Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Motivating Mojo

Wouldn’t it be great if we could summon up weight loss motivation just by chanting a spell, holding up a charm, or some other magical mojo? Perhaps the very idea sounds foolish, but think about magic in the context of my mother’s life. She would have turned 92 on Sunday. In the course of her life, she used a crank-up telephone with a party line, a telegraph, a telex machine, a fax machine, and a computer to communicate with others around the world. When she was a lieutenant in the Coast Guard during World War ll, tapping out Morse code magically connected her to boats at sea, and a personal computer was just a twinkle in some geek genius’s eye. I wrote an entire book, 572 densely-packed pages, about how to succeed with the adjustable gastric band. I wrote about rules, skills, suggestions, solutions, all kinds of practical tools for success. Although I tried to embue that book with my own personal spirit and belief in the possibility of change and success, I can’t write down the mojo you’ll also need. I can’t put it in a bottle and sell it to you for $19.95 or $1995.00. That’s one thing you must find inside yourself. How? How can you do that when you don’t even know what mojo looks like? I hope today’s post will give you some hints about where to look and what to do when you find your mojo. First let's hear from my dear friend Lisa, who's been working on this very topic herself. I’m 2 years post-op from my Lap-Band surgery and after a pretty rapid weight loss of 120 lbs in the first year my weight loss came to a screeching halt for most of the second year. To be fair, I’ve never been much for exercise and I did let sugar (which I have a really hard time controlling once I start) back into my life, but for most of my second year I only lost what I gained, over and over again. I don’t have much to complain about. I’m wearing a regular size 16/XL, I no longer have sleep apnea, my constant knee and foot pain is completely gone and I can walk 3 miles easily while carrying on a conversation, just to name a few miracles! My only problem is that I want to weigh less than 200 lbs. I currently weigh 216 and even though I don’t NEED to weigh under 200 and I’m not even aiming for what the BMI chart says I should weigh (174), I WANT to weigh under 200 lbs.! I’m sure you understand this unfounded desire to reach that milestone. I WANT TO LIVE IN ONDERLAND! Just because! I spent a year trying to go back to the routine that helped me lose 100+ lbs. But like most things in life, it’s hard to go back once you’ve gained perspective through the lessons you’ve learned. We can’t re-capture our youth, we don’t get to un-do mistakes, and we can’t regain our virginity once we’ve lost it! I couldn’t go back to eating 800 calories a day, nor should I at my current weight! So I started to search, per my therapist’s suggestion, for my next passion. The excitement and novelty of having my weight loss tool had worn off. People are used to my new size and the scale isn’t moving. I have become (“Gasp!”) normal! I accomplished great things, amazing feats of behavioral change but hey! I’m not done! I want to weigh under 200 pounds! So the passion search began. I tried exercise, yawn. I tried Yoga, ouch! I even tried scrapbooking and all that got me was a half finished wedding album and a big dent in my checkbook! I realized that in order to find my passion I need to discover what motivates me first. The desired result is the same (losing weight), but the old methods aren’t working anymore so call it passion or whatever you want but what I need to find is the MOTIVATION to do what I now know needs to be done…Eat less, move more. It really is that simple! This whole self-exploration started me thinking about exactly what does motivate me. Oddly enough, I’ve never been motivated by money; I like it, but if I don’t want to do something money rarely works to get me moving. Some people set goals and find the determination inside themselves to strive for and achieve whatever goal they set. I’ve made a life-time of resolutions that get easily pushed aside and forgotten come January 2nd no matter how “realistic” they are. Some people like team sports and a rah-rah, cheering squad. Me, I’m a musician. We don’t cheer or jump up and down and we certainly don’t high five! But…we do like applause…hmmm, maybe I’m on to something here! I come from a musical family and ever since I can remember we were put in front of people and encouraged to perform. And what is the measure of success when you perform? Yes! It’s praise! I am very motivated by praise. I got a lot of “constructive criticism” as a kid, but very little out-right praise which made it even more desirable. My well-meaning parents always felt it was their responsibility to deliver a lesson with every effort or attempt I made to gain their approval when I performed. But no matter how hard it was to get genuine praise, when I did receive a compliment, from anyone, that was the measure above all, the goal, the big prize, the golden ring! So, it should come as no big surprise that when I was 19 I started working for a company that was founded on the idea of service and family. They gave a lot of recognition to their employees for a job well done and I flourished in that environment. I've been greatly rewarded over the almost 30 years I've worked for this company and it wasn't always monetary. For me, getting a verbal thank you, a note, an award or a pat on the back was my greatest motivator and I excelled! I like my efforts to be recognized and I like to please people by exceeding their expectations! So, when I decided to join Weight Watchers this past January as a last ditch effort to lose the weight I had gained over the holidays, I found a connection there because I like gold stars and applause when I lose a couple of pounds! I like to weigh in and get a “good job” from the lady behind the counter! Sounds corny, I know, but it works for me! What motivates you? Answer that question and it might open some doors, uncover some missing truths about who you are, help you learn how to reward yourself with something other than food and may even help you find your next passion! As for me? I’m losing weight again so let’s hear it! “Good job, Lisa”! WHAT’S YOUR MOJO STYLE? Drill sergeant? Sweet Granny? Spiritual Guru? Calm Teacher? The Little Engine? My style? Drill sergeants make me want to bite their pointing fingers. I'll snatch up a sweet granny and take her home with me for tea and cookies, but probably won't stretch myself for her. My ideal motivator is a combination of guru, teacher, and The Little Engine That Could. I'm the little engine, chugging along, saying, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can." What works best for you? "I can't find my mojo," you say? I can certainly understand that. When I began my WLS journey, I felt like I'd used up all my mojo on the 1000+ diets I'd done previously in my life. I wouldn't have recognized my mojo if it tapped me on the shoulder and introduced itself. You might need to take a look at other aspects of your life to identify what motivators work for you. What qualities do you prefer in a supervisor at work? What makes you get up and go to work (or school) day after day? In what environment do you do your best work? Do you need discipline or freedom? Peace and quiet; or commotion and excitement? Do you just want a brief punch list, or do you want your tasks explained in detail? Do you want someone who will answer all your questions, or do you prefer to figure out the answers yourself? What's more important to you, your salary or the knowledge that you've done a good job? When you excel at something, do you want shouts and applause, or a quiet pat on the back? At times in my life, I've been fortunate to have the support and guidance of good teachers, therapists, ministers, friends, and accountability partners. It's a huge comfort to know that I'm not in this alone. On the other hand, I need to be able to stand on my own. At the end of the day when my husband and all the dogs are snoring and I'm lying awake thinking about my day and planning for the next day, I'm alone and must rely on my own inner resources. So I chant myself to sleep with the Little Engine Spell, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can." EVERYDAY MAGIC – HOW ABOUT A LUCKY CHARM? You don’t have to be a hoodoo prince or princess to conjure up some magic mojo. All you need is a square of red cloth, a few small symbolic objects, and a string or ribbon to tie it all up in a little pouch. Oh, no, I heard someone mutter, “Tut tut tut”! The magic of charms may be nothing but a myth, but myths endure because they speak to basic human stories of taking a journey to find something or someone important, overcoming obstacles, fighting demons, rescuing the helpless, and triumphing despite the long, difficult struggle and effort. And an object that represents something important to you can be very powerful indeed, whether it’s a cross or a dove, a shell from your favorite beach or a stone from your mother’s garden, your first dog’s collar or a lock of hair from your son’s first haircut. Perhaps all you need is a simple, private ceremony in which you write your goal on a piece of paper, fold it up, and put it away in your red cloth pouch or some other safe place. Don’t forget where you put it, because it’s very important. This charm is your promise to yourself, and your request to God or the universe to help you achieve your goal. Right now your goal might be expressed in the number of pounds you want to lose. In one year, your goal might be to finish the Boston Marathon. In two years, it might be a new baby, a new job, a college degree, or anything else that will fulfill your dreams.

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