There Is No “Muse” in Motivation

Here is more of the story of John Stone, which is found mainly in archived pages. He had spent a decade making war on his body in every possible way. Among other abuses, he described a typical lunch and dinner, which we will spare the reader on the grounds of grossness. He drank a lot and didn’t bother with haircuts, shaving, or other niceties. Even though life was no fun, he deprived himself of sleep, as if merely staying awake longer would somehow fix things.

As previously mentioned, one day Stone got out of the shower and took a good look at his bloated flabby shapeless self. He writes,

It was then that something very surprising occurred. This event happened so abruptly that it was as if someone flipped a switch in my head.

His misery and depression turned to anger, which for many people fuels motivation. The shower and mirror incident was a lucky break, a freebie, a sign of grace from the Universe. But motivation is no muse, no magical spirit that floats down from the sky to impart inspiration. A person has to make the first move, and put out some muse-bait, as a token of earnest intention.

Stone did this by quitting cigarettes cold turkey. He set a date, and stopped:

I liken it to taking a band-aid off: I’d rather rip it off rather than remove it slowly… I used all that repressed anger and frustration as fuel for a major lifestyle change. One by one I began to change my bad habits, and I never looked back.

Finding that he was able to quit nicotine was very empowering and confidence-building, and Stone went on to lose a bunch of weight. He wrote about his fitness procedures and mental states for a progressively broader audience and became a mentor for many other desperate people. He taught the supreme importance of momentum, and how momentum is best gathered by the application of extreme dedication:

What keeps your motivation the highest when you’re losing fat? Progress, that’s what. The answer is obvious: refuse to eat, drink or do anything that doesn’t bring you closer to your goals.

If your diet and training are dialed in and you’re working as hard as you possibly can, each week when you take your measurements tangible progress will be there waiting for you like a little present. You start to look forward to those weekly gifts more than any food you might be craving.

To keep a record of his progress, Stone snapped and published an extensive series of selfies every day. People would contact the website with questions, like how to maintain dedication and discipline.

The main thing, apparently, is to be aware that your worst enemy is your own mind. If you don’t know that a battle is going on, you certainly cannot win it. One part of the mind wants to lose accumulated fat and gain fitness. The other part wants to make excuses for why eating an entire large pizza is a good idea.

(To be continued, including special words for parents…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “My Transformation,”, 11/01/20
Source: “Fat loss 101: Dedication and momentum,”, 01/16/12
Source: “Mental tricks to help you stay motivated,”, 08/03/06
Image by Thang Nguyen/CC BY-SA 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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