I want to lose 20 pounds. Really. I do.
For days, I've had WeightWatchers.com open on my computer, mouse perched over the "buy" button. You see, they have a "deluxe at-home kit" that has everything I need to lose the weight. At $130, it's pricey, but I'm the heaviest I've ever been. I need to do something soon or I'll have to buy a whole new wardrobe. That will cost much more than $130.
Trouble is, this pesky voice in my head isn't so sure the Weight Watchers kit will help me lose 20 pounds. After all, my niece proposed swapping childcare to work out, and so did my neighbor. Have I followed up on those offers? No, I have not. Ten minutes of simple exercises a day would help trim my waistline. Have I done even one push-up? No, I have not.
So, the pesky voice has a point. I'm already well-versed on the logistics of losing weight. Maybe a myriad of food lists with points and a calculator won't help me slim down. Maybe what I'm lacking is simple motivation. Which, true to my luck, no one sells.
Over the years I've gained and lost this 20 pounds at least five times. Along the way, I've used different tricks to stay motivated. Do any of them translate to my life now, as an almost-40 mother of three? Let's see:
• Wear clothes that make me feel fat. The theory is, it's harder to order that large fry with my stomach hanging out over my pants and both thighs numb from lack of circulation. I do have a foggy recollection of this working for me in the distant past. But I did this faithfully for the last year. It just makes me cranky.
• Think how fantastic I'll look at my goal weight. I've hit my weight goal and, eh, I looked all right. Why put myself through all the exercising and deprivation when a simple A-line skirt accomplishes so much?
• Think how hot I will look in a bikini. Two summers ago, I reached my goal weight and bought myself a flattering bikini. Despite the lack of cellulite on my spray-tanned legs, despite my flat abdomen, I had no desire to wear the bikini "around." Outside the water, I prefer to be more covered up. The allure of the bikini is dead to me.
• Do it to please my man. Do I even need to explain the many ways this doesn't work? OK, one example: Two years ago, the summer of the goal-weight bikini, we went to a wedding. I chose an outfit to accentuate my new body. Was Brian bowled over by my trim waist and firm buttocks? Maybe. I believe he said, "You look nice." Contrast this to last week, when we went to another wedding. Twenty-five pounds heavier, I wore an A-line skirt and a wrap top with belly-hiding folds. And Brian said ... "You look nice." Although sweet, Brian is no wellspring of weight loss motivation.
• Realize how much longer I'll live with faithful exercising and a monkish calorie intake. This is just so arbitrary, isn't it? We all know I could get hit by a truck tomorrow.
• Think how much better I'll feel. Oh, fine, so I'll feel better if I lose the weight. That's true. But I also feel quite pleasant after eating a huge plate of pasta or a bar of chocolate.
Well, that last one does still has some motivational power. If I eat well and get some exercise, I'll be less stressed and have more energy. In short, I'll feel better. Isn't it ironic that those benefits will come, even if I don't lose a single pound? Maybe that's the problem: I've been focused on the wrong thing. I don't want to look great. I want to feel great.
If nothing else, I just saved $130.
Kris Clouthier is a weight-obsessed freelance writer and stay-at-home mom to three. She lives north of Boston.