Week Five – What’s Your Motivation?

This is part 5 in the series 52 Weeks of Health

Why are you reading this? Why do you want to make the changes we have been and will be talking about? What is your motivation to get healthy? The “change” for week 5 of 52 Weeks of Health is not a physical step, but an intellectual, emotional, perhaps even spiritual inventory that you must make in order to be truly successful in making permanent changes in your health. By rights, this step should have been the first step – I don’t know what I was thinking in neglecting it. Now, I don’t know how to make this short, so please bear with me and read the whole post. It is critical to your success in getting healthy.

A while ago, when the changes I had made in eating and moving were starting to become obvious because of my posture, smaller size, and the glow that my complexion had taken on, someone asked me how I was doing it. I told them that first of all I had changed my motivation. They quickly responded, “Oh yes, you must decide to do it for yourself!” I had to quickly, but gently, disagree. You see, when you do it for yourself it is all too easy to decide on a moment by moment basis what is in your best interest at that time. Yes, I want to be healthy but right now this ___________ will make me feel better, or calm me, or energize me. Doing it for yourself means that on any given day you may decide that enjoying that unhealthy food now is better than living longer. Doing it for yourself leaves you open, when you find yourself failing in your plan, to deciding that there’s no point in trying because you are a loser and will always be a loser.

You also can’t do it for an event coming up in your life – a wedding, graduation, reunion, etc. – for then it is not about health really; it’s about your image. What happens when the event has come and gone? Do you go back to your unhealthy ways? Probably. What happens if you don’t meet the goal you had set for yourself? Watch your self-worth crumble even more? Ultimately it cannot be about getting thin– it must be about getting healthy!

How do you find the right motivations? You need to realize your purpose in life. Are you a parent and maybe a grandparent? That’s part of your purpose. Are you a sister or brother, a teacher, or caregiver. Does somebody love you, depend on you? They are part of your motivation. Do you feel like there is something more you are supposed to accomplish in life but you can’t at your current level of health? There is some motivation. You must find someone or something that is more important than whatever unhealthy food (and the sugar surge it will give you) is calling to you at the moment. You must find someone or something that makes it worth the extra energy it takes to make a meal from whole foods rather than opening a box or a jar.

There have been two defining moments in my transition from unhealthy to healthy. The first came when listening to Steve Arterburn talk about this Bible passage in the book of Hebrews: “….that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal…(Hebrews 12:16) This is a reference to Esau who, in the book of Genesis, came home hungry one evening and for some stew traded his inheritance rights as the oldest son to his brother. I sat stunned and tearful as I realized that so many times I had traded all the wonderful things God had for my life for a second helping, or a brownie, or a bottle of Mt. Dew. I was unable to really play with my grandchildren, or hike with my husband, or be truly effective on several mission trips I had been on all because I had sold those out for the temporary pleasure of some food.

The second defining moment came when my husband, a type 2 diabetic, came home from a checkup with the news that because of higher blood sugar numbers and worsening lipid numbers his doctor wanted to increase his diabetes meds and put him on Lipitor. Now I might be willing to let my own health deteriorate, but I was not willing to watch my husband’s health fall apart. Life changed and we will never go back. (And BTW – those extra medications are now unnecessary for him.)

So your assignment this week is to do some real soul-searching, dig deep inside, and come up with motivations for a healthy life that cannot ever take second place to temporary pleasure or laziness. Perhaps you need to do some research to find what kind of damage you are really doing to yourself. Perhaps you need to look around you and see the friends and family who love you and want to spend time with you. Perhaps you need to ask God to show you how you could serve Him better if you were healthier. So, while you eat your greens and breakfast, drink your water and green tea, and get plenty of sleep, spend time thinking about your motivation; your success depends on it.

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  1. Great read! Understanding your purpose, often times can help apply the motivation you need for success.

  2. I’m only on my first week of changing my lifestyle and I won’t say it’s been easy. Actually it’s been pretty emotional, a lot of things are being revealed to me and it’s hard to take it all in. But I thank God that he gives me strength each day to push through. Great post.

    • Very rarely is something worthwhile easy and shedding ourselves of changes for our own personal glory is by far one of the most difficult. Keep up the struggle. Remember, He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.

  3. Sally Kesseli

    This Health Wish entry really made me think seriously about deep motivation. I will return to read this #5 again. Thank you.

    • Examining our motivations, especially those deep below the surface, takes time and effort, but it is so worth it! Have a great week of introspection, Sally.

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