Annoying Yourself: The Latest In Effective Motivation Tactics

Like a lot of women, I am a bit particular about my blue jeans.  I want to have blue jeans that look nice, make my butt look as good as possible, and fit well – you know, basic stuff.  But I have one other thing that is a must-have for my jeans, especially the nicer ones that I like to wear to work.  No, it’s not copious quanities of embroidery and bling on the booty – though I like that too. My must-have is that my jeans need to be a really, really dark blue.  I think really dark wash jeans give me the most flattering look that is professional enough for my job at a marketing services agency and versatile with my wardrobe.

I always wash my jeans inside out in cold water to try and preserve the color, but the simple fact is no matter what, eventually my midnight blue jeans start fading.  This doesn’t make them unwearable, but it does get them relegated to casual duty.  The past couple of weeks, I’ve started to look at my current wardrobe with an eye to getting a couple of new pairs, but I hesitated because I have been holding off on buying clothes until I reach my next weight goal – getting out of the 220’s, where I have been hanging out for well over a year due to laziness with my diet. As I outlined in my recent Health Accountability blog post, it’s time to put up or shut up and the insanity of making excuses and allowances with my eating so often needs to stop so I put a moratorium on buying unnecessary clothes until my weight is 219.8 or less on my scale at home.

All was well and good with following the moratorium plan until this week, when I got an email from Lane Bryant advertising a one-day-only 50% off sale on jeans.  Any time you can get jeans for 50% off it’s a Very Good Thing in my world, but because of the moratorium, I faced a dilemma.  Do I break the moratorium, or do I buy the jeans and save the money?  I posted a little facebook status asking my friends what they thought, and overwhelmingly they voted that I should buy the jeans as a reward for all my hard work so far. Trouble is, this didn’t feel right to me somehow – mostly because the health area I need to tackle most right now is FOOD CONSUMPTION, and what most of the people on my facebook page see is my statuses about working out, which is an area I’m doing great with right now. End result? My facebook poll actually made me a little more confused rather than less.

Enter my friend Paul Carter.  Paul and I have been friends for over 10 years – he and his wife Tiff were the first new friends I made after I moved to KC in 2002.  It just so happened that on the very same day I was faced with the 50% Off Jeans Dilemma, I had a lunch date with Tiff and Paul.  These two are fitness and nutrition buffs, particularly in the area of weightlifiting training. (Contrary to popular belief, I do hang with people other than CrossFitters). Paul has a blog called Lift-Run-Bang about strength training and just being a better father, husband, and person and has written and published two books. He does nothing by halves – as evidenced by one of the shirts he has sold that says “Death is winning. Do something!”  Despite the fact that we are at vastly different places in our training and enjoy different athletic pursuits, Paul and his blog always make me think differently about what I am doing.  So knew that he (and also Tiff) would have some great thoughts about how to handle the 50% Off Jeans Dilemma. And boy he did.

Paul’s take?  I can’t state it as eloquently as he does, but what it boils down to is that he thinks people in general and women in particular spend too much time focusing on the wrong sort of motivation tactics.  In particular, he feels that women chase too much positive or “inspirational” motivation.  Anyone who has a facebook account has seen this manifest – typically in the form of cutesy little pictures of fit girls in running shorts with quotes about how getting up to run is all sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns.  The problem?  Positive motivation only works for so long, and when it burns out what the hell do you do?  In far too many cases, the answer is that people quit their program entirely.  But if you want to be the fit, great looking athlete that you aspire to be, you have to work your training and nutrition plan for months and years on end – which means a different type of motivation is order.  Given that we also discussed how negative motivation (aka yelling at someone when they don’t do the right things) is also ineffective, I found myself very curious about what he might suggest.

What Paul told me to do – purely off the cuff, by the way – was to push myself towards my goal by annoying the ever loving crap out of myself.  He told me to buy the jeans that day – and then hang the jeans up in a very public place in my house where I would see them AND where anyone who comes over to my house would see them.  Originally he actually suggested hanging them from my kitchen ceiling, because if there is any place in the house you don’t expect to see a pair of pants hanging, the kitchen would be it, which would be annoying to me and would require an explanation to anyone who came over – friends, family, cable guy, dates – whoever comes over to your house is going to ask why the hell you have pants hanging from your kitchen ceiling.  He specifically emphasized NOT putting the pants in my bedroom or in my closet because nobody else would see them and they would ultimately blend in to the other clothes.

I gotta tell you, it took me a little bit, but realized that his idea is pure genius.  I already was annoyed by the moratorium because it meant that I couldn’t buy the pants in the first place.  But having the pants in the house, right in front of my face, and not allowing myself to wear them?  About ten times more annoying for sure.

Suffice it to say, I bought the pants.  It actually turned out that the pants I like so much were actually 80% off because they are on clearance, so I bought 5 pairs of them – 2 in my current size (18) and 3 in the next size down (16).  And yes, the 18’s are hanging in my living room right now, for all to see.

I can’t wait until earn the right to wear these pants. Because of a couple of higher-salt cheat meals I’ve allowed myself on my birthday weekend, I’m 4.2 pounds away from these pants as of Sunday 12/16. But I am determined to reach this goal sooner rather than later.

Bring on 219.8!

Can't wear these until I hit my next goal!

Can’t wear these until I hit my next goal!

3 responses to “Annoying Yourself: The Latest In Effective Motivation Tactics

  1. I lost some weight last year – and i have maintained most of that loss, BUT (butt actually) -one thing i have noticed since starting the workouts is that as I develop firmness in the glutes, My Pants No longfer Fit 😕


    • This is one of those things I like to call a First World Problem. I’m actually experiencing it myself since I’m doing air squats for my 100 day challenge. I have a couple pairs of pants that are fitting a little tighter in the butt and thighs. However, I’m also getting a lot of compliments on how I look so I am down with that! I have dropped 7 or 8 pounds since I started the 100 day challenge and started watching my food better. I know if I keep that up I will lose the inches!


  2. ALL of my problems are FW – every-single-one.
    some of them are even 1%er problems
    Heck- the above isn’t really a “problem” – I just HATE shopping for clothes, and i really liked those pants…
    and if THAT is the current pinnacle for my discontent*, then I have a pretty good life
    (*we shall not count the recent letter from the IRS)


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