Today, moreso than any other day in the last 6 months, was difficult to muster the energy to to go the gym. Actually, lately, it has been relatively difficult to get the motivation to head off and be active. I have been feeling tired and stressed lately, which is a great combo to create an apathetic environment to stop progress.

Stress comes in a variety of ways. We have work stress, relational stress, self-image stress, financial stress, future-thinking stress, all of which has been on my mind lately – it can become overwhelming to deal with, and in the past I have done a good job turning that stress into energy for the gym, but, like I said, it has been harder the last couple of weeks. With that said, I haven’t given up. Within the last two weeks, there are maybe 2 or 3 days where I didn’t do anything overly active, but I still counted those calories, drank lots of water, and did the other things I was supposed to do.

So, what got me to the gym on a day like today. If you are reading this, finding the motivation to be lacking, the excuses to be plentiful, and the your mind in such a non-helpful place, you must FIND INSPIRATION. This sounds like one of those general, easy-to-open-packages of useless information you get like “time heals all wounds” or “everything happens for a reason”. I mean this to my very core, and it is the only way, with the added stress as of late, that I have made it to the gym, out for a walk, to roller skate night, or out for a run. I’m also not just going to leave it there, I want to outline what works for me, what is needed, and how I am getting through this “motivation plateau”.

Other People’s Journey : At this point in my weight loss journey, I am constantly looking at before and after photos. At the midpoint, it empowers me to see that other people who were my size, bigger than me, and who had the same struggle got through it. So many people say “if I can do it, anyone can”, and as pre-packaged as that sounds, I genuinely believe each and every one of them. When I think back to the mindset I used to be in when I was heavier, it felt normalized. I was looking through some old photos today, and realized, although I knew I was bigger, I was complacent – the worst place to be. There are several online communities that I frequent daily. They are systems of support, but also, so many people are posting their own journey that inspires me.

Reddit/loseit : – There are so many stories here. People asking questions, people providing answers about what worked for them, what they did when it got hard, and where they found inspiration.

Fitocracy – A great social network of other, like-minded, individuals who give you “props” for working out, getting points, and leveling up through a fitness RPG. I enjoy the competition and like getting ahead, but the groups like “weight loss” provide a great, constant source of inspiration

Youtube – So many people on YouTube have videos of their journey, most of them are inspiring. I have posted a few on here, seeing those moments when they got through it, helps me push past my own excuses and BS to the place I know I need to become the person I’ve set out to be.

Guilt – As much as it seems negative, guilt is a great motivator. I tell myself, during days I don’t want to go to the gym, that if I don’t go today, it will be harder to go tomorrow, and then I won’t go, and the day after I won’t go, and the eventually i’ll be back to where I was a year and a half ago. It has been such a long journey, but at the same time, feels like it happened overnight, that I am one of those people who have lost a significant amount of weight.

In the same way if I eat something terrible, if I don’t do something active, I feel bad about it. I think, in part, guilt is what got me, to some degree, where I am today. About a month before my 1 year anniversary, I hadn’t lost nearly as much weight as I wanted, and I felt bad about it, so I decided it was time to actually start caring, and that guilt turned into motivation and progress.

Shame – Closely related to guilt, but this is the shame I would feel if I fell back into my old body and lifestyle. Unsolicited compliments are great for the self-esteem, and in the same exact breath, it is on my mind that if I were to gain a significant amount of weight back, that people would think, “oh, he didn’t keep the weight off”, and I am not done losing, and I know things might teter a bit, but once I hit my next milestone, that is my “never look back” milestone, and I never want to go back. This “could be shame”, keeps me motivated to care about the future me, even in the today me is feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

TV / Movies – This could be a sub under other people’s journey, and in my big post I spoke about Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover, but I cannot express enough how much these two different, yet profound, visual examples of weight loss helped me. I would eat dinner while watching (to force me to eat healthy), and biggest loser is great for week-to-week progress (more like what you are going through), and extreme makeover allows you to see a 1 year transformation, an amazing transformation, of a person who had way bigger struggles than me. Before I started running more, it was very difficult to get around the track, and I would think about the episodes of the shows where people kept going, people way bigger than me, those older than me, those with health problems, and it helped me run just a big more.

The other night I watched “Weight of the Nation” (I will prob. post a separate blog about this), and it was very inspiring. It looked at the complex issue of obesity – from legislation to childhood obesity, farming to fast food, and everything in between all of those. It was a very eye opening film, and it really gets people on board about how big of a problem obesity is in the nation. I am just glad I am only “overweight” right now, because it would have been tough to watch a year ago, feeling like I would have so much work ahead of me, BUT, at the same time, be a great source of motivation.

Music – Music has gotten me through the toughest times in my life, and motivating me to work out is no exception. I try to find lyrics that are motivating (i’ll try to make a post in the future with some of my top workout songs). Lately, Safetysuit – These Times, has been close to my ears. Finding the perfect lyrics, the perfect beats give me more than just a little drive to go further. Today, I actually forgot my headphones, and I had to listen to music very low, and it was difficult, but I just kept telling myself I had to finish the workout.

Small, Achievable Goals – This one is all over the place, but it is because it makes sense. For example, today, I forgot my headphones, and I didn’t know if I could get through my workout, but I told myself I had to do the 10k on the elliptical, and right around 3 miles, I wanted to give up and walk away. I was telling myself, “hey, I came to the gym, 3 will be good enough for today, and i’ll work harder tomorrow”. Guess what folks, FUCK TOMORROW. What we have is here, now, today – you will never make progress if you decide to start your diet next Friday or start running tomorrow, you have to make each day the best you can. I know for a fact, I can do more than 10k, but having pushed myself beyond what I felt I could do today was good enough.

This is the same with food, calorie counting allows for small goals as well as taking steps like cutting out certain foods. I no longer eat desserts, I only drink water, I eat whole grains – my diet is the brunt of what I have lost. Next, I am tackling vegetables – something I have hated my entire life, but I know once I hit my goal weight, I will need to be eating less calories to maintain the loss – feeling full – through vegetables. It will suck, and it’s a HUGE goal and HUGE step, but i’m going to start small. Put 1 veggie on a sandwich, see if I like it, try one here, one there, then work my way up. It is going to suck, but in a year, maybe i’ll replace 20% of my diet with vegetables … seems pretty inconceivable that it will happen, but ask me a year ago if I would be 65 lbs.

Yourself – Related to that last point. If you haven’t started, you have to care about yourself enough to get out of your own way. In “Weight of the Nation” the stats about diabetes and heart disease are STAGGERING. It is scary that the top 10 leading causes of death — 5 of them have obesity as a contributing factor. You have to care about yourself, above all else, your family, your friends, and do it because you want to live longer and happier.

For those who have already lost some weight – think of how good it has felt, not on a stressed day, or a cheat day, but how it feels when you lose an inch, a pant size, or a scale victory. You deserve to be happy and just remember these victories, write them down, blog them, carry them with you daily, and open them when the stress overwhelms you.

Loved Ones / Others – Even though you HAVE to be #1 on your weight loss cheer team, think about what extending your life will do for your experience in life. You will get to spend more time with those you love. Family, friends. etc. If you have been hiding away from gaining loved ones, it may be the confidence you need to push forth. Personally, I haven’t focused on this, so it is more of an external piece. Like I said before, having people notice, and people you care about realize the work you have done – there is nothing quite like it.

So, those are just some of the things that keep me going, and believe me, sometimes, like today, it is so very difficult to find just one sliver of a reason to get off my butt and do something. It is much easier to sit around, but on those days when the world feels heavy, you feel alone, things seem daunting – the workout will not be easy, it will not be enjoyable, but it will BE WORTH IT. You owe it to the tomorrow you to care enough for, and take care of, the today you. You may need to search very hard for that inspiration each and every day, but it is out there, in some form. Today, I was looking at old photos of myself, after taking a new one, and realized how far I actually have come – and then I got my shorts on, and went to the gym.

Keep on keeping on 🙂