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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

But you said “motivation is garbage” …

I was on my way home from the gym this morning, sipping my well-earned coffee, and my brain started to kick into high gear. I was thinking less about all the things I had to get done, but more on if I was happy with where I am. You see, this morning I stepped on the scale as I usually do on a Sunday morning, and I didn’t like it… again. (This has been a trend for about 4 months) I ate breakfast and lately the volume has been more than what I’ve been used to for the last few years. I took a post workout selfie and I feel “thicker than a Snicker” as we like to say. And all these things are a challenge for me as I retrain my brain from thinking that eating less is best when I get disappointed in how I look or weigh. But I am following a process and I have a week and a half of consistency under my belt and no way am I going to see dramatic results in 9 days… right? I’m going to have to work on this for months before I see any marked progress. The point is that I don’t have to be happy with where I am, but I can’t let that disappointment stop me from following the process.

On these days, I have to dig a little deeper to maintain my discipline. I’m still getting used to a new way of fueling my body so it’s not a total routine yet. And by now the excitement of the “newness” has worn off. And each day is to be filled with intention and determination. And that sounds really dramatic, but it isn’t. It’s just making the healthiest choices I can. But come to think about it, we really do make the whole thing so much more intense than it has to be. It’s really just about not letting a little fun-sized candy bar from your kid’s Halloween stash not be the boss of you. Truly. It’s not that deep.

This is the real deal about making health a priority. You’re not always going to like the process. The ups and downs of the scale. The thickness of your mid-section (or my pooch). The days you don’t feel very strong. The times when you just want a cookie but realizing that if you eat it you have to track it. But you still do it. And what’s the motivation for doing it? What is it that drives you to make those choices every day? What is it that’s so important?

Okay, so if you’ve been here for a while, you have heard me say a few times that motivation is garbage and it’s all about discipline. So, let me explain. Motivation is what gets you started. It’s what pushes you to make a choice and get moving toward the choice you’ve made. Discipline is what carries you forward on the days that you forget how much that thing that motivated you means to you. And sometimes, when the discipline slips, or you find yourself heading down a wrong track (like I have been for the last few months) the motivation is what gets you to start again. Start again on the right path with a determination to learn from your failure and soldier on.

Yesterday, that motivation showed up in the form of grief. My sweet mom passed away 8 years ago yesterday after a year’s long battle with cancer. She was taken way too soon. And I remember, while watching her fight a losing battle I made the decision to do whatever it took to get myself in a better place in my health. I didn’t want to suffer like that. And if I was going to have to battle cancer like so many of the women in my family have, I was going to set myself up with the best chances of survival. I was going to do whatever I could to prevent it’s impacts for as long as I could. And making some dramatic changes in how I lived could potentially give me more time. AND THAT is the motivation. I wanted more time with her, and I knew that I couldn’t have it. And so, I had to make sure that I had more time with the rest of the people that were important to me.

And that meant losing weight, getting stronger, and moving my body more. What I didn’t realize at the time was all the other things that had to be rewired in the process. I learned along the way that it would take more than a diet. It would take more than buying a few dumbbells or putting on some walking shoes. It would take retraining my brain to make more healthy choices than unhealthy ones. It would take a lot of inside work. But putting in the work every single day could mean I could have more time with my family. And that I could be able to do with my son, what my mom couldn’t do with me. It could mean that I would see his kids grow up and graduate high school.

The real motivation is about having more time. More years with a quality of life worth living for. More vacations to enjoy with walks on the beach or tubing down a snowy hill. More dinners out with friends. More time spent in the kitchen making holiday meals for my entire family. More early morning walks through the neighborhood to enjoy a sunrise.

So, motivation is still a good thing, but it’s not the only thing. But it’s still what got me started. And I’m thankful for that. The last eight years I have learned so much. I’ve learned a lot of what to do… and a lot of what not to do. I’ve learned that it’s not selfish to make my health a priority. it’s vital. I’ve learned that I like to pick up heavy things and build strength. I’ve also learned that sometimes I like to put those heavy things down and go run long distances. And most of all, I love that when I do all the meal planning and gym time that I have a son who is watching me and learning. And he’s not only watching me be healthy… he’s watching me be a boss. And when I feel myself slipping, I can reach back and remember that the most important human in the world to me is watching. And I think she’s proud.

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