Finding Motivation

by Cate on June 24, 2010

Sugar Motivation

When I wrote this post awhile back, I received a bunch of e-mails from readers (love you guys!), wanting to know what type of program I was on.  To be honest, I’m not especially comfortable sharing the details because then I’d have to go into that whole disclaimer spiel that what is right for me might not be right for you, that I’m not a doctor or an expert … you know the drill.  And it’s not a clearly set-in-stone program.  Instead, I’ve cobbled together different things that just happen to be working for me.  They might not work for you.  What I can do, however, is share some of the little tips and tricks that have helped me continue to be motivated, to be inspired, to keep on task.  Some are things I did back a few months before I got married in ’98 (worked with a trainer at the time) that still work to this day.  Some are silly.  In my mind, it doesn’t matter, because it’s working, and I can’t argue the results.

1.  Visual Motivation.  A regular bag of sugar is five pounds.  For every five pounds I lose, I put another bag of sugar on the kitchen counter.  I just put my fifth bag there last week, and I am already two pounds away from my sixth.  This motivates me in many different ways.  Just holding the bag gives you instant realization on how much five pounds really is.  Folks, it’s nothing to sneeze at.  And five of them?  All together?  Once gone, it’s enough to make you feel light as a feather!  I see them every morning.  A regular, but subtle, reminder of what I’ve achieved.  Another .6 pounds, and I’ve lost a Madeline!

2.  Inspiration.  The inside of my master bathroom door is slowly getting covered with inspirational quotes and phrases and bodies of people that I would love to look like.  Now, first a disclaimer,  no 20-year-old airbrushed models are up there.  Most of them women pictured there are actually 40 and older.  They just happen to be uber-fit.  (Valerie Bertinelli is a good example).  I did the same wall of inspiration back in ’98.  My friends, when it first went up, teased me about it.  I didn’t care.  It worked.  A constant, again subtle, reminder of what I was shooting for.

3.  I have a laundry list of quirks.  A list that might have actually grown since The Ex and I divorced.  One of them is that I have a handful of favorite cups that I use.  And being big on hydration, I’m constantly reaching for a cup multiple times during the day.  I have three cabinets with glasses and cups in them.  I put all my favorite ones on the tippy-top shelf.  The one that makes me stretch to reach them.  Completely silly, I know, but with my favorite cups up there, and Madeline’s sippy cups, we’re talking about some 20 calves and forearm stretches a day.  And I keep the straws (I always drink with a straw) in a separate cabinet, requiring another set of stretch.  Like sneaky little bouts of exercise.

Today when I went running across the house for the phone, Jamie asked why I didn’t just keep it near me.  Because if I have to run to get it three rooms away, every time it rings, just a little more activity snuck into the day, tons of times.

I no longer look for the closest parking space when I go out.  One pass, and that’s it.  I don’t circle around until a closer one opens up.  I take the farther one and walk the distance.

There are tons of sneaky little tricks you can do during the day just to keep yourself more active.  Just start looking for them.

4.  Exercise.  To be quite honest, traditional exercise sometimes bores me.  And if I’m bored, I’m just not going to stick with it.  When I do the treadmill at the gym, I’m watching the TV, listening to my iPod and STILL watching the clock, counting down the time until I’m done.  So this go ’round, I’ve sought out other ways to break it up a bit and beat the blahs.  One example … I discovered Zumba.  I would seriously do Zumba every day of the week if I could.  I’ve been doing it regularly since February, and am currently going three or four times a week.  Exercise that is cleverly disguised as Latin-infused dancing, Zumba was first introduced in 2000.  As the Zumba founder said, “It’s like a party,” and our instructor says it’s just like hitting a club to dance.  She’s right.  It takes the onus off of “ugh, exercise…?”  I seriously look forward to each class, and with each one hour class burning between 600-1000 calories, it’s totally worth it. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll sweat more than you might ever have, but it’s easy to keep up and the music energizes you.

I take long walks with the kids, Madeline in her stroller and Nick on his bike or scooter.   We either go around the neighborhood, walk to the grocery store or downtown, or we drive to a lake one town away.  Walking around that lake is three-quarters of a mile, so we usually go four or five times around … depending on when the kids give out.  But because it’s a change of scenery, it’s easy to stay committed to doing it.  Madeline and I have also started going a few times a week at lunchtime too, in my effort to kick it up a notch.

Softball.  I haven’t played softball since I was in my early 20s, when I was on a company team, although I have gone through several bouts of heading to the batting cages.  Love that kind of workout.  I signed up for a local softball team and it starts this month.  The fact that it’s going to be occurring during the hottest months of the year just might kill me, but I am looking forward to it nonetheless.  Another form of sneaky exercise.

5.  Reward System.  As the scale registers a new number every week, things in my closet no longer fit the way they did before.  And my style is completely changing.  After the first ten pounds, I went through my closet and used the Beauty/Joy/Usefulness criteria.  If the clothing did not meet one of those three characteristics, it went in the donate pile.  I also had a tendency to wear clothes that were too big and not form-fitting, adding extra pounds that I just didn’t need.  All those went into the pile too.  Truth be told, it didn’t leave me with a whole lot, but it was a good place to start.  So every five pounds I lose, I add a new article of clothing or two to my closet.  I’ve discovered a love for J. Crew (amazing deals in their sale section) and Abercrombie & Fitch, among others.  Stores I never gave a second glance at before.  But as the closet rod slowly gets retooled, dressing in the morning becomes something I look forward to now.

6.  The Buddy System.  A little friendly competition goes a long way to motivate me.  Back in the Fall, my sister, Mom and I started a little Biggest Loser competition amongst the three of us.  We set a three-month goal, and whoever lost the biggest percentage of weight was deemed the winner.  The prize?  A gift card for clothes.  I won the first round, and I lost track, but I think we just finished the second.

Whether it’s finding a new exercise program that you become addicted to or finding different small ways to motivate yourself, once you’re on the right track, it’s easy.  It’s just a question of getting on the right track.  Would love to hear how you get (or stay) motivated!

Project 365
June 24, 2010, Photo #117

CSI: New Jersey

This is known as CSI: New Jersey. That poor ant never knew what hit him (her?). Nick didn’t want me to take a picture of the ant or what they were doing. Something about respecting the ant. It was peacefully walking across the bench in the playroom when the kids spied it this afternoon. One of them killed it. As I heard them daring each other to touch it, and then specific parts of it (ick, I’m getting itchy just typing this), I told Nick to get a napkin and dispose of it. “But Mom, it’s not dead yet. One leg is still moving.” I suggested that we put the poor thing out of its misery. “How would you like it if someone came along and smushed the top half of you and then started playing with your legs while you were writhing in pain?” That worked. RIP.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Merry120 June 25, 2010 at 1:19 am

Congrats on your weight loss successes! Great tips by the way! I’m trying to lose a few pounds currently (about 10 maybe 15). I’m using It’s free & you use it to track your calories and your exercise. I definitely eat less when I keep track of it!


Joanne June 25, 2010 at 6:25 am

Oh Cate, this is such an inspirational post! You are doing all of this the RIGHT way and I love it!


paula June 25, 2010 at 8:32 am

I’ve lost over 30 pounds recently too. Basically I eat less and exercise more but there are things that help me do that.

Before I give those tips, I am going to stress – I EAT LESS. After 40+ years, I can say with complete certainty that there is no getting around the fact that I cannot lose weight without focusing on reducing my calorie intake. I have always exercised, and exercised intensely, but exercise will never work on it’s own for me, as far as weight loss goes.

Okay, my tips:

I EAT WHAT I LOVE. I eat real butter, real mayo, real whipped cream, real salad dressing. I eat these things practically every day. If I am eating less, darn it, I ‘m going to eat what I enjoy and not waste calories on rice cakes or any low-calorie food that might be okay but not truly satisfying.

I EAT LESS. I don’t try to fill myself up with low calorie foods. I’m just getting used to eating less. Not two-peas-on-a-plate-anorexic less but actually old-fashioned portion sizes.

I MOVE. I don’t watch much television anymore. I get outside and play with the kids, go for short walks.

I VARY MY REAL EXERCISE. I get bored easily. I have several workouts to choose from and I choose from them based on how I feel, what else I’ve done that day, what I’ve done the day before. I have no set schedule but I rarely take a day off. I have a treadmill in the basement, I belong to a gym down the road where I use the treadmill and stair machine (I’ve given up the elliptical for personal reasons). I walk the neighborhood which is hilly, and I hit the hills over and over. A couple of times each week, either on the treadmill or stair machine I do high-intensity intervals.

I DOWNLOAD MUSIC CONSTANTLY. Gotta keep my music fresh for my workouts.

I STOP AND THINK. I’ve always had trouble staying focused but I’m going through a divorce, I wasted 10 years being overweight, at 40 my health depends on what I’m doing more than ever. I used to push everything out of my mind and eat but now I don’t.


Eliana June 25, 2010 at 9:14 am

These are some great tips that anyone can make use out of. Thanks so much for sharing them with us.


Jen June 25, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Great tips that we can all use! Good for you- keep up the fantastic job!


pamela June 27, 2010 at 9:26 pm

You’re doing great, Cate! Such an inspirational post. I’m on my own journey regarding weight loss. I’ve lost about 10 pounds so far and I’m chugging along. This post is just another source of motivation! Keep up the good work!!


Ramona June 28, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Good job Cate. Sometimes I think the only way I can really stay on target is to make it every man or woman for themselves at mealtime.

Hubby starves all day long and is ravenous by the time he gets in. Must snack before eating and also have a huge meal. My bother just plain luvs to eat.

So if I didn’t have to fool with cooking for them, I think I could be better at watching my weight……..

It’s hard to stay on track and I’m not into doing 2 different meals every night.


Meg June 29, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Lots of wonderful tips here, and go you for all that you’ve already accomplished! I love your ideas on “sneaking” exercise into your daily routine, like intentionally leaving the phone in another room.

I use the parking lot trick, too; I never chose the closest parking spot, even when plenty are available, because I get so little exercise during the day… my muscles can use the extra distance! It makes me feel better, and all the little things do add up.


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