Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The difference between motivation and determination

When people learn about my weight loss, aside from wanting to know the magic pill I took (i.e. diet and exercise), they usually ask me, "How did you stay motivated?"

The short answer is, I didn't. I didn't even have motivation when I started losing! What I did have, however, was determination.

(Um, Katie... isn't that the same thing?)

No--they are completely different! Here is the definition from the dictionary:

Motivation- A motivating force, stimulus, or influence; incentive; drive.

Determination- The act of deciding definitely and firmly; firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.
(source)

I believe that motivation is only temporary. You might feel motivated to lose weight by watching weight loss stories on TV, or reading weight loss blogs (like mine!) or seeing a friend who did it. But that motivation only lasts until you are faced with temptation, and then the motivation shoots out the window because you want to eat _____ (fill in the blank). Motivation is that "force" that makes you want to achieve something and gives you drive to do it--but only until you lose that drive.

(source)
Determination, on the other hand, is "the act of deciding definitely and firmly". It's a DECISION that has no if's, and's, or but's. You make the decision to just do it, and you DO IT, motivation be damned.

When I finally decided to lose the weight, it wasn't a matter of feeling motivated--because I didn't feel that way at all. I really was sick of dieting and failing; of high hopes being crushed every time I failed; deprivation and restriction... I just wanted to be done with the whole idea of losing weight and just live my life!

However, when I wasn't able to teach Noah to ride a two-wheeler because I was too fat to run up and down the street alongside his bike, the fire of determination was lit inside of me. It was no longer an act of feeling motivated (because I still didn't feel motivated)--I just decided that I would have to do it, no matter how badly I didn't want to.

When I made that decision, it was no longer an issue as to whether I could stay on track--because I was so determined to finally reach the "end" that I wanted/needed. I knew exactly what I needed to do to lose the weight (count calories and make smarter food decisions; exercise); so I did it because that was the decision I had already made.

When you feel the fire of determination, you're not making the decision to just "get it done"; you're making the decision to do whatever it takes to get it done. This doesn't mean that you're not going to have setbacks along the way; but you will realize that they are just setbacks. You can keep right on going, because you already made the decision to do whatever it takes and not give up.

Eight months after I felt that determination, my mom took this video:
video

I was still very overweight in that video (about 173 pounds), but I was able to teach Eli to ride a two-wheeler.  That made every little sacrifice worth it.

If you have seen my weight loss video, then you might recognize this picture:
The reason I chose that picture to represent "determination" was because this was the day that I finally achieved an 8-mile run. I had attempted to run 8 miles two other times, but couldn't quite make it. Then I made the decision that the third attempt was going to be IT, and I was absolutely determined to finish that 8 miles. And I did!!  My shirt was soaked in sweat (that was obviously before I discovered the magic of technical shirts!) but you can see the smile on my face and how proud I felt in that moment.

I guess the whole point of this post is that if there is something you want, don't wait for motivation to push you through (because it won't)--find the determination inside of you and DO IT! No excuses ;)
 
"A failure establishes only this: that our determination to succeed was not strong enough." --John Christian Bovee

55 comments:

  1. Great post! It's so true, too. Long-term changes come from making a choice, and choices are what shape us everyday. We choose to get healthy, we choose to be happy, we choose to be productive.

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  2. I love this post! You put it so eloquently and the video brought tears to my eyes. When my friends ask me how I stay motivated I usually tell them I don't feel like I have any other choice- going back to my old ways just isn't an option.

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  3. You have no idea how much I needed to read this post! I just got back from running errands and had foolishly stopped and got my kids and myself Taco Bell. I looked up the calorie content of what I ate as soon as I got home and I felt so horrible because it totaled as many calorie as I have been trying to eat in a WHOLE day!!! I felt defeated...but then I got on your blog, which I just recently discovered and even e-mailed you once(I'm the 'crazy', "we have a lot in common" lady from Michigan!), and saw this new post! What you say really resonated with me. This, unlike the last time I tried to lose the 100 pounds I need to lose, is DIFFERENT! I started this journey only really by chance, some ladies in a facebook group I'm a part of wanted to have a weight loss challenge and I offered to supply a blog where we could keep all the information organized (because I already had one from an earlier attempt at losing weight) and I thought 'why not participate too, even though I don't really WANT to, I HAVE to.' So even though I had a setback only a week and a half in to this FINAL weight loss journey, I will NOT let it deter me from reaching my healthy weight! Thank you so much Katie for posting this! : )

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  4. Fabulous post--and exactly what I needed to read right now!

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  5. I agree, it's not about motivation. I cringe when articles, and weight loss programs reinforce the idea that failing to lose weight is due to lack of motivation.

    I like the concept of determination - I had not thought of it that way, but I agree with you completely.

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  6. Love love love this post! This is exactly how I feel when I think about my weight loss. I tell people all the time its not about motivation, its definitely determination and making the choice for YOU. How many times had I said "oh I should lose weight to look better", "If I lose a few pounds maybe my husband will find me more attractive", etc. I was always so worried about what other people thought and how they would feel that I never made it past a couple of weeks of working out. This last time in Oct 2010 was when I finally said, I AM DOING this for me. If people like it great, if not to hell with them lol. I tell people all the time, once you decided it is going to happen then it definitely will. Jillian Michaels has a saying - "To say you will “try” to do something gives yourself permission to fail.", so unless you decide to make it happen you are just wasting your time.

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  7. I AM DETERMINED! I appreciate everything you said in this post. Motivation will get you through the first weekend, Determination with see you through the rest of your life.

    I have been discouraged because I have lost almost nothing in 3 weeks but I remember that this is a lifetime battle not just a 3 week fast!

    Thanks!

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  8. I love this post! you are so right determination is what we need to accomplish any goal. I cried when I watched the video.

    -Martha

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  9. I really love your blog.Being someone who started having to lose 118 pounds and now has 88 pounds left to shed I find it really encouraging . I agree with the difference between motivation and determination ! 172 pounds is my goal weight ,and I would find it very discouraging if I still thought of that as "very overweight"but I realize these things are subjective and vary with ones height,personal comfort etc.

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    1. I definitely didn't mean to say that everybody at 173 pounds is "very overweight"--I just meant by medical standards for someone with my height. At 173, I was just barely out of the "obese" category, which put me in the highest part of the "overweight" category as far as BMI goes.

      Congrats on your weight loss so far!!

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  10. I was reading From Fat to Finish's Facebook page and found a great quote: "Losers quit when they get tired. Winners quit when they are done."

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    1. I love that one too!! Thanks for mentioning it! :)

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  11. I love this post! I was just thinking something similar the other day. I've been reading your blog on and off for a while. You've helped me remain determined this year. I've lost 41 pounds since January of 2011 and I finally was told I don't need to lose more (unless I want to perform better athletically)and I am in the FIT category! I get told I am inspiring to other people I know but I never know or understand it.......always asked what "motivated" me or something similar. Your post/story is similar to how I've been thinking. Thank you.

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  12. Thank you for this Katie, I really needed this today. I have struggled so long with my weight lost. But now I understand, determination is the key, I am training for a 10k in March this is my 3rd one I am going to try and walk/jog it, prob. walk most of it but I wanted to skip my training today which was a short 15 min. walk, but reading this made me think I will never reach my goals if I don't even try.

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  13. Thank you Katie! I can so relate! (Especially to the 8 mile run!)

    I agree with you. In my own 90 pound weight loss journey, i learned that it's got less to do with motivation and "willpower" and more to do with determination and perseverance. When I joined WW at my highest weight I was determined to persevere no matter what. I didn't care if it took 6 months or 6 years, I knew I was going to just not give up. (It took 3 years - bumpy roads but I got there.)

    So glad to have found your blog!!

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  14. Amazing post! I just came across your blog very recently and I have to say I relate so much to what you write. I have lost almost 90 lbs to date and many people ask me what my secret is and I usually tell them no secret just changed the way I ate and exercise. But your thoughts on the difference between motivation and determination are dead on.

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  15. I completely agree! I've never felt motivated at all, and there are times when I feel distinctly UNmotivated, but i keep going no matter what, because I am determined to get there no matter how long it takes me.

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  16. love, Love, LOVE this blog. I cant tell you the amount of times I have said...."I just cant get motivated" So now I say "what the hell does motivation have to do with it?" lol I tried this line of thinking while doing my dreaded 2 miles on the dreadmill and it worked...thanks Girlfriend. I hope to use this a good bit :)

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  17. I totally agree. I keep losing the motivation and caving in to binge eating. I used to be a very determined woman and a friend once used that word to describe me when she had to just choos one word. I think that is what I have lost in gaining all of the weight I am carrying, my determination that used to define me. I will give this a lot of thought tonight.

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  18. I have never thought about the difference between those two words. Thank you for this post! I was JUST telling my friend that I wondered if I would ever WANT to workout - it seems every day I have to FORCE myself to exercise but once I do - I feel awesome and totally motivated. I was wondering where that motivation went the next day when it was time to workout again! Now I realize that it's not motivation but determination that gets me to the gym every day! I think another great word that keeps ME going is dedication... I am DEDICATED to my children's well being that is why I have the DETERMINATION to get healthy so I can enjoy them longer and so I can set a good example for them!! Thank you! :-)

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  19. Wow...best post ever :) I needed to read that today. Gonna go lace up those shoes right now!

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  20. You might have just saved my life Katie. This was a well written post and one that is SOOO very important. I just can't thank you enough for this post. It's exactly the thing I needed to read tonight! Thank you SO MUCH!

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  21. Powerful stuff! Seriously, for some reason this post makes me cry. In a good way.

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  22. Great post Katie! I wish that guy Joe from The Biggest Loser last night could have found his determination. So sad that he quit when so many others would have given almost anything to be in his spot (ie: the aqua team!) Sadly- I think he must have some serious problems in his life that he needs to work out if he couldn't cope with being away from his family for just a few weeks. I bet the producers are Pissed!

    Also-- what the hell is with that weird ascot thing the guy on the aqua team always wears around his neck? It's like something from the early 70's- reminds me of something a 70's pimp would wear! LOL!!

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  23. Oh this really hits the nail on the head with what I have been trying to figure out -0 with how to tell people how I keep on track. Much better than "going back cannot be an alternative for me because it means unhappiness - no heck - death!. People sort of sluff that off. Death! But I was thinking just setting your mind to something and when you get a little off you just say OK fine and then back on the path with ya! But determination was the word I wanted.

    Thank you.

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  24. Great post, thanks!

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  25. Fabulous post, Katie!

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  26. Wonderful post on the effort needed to succeed! And I love the quote at the end.

    Determination. Check that box. I knew that I needed to stop "trying" to lose weight. I just have to get it done and move on with my awesome life. I'm determined to do it this time. :)

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  27. Reading your blog each day helps to give me the encouragement I need. Since January 2nd I have dropped 12lbs. Each day I tell myself its a lifesyle change not a diet. Thank you for encouraging me!

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  28. I've never commented on here before, but today I just have to. MAN OH MAN, this entire post is SO good for me! SO needed!! I'm seriously gonna print it out and tape it to my treadmill.
    THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!!

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  29. You're awesome. I needed to hear this so badly. I am a new runner and just started the C25k program. Dang, it's hard, but I am determined. I have been motivated before, yet I am still fat, but this time I am just in this zone that is made up of complete determination. I hate to run, in fact, it makes me wanna smack someone while I am doing it, but afterwards the determination to stick it out and work on not being fat makes me feel amazing. Keep it up, girl. Your words are doing good things for people like me. PS. Your blog hates me. Took me like 30 minutes to post this comment, but dang it I was determined! ;)

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  30. I absolutely needed to read this today! Thank you so much!

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  31. I don't even know what to say Katie, it is actually kind of spooky that you posted what you did. It is like exactly what I've been trying to explain to my husband and daughter, word for word except I really couldn't figure out the best way to explain it so that they could fully understand. We were just talking about it tonight, just 30 minutes ago. I struggled to find a way for them to truly understand where I was coming from and how I feel. I just got everyone to bed and settled in to read your blog and here it is...I actually cried reading your post (I kinda feel like a dummy but oh well). Anyway, I'm so happy and proud of you for finally doing it and finding your determination and daily my determination grows. It's kind of nerdy but I wrote that saying of Yoda's from Star Wars on my fridge, "DO...or DO NOT...there is NO try!" I think trying and doing is the difference between motivation and determination. Thanks for sharing your life with us ; )

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  32. I have nbeen reading you for about 3 yeas at least. Where you lost weight I gainers the 50 I lost back and here I am starting my journey all over again
    I loce this post
    I had it backward there's been times I just couldn't do anything I mean what's the. Point right if I wouldn't have gained this weight all back I wouldn't be starting over ...I can't do it because I don't have the motivation and when I do get the. Motivation its short lived. This blog this entry is motivating
    My problem isn't ft I'm not motivated ...its that I haven't been determined. If I want to see results I have to just DO t. I love this entry. And I read you every post for heart thought I would say hi.

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  33. LOVE this blog and that video. I have tears in my eyes, thinking about how determined you were that YOU would be the one to teach Eli to ride his bike! For some reason I feel so proud of all you have accomplished Katie!
    Determination is a mindset that is necessary for significant weight loss. I hadn't realized that until you wrote it. I knew I WAS determined, but didn't think about the difference between motivation and determination until you put it in words. SO TRUE!
    Here's to determination--may it last forever--or at least until I breath my final breath.

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  34. love this entry katie, so powerful. thanks for stopping by!! so glad you said you do so occasionally :)

    I'll never forget when you went back to do the indy walk, how you had wanted to be so much more fit in the picture they take at the end. just as powerful.

    Also... did you know pb2 now carries chocolate??? have you tried it?! im dying to know if it is worth it.

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  35. also, i dont know why im coming up in here as unchained melody??? again it is bella luce. but i guess this is my name on here. i think ths was my like AIM name from a million moons ago.

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  36. Damn... one less excuse I can use now ;)

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  37. Great post!

    I'm not a huge Cheerios fan but I saw a commercial for these and thought of you!

    http://www.cheerios.com/Products/Multi-Grain-Cheerios-Peanut-Butter

    Katie G.

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  38. Well said! That's exactly how I feel about it! People ask me the same thing, and I've never had such an eloquent answer. What I usually say is "I made the decision and then I just did it."

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  39. Cheers from Australia! Great attitude & great post - it even brought me out of the shadows to comment, and that's saying something :)

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  40. Love it!My power word is ambition! This time around I have it in spades.

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  41. You just made my day! Thank you so much, Katie. I needed this post today! :)

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  42. excellent post, Katie. One of the many reasons why I love your blog :)

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  43. GREAT post, Katie!! You're right, there is a BIG distinction, and I frequently feel low on the motivation, but I realize now that maybe it's not as important as I thought! Thanks for the "determination inspiration"!

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  44. You said it sister! Thanks!

    I recently, over the past 3 days, read your entire blog archives. I feel a crazy connection to you... methinks it's your writing. You clearly have inspired oodles of people to be determined. Well done, Katie. Well done!

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  45. wow, 48 comments? Beautiful. I still hope you read my comment :)

    I'm so proud of you. And I'm jealous. After this post I know what I miss. Where can I get this determination?

    You're doing great and I love your blog.

    Rahel

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  46. I'm a new follower and I love this post!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  47. determination is the hardest. im in a struggle right now because the motivation is gone, a month of working out and eating well and not much weight loss. i pray determination happens, ive just spent far too long with the decision in my head that there was nothing i could do, i would always be fat. i pray my determination comes, i dont want this anymore but i cant picture it any other way...you are so amazing.

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  48. You are so very insightful and this post rang true for me. I just shared this at my WW meeting tonight when I hit my 5%. It has been several months to get here, and I feel like it was determination that got me here. I also posted about it on my blog.

    Thanks so much for writing and for your encouragement!

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  49. I love this post, Katie. I come back to it now and then for some extra inspiration. :) Thank you for sharing your journey - it's a huge encouragement!!

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  50. Yes yes yes yes!! Determination is what gets my butt out the door when I'm not really feeling it. It sure as hell isn't motivation. Thanks for this. Spot on.

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  51. Love this!!! This is what I need today. I have (once again) decided to 'lose the last `15 lbs.'...but after the first 5 days or so, I fall back into my old ways as I just lose motivation. But determination is a whole other thing. Thank you!

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I'd love to hear from you! I read all of my comments, and if you have a question, I do my best to respond; sometimes, however, I get busy and forget to go back to reply, so if it's important, just email me! :)