Monday, September 5, 2011

A Stick of Butter, A Tub of Crisco, and Shifting Your Focus: Why Happiness is the ONLY Permanent Motivation

I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation the past few days. What makes me do the things I do? I am an emotional eater. When I’m upset or frustrated, I really just want to start shoving chocolate and potato chips in my mouth as fast as humanly possible. Why is that? Do I really think it’s going to make me feel better? It might. And sometimes it does. . .at least until the guilt sets in. Then I spend the rest of the day beating myself up over all those extra calories.

I’m not saying guilt is always a bad thing; after all, it’s what finally got me to get up and do something about all this weight I’ve gained. The only problem with guilt as a motivator is that it’s never going to last very long. The only consistent and permanent motivation in our lives (at least in mine) is happiness. I’m going to do the things that make me happy. Sometimes I choose the things that make me kind of happy right now (like eating a ton of junk food). Other times, I choose the things that may or may not be so fun right now, but will make me VERY happy in the future (like getting down to a healthy weight so I can do all the things I want to do).

You might be thinking, “That’s great and all, but I want to be happy now.” Me too. That’s why every once in a while I have to shift my focus away from my goal. Honestly, there are days when thinking about the 40 lbs I still have to lose makes me want to drown my sorrows in a tub of ice cream. So instead of upsetting myself like that, I think of a stick of butter.

One stick of butter is 1/4 pound of pure fat. Since I started exercising and eating more fruits and veggies, I’ve lost 64 sticks of butter! I can’t even picture what that looks like, so I pulled a tub of Crisco out of the back of my pantry. I’ve lost five of those! As nasty as that is, it makes me so happy.  Focusing on the distance I’ve come, instead of the long road ahead, gives me the motivation to keep going. Thinking about the butter also gives me more perspective for those weeks I don’t seem to be losing weight “fast enough” for one reason or another. After all, a .25 lb loss looks tiny when you're staring at numbers on the scale. It feels like I’m not accomplishing anything. But if I imagine losing a stick of butter, .25 lbs doesn’t sound so bad after all.

The bottom line is, I’m going to keep doing the things that make me happy. If I want a brownie, I’m going to ask myself, “Do I really want it? Will it make me happy? And can I eat just one?” If the answer is yes, I’m going to eat it, savoring every bite, and then I’ll adjust my calorie intake that day to avoid overeating. And I won’t feel one bit guilty. If the answer is no, I’ll have some awesome frozen grapes from my bountiful basket instead. . .and that will make me happy too.


  1. Thank you so much for your butter analogy! I've been feeling really down on myself for only having lost 3 pounds (from 152 to 149) in the last several weeks despite a ton of effort. It doesn't seem like a lot to me, especially because when I was in my early 20s, I could lose 5 pounds in a week or two with minimal effort. But if I think about the fact that I've lost 12 sticks of butter, that makes me realize that I HAVE benefited from my hard work. Thanks for keeping me motivated :)

  2. I like it!! - I posted a 'pound for pound' blog and am going to add a link to this one!