I've been asked what finally motivated me to lose weight. For me, it was that I was sick of being achy and tired and I hated the feeling of being the fat person in the room. Maybe people weren't judging me by my size, but I certainly judged myself and I felt like others were too. And it's true that people do treat me differently now, but I don't know if it is because I am more confident or because I have lost weight or both. I was also very worried about my husband, who was really overweight as well, as I've mentioned before - we did this together.
But how to motivate someone ELSE to lose weight is a question I get asked quite a lot, and it is something I'm starting to notice in the literature I read about the obesity epidemic in this country (see, for example, this article). People want to know how to motivate their loved ones and some businesses want to know how to motivate employees and consumers as a cost saving measure. Obese employees, it turns out, are expensive. Some businesses, like the airline industry and transit industry (and, I have noticed lately, amusement parks) have to take expensive measures to accommodate the increasingly growing population of obese people that use their services. So how to motivate people to lose weight is a question on the minds of quite a few people.
The sad answer is that it is very difficult to motivate someone else to lose weight. Each person is different and thus will be motivated by different things. To lose weight and keep it off, the motivation needs to come from within. Now, it may be that the inconvenience of it all will be enough to trigger that internal motivation, but it has to be an internal decision. Every single fat person knows exactly how to lose weight, I did. That was not the problem. The problem was that I did not truly want to change my lifestyle in the drastic way I had to change it to lose weight. Honestly, it is a huge undertaking, it is not easy, and it takes way more than willpower to do it (willpower is a finite resource). I needed to want to do it and to really commit to it. The motivation to start came from within. That first, big step was one I had to take myself, I had to decide to do what it took to be healthy for me. I will say that conversations with my husband about how we were too young to be so unhealthy and the scary implications of our weight problem were a big part of what motivated me to start. Like I mentioned earlier, everyone is different, it depends on the individual and what is important to that person. That said, once I made the decision, the support and encouragement from my husband, my family, my friends, and even my co-workers helped immensely to keep my motivation going. So, once someone in your life begins to lose weight, sincere, encouraging complements are a fantastic help. Let them know how good they look and how well they are doing. I know it helped me.
The motivation to keep it off is another matter. I have said it before and I will say it again here - I am terrified about putting the weight back on. My motivation has changed a bit as I have become more comfortable with the way that I look and as I get closer to my goal. I love how I feel. I continue to eat a healthy, low-calorie diet and exercise not only because I look better and I am continuing to lose weight, but because I feel so much better. I am more confident, I have way more energy, and I quite enjoy my new, more active lifestyle, love my new wardrobe, and I will often kick myself for not doing this sooner. I love that I can go kayaking, love my long walks with my husband, our bike rides, my Zumba class, swimming...I no longer do these things because I have to, to lose weight. I do these things because I love to do them - my motivation has changed, and I think that this will help me to continue to lose to my goal and maintain it when I reach it.