Thursday, 6 February 2014

Keeping a Group (and myself) Positively Motivated

Being on a weight loss journey is difficult process whether you are doing it yourself or you belong to some sort of support group.  When you are trying to do it on you own you miss the accountability that belonging to a group gives you.  After all, if you indulge in that extra piece of cake or indulge in a week-long binge, who is going to know about it except you and your own scale?  But, I’ve found belonging to a group does not ensure success … sometimes the group as a whole suffers time of “bad attitude”.

For me personally, the last half of 2013 was a struggle.  My head just wasn’t in the right place and those numbers on that scale just kept creeping up instead of down.

You know when your underwear starts to feel too tight that things are just going to hell in a hand basket.  Just sayin’!

The strange thing was … my whole TOPS group was struggling as well.  We are a small group of 15 so it’s pretty easy for all of share the negativity.  Yes, I am the “group leader” but that doesn’t mean I don’t need the support of the group.  The only thing it means is that I prepare a program every week and make sure the meetings have some semblance of order.  I needed help!  Everyone in the group needed help!  What had happened to us?

Towards the end of 2013, due to reasons beyond our control, we lost our meeting space and had to scramble to find another place.  Of course, just as we got settled into our new Monday night home it was Christmas and New Year’s so there were no meetings for two weeks. 

Needless to say our first meeting in January was not a huge success.

BUT … everyone seems to have turned it around and so far in 2014 we have had two “NO GAIN” meetings.  Kudos to my group for turning that bad spell around and hopefully, whether we are trying to maintain or trying to lose, 2014 will be a better year than 2013 was.

While I was looking for some interesting meeting ideas for upcoming weeks I came across a couple of interesting things. The first was an article about an amazing young woman named Lizzie Valasquez.  I always contend that there are two sides to every story and Lizzie’s battle is the opposite of mine and the other members of my TOPS group.  While we are challenged to keep our calorie count down and burn off calories to lose weight, Lizzie must consume 5000 calories a day.  Yes, yes … I thought the same thing as you are probably thinking now … boy, it would be nice to have THAT problem for six months.  Unfortunately, Lizzie has a rare condition shared by only two people in the world.  Her body cannot gain weight or store fat.  She must consume those 5000 calories to stay alive.  I am sure the high caloric intake is as difficult (or more so) than it is for us to maintain a lower caloric intake.

The totally amazing thing about Ms. Valasques is her positive attitude.  If you read the article I’ve pasted here I’m sure you will agree … we can all learn a thing or two from this amazing young woman.

The second item I came across was in an older copy of the TOPSNews magazine that TOPS sends out every six weeks or so.  It arrives regularly in my mailbox, yet I often forget what a wonderful resource it is for information.  Every so often they have a TOP TEN list.  In the back issue I was flipping through the TOP TEN list happened to be about the health benefits of maintaining a positive attitude … not only for weight loss but for life in general.

I hope TOPS doesn’t mind but I would like to share that article here too.

The TOPS Ten Reasons to Cut the Complaining

Whether at work, at home, or at chapter meetings, complaining may cause more problems than we realize.  A complaint is a negative reaction to what is perceived as a problem when what is preferable is a positive response to a challenge.  Her are ten primary dangers we can avoid if we “Cut the Complaining”!

  1. Things appear to be worse than they are.  When we complain, we only focus on what is wrong.  In actuality, things may not be so bad.  If a situation is 90% good and 10% bad, and we spend out time and energy focused on the 10%, we overlook all that is really good.

  1. Bad habits form quickly.  Complaining is like exercise – the more you do it, the easier is gets and the better you get at doing it.  It can become something you actually enjoy.

  1. What you think you see is what you get.  Perception distorts reality in our minds.  Our complaining focuses on the negative and colors everything around us in a bad light.  Then, our subconscious mind tries to make this observation be what we see as real.

  1. Down is the wrong direction.  Complaining is the evil twin of one-upmanship – it becomes one-downmanship.  One person complains, the next person has to top them with his or her complaint, and so on.  Soon everyone is hopping on the bandwagon of counterproductive behaviour.

  1. Despondency is not good for anyone.  Not only does complaining make situations seem worse than they are, it destroys all hope that the situation could possibly improve.

  1. Creativity and innovation disappear.  When people lose hope, they cease to be motivated to achieve their goals.  They think there is no point to coming up with ideas and implementing them, since chronic complainers will just shoot down anything new and say the ideas won’t work anyway.

  1. Negativity grown like a bad weed.  The only way to gain status among complainers is to be the most negative person in the group.  That is not the type of recognition of which you are worthy.

  1. Bad relationships result.  Relationships that form from commiserating by complaining are toxic.  To start being part of such a group, you have to escalate the level of complaining.  The result is everyone in the relationship becomes mired deeper in the complaint mindset.

  1. Cliques form.  Complaining closes people off in exclusive little groups colored by bitterness, criticism, and suspicion.  Being positive, optimistic and appreciative opens us up to others, making it easier to connect and succeed.

  1. Pessimism is counterproductive to a healthy lifestyle.  There is a mistaken idea that complainers have an edge because they see problems sooner.  The truth is that optimists lead better lives.  Believing in themselves and the efforts of those around them is the confidence that results in success.  Studies in positive psychology indicate that people who see the world in a positive light have the following advantages:

    1. They live longer.
    2. They are healthier.
    3. They have more friends and better social lives.
    4. They are more successful at work.
    5. They enjoy life more.

It never ceases to amaze me how sometimes things just seem to appear in tandem when I am thinking about a certain topic or conversation to share with my group.  I guess my mind is focused, so it just picks the pertinent information out of the online and paper litter I manage to accumulate.  See … the mind is a powerful thing.


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