When my daughter was a baby, a friend of mine gave me a book called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. One of the most important things I learned about babies and sleep is this: sleep begets sleep.
It seems counter intuitive--shouldn't a baby or child sleep better or more if she's tired? As it turns out, no. The more well rested a baby is, the easier she falls asleep and the better she stays asleep.
I thought of this "sleep begets sleep" lesson yesterday, and applied it to weight loss. Success begets success.
You'd think that being 20 pounds overweight, tired, out of shape, and unhappy would be all the motivation I'd need to get moving. And, don't get me wrong, those things ARE motivating. But sometimes, in the muck and mire of obesity, it feels impossible to overcome the desire to throw up my hands and say "what the hell, I'm this fat already, what's the difference if I eat junk food or skip my workout today? I'll start tomorrow."
Now that I have lost almost 20 pounds and have been working out regularly for a couple of months... And now that I can feel and see muscles in my quads and calves and shoulders and biceps and triceps... And now that I can run a 10 min mile for half a mile and a 9 min mile for a couple tenths of a mile... I have the kind of motivation that doesn't wait for tomorrow.
Now my motivation is based in success. It's not based in hopelessness any longer.
I keep moving and eating breakfast and cutting back on sugar because I want to be better. I want to be stronger. I want to run faster.
Yes, I want to look better and wear smaller, cuter clothes. But honestly, that's not the core of WHY I'm doing what I'm doing now.
I want to hold onto this feeling of success. I want the fat to come off my body so I can see the cut of my muscles under my skin. They are MY muscles--I'm earning every ounce of them. I am proud of them and I don't want them buried under a layer of fat.
I want to weigh less so I can run faster. I'm only in competition with myself. I want to run as fast as I did in 2008, when I finished a half marathon in 2:15:42 (the printout of my race results are on my cubicle wall, where they've been since October 14, 2008). I want to run even faster than that someday. I want to run a full marathon in the near future. Running is possible at this weight, and I do it well and (knock wood) without injury. But I can run better when I carry less weight around. Watch the next to last episode of any of the recent Biggest Loser seasons and you'll know exactly what I mean.
It may seem counter intuitive that becoming and feeling fit and healthy are more motivating than being overweight and out of shape. But it's not.
It has taken a long time for me to get here, but I feel like I've crossed the tipping point into "success begets success" territory. I'm fighting hard to stay here.