A revelation about the ‘why’ that drove weight-loss goal

Five years ago, I was chatting with a co-worker, shortly after “coming out” about my new weight loss regimen. She asked a few questions about how things were going and I proudly shared the number of pounds already gone. She expressed enthusiasm for my progress then followed up with an obvious, but personal, question. “How much weight do you want to lose?” I paused to consider my audience then took a deep breath and gave my honest answer …

In the past I have covered a number of approaches to starting, continuing, and reaching a weight loss or wellness resolution. I have plenty more to say on the how-to of weight loss but let’s set that all aside for the moment. Right now let’s talk about the bigger picture, let’s talk about the “why.” You are smart and I am sure you are aware, simply knowing the steps to achieve a goal is rarely motivation to pursue it for any length of time. When it comes to my own experience it was the “why” not “how” that kept me resolved for the 3 1/2 years it took to lose nearly 150 pounds.

So here we are, thigh-high in resolution season. Do you have a list of things to accomplish this year? Have you taken any steps toward checking them off that list? Readers of Our Lady of Second Helpings are savvy and already know the ultimate way to lose weight and become healthier isn’t a magic smoothie or supplement. We know that the best way to begin a brand new chapter of improved living is to eat less, move more, forgive often, and take change one step at a time. There are plenty of the “how” right here on the blog, but it is up to you to make it personal and claim the “why” that is going to turn the “how” into habit.

Your “why” doesn’t need to be huge. It doesn’t need to impact anyone else. It doesn’t need to remain constant throughout your journey to accomplish your goal.

It does need to be deeply personal, so personal that you may not want to share your real and true why with anyone else in the beginning — or ever for that matter. It needs to be something you can visualize. Paint a picture of what achieving your goal will look, feel, sound, smell, or move like and how it will impact your entire environment. It can be something that might be classified as selfish by cultural standards. Most importantly your why needs to come from you.

So what was it? What was the “why” imprinted on my heart propelling me through the difficult moments in my early weight loss journey?

(I just took another deep breath.)

I wanted to lose enough weight that I could walk into a room, full of women my approximate age, and be judged harshly before uttering a word. I wanted to appear haughty and inspire cattiness.

(Now I’m covering my eyes with one hand and peeking out timidly between two fingers.)

Of course this is a ridiculous scenario, and in my fantasy the group’s impression changed as soon as we began to interact. But this was the tidiest nutshell into which I could package years of complex feelings of being viewed first as a fat person who couldn’t be part of the “it” crowd. I longed to feel accepted and comfortable among my peers. Honestly I longed to feel comfortable in my own skin — and stop judging myself.

This is not my proudest admission, but it did open the door for positive growth. At the onset of my journey I was motivated by weight loss but could not declare a number of pounds to lose. It wasn’t until I found an honest way to express my feelings and acknowledge my true “why” that I stopped struggling and started making progress. Throughout my journey I revisited and reshaped my “why” to hone in on the things that motivate me the most. The funny thing is, I don’t know if I achieved that initial vision of what it would be like to weigh much less. I do know that I am much more at ease with my self, and, though I am embarrassed, I can laugh about how I got started.

So, now that you’ve got your resolution list written it’s time to be honest, what is your why?

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