Motivational Monday: Light my fire

If you really want to make a change in your life (health or otherwise), you have got to be motivated. Really motivated. You have to have a fire lit under you. Today, I’m going to tell you what lit my fire. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about what you can do to light yours.
In 2007, I lost 50 pounds (and have kept them off). My motivation was a breaking an ankle. I do not recommend this method of self-motivation, even though it turned into a “when life hands you lemons make lemonade” sort of situation.

A stupid stair mishap earned me three nights in the hospital, one operation, a bunch of metal implants and a cast. Back home I was horrifyingly awkward on crutches, and quickly found that hauling around 50 extra pounds when you only have the use of one leg is NOT fun. My husband said, “If it’s this bad now, what would it be like if it happened 10 years from now?”

I vowed then and there to do whatever it took to make sure that if I ever suffered a temporary disability down the road I would be in a much place physically to handle it.
The irony is, I had been intending to lose some weight when catastrophe came knocking. I’d been intending for several months, actually… . I think my first thought when I was informed that my ankle was not just broken, but very, very broken (after I stopped sobbing) was, “This is going to make it really hard to exercise and lose weight.”
So, the fire was lit. I was well and truly motivated. Then I had my first post-op appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. He told me matter-of-factly: “You’ll gain weight and lose fitness.”
Lighter fluid, anyone?
Losing fitness I couldn’t do anything about. I couldn’t walk, I didn’t have a stationary bike, and I literally did NOT leave my house during the six weeks I was on crutches, other than to see my surgeon and go to Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s house. What can I say…I was a klutz and it was an unusually snowy fall/winter in Seattle. I’m lucky I could telecommute.
What I could do was control my eating. I watched portions carefully and ate very healthfully. Since my husband was on kitchen duty, I enlisted his support. Despite six weeks of near-total inactivity (other than scooting myself up and down stairs), I did not gain weight, which I felt was an achievement. I bought used weight plates, bars and benches used off Craigslist for my new basement “gym.” The minute I was off crutches and in a walking cast (boot), I was out walking. First back and forth in the house, then outside for a few blocks, then a few miles. Then I started training for a half-marathon (that was my carrot).
From there, the pounds melted off. Really. Yes, I worked for it. I consistently ate appropriate portions of healthy foods, and stuck to a program of walking, weight training, yoga and dance (all of which I enjoy). It didn’t feel like work…because I was so strongly motivated and firmly, clearly had my eye on the prize of a leaner body and better health. That, my friends, is the key.