The Positive Motivator

After 28 days of dieting and exercising…I’ve been quite bored with the doldrum.  Throw in an arctic chill that makes you want to stay under the covers and hibernate instead of working out or dieting…what will keep you going? 

Well, it’s January, which means major winter clearance sales.  Retail sales usually spike in January, especially when the weather is horrible outside, because people need some sort of stimulant to make them feel better about the cold, dismal days ahead.

I’ve become a bit of a J. Crew fanatic these past couple of weeks.  Their extra 40% off clearance and final sale items at both J. Crew and their Factory store online has led to a whole new colorful and vibrant winter stock up.  I think I got every tee and sweater in every shade of the J. Crew 2012/2013 rainbow.  What I love about all of the vibrant colors hitting the shelves this month is that it serves as a serious pick-me up to these winter blues. 

Mixing and matching the various vibrant colors has been a lot of fun.  Like today, I’m wearing a lime tee with a neptune green (think Tiffany blue) sweater.  I just love how I’ve been able to mix and match all of these fun colors (next…mixing and matching prints).

jcrewcoatNow, the main reason for this post, “The Positive Motivator,” deals with a Neptune Green coat I picked up from J. Crew back in November [see picture, the Neptune Green was sold out as of this post]. 

When I bought the coat back in November, I ended up returning it because it was too small in the arms (it was cutting off the circulation in my biceps…that’s how tight it was).  I loved the coat so much, because it was the perfect coat and I loved the color.  I was sad that it didn’t work out. 

As of January, I was still thinking about that coat.  So with the coat hitting the clearance bin (in my size) and with the new price of $155.99 (which is a great price for a coat…J. Crew at that), I decided to just buy the coat again.  Maybe next year it would fit if I kept doing what I was doing.

When the box arrived last night, I told myself, “Don’t you dare try that coat on.  You’re going to regret it and hate yourself for it.”  But I didn’t listen to my inner self that likes to belittle me all of the time.  I put the coat on, knowing it wouldn’t fit.

To my surprise…IT FITS!

I was in complete shock.  It fit perfectly!  I guess all of those push-ups this month have paid off.  I not only got the coat I’ve been lusting after since J. Crew sent me their catalog featuring the Neptune Green Stadium Coat back in October, but I got a coat that ended up turning into a reward for a job well done.

I’ve bought a lot of J. Crew this month for God knows whatever reason…thing is…back in November, J. Crew did not fit me at all.  Now it does. 

Sometimes using a scale to determine how you’re doing doesn’t help you at all.  Always go by the way your clothes feel. 

This month I’ve been buying clothes 1 size smaller than I normally wear.  My logic: because I’ll be that size next month and will need new clothes.  I actually did this when I first got the Lap-Band.  I actually had 3 sizes…my biggest size and the next 2 sizes down.  This was actually a positive motivator as I dropped the 2 sizes.  I got to wear new and fun clothes that I would not have been able to wear if I was my old size.

I bought clothing from stores I dreamed of owning something from…I bought designers that never fit before, because my attitude and mindset became: I will be able to wear this.

Guess what?  It worked. 

It built a lot of self-confidence in myself that I would be able to wear the designers I loved.  I still wear my Valentino dress with pride. 

Building a wardrobe around your future YOU is an excellent motivator.  I tend to gravitate towards brands or designers that didn’t cater to my size…you know those brands/designers.  J. Crew was one of them.  I used to walk around in stores like Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Banana Republic and United Colors of Bennetton when I was in my 20s, dreaming of being able to wear (and afford) their clothing.  Their sizing didn’t fit me.  Their price tags I couldn’t afford…but I dreamed of wearing their clothing some day.

Now, I do.  They have become nicer to bigger sized women, even though many of them still had a learning curve for women over size 12. 

There are a lot of designers who do not go over size 12 or 14.  There are designers that still make you feel fat in a size 12 or 14 when you’re a size 10.  So I aim to be able to wear their designs…especially, if they come out with fabulous clothing.

Many people know what I’m talking about.  You could find a dress that you think is absolutely amazing and dream of wearing it, but it doesn’t fit or you could stand to lose a few pounds.  BUY IT anyway.  Let it be your positive visual motivator. 

The trick is…this has got to be something you find to be perfect in every way that you’re still thinking about it months later.  Like that Neptune Green coat…I bought it, tried it on, was disappointed it didn’t fit, so I returned it.  I was disappointed up until last night when it arrived again.  I was planning on it being my positive visual motivator…instead it turned out to be an award for a job well done. 

Mind you, even though that was a pleasant surprise, I still have a bunch of clothes 1 size too small to work towards.  After I reach that goal, I’ll buy new clothes 1 size too small again.

This motivator has worked for me in the past and it’s nice to see that it still works now.  For those that think you can’t justify doing this as a positive motivator, consider it planning ahead for your immediate future.  You were going to buy clothes your size for now anyway…instead, remind yourself that you have a closet full of clothes in your current size already. You need to prepare for the day you won’t be that size anymore, so you buy one size down.  In a month or two (or three) it will fit. 

In a way, planning each small step at a time is what will lead you to success.  If you’re a size 16 with a goal of a size 8, don’t go out and buy a whole wardrobe in size 8…at least not until you are physically a size 10.  I’ve bought a few designer pieces before in my ultimate goal size.  You know what?  It’s still waiting.  It isn’t a motivator enough.  Go one size down at a time, because losing one size is more realistic in your mind and more easily attainable than half your body weight.

In other words, don’t overwhelm yourself.  You need to visually see in your mind that your next step in the battle is 5-10 pounds, or 1 size down, or exercising more, or eating healthier.  There is a process to this.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with the “BIG” picture.  Just focus on each step you have to take and accomplish that.  If your next step is one size less, then buy new clothes that are one size down.  If your next step is to exercise more, then plan and do a lot of activities that require you to move more.  Go for a walk.  Do some sort of physical activity.  Just move and keep moving.

Sometimes even changing how you do something (like run errands), could be your first step to change.  Instead of driving, try walking or bicycling.  I used to park at the far end of the parking lot just so I could get more exercise in while running errands.  I’d take the dog for a walk along trails, just to get both of us out and in the open.  You’ll find that the trouble you can get into with your dog can be just as fun.  [My dog found a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest as it was learning how to fly.  He started to go near it when the Mama Bird came swooping down on both of us, attacking us.  We took off running.  By the time we got far enough away from Mama Bird, we were both out of breath…and the smile on my dog’s face made the moment absolutely fun as hell.]

People always look at the end result of what they want, instead of just looking at the plan from getting from Point A to Point B and the struggles that lie ahead on that journey.  Look at losing weight as climbing a ladder.  You have to do X, Y and Z before you can reach the next rung.  Focus on what you have to do to get there.  Enable positive motivators along the way and create rewards for a job well done.  Keep in mind that your rewards should never be anything that goes back to your old (or bad) ways.  Reward yourself with something that actually enhances the new goal.  One size down, you need new clothes for that new size.  Don’t reward yourself with a slice of chocolate cake or a cupcake. 

Even reading 52 books a year, I reward myself monetarily so that I can earn (and save) enough money for my new Chanel handbag.  By spending the money before I reach the goal of the Chanel handbag…that actually hurts my ultimate goal.  Not reading 52 books?  That also hurts my goal.

You see…I like to reward myself with things I could not attain before or thought was out of my reach.  When I accomplish each small goal, I have a small reward (like new designer clothes in a smaller size, or a monetary reward) for each step of the way.  When I hit major milestones, I put a little something extra into the rewards pot.  Like 10 books read = an extra $100.  Or 25 pounds equals tickets to a Broadway show I’ve been wanting to see, or something from Tiffany & Co., or a little trip to see Jaromir Jagr play in Dallas.  At 50 pounds, the reward gets even bigger…like a Carribean trip or a trip to Spain. 

If you’re wondering how you can afford the reward, save money along the way.  For instance, since I hate working out, if I actually work out that day, I reward myself with $10.  Work out 4-5 times a week, that’s $40-$50 a week.  If I successfully do this all month long, I’ll add another $100-$250 to the pot.  Tying your goals into saving for what you really want, that you thought was way out of reach, is a great way to accomplish your goal.  That way, you kill two birds with one stone.  You are rewarding yourself for the work you put into it and you’re saving for something you’ve always wanted.  By the time you reach your goal, you’ll have some money in the bank to get that dream you’ve been chasing after.  Oh, and if losing weight was your goal…you’ll be at your weight loss goal and have money to reward yourself with a nice beach vacation where you’re not ashamed to wear a bathing suit.

Just a FYI, the small rewards doesn’t figure into this ‘save along the way.’  Consider the small rewards just your regular expenses.  The ‘save along the way’ is for the ultimate goal.

Only you know what you can afford in the ‘save along the way’ and small rewards.  Save what you can realistically pay yourself without hurting your finances.  You buy clothes anyway, whether it be from Goodwill or Saks Fifth Avenue, create your small rewards based on your budget and what you can realistically afford.  If you’re buying one size down with each small reward, just make sure you don’t go into debt for each small reward.  It defeats the purpose of rewarding yourself when you have an IOU to someone else.  Be realistic about what you reward yourself with…even if the small rewards are just something that enhances your life and your goal somehow and doesn’t cost you a penny.  Just make sure that if you have an ultimate goal that requires you to spend money on your reward after you reach your goal…make sure that you are saving all along the way (and don’t dip into that pot until you’ve reached that goal…in other words, do not sabotage yourself).

Find your positive motivator for each step along the way.  Find your ultimate dream for when you reach the ultimate goal…and make it happen.

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