Motivation for being healthy

2018
Us in the hot tub after doing the 2018 Polar Plunge. The water in the pool was 37 degrees.

I don’t know what motivates you, but I know what motivates me. I love my family, and I love my friends, and doing anything that hurts them goes against everything that is important to me. When I realized that my being overweight and unhealthy was affecting more than just me, it made me really take a look at my priorities. It had never occurred to me that being overweight and unhealthy was being selfish.

It’s not that my being overweight was affecting anyone directly. Well, unless you consider friends having to wait for me when we vacationed together and I needed to catch my breath anytime we climbed stairs or a big hill. Or unless you consider friends and family needing to make sure they picked places for us to go that could accommodate someone of my size and lack of fitness. Or of course, unless you consider the fact that I wasn’t going to live much longer being as unhealthy as I was, and I was going to impact them negatively through an early departure.

There’s a cute movie called, “Blast from the Past” with Brendan Frasier and Alicia Silverstone (with an amazing supporting cast that includes Christopher Walken, Sissy Spacek, and even Nathan Fillion). In one of the scenes, Troy (played by Dave Foley) is explaining to Eve (played by Alicia Silverstone) that Adam (Brendan Frasier’s character) defined what a gentleman is.

Troy: You know, I asked him about that. He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn’t know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior. Oh and you know what else he told me?
Eve: What?
Troy: He thinks I’m a gentleman and you’re a lady.
Eve: [disgusted] Well, consider the source! I don’t even know what a lady is.
Troy: I know, I mean I thought a “gentleman” was somebody that owned horses. But it turns out, his short and simple definition of a lady or a gentleman is, someone who always tries to make sure the people around him or her are as comfortable as possible.
Eve: Where do you think he got all that information?
Troy: From the oddest place – his parents. I mean, I don’t think I got that memo from mine.

This sticks in my mind, because I was taught by my parents to be a gentleman. It was a “Thing,” so to speak, and it was a goal to which I was expected to aspire. To that end, I was to always be kind, courteous, and to consider other people’s comfort above my own. It was my duty, as a gentleman, to make sure people around me are as comfortable as possible. It was being considerate.

When my health and weight impacted others in negative ways, it was incumbent on me to change that. It was unfair of me to expect others to continue to cater to special needs that were created through my lack of caring about myself. While I was being defiantly content with being overweight, I was negatively impacting my family and friends.

Ultimately, it was the love for my family and my friends that caused me to seek out information about getting healthy and losing weight. It was my desire to be around as long as possible for them that I undertook what has become the most important journey of my life: staying healthy. That decision led me to places I never expected (enjoying running and joining the National Guard) and has made my life richer.

It wasn’t easy, and the changes didn’t happen overnight. But looking back now, it does seem easy. It feels like the changes occurred overnight. It’s the weirdest thing. Going through the process felt like it was taking forever, yet now, being in maintenance mode, it feels like I am where I am supposed to be, and that the 20 years I was overweight were more difficult than my life is today.

Find your motivation to get healthy, or to stay healthy, and draw upon it when you need it. In those moments when you are tempted or are having problems with motivation, think about your motivators. For me, it’s thinking about those I love and how my health affects them. Whatever it is, use it and cling to it. Sometimes, it’s the difference between success and failure.

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