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30 Top Finalists Chosen for the Best Motivations Contest! Who should Win $250?

By KELLY PLOWE

Last month we launched the "What's Your Motivation to be Healthy?" contest and we were thrilled and inspired to receive over 200 responses. All of the entries are a testament to the commitment that our readers and community have to bettering their lives and their health.

Whether they eat healthy to be there for their children or spouses, or they train daily to compete in a marathon, or they generally try to live in better health than their parents did, these 200 LIVESTRONG members shared the motivations that drive them every day.  These are the reasons they get up to go on their daily run or bike ride, the reasons why they choose salad over pizza at lunch, and the reasons why many of them continue to track their calories on MyPlate every day.

We read through all of the entries and selected the 30 most inspiring and unique entries, which you can find below.

Motivation_AdminImageDownload-1

Now it's your turn to leave a comment at the bottom of this page to vote for the story you think should win the prize of a $250 VISA gift card and FitBit Flex, which we will be awarding to one of these people on May 9, 2014. In the comments below, let us know who you thinks should win and why! Is your post included as a finalist in the entries below? Ask your friends and family to show their support by voting for you below! Voters may vote as often and for as many entries as they like until May 7, 2014.

LIVESTRONG Member Ncbuessing wrote:
My 11-year career as an Active Duty Airmen is just one of the many reasons. Every six months I take a nail-biting fitness evaluation and am always nervous about the waist measurement portion. When I take my next fitness eval in August I want to be like: "Heck yeah I got this 'Excellent' baby." Another reason closer to my heart is my three-almost four-year-old princess. I grew up normal size, never really struggling with weight until my later high school years. I had a tough home life and didn't know the first thing about healthy living. Today I weigh 209 pounds and the thing that gets me about it the most is that I feel like a 130-lb lady on the inside. I never want my Evangeline to have to learn how to eat. I want it to already be apart of her daily life so she won't struggle as I have in my adult life. It means everything to me.

LIVESTRONG Member adahix wrote:
My motivation for getting healthier is my wife and kids who depend on me to stay in top physical shape to be able to continue serving in the Army. All 3 of them have special needs that the Army has helped me provide the best for them these last 10 years of serving. Though the last two years have been hard due to constant leg injuries and fluctuating weight, they have stood by me and motivated me to better my diet and push through the pain as well as improve my current fitness level.

LIVESTRONG Member willard10 wrote:
I have struggled a lot with my weight over the years, but managed to take it off and felt great before having baby number three. She is almost 2 years old now, and I am once again finding myself battling with my weight (and the depression that always accompanies it). My motivation for getting healthy is to be a better wife and mom; more confident, more energetic (so I can play with my kids) and be a good example for them. I am hopeful that through watching their mom improve in health, they will learn to take care of themselves and have a positive body image throughout their lives. I’m also eager to get back to feeling like myself and looking and feeling great in all aspects!

LIVESTRONG Member ScarletIbis wrote:
My family all has incredibly poor health. All through my life, I’ve seen all the people I love suffer obesity, diabetes, cancer, COPD, Ehlers-Danlos, mental health issues, autoimmune disorders, and several other things. At forty years old, I get to watch my mother, whom I spent my whole life supporting, cripple under the weight of her choices. Smoking, drinking, unhealthy habits, and inherited disorders have worn her down and I finally, at twenty-three, realize that I cannot save her; she has to save herself. However, I have time to take my health into my own hands, and make wise decisions instead of exacerbating the inevitable. I want to be strong enough to protect myself from what I could not, before. I do not want to feel the helplessness my beautiful mother lives with every day or that which I have suffered through my past. I want to stand before other people with health and mental disorders and say that I know they can do it, simply because I did. I want to show people that they must want help to get it, and be there when they’ve discovered they’re done hiding. I don’t want to hide, anymore

LIVESTRONG Member mapedregon wrote:
I had gone to the doctors one day for my regular physical and check up and had blood work done. I went online to see my results and was shocked to see that every test I had done was either out or almost out of all the “normal” ranges. It scared me straight; I’m only 23 years old. My motivation is EARNING my health back with hard work, discipline, and education. I started doing a lot of research on how the body works, exercising, food, and even research on my ethnicity and how that affects the choices I make. I invested in a gym membership, and using my research, found a regimen that works for me and gives me the best results. I got an app so I can count my calories, salt, and sugar intake. My journey has already begun. It’s been 8 months and I lost 30 pounds so far. I went back for another check up and did all the same tests again. Everything went back into the normal range, but there are some that are still a little on the high end. With my BMI still in the “overweight” category, and with the exciting results I’ve had so far, I am more motivated now to continue my journey and lose another 30 pounds so I am well within the normal range for BMI, and in that process, make even better choices and correct my health internally. In the end, I am doing this for ME. I can’t wait for my next doctor's appointment! 

LIVESTRONG Member lme_allen wrote:
Back in high school I found myself mistreating my body to lose weight and I did, but it was never in the right way and I always gained it back. Post graduation, I started taking pride in my health: Eating healthily, exercising daily and involving myself in activities that made me feel good, but it was never enough. I couldn’t get past who I used to be, and I felt I needed to be skinnier. It wasn’t until I was being rushed into the ICU 3 years later with an HR of 28 BPM and my blood pressure at an extreme low (42/16), that I realized something was seriously wrong. When I was released from the hospital the doctor came into my room, lifted my gown, pulled at what I thought to be the “fat” of my stomach, and pointed out that there was nothing there. It became apparent how thin I had become when he diagnosed me with Anorexia Nervosa. My hair, skin, and bones were thin; my life span was running thin. It’s hard to believe that a person can have a disease without even knowing, especially when they’re causing it. Now, after 2 1/2 years, I’ve found a sense of balance. With a strengthened immune system, I now enjoy safe exercise in accordance with eating right. Reaching my goals has given me the chance to help others and, although I still question my self-worth at times, I know what is important and I am happy. Last November, I was accepted into the BA program at HPU for Health Science and married the man of my dreams 1 month later. Since establishing a normal menstrual cycle, we’ve begun talking about starting a family. My family and my future family are my motivation. I want them to see that I accomplished something great and that they can too.

LIVESTRONG Member Lindestar1 wrote:
My goal is to lose weight to go on a second honeymoon. I want to be able to walk all over England, Wales and Ireland. I want to see the crown jewels, Stonehenge, Harry Potter experience, Giant’s Causeway, etc. I want to better fit the smaller seats that the airlines have. I had hip replacement surgery two years ago and I know I will function better with a smaller waist and butt. I want to be full of energy and not sitting on the sidelines any more.

LIVESTRONG Member Cathsands wrote:
When I was pregnant with my second beautiful daughter I had gestational diabetes. My eldest daughter was 3 at the time and had to watch me check my bloods and all the other things it entails. When my youngest daughter hit one, my blood glucose test showed I had impaired glucose tolerance. I made the decision that by the time I have my test next November I want it to be in a much more healthy state. I want my lovely little girls to grow up watching me making healthy decisions and choices. No matter what I tell them about food and exercise - what they actually watch me do will have the biggest impact on their lives. I have so much more energy now, my BMI is 22 and I've dropped 2 dress sizes. I've got 2 more pounds to go and I'll have lost 24lbs - my youngest daughter's weight. Picking her up and carrying her around is a reminder of how far I've come.

LIVESTRONG Member Iyapo wrote:
A friend asked me out to dinner. I’m afraid to go because I’ll be humiliated that I’m too big to fit in a booth. An old friend of the family died. I’m afraid to go to the funeral because I have no clothes that fit. A wonderful woman wants to get together for a date. I’m afraid she can’t possibly be interested in someone who looks like me. My dog sits on the couch and pleads to me with her eyes, wanting nothing more than to go out and play, but I ignore her because I don’t have the energy. My motivation to get healthy is that being unhealthy affects every aspect of one’s life. My motivation to get healthy is that I want to live.

LIVESTRONG Member slangowskicox wrote:
I was the fat kid growing up. When I was in 6th grade, I was wearing a tight women’s 16 pant size. For my 11th birthday my parents took me to swim with the dolphins. I was mortified when the wetsuit wouldn’t fit. Embarrassed. Scared. Ashamed. Self-loathing. Feelings no 11 year old should have but that I still sometimes feel 15 years later. I take pride in being the “health nut” people view me as these days. I enjoy eating well, exercising, and feeling comfortable in my own skin. I have completed two marathons, four half marathons, and am training for my first triathlon next summer. There is a word I just stumbled upon that defines my goal, my inspiration. Sophrosyne: a healthy state of mind (I still struggle with the state of mind I had when I was 11…) characterized by self control (I struggle with this daily) moderation (we all struggle with moderation) and a deep awareness of ones true self, resulting in true happiness. Here’s to the search for true happiness. For sophrosyne.

LIVESTRONG Member Beverlyh4242 wrote:
I was overweight my entire life. When I was 39-years-old, in May of 2010, I wore a size W20 pants and a man’s Extra large t-shirt. I am 5’3", and a woman. I was pre-diabetic and miserable. I had tried many times before to lose weight and become healthy but I just had never been able to do it. This time I knew I had to do it for my health or I would only get bigger, much more unhealthy, develop diabetes and never be able to do any of the things I wanted to do. I really wanted to be able to run. I had never in my life ever been able to run even a block. I did not want to do it for anyone else, to fit into a certain dress or to impress at my high school reunion. I wanted to do it for me. I gave up fast food, I joined a gym, I started keeping track of every single calorie I consumed and used the knowledge that I had gained over years of trying. I bought a Wii Fit game. I started working out 30 minutes, then moved to 60 and then 90. I kept working and working. Now, I wear a size 10 pants and a woman’s medium t-shirt. In the past year, I have run two half-marathons, a 10K and countless 5Ks. I never thought that just a normal person could lose weight, that all of those before and after pictures were fake. I am now an after picture. Now, I keep motivated by wanting to stay healthy and keep going forward. Losing weight is not just about six months to a year of dieting and then going back to your old life. It is a lifestyle that most be maintained for LIFE. I use running as my motivation. I want to run the next 5K or my next half-marathon. I am not the fastest, I will never win but I can do it. I can make it to the finish line and get that medal. I can do something that not everybody can do. I wasted 39 years being overweight and unhappy. I want to spend the next 39 being a healthy happy person who never stops running.

LIVESTRONG Member fkeena42 wrote:
I was 300 pounds roughly 2 years ago until I found out that my wife was pregnant with our first child. I knew then that I had to turn my life and health around. I am down to 195 and have kept it off.

 LIVESTRONG Member LUMPDIGITY wrote:
My motivation is my wife and kids. Without them I would have no motivation. Two months ago I was experiencing respiratory problems. It was difficult to make it all the way up a flight of stairs, or even play with my kids at the park. I decided to step on a scale. Wow, I weighed 245 pounds. I am 5′ 10″. Also I am 28-years-old. You do not have to be a doctor to figure out that is a problem. After doing some research, I discovered a male my height should weigh between 149 and 183. Wow. This is a problem. Now, at this point, y mind is made up. I have to do something. From there I decided to start walking. And I did. Also, I have a set of dumbbells (20lbs.), which I decided to knock the rust off of. So, for the past two months I have had a regular exercise program I have stuck with. I walk two miles every day, and do simple arm curls, and push-ups. Also, my diet has changed. I have used portion control. Not so much watching what I put in my body, but how much. Although, after discovering and joining livestrong.com, I can promise you we will we put into our body, as well as our kids. Today I weigh in at 220 pounds. I can walk a whole mile without stopping!! I am hooked. Hooked on fitness, and living well. Now, getting back to the topic of motivation, I have sparked an interest in my wife, and oldest daughter who are interested in getting healthy me. Wow, I could cry. I think it is so cool that my wife and kids want to get in shape with me. Thank you livestrong!!! Member for life.

LIVESTRONG Member Mradamscully wrote:
My motivation is my goal and life long dream of becoming a New York City Firefighter. It motivates me to run when I wake up, run on my lunch hour and run when I get home from a 12-hour work day. I've always like exercising and staying fit, but having the chance to be a member of the FDNY motivates me to be better.

LIVESTRONG Member Kmd1001 wrote:
Myself...I do this for me. To feel better, to breathe better, to be stronger, to run faster, to run farther, to be at home in my skin. I've ridden this roller coaster too long, it's time to make it stop. Already 30 pounds down from my heaviest recorded with 37 more pounds to go for my 2014 goal, I'm on my way.

LIVESTRONG Member aznwff05 wrote:
For the first 23 years of my life, I was not just overweight; I was obese. Going to the doctor's office every year, the doctor would show me the previous years’ results and my current one. There was one instance where I was ‘upgraded’ to being overweight instead of obese. By the time I went to college I had ballooned up to 190, and my health had only deteriorated due to the typical life of a high school teenage boy (video games and junk food galore). I gained the proverbial freshman 15, but I didn’t stop there. At the height of my weight gain, I was nearing 230, diagnosed with high blood pressure (and recommended to go on high blood pressure medication) and was asked to come back to monitor my health in case I developed diabetes. I was 22. In some ways, my motivation to start working out didn’t come from wanting to be healthy as I’d been obese and unhealthy all my life. It took a life-changing event for me to alter my ways. However, out of anger and frustration of what had happened I started riding on an exercise bike, desperate to change what I had become: this was my motivation to help me lose weight. In the course of six months, I went from a 230 pound, 5′ 6″ guy with a size 40 waist to a lean 155 pound, 5′ 6″ guy with a size 32 waist. I still wasn’t happy. My motivation began to waver, and although I still worked out daily, I didn’t want to go back to what I was and fear began to set in. I knew from my wrestling days that whenever I’d cut weight, I’d gain back weight with a vengeance and this time would be no exception. My motivation became to never look back, to only look forward and continue to make myself into a better healthier person. Four years later, I still head to the gym at 5 AM for a two-hour workout session involving interval training and weights. I’ve added twenty pounds back onto my frame, but my waist is still a 32 waist. Today, I aim to improve myself and enjoy life while being healthy at the same time.

LIVESTRONG Member Piratechick7588 wrote:
My motivation is simple: be the best me possible. When I started my fitness journey, I struggled to walk up a flight of stairs of into a building from a parking lot. That girl wasn't my best me. That girl isolated herself and indulged in unhealthy foods because she didn't think she was worth it. I'm 11 months into my fitness journey and above all the progress, gaining the mindset that I'm worth it is my best victory. I want to be active and enjoy my friends and family. I want to have children one day. I want to visit fun places on vacations. I want to set a healthier example to the next generation than I had. I want to practice what I teach to my students. I want to love myself inside and out. And I want to be the best me possible.

LIVESTRONG Member SuperSenior wrote:
My motivation is life itself. To be able to enjoy all that it has to offer, hopefully, right into my geriatric years. My family, my music, working out (lift weights 3-4 times per week), and of course golf. When we are young, everything seems possible. I am now 69, and striving to carry that thinking and motivation, within reason, through to the very end. If one works at it, one finds that youth is not just for the young!

LIVESTRONG Member corderogus wrote:
In 2004 I was 19 I started gaining weight as a youngster, in my teens years. I was a big kid but not obese use to play a lot of sports mainly basketball..used to play in tournaments in the parks but when I got to high school I didn't try out for the team thinking I was going to get cut off because of my weight so I finished high school...then the weight started gaining in 2 years I gained 100 pounds, as that progressed I was becoming unhappy and a prisoner in my own home.. When I walk in the street I used to get tired after two blocks. People look and stare and some always had something negative to say, so I kept eating and just watching TV. I gained 100 more I got to a point that I was 480 pounds and I got scared. I wanted to lose the weight — health problems had started too.  So I was going to get the bypass surgery. Thank god I didn't. I was down to 425 pounds, but I was constantly eating McDonalds, so I dint go through with it thinking that if I overate I would get sick. So, in 2011 I took the decision of starting a gym/ I was exercising from Monday to Friday, sometimes on Saturday.  The diet was less than or just about 1500 calories. My trainer with a doctor changed my diet every two months. I began weighing my self in a company scale some home normal ones did not go over 400 when I started the gym I was 460 pounds and in 2 years I lost over 150 pounds. I've accomplished to get my weight to 225 pounds. My goal weight is 210 or 205 pounds. I'm 5'11".  I've lost over 230 pounds, and working to keep going giving my all to get to my goal weight in a couple more months or years, god permitting. Thanks. That's my weight loss story.

LIVESTRONG Member mikey780880 wrote:
Not to impress others but improve my well-being. I'm 30 years young and have never been a thin guy. I was up to 1 pack a day smoking and was just un-impressed with myself. I lost my mother 10 years ago to bone cancer and it's been a downward spiral from there. I'm doing everything in my power to not only be a better man mentally but physically as well. I'm quitting smoking and trying to get where I want in life so I can look back and say I over came my biggest obstacle, myself.

LIVESTRONG Member Tori_love wrote:
Every time I watch my arms lift a dumbbell in a mirror or my thighs strain under a squat I see all the "you cant's" dripping off my skin. Exercise and healthy diet has found a way to start fixing every major problem in my life. My skin is as clear as the day I was born, I have been off my prescriptions for months, and I don't let anyone walk all over me. It's more than being about sexy and trim... It becomes everything.

LIVESTRONG Member katiebeut wrote:
My motivation comes from knowing what it feels like to not be in shape. I went through a lot time like that and I felt tired & unmotivated & just not happy with myself in general because I knew I was capable of a lot more. When I started to get in shape and take better care of myself, I had so much more energy, confidence, happiness and zest for life!! It’s amazing to see how many different ways it benefits you in your life. I never want to go back to where I was before, and I love that because of my new perspective in seeing both sides of things, instead of dragging myself out the door to go exercise, I look forward to it all day long! I have also been able to do things that I never dreamed were possible before, like doing my first century ride! It has been an amazing journey. I am also motivated because I know that I can inspire other people to live healthier lives, and help them along the same journey. I’ve noticed that people are inspired more when they see your good example of getting in shape and how it has benefited you, not just when you tell them to do better. Some of my co-workers have begun to follow my example by eating a little healthier, and going on walks during the workday because they see how happy and full of energy I am.

 LIVESTRONG Member cem0605 wrote:
Most of my life I have maintained a healthy weight through good eating and staying active. Two years ago, my father’s diabetes got so bad he lost the use of both legs and my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. While we love our parents and feel blessed they are still with us, keeping them in their home and caring for them has placed a big burden on my siblings who live nearby. As a 55-year-old single mother of 3, I have no intention of being a burden one day to my children so I decided to really step it up. I joined a local gym that offers trainer led classes and got serious about good nutrition. In one year, I lost 15 pounds and gained muscle strength. I’m thrilled with my figure (one date told me I have the body of an 18 year old) and my improved fitness level makes hiking, skiing, sailing, wake boarding etc. much more enjoyable. As an added bonus, all 3 of my twenty-something children belong to gyms and make fitness a daily part of their lives. So my motivation is called Ian, Katie and Will.

LIVESTRONG Member taximom8184 wrote:
I get my motivation from my 16-year-old daughter!! She has lost almost 40 pounds with hard work and determination. This is just a good example that even though we are adults we can learn from of children.

LIVESTRONG Member Klloveless wrote:
I am the Scoutmaster of my son's Boy Scout Troop. Last summer, I had to lead them in a 5 night horseback trip at Buffalo Trail Scout Ranch near Fort Davis, Texas. At the time I learned of this trip, I weighed over 35 pounds over the maximum weight limit. So, over the next 6 months, I changed my diet and starting exercising to make the weight limit to be able to take this awesome ride with my son through the mountains. Now, we have set our goals on attending Philmont, knowing that I had to lose an additional 45 pounds to be able to accompany my son through his 100 mile trek through the New Mexico mountains. We have starting exercising together and I help him get strong by lifting weights and he helps me lose weight by asking me each day to work out and continue the "Couch to 5K" program with him, even if sometimes we don't get to do this until after 9pm due to my hectic work schedule. So, in short, my motivation is my son, without which my weight loss would not be possible.

LIVESTRONG Member Fitness122 wrote:
Triathlon in the summer!

LIVESTRONG Member EJSpink wrote:
My main motivation is my daughter. I'm 47 and Makayla is 10. I have encouraged her to participate and try all sorts of activities. While getting her involved in all this was great, I realized that I had gotten to a point in my life where I was way too sedentary and had very little energy to keep up with her. She has loved doing all sorts of sports and has excelled at, dance and gymnastics. I want to be able to keep up with her and also be the best example for her to live a healthy lifestyle! Livestrong.com has been a great source to help steer me in the right direction with the "My Plate" features and the motivation I get from the community area of the site is immeasurable!

LIVESTRONG Member dormmom wrote:
I am about to turn 60 years old this year. This makes me 5 years away from the age my mother passed away. She had many health issues I don’t have and I want to make sure I don’t get. Another motivation is 40 or so young women that I have care over in a local Bible College. Their ages range from 18-26. It takes a lot to keep up with them. So these are my motivations to get healthy.

LIVESTRONG Member Cheryl_jestis wrote:
I want to live longer and healthier than my parents and my brother were able to. I want to keep finding my limits and exceeding them. I've completed a 70.3 triathlon and am now training for my first full marathon. I want to celebrate year after year of remaining cancer free after my battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma 2009/2010. I want to keep off the 100lbs of extra weight that I used to carry. I want to be around to be a FUN and ACTIVE grandma some day. I want to live well and enjoy each moment I'm given. Every single moment truly is a gift and there is no guarantee we'll get the next one.

LIVESTRONG Member Malvada1 wrote:
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been on the “do exercise/eat right/hit major motivational slump” rollercoaster. At 48, I am once again attempting to get my health back in order. It’s freezing cold in Michigan, so I don’t have the “need to get into a bathing suit” crisis mentality just yet. However, I seem to have found new motivation – my Dad, who lives with my husband and me. He suffered a stroke in 2010, and fought back to overcome total left side paralysis. He came to live with me in June of this year, and two weeks ago, at 82, went through surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his colon. We were fortunate that they were able to find/remove his tumor before it had an opportunity to spread. In spite of the great outcome, he’s having a really difficult time doing rehab. He’s a big guy – 206 pounds, with extremely bad arthritis on his right side. His knee is bone on bone. We’ve been trying to help him lose weight (when he first came to us in June, he was 226 pounds). As much as he grumbled at first, and still grumbles on occasion, he’s eating better and looks at food differently. This meat and potatoes guy actually did a juice cleanse with us for 10 days. And eats tofu! Being in the hospital really weakened him (he can’t stand by himself). He’s exhausted and wasn’t sure if he could keep fighting. However, while visiting him today, he told me he did 3 hours of rehab (1 1/2 hours each with his occupational therapist and physical therapist). With so many things going against him, he still fights back. I’m so proud of him it makes me cry. If he’s working so hard to come back home, then I owe it to him to work on my health, too. I should be a healthier, stronger daughter to help him in any way I can. He’s not making excuses, so neither am I. Here’s to my Dad – my new motivation.

Readers - Which of these members' stories inspires you the most or sounds most inspiring? Who do you think should win a $250 VISA gift card and a FitBit Flex and why? Leave a comment below and vote your favorite. Each member can submit one vote per day, so you can give votes to a few different people or put all your votes toward one person!

-Kelly

Kelly Plowe, MS, RD, CSSD is a nutritionist and food and health communications specialist. As a registered dietitian and certified Sports Dietitian, Kelly helps consumers put health and nutrition research into practice. She believes diet is at the center of a healthy and fulfilling life and is dedicated to helping others be their best. Kelly lives in Los Angeles with her fiancé and their bulldog, Sunny. She is an avid runner and CrossFit enthusiast. Living in SoCal, Kelly spends most of her free time outside ocean swimming, riding her beach cruiser and going to concerts.

 

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