Why you have to get fit for yourself—and no one else

Nadia Helal | Fulcrum Staff

MOTIVATION IS TRICKY. It lasts for a few days, sometimes weeks, but rarely for years. When it comes to dieting and fitness, motivation is absolutely essential. I learned this the hard way in an oddball bet with my father a few years ago.

This may make my family seem shallow and vain, but they do not like to see me overweight. They witness firsthand how my confidence levels decline and also worry about the long-term health implications. Both of my parents live overseas, so when they visit Canada, they hope to see a happy, healthy daughter.

A few years ago, I was miserable after putting on a little weight. My father decided to turn my melancholy into a bet: I had just under one year to lose 20 pounds. If I succeeded, he would award me with $1000. I signed a contract, and the motivation began.

Besides walking and jogging more, I also started volunteering at a local YMCA in order to gain free access to a gym. My diet, already a vegetarian one, became a whole lot healthier. I limited my dairy and eggs, and added lots more legumes—especially lentils. Month after month, I could see the pounds dropping off; nearly every part of my body started to tone up, and I suddenly had massive amounts of energy.

A few months later, I won the bet, collected my bounty, and basked in my fabulous new body. My brother found the whole ordeal to be a little ridiculous and predicted that I would gain back the weight within a year.

Fast-forward to two years later: Indeed, all the weight had slowly returned—and then some. My interest in going to the gym waned, while cheese and late-night snacks crept back into my life. It was a sad reality to face; I felt shameful for having won such a ridiculous bet and then falling into old habits.

Thankfully, I had some inner motivation left and a family who still believed in me. These days, I bike to and from school daily. I also do yoga at Montpetit every week, and I’ve returned to moderating my intakes of certain evil dairy products. Although my weight it not quite where it was two years ago, it is getting there.

And this time I’m doing it for me.