Thursday, August 18, 2011

Finding and Fostering Motivation

Stream-of-consciousness post ahoy.  Ye be warned.

Obviously I’ve got motivational issues of my own, especially when it comes to weight loss.  But what am I supposed to do when that very dilemma is one I’m facing at work, too?  For over 20 years I’ve struggled with my weight, and it has negatively impacted so many aspects of my life.  So now that I work for a weight loss clinic – the very clinic through which I got help losing weight – struggling to find motivation not only affects me personally but professionally.

I’m really trying lately to engage the clients, get them reaching out for support, sharing ideas, and actively participating in taking ownership of their habits.  But I feel like a failure sometimes when I can’t do the same for myself.  Through years of various weight loss regimens and degrees of study, I KNOW the right things to do in order to lose weight and change habits, but it’s odd how that knowledge breaks down when I try to apply it to myself.  I’ve been in a post-dump funk for a few months and have kinda let my eating habits slide – I’ve sought out the company of others to cheer me up, and inevitably we’ll gather over food and drinks.  Thanks to my “coping” skills, I’ve gained 5 pounds in about a month, all the while having patients at the clinic ask me each day, “so how are YOU doing with your weight?” Everyone there knows I still have 20-30lbs I want to lose, and I’m totally fine being open about it, but it makes me feel guilty knowing I’m such a hypocrite – pushing a weight loss regimen I’m not even strong enough to follow myself lately.

I keep dishing out hints and tips, all the while thinking in the back of my mind, “I did that a few times when I was super-motivated at first…”  But after awhile I’m wondering if I’m subconsciously unwilling to accept these weight management tips as lifelong rules I’ll have to follow.  It’s this pitfall that has gotten me into trouble so many times before.  I can’t expect to lose weight and suddenly be able to eat whatever I want without repercussions, or else the cycle will start itself all over again.

Along with trying to encourage dialogue and active participation among the patients, I’m trying to use social media and community-building tools in and around the office.  There are only so many things you can post on Facebook (like “what’s your favorite exercise routine?” or “got any new low-carb recipes to share?”) before wondering “is anyone really paying attention, or am I just being annoying and turning them off?”

It’s a hard thing to get people talking about something they 1) aren’t used to talking about, and 2) might not even ben comfortable talking about in the first place.  My friend (hi, M!) confessed to Lizzie and me a few months back that she’s been more open with talking about her own health and weight since we were so obnoxious vocal about ours.  Of course at first I felt good to hear that, but then I got kinda sad realizing that weight management isn’t as huge an elephant in the room for everyone as it is for me.  Sad not for them, but for me – it’s literally ALWAYS been at the front of my mind.  And now that I seem to be teetering on the edge of success and relapse, I have to worry about motivating others, too. 

Having said all that (just to get it off my chest, really), I AM feeling more encouraged lately, like I really turned a corner this past week depression-wise, and I’m excited about a couple of new ventures I’m taking at the office.  While it’s sad sometimes to realize weight management will always be a problem for me, I do take pride in the thought that maybe I can help others with their weight, too.  And sometimes I even get to use some of my fancy college-learnin’ around the office, so that makes me feel pretty useful!  I hope this post hasn’t come across as *too* whiny – maybe because weight management is and will always be at the front of my mind, I’ll be better able to control it should it start to get out of hand again.  And since it’s always been a problem for me, I feel it does help me better empathize with the people I encounter every day.

I’ve just gotta keep brainstorming about how to help others keep their heads in the game, keep things interesting, and get people helping others and themselves…easy peasy, right?  Smile with tongue out