Monday, January 23, 2012

Resolve to find what inspires you

Inspirational Stones

Image: Photography by BJWOK /

Inspiration is one of those slippery words, like idealism or love, that is sometimes hard to define.

I recently read an article in the December issue of Runner’s World magazine about a young man named Ben who lost 120 pounds in one year. On his website, Ben posted a video of his journey, beginning with photos of himself as a “normal-sized” child who grows into an overweight, unhappy adult, his weight soaring to 365 pounds, before he becomes “inspired” and begins his transformation into a happier, healthier Ben. More than a million people have watched Ben’s video, perhaps relating to his struggle or cheering his success.

I, however, was left with one question after watching Ben’s video: What, exactly, inspired him?

An email sent to Ben asking him to shed some light on this important and pivotal moment of inspiration went unanswered. Perhaps Ben is too busy these days running races and touring the country as a newly minted motivational speaker.

Or, perhaps he simply can’t. Inspiration, that certain “je ne sais quoi” that influences you to do something or spurs you into action, is as intangible and fleeting as a puff of warm air on a cold window pane, shifting and then dissipating out of existence almost as quickly as it appeared.

Ask anyone why they exercise and you are certain to receive a variety of automatic responses, such as “to stay healthy,” “to lose weight,” or “to de-stress.” But the real question, the harder question, is why anyone wants to do these things in the first place?

For some, maybe it will be watching Ben’s video and seeing a hero quality in him, someone they can look up to. For others, maybe they have lost someone to diabetes, heart disease, or some other possibly preventable obesity-related illness.

My mother has always struggled with her weight, trying different diets to varying degrees of success. Then, in the late 1990s, we took a vacation together to Florida and walked on the beach every morning. My mother enjoyed our walks but not the fact that she had to huff and puff to keep up.

The realization that she was only in her mid-forties and struggled during these daily walks inspired her to make a real change and, following our vacation, she embarked on the healthiest and fittest decade of her life. She had always wanted to lose weight, but it was that specific “a-ha!” moment on the beach that compelled her to finally achieve her goals.

Simply wanting to be fit and healthy is sometimes not enough. It’s digging deeper and finding the real reason for your desire that is likely to garner successful, long-term results.

So, as you begin to define your hopes and goals for the New Year, make sure you know not only what you want to do, but why you want to do it. Possessing a deeper understanding of why you want to achieve a goal may bring you one step closer to success.

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