The Little Engine That Could

Have you  heard the story of the Little Engine that Could? It’s a classic bedtime story at our house! For those of you who have not, I’ll  summarize. The little blue engine agrees to pull a stranded train of toys over the mountain. When she comes to a hill, she can’t seem to  pull the train up, despite her best efforts. She decides she needs some help. Off she goes  to find another engine to come and help her. She approaches several different engines on separate occasions each of which turn her down. She decides that she will have to get the job done herself and so she sets her mind to it. While chanting, ‘I think I can, I think I can” she pulls the stranded toys up the hill and over the mountain. Of course, as with most storybooks, everyone lives happily ever.

This story has so many  parallels to weight loss! First, I love that she didn’t give up. No quitting for her! Those toys needed to get over the mountain and she was going to get them there no matter what. You could say that she had a goal.

Second, even though she repeatedly asked for help pulling that train up the mountain, she got none. She had to do it herself. Nobody else can go to the gym for you, eat healthy for you, get enough sleep for you or any other aspect of weight loss and have it count for you. You have to do it for yourself!

Third, ordinary people (okay, in this example she’s a train not a person but  it  still works) doing extraordinary things. Sound a little bit familiar?  It should, you do it everyday. Just look  in the mirror! There you are, an ordinary person, and yet you are somewhere in the process of losing weight. Whether you have just decided to change to a healthier lifestyle or whether  you’re close to hitting your goals, you are in the process of changing your life for the better and that is  something extraordinary!!

Weight loss is tough, and can feel very overwhelming. If someone had told me four years ago that I needed to lose 186 pounds, I would have:

  • A) thought they were a crazy drug dealer on a really good high and immediately called 911
  • B) shut myself in a closet and never come out just to avoid having to even think about such a daunting task
  • C) cried for three days straight, maybe longer…
  • D) all of the above

If you guessed D, you’re getting to know me pretty well! I’d have been in my closet, crying to the 911 operator!

Seriously though, the power of motivation and optimism (like our little engine that could…and did, might I point out) can be a lifesaver. Being able to focus on something positive rather than the negative that you  are currently experiencing can make or break you. Let’s use an example.

One of the things that makes weight loss so challenging is the dreaded plateau. There is nothing as frustrating or maddening as a plateau when you feel you are doing everything right. You have been going to the gym faithfully and eating what you should in the right portion sizes and yet the number on the scale stays the same…kinda makes you want to scream huh? Soon you find yourself thinking, ‘Why am I doing this? Why keep going? I’m not getting any benefit from it…I might as well quit.’

How do I know what you’re thinking? Been there, done that. I hit a plateau that lasted 18 months. It wasn’t a fun  place to be and yet no matter what  I tried, it seemed I couldn’t get past it. What finally worked you ask? NOT quiting, NOT giving up. I just kept going to the gym every day and eating right at every meal chanting “I think I can, I think I can”.  ~Okay, reality check~  I  wasn’t really walking around chanting “I think I can, I think I can”, BUT I did believe in myself and I told myself I was going to see this through to the end.

When it comes down to it, we all know in our heads that eventually we’ll move past the plateaus of weight loss and continue on our journey to better health. But, when you’re experiencing it day to day, it can be hard to believe in your heart. Instead of focusing on the number the scale keeps throwing in your face, I encourage you to think of what your motivations were to begin your journey in the beginning and then focus on them. Write them down and then put them where you can see them more than once a day.

Don’t forget that anything worth having is worth working and sacrificing for. The amount of work and sacrifice involved should be a good indicator of the quality of whatever it is you are trying to obtain. Losing weight is one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I can tell you from personal experience that it’s worth the work involved! So themnext time you find yourself thinking about giving up, I want you to hear me cheering for you, “I know you can, I know you can”!   -BECAUSE YOU CAN!!!

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