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Most of us go through the vicious weight loss cycle of despair.
You wake up motivated and convinced that TODAY is absolutely going to be the day that you will make healthy choices and stay on your weight loss program for good. But a few hours later… it only takes the sight of a single, tempting doughnut to glaze your resolve over. Again.
Why does this keep happening?
After all, no one needs to tell you that you need to get in shape, because you know exactly why losing some weight would do you good. You know that losing weight would be better for your body, improve your physical health, and make you less likely to suffer from heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Healthy weight loss, eating better, and being more active might be beneficial to your mental health too. So why can’t you be motivated enough to stay on track?
Well, the good news is that lasting motivation for weight loss is only a few easy habits away.
If you’re reading this, congratulations – you’ve already got the motivation you need to get started! Here at keepinspiring.me, we’re here to help you take that motivation to the next level – and to assist in you in smashing every single one of your weight loss goals!
We want you to reach your goals, so we’ve put together a series of steps to help increase your motivation for weight loss. Keep reading to find out what they are!
1. Understand your goal of wanting to lose weight
Ask yourself this: why do you want to lose weight?
Do you have a special event coming up that you want to feel your best at? Has a health issue flared up and encouraged you to make healthy changes? Or do you just want to improve your overall health and fitness?
Losing weight should never be about a quick fix. If there’s an event coming up for which you want to lose 5lbs, ask yourself whether you are happy to lose them and gain them back. Fad diets and quick fixes (juice cleanses, soup diets, radically cutting out food groups) can yield successful results, but you are more likely to gain the weight back than keep it off. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have presented evidence showing that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off long-term. Rather than a quick fix, losing weight should be part of ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits.
If looking good at that big event is important to you, take the time to make positive lifestyle changes in good time. Allow at least a month to lose 5lbs – because there is absolutely no healthy way to lose that amount of weight in a week. What’s more, you’ll feel more confident and in control knowing that, rather than opting for a quick fix, the pounds you have lost are gone for good.
Whatever your reason for wanting to lose weight, revisiting your original goal on a regular basis will help you stay on track. Before you start, you should set goals that are achievable and realistic. If you are 200lbs, setting yourself the goal of losing 30lbs in 5 months (thats 6lbs per month) is a realistic goal that is both healthy for your body and – with hard work – attainable. Keeping your goals in mind is a great way to stay motivated – and will also help you remember just how far you’ve already come!
2. Write your weight loss goals down
Research shows that people who set goals are more successful at achieving them.
Being specific about your weight loss goals is what makes them more realistic and achievable. As humans we are hardwired to achieve goals that are:
These are known as SMART goals, and this theory can be applied to any goal you want to set for yourself. In terms of weight loss, a SMART goal could be:
“I will run for 30 minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the middle school track from 7:30 to 8:00 am.”
This goal is so specific, that you can practically see yourself running already, right? That’s what makes it achievable, and why we are more successful if we think about our goals in this way.
Take it one step further and write your SMART goals down. Writing down goals has been proven to bring success. A Harvard Business Study found that the 3% of graduates from their MBA who had written their goals down ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together, just ten years after they graduated. Just think what writing down your goals can do for your weight loss efforts!
Make your goals visible by writing them down in a creative and artistic way. It might sound silly to think that digging out your old color markers or paint will make a difference to your weight loss efforts, but don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. Creative projects activate a different part of your brain that will help cement your goals in your mind. This process will also help you see in terms of what is actually possible, and avoid you getting caught up in rational thinking. It doesn’t matter if what you create it isn’t a masterpiece – it’s still a visual way of motivating yourself to continue to reach your weight loss goals.
3. Set small, realistic daily goals
Feeding in from the SMART goals we just talked about, you might find it easier to set small, realistic targets on a daily basis rather than an audacious weight loss goal. After all, losing weight is about making you healthier and fitter – rather than simply the number on the scale.
Daily short-term goals are easier to track and measure (such as, doing 10 mins of cardiovascular exercise each morning) than huge, arbitrary targets (lose 50 pounds within the next month, an impossible goal). They will also provide you with the encouragement you need to keep going. Non-scale victories – fitting into a pair of skinny jeans that haven’t fit for a long time, running up the stairs without getting out of breath, jogging for an extra 5 minutes, or trying a new class at the gym – are the things that will provide continuous motivation on your weight loss journey.
Though you may not achieve the goals you set for yourself every single day, you will inevitably find that you’re closer to hitting your targets on some days than others. It really doesn’t matter. Keep trying, and keep setting yourself new goals.
4. Find a support group
Trying to lose weight can be a lonely journey, however good you are at goal setting. Many of us go it alone in the hopes that our willpower will sustain us – that, or we feel that we are the only one who needs to make healthy changes to our lifestyle. Unfortunately, it is also much easier to fail on your own than to fail as a part of a strong, supportive group.
If you want to banish those extra pounds for good, you’ll need a village of people behind you. Do whatever you need to do to build a support system:
- join an online fitness community,
- hire a personal trainer,
- find an accountability buddy with similar goals or,
- join a fitness group or gym.
These people will keep you accountable for showing up, and for making progress. If you thrive on competition, turn it around and use it to your advantage – compete with a friend in spin class, or swim laps with a buddy. Whatever you do, don’t allow their progress – especially if that progress is on the scale – make you feel bad or deter you from reaching your own goal.
If your spouse or family isn’t making the change with you, explain to them that you want to be fitter and healthier and why it is important to you. Having this conversation will show them how important it is to you and allow them to ask how they can support you. Being open and honest about your goals with others will reduce your chances of finding yourself in the precarious position where there’s too much junk food and not enough willpower to go round.
5. Keep a food journal
“What gets measured gets managed.” The eternal words of Peter Drucker ring as true for weight loss as they do for management.
Writing in a journal may once have been the preserve of teenagers, but now its for everyone. There are online journaling services as well as an abundance of pretty notebooks out there to assist you in this process.
Journalling how much you eat and exercise is a great way to record and reflect on your weight loss progress. Online apps like MyFitnessPal work by allowing you to input what you have eaten on a particular day – from a database of tens of thousands of logged food items, from grocery stores and restaurants – as well as any exercise you have done. If you’re struggling to work out calorie contents or portion sizes, an app like this can be handy. As well as updating your weight, it allows you to upload photos as you go, so you can see the physical difference in your body over time. This can be a great motivator!
Keeping a food diary is not the be all and end all, but it can help you to keep track of your progress and to better understand your eating habits. You should also take a look at the benefits of meal planning and use your new-found journaling skills to help you plan ahead and shop more effectively.
6. Reward yourself
A small reward for a job well done goes a long way to boost motivation – just think about the joy you felt when you were awarded a sticker or stamp in your homework diary as a child! Even tiny rewards are enough to motivate people to go the extra mile, so there’s no better reason to reward yourself whenever you reach a milestone.
Try to avoid rewarding yourself with food. A healthy diet should incorporate regular treats, as avoiding them altogether simply leads to strong cravings and a tendency to fall off the wagon. So, whether you treat yourself to a day at the spa, new yoga pants, or some time out with friends, rewarding yourself is a great way to stay motivated and recognize all of the work you’ve already put in to smashing your goals.
7. Talk positively
Losing weight is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Staying motivated, especially when you feel like your progress has stagnated, can be really difficult – much more difficult than making healthy changes to your diet or hitting the gym regularly. That’s why it can be beneficial to create a mantra you can recite to yourself regularly to help keep you motivated.
It might seem silly to start with, but telling yourself – out loud – a statement as simple as “I will make healthy choices today” could help you build your reserves of mental toughness and self-confidence when required to make important decisions. If you aren’t sure where to start, take a look at these weight loss affirmations and start motivating yourself with the power of positive thought.
Rather than focusing on the negatives, people who can speak positively to and about themselves are more likely to have higher levels of self confidence – and they end up losing more weight. They are also more likely to follow through with their plans.
8. Pick a weight loss plan that suits you
In this day and age, there are a plethora of diet plans to choose from. It’s best to pick something that suits you as an individual, rather than what’s trending at the moment, because fad diets can do more harm than good.
While the KETO, Whole30, and Atkins diets may be all over social media, it doesn’t mean they will be right for you. Cutting out whole sections of your diet can be dangerous, and leave you with little or no energy to make other positive changes. Go with your gut – if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. The vast majority of us will be able to lose weight by making simple, small changes to our diets. Avoiding late night bingeing, out-of-control portion sizes, and processed foods could be much more effective for you than cutting out carbohydrates all together; while eating more fruit and vegetables, decreasing your calorie intake and cutting out snacks could be the push you need to feel – and look – your best.
The key thing to remember is that all of these steps require some degree of forethought and planning. Whether the changes are big or small, being more organized and intentional are the keys to finding the motivation to lose weight. You’ll soon be on your way to a healthier, happier, and fitter you.