bigger hill, throw a larger kettle-ball, drag a heavier car.

    Even if you never achieve half of what you dream of, aiming for the stars but only reaching the moon can hardly be called a failure.

  5. Everything you said here made sense and was motivational except one thing: at your age you'll never be (fill in the blank)?? You're kidding right? Don't let your age convince you that you'll never be anything, you kind of do this with your education a little too and you should reconsider.

    Take the Nutrisystem commercials for one, there is a 50 year old grandma on those commercials that was obese and then she just started kicking her ass and now she has the body of a 20 year old stripper. On the Bowflex commercial there is a 40 something year old man who's ripped out like a boxer. Granted these are rare cases but you yourself said striving for the rare only leads to success. There isn't any reason at all, except your own mentality, that would prevent you from becoming an extreme and rare case of human excellence. You're 37, not disabled...and hell even disabled people with enough drive and passion find a way. Have you ever seen pictures of dad when we first moved to southern Utah? He was pretty freakin' big and now look at him ... he has chicken legs. I don't know how old he was when we moved but I'm sure he was either your age or older. Granted he's not a specimen of body-builder Greek statue but he's also got major health issues and isn't into lifting weights. You could definitely be as ripped out as you want with enough drive and hard work, age has very little to do with it in my opinion.

    p.s. take solace in knowing that when you do put on a little extra weight, you just look more muscular. You carry weight very well and yes, I do think that's because of the Navy. I'm not sure about soccer as a kid, I had some pretty strong legs from horseback riding my entire teenage life but I haven't ridden in so long that those muscles are non-existent now. I used to press over 350 lbs with my legs when I was going to the gym every day back in college. When I worked the night shift at Wal-Mart I started a work-out group with a half-dozen of the men I worked with and I could out press all of them in leg strength ... now I can barely climb a flight of stairs.

    My big goal, since "Temptation" has never ever been horseback riding before, is to get back down to where I can take him riding. I will be really upset if his first time on a horse has to be without me because I'm too fat to go with him. The max weight for horses is 250 lbs but I think even that is a little too heavy and would like to be under or just barely over 200 at the very heaviest before I try to ride a horse. Once I've hit that goal the next one will be to get in good enough shape that I can take him to hike the Subway. When the weather warms up I want to start training to swim all the way across Lake Mead (they do that at a triathalon here every year and I wanna do it!). But my long-term of all long-term goals is to fit back into dad's angel flight pants that he had before I was born. I kept them, they're still hanging in my closet, and I can't wait to rock them even better than I did in college. I'd like to be able to wear a bikini to the local pool without feeling self conscious too. Even when I was thin enough for a bikini I didn't feel 100% comfortable in it and I'd like to know what it feels like to climb in the pool without being nervous about how I look.

  6. All good points. I'm not saying that I can't achieve a pretty ripped state if I put enough willpower and dedication to it -- certainly most people *can* do that at most any age!

    I'm only saying that at my age I don't stand a chance of being the next Mr. Universe (something both of those guys achieved).

    It's not self-deprivation or an unwillingness to admit that I can always achieve more -- it's just a simple matter of fundamental anatomy and basic chemistry. Beyond the age of 30, *without supplementation*, the primary hormonal-response of men begins decreasing. At around that same age, without engaging in a counteracting-mechanism, men begin losing about 1% of muscle-mass every year. Even if I supplemented and engaged in a sufficient-level of weight-training and protein-consumption, younger Mr. Universe-contenders are engaging in the same activities -- so the drags from being older will keep me from developing at the same rate and to the same degree as those younger guys. It's just a matter of reality.

    Even Draper, today, stands *zero* chance of being Mr. Universe again.

    But that doesn't keep me from dreaming and pushing to improve. Like I always say, if I can be *half* as fit as Draper is at 70 by the time I reach 70, I'll consider that a very big success.

  7. I hear ya. I'm still convinced that I'm a svelt almost size 6.


    Ah, well.

    If you keep taking those pictures and getting that insight, I think you'll be able to keep your motivation. Your determination is awesome.