What keeps you going?
Finding motivation for health and fitness
“Motivation is a deep desire within oneself to make changes,” said Molly Suhadolnik, co-owner of CrossFit Instinct Central. A Springfield native, she’s been involved in the health and fitness industry for almost 14 years.
She’s found that those who want to change because of external forces – someone who starts working out because their friend is doing so, or because they have an event to get in shape for – are rarely successful. “Once they realize how much work and dedication it takes, the motivation is not deep enough,” she said.
You have to be intrinsically motivated. “In order to really get what you want, it must be a strong desire deep within yourself,” she said.
The key is making small changes. Slip-ups happen. “You’re sure to find yourself falling back into old habits,” she said. “But the beauty of it is that every minute, hour, day is a new opportunity to turn that around.
“Your success is 100 percent up to you,” she continued. “Once you take ownership and realize that the way you look and feel is completely in your hands and no one else’s, your life will change.”
Two years ago, Leslie Allison-Seei, Villa Park, came down with a bad case of bronchitis and starting coughing up copious amounts of blood. “I was making crime scenes in my bathroom multiples times a day,” she said. “I was choking on my own blood.”
She went to her pulmonologist, who told her she had to quit smoking. A three pack-a-day smoker for 40 years, she had tried quitting before. “I don’t know if this was a sign from the universe,” she said.
She credits Zyban patches and Fannie May meltaways for helping her make it through the first few months. Her doctor also told her about the American Lung Association HelpLine and Tobacco QuitLine. “They were fabulous,” she said, and provided her with tips such as throw out the cigarettes and when you get the urge to smoke, do something else for five minutes.
The counselors at HelpLine also told her to be prepared for urges. “I still get one about once every two weeks when I see someone smoking,” she said. The hardest thing to give up was the reward cigarettes at the end of the work week or after she finished the dishes.
She lit up 30 days after she quit because she was mad at her husband. “I thought I would teach him.” The cigarette made her mouth taste like an ashtray.
“It boils down to mind over matter,” she said. She has a free app on her phone called Quit It Lite that tracks her progress. Since she quit, she has saved $14,650 and hasn’t smoked 46,500 cigarettes.
She doesn’t call herself an ex-smoker. “I’m a smoker,” she said. “I was going to smoke till the day I died. That day was coming way too soon so I changed my plan.”
Her family never thought she would quit. “I don’t know if I would have gone through with this on my own without such a big warning sign,” she said. “I’m awfully glad I did.
“You have to love yourself enough to quit and stop killing yourself,” she continued. There’s a part of her brain that says she can’t say she’ll never start again. So to placate it she tells herself she’ll start again when she’s 93. “I play mind games with myself.”
“Thank goodness for New Year’s resolutions,” said SIU registered dietician Cindy Yergler. “It is at least once a year that people are willing to “hit the reset” button on their health.
“People don’t know they’re overweight when they are,” continued Yergler, who added our culture has become skewed. “We’ve lost perspective about ourselves and about food.
“You have to give eating some thought,” she added. Weight change is not a behavior; it’s the result of a behavior. “You have to focus on the behavior for it to be effective.”
It takes practice to change a behavior and requires hitting the reset button over and over again until you get it right. So when it hits Jan. 31 and you’re not fixed, you can’t say it doesn’t work and blame it on genetics, metabolism or family history. “It takes a lot of work,” she said.
It’s important to create a healthy kitchen. She recommends buying a vegetable tray from the grocery store and keeping a fruit bowl on the counter or in the refrigerator “You want to focus more on what you can eat than on what you can’t eat,” she said.
Under the new USDA dietary guidelines, individuals should eat five to six percent saturated fat, 26 to 27 percent total fat, 15 to 18 percent protein and 55 to 59 percent carbs daily. In reality, the typical diet consists of 14 to 15 percent saturated fat, 34 to 38 percent total fat, 13 to 15 percent protein and 48 to 51 percent carbs.
For long-term success, Yergler recommends:
• Weighing yourself weekly.
• Exercising 60 minutes a day.
• Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
• Finding strategies to reduce fat intake.
• It takes time to change one’s lifestyle. People think once you lose weight, the hard part is done. “Keeping the weight off is equally hard. It’s lifelong.”
Dropped 100 pounds
Cindy Murphy, Rochester, was always a little heavier than her friends but didn’t consider herself overweight. She would go on fad diets but would always fail because they weren’t about changing life skills. “It was all about being thin,” she said.
She started gaining weight when she was pregnant with her first child. “I wanted to be healthy for my kids,” she said. “I wanted to be a good role model.” She knew if she didn’t turn things around, her weight would affect her health. Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease runs in her family.
She joined Health Management Resources, where she first met Cindy Yergler. “I had reached a turning point,” she said. Within the first six months, she had lost 80 pounds on a medically supervised fast. After one year, she’d lost almost 100 pounds and has kept the weight off for almost 10 years.
“It changed my life,” she said. “Something about this program clicked.” She still practices the tools that she learned in the program and drinks the protein shakes. Once a month, she and a group of former clients meet. “It’s important to hold yourself accountable.”
Her family has been very supportive. “I look at pictures of myself back then and can’t believe it’s me,” she said. “I feel great. I’ve not ever been able to say that.
“I think about what I eat every day,” she continued, and fills her plate with fruits and vegetables, healthy grains and lean protein. She has a weakness for sweets and bread and allows herself an occasional indulgence.
There are times when her weight fluctuates, but she never allows herself to gain more than five pounds. “I get right back on schedule,” she said, and doesn’t beat herself up about it.
Exercise has become part of her life. She walks, runs stairs and works out with exercise videos for an hour a day. “I don’t think about it,” she said.
She encourages people to talk with a dietician. “It’s important to educate yourself about how to eat well,” she said. Anybody can do this. It’s important to write down everything you eat and to plan your meals. It helps to have prepared foods at home.
“I’d be heavier than I was if I hadn’t found this program,” she said.
Roberta Codemo is a freelance health and wellness journalist and a frequent contributor to Illinois Times. She can be reached at rcodemo@Hotmail.com.