Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Motivation 101

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing--that's why we recommend it daily.

- Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker

Motivation is a difficult thing - one day it's there and the next day, well, not so much. It's hard to keep the momentum going when life constantly gets in the way of our plans.

Personally, I need accountability. I need to have something planned or scheduled and preferably, it's with someone else so I can't just bail. Someone is expecting me. I can come up with a million excuses not to do something if it's just me, but paying for a class or having an appointment with a trainer or nutritionist, or even knowing a walking buddy is waiting at the corner - the guilt would eat me alive.

And speaking of guilt, it is a tool to be used when trying to motivate others. I motivated my grandmother to quit smoking years ago simply by asking her why she did it. I dangle my children in front of my parents as the carrot to stay healthy and active for as long as possible. It's not fair, but it does work!

What's your motivation? What makes you get up and get moving? What keeps the cake in the fridge and not in your mouth? Tell us!


"Celebrate we will, because life is short but sweet for certain." Dave Matthews Band

[In honor of the Dave Matthews Band concert tonight at The Tweeter Center, I thought I would throw a quote or two out there to chew on...so to speak.]

"These are the times to remember cause they will not last forever." Billy Joel

People always remember the bad things, the negative things, the unpleasant, embarassing, awkward things. All of the high notes are often overlooked, forgotten or tucked away in dusty photo albums.

Don't be those people. Break out the special china for breakfast. Wear the fancy undies under your sweats. Make every minute count. Celebrate the little successes - a day without sugar, a week of working out, a smaller size. Don't expect there to be fireworks - make your own.

As the song (from the movie, Alice in Wonderland) goes, "A very merry unbirthday to you!"

A Family Affair

Last year, I was working as the Executive Director of a non-profit trying to raise money for obesity and its resulting diseases, particularly childhood obesity. Plenty of people did not donate because they were sure that if a child was fat, his parents were to blame. And THEY shouldn't have to pay to fix someone else's ignorance or laziness. (These are the same people who think that you can choose to be gay or straight, as if it were a political party you were selecting, or a vacation destination.)

It is very hard to talk to people about obesity. It's a private, personal thing often relegated to the taboo list. Recently, studies showed that people whose friends gained weight were more likely to gain weight themselves. I believe the expression,"socially contagious" was used.

We know that childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Ironically,we seem to be a nation that is both obese and malnourished. Of course, everyone seems to know a colleague, a neighbor or a cousin whose kid has a weight problem, but try to look the parents of an overweight child in the eye. There is a tremendous amount of guilt, shame and denial out there. Personally, I don't see how it helps. Like the war in Iraq or the health care system in the US, it doesn't really matter how we got here. It doesn't matter whose fault it is. It only matters what we intend to do about it.

There are some worthwhile initiatives to be mentioned. Efforts to raise awareness of healthy eating habits and better food choices are mainstream now. Even the manufacturers of some of the most notoriously bad cereals and snack foods is promising not to market to America's youth anymore. Which is kind of funny if you think about it - it's like cigarette manufacturers subsidizing anti-smoking campaigns. Is it truly an act for the health of our children, or is it just a fancy sugar-coated (pun intended) pr move? I can't imagine in this capitalist land of opportunity, a company foregoing profits for pounds.

Today, I am the director of a wellness center. We have programs that help both individuals and families. I don't know a single person who couldn't benefit from working with a Registered Dietitian. What isn't effective is signing up a child alone in the hopes that an RD can change his or her behaviors. Making an RD the bad guy who tells your child how important vegetables are and the negative effects of too much sugar is a joke and a a waste of money. They're neither hypnotists nor magicians. And isolating a single child from his siblings and parents or putting just that child on a special diet is a surefire way to guarantee failure and create bigger problems. Children do not need diets and they do not need a spotlight shone on their problems. What children need is unconditional love, tremendous support and good role models. Role models are the parents who learn the value of the word NO. Role models are the parents who don't stock the house with temptation and presume that a child will have more will power than the person who couldn't resist buying it. Role models are the parents who value physical activity as much as movie night and who lead the charge, rather than holding the door open. Many of us could use a good overhaul of our lifestyles - both in food and in fun.

Let's face it. As much as my kids rule my house, they are not really in charge. They don't pay the bills, they don't cook the meals and they don't do the shopping. So why is it that they should be stuck solving their own problems with food or obesity? We are family!