The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine 



    October 7, 2003    PAGE THREE      
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 News & Product of the Month
 The Morality of Sugar
 Finding Your Motivation
 Jo Cordi's  Lifestyle Series
 Brenda's Low Carb Good Life
 Raiding Spaces
 Autumn Goodness: Pumpkin!
 Taking Stock of your Life
 Cooking with Jarret Hughes
 Obese In The Workplace
 Reflections on a French Kid


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                  Finding Your Motivation by Beverly Knauer

                                                      "Kites rise highest against the wind; not with it."
                                                                   Sir Winston Churchill


Candy Land Game It's amazing how childhood games can mirror the journeys we take as adults.

Recently, I became mesmerized watching two children play the board game Candy Landô. For those who don't know, Candy Landô is a true childhood classic and is one of the first board games preschoolers can learn to play. The point of the game is to reach your ultimate destination, the Castle.

There are two paths you can take to the Castle — the Rainbow Trail and the Gumdrop Pass. Like any path or journey, there are pitfalls along the way; if bad luck strikes, you might end up in the Molasses Swamp. You can be stuck there until you draw a card of a specific color to get you out. Sometimes you make it three-quarters of the way along the rainbow-colored path only to be sent back to the beginning to start all over again.

As I watched the kids play, it occurred to me that the game is a perfect metaphor for the weight-loss journey. We all start at a beginning point, and follow pre-determined rules (the diet plan) to move forward along a path. Along the way, there are all sorts of sweet, sugar-laden, carb-filled temptations to divert us off the path. Sometimes we find a shortcut, and big weight loss comes our way (aka a whoosh to low carbers). Sometimes we have to spend time in the Molasses Swamp (stalls and plateaus) until we get out. Sometimes we don't make it to the castle (weight goal). Sometimes we give up and quit.

As I watched the children play the game over and over again, I wanted to know what it was that motivated them to keep playing. When I asked them, one said: "I like it 'cause you get to go to a really cool castle and you have a lot of fun getting there."

This made me think about what motivates us while on the weight loss path. Motivation is the key to making things happen in your life, including weight reduction. But how do you get it? How do you sustain it? What makes us determined to get to the "Castle?"

The most obvious inspirations for dieters are extrinsic in nature — that is, the motivation comes from outside forces or events. For instance, perhaps you are looking to fit into an old dress for an upcoming wedding, or hoping to become "bikini-ready" for that Caribbean cruise. Maybe your doctor gave you the bad news that your blood pressure and cholesterol levels were too high. Maybe it was an embarrassing or negative situation that shamed or frightened you into action - like getting stuck in an amusement park ride in front of hundreds of people.

This sort of external motivation is easily reinforced by rewards. Watching the numbers on the scale decrease, fitting into a small pair of slacks, or receiving compliments from your co-workers are all strong incentives for staying on the weight-loss road.

But what will motivate you to continue when you the event you were originally dieting for is over? What is going to happen when you are no longer watching the scale go down because you have reached your goal and your clothes aren't going to get any smaller? What will get you through those long periods of stalls and plateaus when the rewards are few and far between? Without long-term motivation, all can be lost.

One of the worst motivation "busters" is the dreaded plateau. It's so easy to give up when you're doing everything right, but the reward of seeing the scale drop isn't there. It's like getting stuck in the Molasses Swamp in Candy Landô and wondering when (if ever) you will be released.

What you need is intrinsic or internal motivation, inspiration that can be sustained over the long haul.

Finding the intrinsic motivation for yourself is key. Intrinsic motivation is that which occurs for its own sake: action for which the only rewards are the spontaneous effects that accompany it. Intrinsic motivation requires no external supports or reinforcements to exist. Once you truly believe in the concept of your chosen way of life and align your values with your goals, then you have set very powerful motivation in place. Your daily choices become a way of life, and it becomes a part of who you are and how you identify yourself.

We need to recognize that our motivators will change over time, and our levels of motivation will ebb and flow throughout our lifetime. Sometimes we have to push forward even when our motivation is weak.

To find the motivation from within, focus on the act instead of the expected outcome. Notice any improvements you make, no matter how small. This will allow you to shift your external focus to an internal one.

We know that long-term motivation arises only when people are turned on from within: when they are motivated by the challenge of process itself.

Intrinsic motivation comes from doing an activity solely for itself rather than focusing on the expected outcome. It is characterized as a need to achieve personal satisfaction and enjoyment for their own sakes. As the little child said about the Candy Landô game — he had fun playing it! It is when motivation is internalized and used as a source of ongoing energy that the real benefits are attained.

What motivates you to reach the Castle?

                                                          

Copyright © October 2003  Beverly Knauer and Low Carb Luxury



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