Find Your Motivation

Back in February of 2020, I decided it was time to get back in shape. I hopped up on my scale and the reading was higher than it had ever been. That reading was 375 pounds.

This war with the bastard known as obesity has been made up of many battles throughout my lifetime. I have had some victories; the bastard has had others. I honestly thought, the last victory I had won was going to be permanent, just as I had thought the last victory the bastard had won was going to be permanent.  

The last few years, prior to COVID-19, have been some of the most stressful of my life. I took an employment position in which I was promised many things and none of those promises were delivered upon. Not only were there many broken arrangements, but I was also emotionally, psychologically, verbally, and in many other ways, abused – what is sad is that I remain in that situation and the abuse has only gotten worse. Unfortunately, in the past, I had allowed this systematic abuse to overwhelm me. It had caused my health to deteriorate to previously unrealized lows, bringing about an acute exacerbation of previously diagnosed PTSD. I had even contemplated, on more than one occasion, taking my own life. My loyalty, my work ethic, and my drive did not allow me to see that I was in essence in an abusive relationship. I had not realized consciously the severity, or the reality, of the abuse to which I had been subjected. It was only with the help of a trained and licensed therapist that I was able to realize what has happened. And for her, I am grateful.

This abusive relationship allowed me to fall victim to my carbohydrate addiction, which can be described as a slow suicide, but there were times, as I stated in the last paragraph, when I considered hastening that demise. Thankfully, my better angels won out.

Back to February of 2020, I re-read previous weight loss books I had authored, “Obesity Undone” and “Sometimes The Bastard Returns,” re-entered the gym, and started eating a lower carbohydrate diet. I was doing OK and then COVID-19 hit. I stopped going to the gym. However, thanks to an accountability buddy, I stayed on my eating plan. It was also then, that I appreciated an important truth – I was not ready to die. 

You would think that would be enough to strengthen my resolve, and it pretty much was. However, in April, an event happened that made me finally come to terms with just how abusive the relationship with my employer was. Contrary to any medical, health provider, or even just plain old common-sense reasoning – my employer had positive COVID-19 cases, yes that is plural, in two of the practice’s other offices. You would say, well that’s not uncommon, and you would be right. However, my employer not only did not inform us of this, but he had also sent patients who potentially may have been exposed to our office, potentially exposing us, our existing patients, and our families. It was then, that it became apparent, that this individual cared not for years of dedicated hard work and loyalty, which was destroying my overall physical and emotional health, nor did he give a damn about any of us staff, nor any of the patients, nor any of our families – because through deceptive ignorance or incompetence or intent, he was knowingly, willing to, again potentially, kill us all and not give it a second thought!

At that point, my resolve became stronger than it had ever been because I also realized that at 375 pounds, if I had contracted COVID-19 and had been placed on a ventilator, there was a pretty damn good chance I wasn’t coming off of it.

I didn’t want to die then, I don’t want to die now, at least not if there is something I can do to prevent it. To drop two hundred pounds and get physically fit doesn’t take willpower, it doesn’t take strength nor resolve. It takes finding a motivating factor, and then focusing on that factor. I say it often, in absence of an underlying condition:

“Losing weight and getting in shape aren’t all that difficult.

However, that doesn’t mean either endeavor is effortless.”

I am not trying to imply that serious work is not involved in attaining our goals. The first sentence is a statement that both losing weight and getting in shape have a basic mechanism to them, what is unsaid, is the mechanism is consistency.  However, the second sentence is meant to clarify the point and emphasize that it is not necessarily “easy,” but we must but forth effort.

It is never my intention to imply that losing weight is easy, because honestly whether weight loss or getting in shape is easy or difficult is individualistic. For me, once I get rolling, losing weight is not all that difficult. However, the inverse is also true, in that once I get rolling in the other direction, gaining weight is amazingly easy. What is also true, is that weather getting in or out of shape, gaining or losing weight, I am making an effort. If you think eating two or three pizza pies, followed by a gallon of ice-cream doesn’t take any effort to consume, well let me tell you – I used to break quite the sweat over eating those mass quantities of food. And when I am losing weight, getting in shape, and maintaining my fitness level, I put in just as much effort. If you ever read my book on weight loss and fitness, “Obesity Undone,” the workout I was doing is outlined and with no false-humility – it was grueling. It is much different than the workout I do today, and I am planning to write about how I modified my workout routine because of COVID-19 keeping me out of the gym, but my current workout, in a different way, is also grueling.

One of the factors that I view as especially important to losing weight, getting fit, and/or maintaining a fit state, is the importance of mental energy in our endeavor. I will never claim that losing weight, or getting in shape, is easy, as I said earlier that is individualistic. However, I will stand by what I wrote in my book, what I have said in more than one hundred interviews, and what I’ve written in other places; It is important we tell ourselves that it is easy. Whether that is the truth or not, is irrelevant! We must train our brains to view this as an easy endeavor. Because if we tell ourselves that it is difficult, that it is hard, that it is not possible – then it will be difficult, it will be hard, and it will not be possible.

And trust me, I also understand that obesity is an ongoing war. Victory is never certain and not always sustained. Some battles I’ve won, some battles the bastard has won.

I am deeply honored, and humbled, when I am told that I inspire someone. I never want to make anyone feel that their difficulties are not genuine, because I know and understand that they are. And, if you are having difficulty, know that you are not alone.

What helped me achieve my goals, is the same this time as it had been in the past. Finding that motivating factor. In past writings and interviews, I have always given my motivation as obtaining optimum health, wellness, and fitness. And that is the truth. But I would not be complete in my honesty if I did not admit that vanity also played a prominent role – this time around; not so much.

The primary motivating factor this time around was fear. Maybe not in the very beginning. In the beginning it was the same old motivators. But I had many starts and stops with those old standbys. Unfortunately, the stress of the last several years continued leading me down the path of carbohydrate addiction and continued ill health and obesity. I would like to think I would have succeeded this time around, and perhaps I would have, but I don’t know. There was, and is, a major difference this time, that difference is COVID-19.

To say I was afraid, and am afraid, is an understatement – I was, and remain, terrified. Although we have no control – I am not ready for the end of my story.

If you will permit me to quote myself, from the WWI era novella, War Springs Eternal,

“As we huddle in the depths of reinforced earth, the fresh-faced soldiers cry out. Those of us who have been here, we cry in. Time hardens our exterior, but that doesn’t change the truth; We are all afraid. Once the fear is accepted, it becomes part of us.”

That fear is part of me, and I’m sure it is part of many. Each day we wake, we go to work, we run necessary errands and we go forward. Yet, the precautions of social distancing and mask wearing, and excessive handwashing are constant reminders that the world in which we now live, and function, is a different one – so now, the fear is accepted, and it has become part of us.

Back in March of 2020 the treatments were not yet refined, there was no vaccine on the horizon, and the disease was not at all understood, but the co-morbidities were quickly becoming obvious. And a primary co-morbidity which was, and is, one of which we have some semblance of control, obesity. At 375 pounds, I was not simply obese, I was morbidly and extremely obese. As a healthcare provider and educator, I knew if contracted – the odds were not in my favor. As I stated, I am not ready for the end of my story, so I moved to take control of the one thing, the one person of which I had, and have control, that individual I see each and every time I gaze into a mirror. I had to put forth the effort. I could either continue the difficult efforts that obesity create each day, or I could put forth the efforts to change my obesity, my daily life, and decrease my co-morbidities. I even came up with a straightforward formula: 

–             Give optimal effort, there is the potential to achieve optimal results.

–             Give half-assed effort, more than likely achieve half-assed results.

–             Give zero effort, guaranteed to achieve zero results.

You see I believe it is all about the effort and there is an important factor in helping us make the most optimal effort we can. It is a factor that I view as especially important to losing weight, getting fit, and/or maintaining a fit state. It is the importance of mental energy in our endeavor. It all begins, and in all probability ends, in our most powerful organ – our brain.

Yours in health, fitness, and wellness,

Aloha and Mahalo,