Building Motivation, Brick by Brick

I’ve been on a Weight Watchers journey for a year and a half.  I started out very strong, losing 75 lbs in the first 10 months or so.  I stalled then, plateauing for 3 months before life happened.  In the 6 months since then I have gained back over half of what I’d lost and have been struggling to get back on track.  I’m working separately on the “life happened” portion, because I know if I don’t resolve some things the weight will always be a struggle (I might write more about this later, but don’t feel up to it just yet).   On the other hand, I’ve also been searching for a visible, tangible way to motivate myself.  Enter: Lord of the Rings Legos.

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I’ve been a Lego fan for a long time, starting when I was a kid and learned about them from my brother.  Back then, I loved the Castle and Divers sets, but I was never an avid Lego collector.  That changed when The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit sets were released.   With JRR Tolkien as my favorite author and the Lord of the Rings & Hobbit films as my favorite movies, it was pretty much inevitable.  I collected all the sets, but left the ultimate set, The Tower of Orthanc, planning to make that a reward for hitting a certain weight goal.  Then the aforementioned life happened.

As a result, I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to come up with a way to both motivate myself and keep myself accountable.  I tried telling myself I wasn’t allowed to watch “Arrow” unless I behaved myself, but found I just couldn’t stop myself from watching when a new episode came out.  I went back to the drawing board.  Then I saw someone post a picture of their motivational tool, which was two jars with marbles, one that said “Pounds Lost” and one that said “Pounds to lose.”  That seemed like a good idea and I considered doing something similar, but it was a little discouraging to think of how much I have to lose.  I think about that more than enough already without a big ole jar of marbles to make it that much more obvious.

Then I thought back to the only Lord of the Rings Lego set I still didn’t have.  The Tower of Orthanc.  At 2359 pieces, I felt sure I could come up with some way to use this Super-Lego-Set to both motivate me and keep me accountable.  If I could see my progress with the growth of the tower, it would give me some visible motivation to keep going.  And, as excited as I am to complete the build, I feel I will have the discipline to hold myself to only working on it if I met certain goals.

I went to the Lego store on Thursday and spent way too much money on a toy, still unsure how I was going to structure the goals and use the Lego set as a reward.  Would I allow myself a certain number of pieces, or pages of instructions for each day or week I stayed on plan?  Would I allow myself to do a certain portion when I hit a certain number on the scale?

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Upon opening the box and seeing the 3 books of instructions and FIFTEEN bags of pieces, the plan started to solidify.  Allowing myself a page or two of instructions per day of remaining on plan would be a pain and a book a week was too much.  So I settled on the following: for each week I lose or maintain at my weekly weigh-in, I will assemble the contents of one bag.  I briefly considered taking apart a section if I had a gain, but discarded that.  I’m trying to be more positive about myself in general, so I will not punish myself for a bad week.

Of course, this will mean the longest Lego-build I’ve ever done, taking place over at least 15 weeks.  But it will also mean plenty of time to rebuild the habit of being on plan, and should see me make significant progress towards my ultimate goal.  I will be able to watch the tower grow and know that it shows my progress, and completing it will give me a symbol of victory and success.

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I had hoped to be able to start building yesterday (my weigh-in day is Saturday) but while I had a better week than I’ve had in a long time, I still wasn’t quite there.  I allowed myself a little cheat and put together the eagle as a little encouragement.  After all, he was in his own bag, and it didn’t have a number!

If all goes well, I should have a completed Tower of Orthanc by the last week of May or first week of June.  In the meantime, I have a special box with the project laid out, to keep the goal and reward ever in front of me as a reminder.  I won’t post weekly updates, but will occasionally provide a progress report on the construction!

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Note: The photos above are mine, but I don’t own the trademarks on Lego, The Lord of the Rings, or the Tower of Orthanc.

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4 thoughts on “Building Motivation, Brick by Brick

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