Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Firewirks over Sydney Opera House

Monday, 15 June 2009

Carrot versus stick

Some pics from a late evening run a week or so ago, setting sun and long shadows. It's chucking it down tonight with a heavy thunder storm and lightning so I won't be heading out tonight. This is when the exercise bike comes in handy.

Mad-eyed she worried about the ducks behind stealing her stick?

Minty the coward still won't go out of her depth.

Time to post again. I'll get some stats out of the way first. In the "Lose a Stone Before 1 August" Challenge, I have managed to lose another lb bringing my first week's total to 3 off. Pleased with that. So now I'm 13 stone 9lb, only another 11 to go!

On the TV front, it has been quiet and a bit stagnant to be honest. I feel as though we've been trudging through the exercise and diet without much input recently. Hopefully, that'll change as we have 1 more week to go before another lot of weights, measurements and our penultimate 1km time trial on Tuesday 23 June. That motivates me and gives me something to really aim at this next week. I think the sense of a "lull" was what caused me to seize on Lainey's idea of losing a stone. I need that added interest to keep me going.

So, why am I feeling the lack of input? If I'm honest, I think its because I wanted this TV programme to "solve" my issues for me. As I have done throughout my history of dieting and exercising. I wanted this new guru to step in, tell me what to do, motivate me to do it and, essentially, wave his magic wand, all in full view of the TV cameras, until I was slim and able to maintain my slimness. Clearly, that is never going to happen.

The beauty of the TV programme is that they have left us to it to a large extent. It is clear that our motivation or lack of it has to come from ourselves. The Psych guy has made it clear that we are the queens of our programmes and he and the rest of the team are merely knowledgeable advisers. This is beginning to sink in; when I've had a bad week or a poor day, it takes less time for me to stop the rot, turn the behaviour round and start to lose again. I'm wasting less time bemoaning my fate and berating myself for slipping off the wagon and more time looking forward and concentrating on what I need to do to achieve my goals.

This leads me to 2 topics which are new to me (amazingly - I mean I'm nearly 40 years old, you would have thought these might have occured to me before now!):

1. Goals

It's important to have them. Well, durrr. However, how you formulate them is important too. Previously my goals were large and general - "I need to lose 9 stone", "I need to get fit", "I want to be able to wear size 12 clothes and look good". Maybe then I needed such big goals to spur me on to lose the bulk. But now, such general statements are not terribly helpful. "I need to lose 3 stone/ 2 stone" does not motivate in the same way. Now, I think it helps to tie your goals to specific deadlines, to vary them and to break them down:
  • "I want to lose a stone by 1 August". It's catchy, manageable and measurable. It will make me happy. I know how to do it and just have to get on with it. Seemples..
  • "I want to improve my 1km time trial time". This has been interesting as it has lead me to look at exercise in a whole new way. Previously, exercise was only there to help me lose weight. Now it is an end in itself, one of my goals. So, instead of trudging through the low intensity, long lasting aerobic stuff which burns the most calories, I'm adding in sprinting and high intensity intervals. This has challenged me and made me appreciate what my body can do. I'm seeing an improvement in my times and an improvement in the intensity at which I can work. I did it before when I trained for the half marathon but that involved more of the same in terms of long distance running. Once the TV programme is over, I'm going to find something new, a new skill which I can work on.
  • "I want to work on my relationship". The work we've done with the Psych guy has not just been limited to track times and weight. He recognises (as we all do) that external factors have a bearing on the achievement of our goals. His insight into the interaction between my chimp and D's has been amazing. It has explained so much. I have found this the single most useful aspect of the programme. In applying some of his suggestions, I've felt much more relaxed and able to appreciate the many positive things about D and minimise any negativity and some of the niggles of a long distance relationship. It has been advice in the real world too; there's no suggesion that everything is always going to be perfect but lots of helpful ways to smooth things out and minimise stress.

2. Motivation

This is different to one's goals. Goals are what you are aiming for, motivation is what makes you do the work. Motivation, inspiration; I think they're the same thing. Given the dearth of external motivation from the TV programme, I have been increasingly trying to work out what works for me. Previously, I think I was afraid. I lost weight because I was frightened of how fat I had become. I was worried that I would somehow "fail" at life. My marriage might struggle, I wouldn't be popular, I wouldn't be attractive. All scary stuff. I masked these fears with a show of bravado and outward confidence of course.

Now though, my motivation is much more positive. There is no stick and lots of carrot (quite literally, mate...). I'm moving towards a healthy, active, attractive life which involves lots of balance. Now, I'm inspired not intimidated by women who seem to be living the life I want to live.

Like my friend who lost weight years ago and since than has incorporated running into her life and now looks as though she is bursting with health and vitality (and great legs!). So much so that she has recently taken up learning to drive a horse drawn carriage (which is harder and scarier than it might sound)! Helen who bikes regularly and stays slim and combines motherhood with working and running our play area fund-raising group. Peridot who bikes into work and braves the London traffic, the Pillock Peloton (I love that phrase) and hair issues! Stacey who gave up a well paying legal job in the City, moved up to near me in the middle of the countryside and now has a feature film she co-produced being released at the Edinburgh Film Festival ("A Boy Called Dad" - check it out, plug plug plug). Mrs L who constantly strives to better herself , help others and support her family and pals despite challenges on the health front.

When I'm feeling flat or unmotivated I try and think about these women and remind myself that they must have times when they don't want to do whatever it is but they do do it and look at the results.

I'm not scared to use competition as a motivating factor either. I recognise that I am quite competitive and, as long as it doesn't drag me down if I'm not "the best", which I'm frequently not, it's a useful spur to my chimp. "If she can do it, so can I", sort of thing.

Now, I'm developing a picture of what I'm aiming at not running away from something that frightens me. It's much nicer this way round.


Peridot said...

Wow, great post. Am interested to find out more about D vs chimp some time too, as D and my bf seem to be cut from the same cloth.

And bless you for thinking I'm an inspiration! I read that with incredulity bordering shock - I have never, ever thought of myself (frumpy dumpling girl) as inspirational, especially around exercise.

Peridot x

Claire said...

And you are an inspiration to others...both of you.

Peridot said...

Okay, I am going to blub at my desk now. Awww.... too, too kind. Sniff.