Weight Loss: A Lifelong Struggle

23 Sep

While reading about various theories of motivation, I tried to contextualize unfamiliar concepts by thinking of concrete examples. I thought of times when I was extremely motivated or unmotivated to reach my goals. In this entry, I decided to focus on two things which I believe require lifelong effort—learning and losing weight. For this post, I’d discuss my weight loss efforts first.

On Losing Weight

Losing weight has been my lifelong struggle. I’ve always been chubby, but there was a time in high school when I became morbidly obese. Most of my classmates made remarks about my weight, but I never took them seriously because I knew they were just joking. However, I kept comparing myself to other girls in the class. I asked myself the same questions over and over again. Why are their bodies so perfect? Why does mine look hideous? Will I ever be as active in sports as they are? Are they really prettier just because they’re thinner than I am?

For two years, I didn’t really think that I’d be able to lose weight. I mean, who cares? I love eating. Those girls may look perfect, but I don’t find any reason to compete with them. This is probably why I was extremely unmotivated to lose weight by that time. However, I had this classmate who’s also overweight, but she suddenly started losing weight. As expect, I grew envious of her. I wondered how she did it, and I asked myself if I can also do what she did to get fit.

I guess this is where Bandura’s self-efficacy theory comes in. I kept comparing myself to my peers, but most of them were already thin when I first met them so I didn’t think I could be as fit as they are. But when one of my classmates lost weight, I told myself one thing: “If she can do it, why can’t I?”

That’s when I started to really get serious with dieting. I started eating smaller meals, and I did a little cardio during my free time. I decided to monitor my weight monthly rather than daily so as not to disappoint myself if the weighing scale tells me. I tried to keep myself motivated myself by rewarding myself (external regulation) with things other than food. I bought CDs of the bands I liked every time I reach my monthly goal (weight loss of at least eight pounds).

Struggling with Weight Gain

This system worked quite well. I lost a total of 50 pounds. But I wasn’t able to sustain the results when I went to college. I studied in Baguio, and the stress of being away from my family was too much for me to handle. I ate a lot more than I did before, I started drinking beer, and I didn’t have time to exercise so I gained another ten pounds.

I wasn’t really able to motivate myself to lose weight when I was still in college. Though I was also busy with my affiliation with some organizations, I still gained weight because I used food to reward myself for all my hard work. I started feeling bad about myself because I couldn’t even maintain my target weight.

My New Approach to Weight Loss

I’ve encountered a lot of weight loss programs, but I noticed that the most effective ones are those focusing on changing an individual’s habits and personal motivations. Based on the information I gathered from the Internet, I decided to give weight loss another shot.

But this time, I know what I should focus on. To achieve sustainable weight loss, I know that looking good shouldn’t be my main motivation. I wanted to prove to myself that I can reach any goal as long as I put my mind to it, so I restructured the way I think.  I no longer think of exercise as a chore—I now consider it one of the best ways to become healthier, to feel better about myself. I opened myself up to different forms of exercise. Yoga, high-intensity interval training, and strength training are among the few routines I’ve tried. I also exercised more control over the food I eat.

What Motivates Me to Lose Weight?

To date, I’ve already lost a total of 65 pounds. Back then, I wasn’t really fully aware of the cognitive and affective processes that influenced my personal weight loss motivations. My desire to lose weight can be categorized into these types of motivators:

a.)   Extrinsic motivation—the more weight I lose, the more stylish clothes I’d be able to wear. Also, I know that I’d stay healthy if I can sustain the results I’ve achieved so far.

b.)   Intrinsic motivation—I feel good about myself when I exercise and eat healthy food. I also feel more competent every time I try new yoga poses and other forms of exercise. I find these workouts interesting, and I know that I’d become more confident once I’ve mastered all of those “cool moves.”

This time, I’m confident that I’d easily achieve the short-term and long-term weight loss goals I’ve set.

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One Response to “Weight Loss: A Lifelong Struggle”

  1. erikadyu November 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    Wow! you lost a lot of wait, very inspiring. It’s good that you shared this story because they might see something in you that they may associate with their own selves. Sometimes, seeing someone like you being able to reach his/her goal can really motivate you to do better. This is definitely a good illustration of it 🙂

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