What If? Strategies for getting motivated

May 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

Even though I often ‘preach’ sugar addiction as being the major issue, I have to admit it’s not the only one.  For me it is the MAIN one.  But I would be lying to myself if I didn’t acknowledge that there are emotional and psychological issues that play a part as well.   While I still believe that sugar itself was most likely what started my attraction to food—once using food for reasons other than hunger became a habit it took on a life of its own.

Even when I am not ‘on’ sugar, I still am tempted at times to eat when I’m stressed.  Bored.  Mad. Upset.  Even happy!  Food to me has always been something that is for comfort and celebration.  If I succumb to eating for some reason other than hunger it can often restart the bad habit.   The same can be said of exercising.  One day off can often lead to a week.  A month.  And longer.  The important habits that I must incorporate into my life always gain momentum going one way or the other.  Either I’m gaining steam and moving forward making progress OR I’m back on the couch sinking quickly into the great abyss.

For the past few weeks I’ve found myself continually wanting to slip back into bad habits.  I worked so hard to get 20 pounds off recently but if I don’t attack these issues in a much more passionate way I will not continue making progress.   As I was laying in the bed and not wanting to go for a walk today, I began to think back on things that have helped me in the past to get beyond these mind games.  Because for me the issue of not wanting to work out or stay strict on my food plan is often about what’s going on in my head.

Back when I was really focused and losing a lot of weight, I learned many cognitive behavioral strategies to help me control my thought patterns.   Today I was reminded again of a very useful technique that I used to use ALL THE TIME.  And one that actually worked amazingly well.   I recalled that I had written about some of those things once but I couldn’t remember where.  I actually spent 10 minutes googling for things on my own blog to try and find that post again!! But I finally did.  When I read it, I was inspired to try it again.  So I did.  As a result of using this technique, I actually was able to get off my butt and work out! Not only that, I cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer.  Hauled a bunch of things to the trash dump.  Cleaned the house and even ran errands.  When all I started out to do this morning was virtually nothing due to my lack of motivation.  By making progress in a number of areas today, I found myself LESS HUNGRY.   And this is always how it works.  When I feel myself making progress in one area it seems to affect other areas as well.  I start to feel more in control.  Accomplished.  With a stronger belief that I actually CAN do things that I don’t always feel like doing.

So I decided to repost this blog from 2012.  If you recall this was back when I used to do a lot of writing in one liners 🙂  I guess I still do that from time to time.  It just depends which personality is writing!! LOL

I hope this strategy helps others.  It definitely has helped me!


What If?


I don’t know about you

But for me–I am often my biggest problem

And by that I mean

The thoughts inside my head

Lack of motivation

Getting derailed

It could be almost anything that does it

My mood

My circumstances

Something I ate that I shouldn’t have

Which leads to cravings

Call it what you want

But for me it’s like a spark

It starts small at first

But  turns into wildfire

And before I know it

I’m off the tracks

In a funk

Wishing I wasn’t

But not knowing how to stop the downward spiral

I’ve developed a few strategies

To help me in these times

And they don’t always work

But a lot of the time they do

So thought I’d share

A few weeks ago

I was sick

And missed a workout

Something as simple as that led me down a bad path

The next day I found another reason to flake out

And before I knew it I was even eating things I knew were bad for me

It’s amazing how quickly bad habits get together and bully you back into submission

There I was that third morning

Knowing I should be in the gym

But instead I was depressed

Knowing that I wouldn’t go

And that I’d probably eat something that day I shouldn’t

So I deployed this strategy

Not thinking it would work

I said to myself

“Holly, I know you’re not going to the gym today and you’re probably going to eat something you shouldn’t.  I get that.  So fine.  But just for pure entertainment’s sake….what WOULD you be doing right now if you WERE on track? Just imagine for a moment what you would be doing if you weren’t off the rails? What would your day look like?”

So I answered

I would get up and put on my gym clothes.

Then I would drive to the gym

And I’d do my workout

It wouldn’t take long since my victory plan is simple

And only requires me to add 30 seconds each day

I would be done pretty quickly

And then I would come home feeling victorious

Then I could enjoy my coffee in peace

Without all the guilt

And I wasn’t trying to convince myself to go

I had already decided not to

But I still played out this scenario in my mind

Telling myself what my  morning would look like

Step by step

Visualizing what it would have been like

If I was living it out the way I really wanted to

And then I asked myself “How would I feel if I was living out my morning as I really wanted to?”

And I sat there meditating on that feeling of victory

Of accomplishment

Without the guilt and dread and depression that I was currently feeling

And as I did this

A funny thing happened

I started thinking that maybe I wanted to go after all

It started to feel….possible

That maybe I could put one foot in front of the other

And just do the things I had laid out

And feel the things I had imagined being able to feel

Accomplished, victorious, happy

And so I put on my gym clothes

And my shoes

And went to the gym

It didn’t take long

Then I came home

And drank my coffee in peace

Blissfully happy

Feeling stronger

I had broken the pattern

Stopped it in its tracks

The next day I was stronger

But it doesn’t stop there

Because this is a cycle

And it will happen again

Maybe with food

Because at my son’s baseball games

I’m always under attack

From the concession stand staring me down

Drawing me in

And there have been times I say to myself

“I have to buy a hot dog. I’m going to.  I don’t feel in control.  I’m not going to resist”

So then I ask myself a question

“I know you’re not in control right now.  But what would it feel like if you were?

And then I imagine it

Really spend time thinking what that would feel like

And trust me–that’s a feeling I LOVE

Being in CONTROL of my food

And after that I ask myself

“What would you be doing if you were in control? What would it look like?

And then I answer

“I’d sit here and watch my son’s game without leaving to get food.  And when it was over we’d go home and I would make myself something that’s not dangerous for me to eat.  And I’d eat it and feel full.  And then I’d feel awesome for having conquered the concession stand beast!”

And I might decide

That I wanted that dream to become a reality

And find that somehow imagining it had given me the strength to make it real

I find that this strategy works

70% of the time

Maybe not always

But more often than not

So use your imagination

Because sometimes what you imagine becomes real

When you ask yourself

What if?

What if I was in control today?

What would it look like?

What things would I be doing?

How would it feel?

And sometimes it becomes a reality

You–making your own dreams come true.


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Véronique May 30, 2015 at 8:20 pm



Kristy May 30, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Holly….I have read 98% of your blog in the last month. Every morning I read a couple of your blog posts while I have my coffee….you are my inspiration. Thank you….because of you, I have lost the first 15 of my 100 pounds. I walk a mile daily – first thing before I get ready for work. I am detoxed off sugar. I joined Planet Fitness…and learning to workout with success… I am 46 years old and been stuck on couch as the world was passing by me….your courage, honesty and humor gave me the push I needed to get my mind set in getting control of my eating. I could never stop the hunger and cravings…I now have the sugar monster out of my system and I am feeling human again. Thank you for opening up your life to inspire others….you have and are inspiring me.


Calleigh May 31, 2015 at 12:06 am

@Kristy – that is amazing! Way to go :))


LHA June 2, 2015 at 2:59 am

Now YOU are inspiring ME! (and others I am sure) Way to go!


Gwen May 31, 2015 at 4:43 pm

EXCELLENT post, Holly! Funny, because I addressed almost the same thing in my post today, from my readings of The Diet Fix. It’s about stopping the Pavlovian reactions, and instead, breaking that mind cycle, and doing so in a POSITIVE way…which you just brilliantly illustrated! Thanks for the reinforcement! It’s a lifelong project for all of us with the tendency towards obesity. 🙂
Gwen recently posted..Perspective & attitudeMy Profile


John (Daddy Runs a Lot) June 1, 2015 at 1:37 pm

I’ve started saying “I need to work out” in the same breath that “I need to go to work” or “I need to feed the kids.”

Every now & then, I do skip a workout — but I don’t see it as “I missed a workout,” I see it as “I chose not to work out.” Somewhere, in my head, there is a difference, and it works for me.

Though, to be honest, what I’m finding to work out is a bit different. Every morning, I prepare coffee/lunches — I keep the foodstuffs for my own lunch, intentionally, in the basement. And, every time I head to the basement, the “price of admission” is to do pull-ups, push-ups, and lunges. I head downstairs, pay the price, get what I went down for, then “pay the price” to head back upstairs. Adding that to making my lunches, so that my food is pre-planned for the whole day, well, it makes the day a LOT easier to get through for me.


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