Beginning and maintaining a healthy plan for weight loss is not that easy. Many people start out with the full intention to lose extra pounds but often get off track. In any weight loss journey, therefore, knowing how to motivate yourself to lose weight is crucial.
Fortunately, motivation is something you can work on. Here are seven effective tips you can use to get and keep motivated on your weight loss journey.
The seven tips below will show you not only how to motivate yourself to lose weight, but also how to stay motivated to continue pursuing your goals.
1. Identify a good reason why you want to lose weight
It’s important for you to clearly identify why you want to lose weight. Think about what you want to achieve by losing extra pounds.
Write those reasons down and put the list somewhere where you can easily see it. Seeing the list will help you stay motivated and committed to your weight loss goals.
Read through those reasons daily. When the temptation to eat that extra piece of cake or finish the tub of ice cream is too strong for you to resist, use the list to remind you of what you want to achieve.
Some examples for wanting to lose weight include:
Looking great for an upcoming event (such as attending a high school reunion)
Fitting into your favorite pair of jeans
Improving your self-confidence
Reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes
Keeping up with your grandchildren
Many individuals begin a weight loss plan because their doctors recommended they do so. According to research, however, you are most successful when your motivation to lose weight comes from inside you, not from another person.¹
2. Focus on process goals
Often, when people set weight loss goals, they only set outcome goals. These are goals they’re looking to achieve in the end. Outcome goals are typically your final target weight goals. By focusing exclusively on those, however, you’re increasing the chances of you losing your motivation. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
You should be setting process goals instead—the actions you’ll be taking to achieve your desired outcome. For instance, a process goal might be to exercise several times a week. Another might be to cut out sugary foods one week at a time.
One study was done on 126 overweight women who were engaged in a diet-focused program to lose weight. Findings showed that the women who were focused on their process goals were less likely to stray away from their diets. They were more likely to achieve their weight loss goals than those who only focused on their outcome weight loss goals.²
Think about setting yourself some strong SMART goals. These are goals that are:
SMART goals might include:
Walking briskly for a half-hour each day for five days a week
Eating four servings of vegetables a day for the week
Drinking only one soda this week
Setting up SMART process goals can help you maintain motivation. It will be more successful than focusing exclusively on outcome goals alone, which can lead to decreased motivation and disappointment.
3. Track your food intake in a weight-loss journal
Monitoring your weight loss is critical to the motivation and success of your goals. Research shows that when individuals track the food they consume, they have a higher chance of losing weight and keeping it off.³
To maintain a proper food journal, write down everything you eat during the day. This should include snacks, drinks, and even smaller things like a piece of candy.
Write down the emotions you’re experiencing as well. This will allow you to identify specific triggers for overeating so you can come up with healthy ways to cope.
Your food journal can be handwritten or digital using an app or a website. Either should be effective. Just choose one that works for you.
4. Make a commitment
Some research shows that people who actually make a public commitment to their weight loss plans have a higher chance of following through.⁴
When you tell other people about your weight loss goals, you feel more accountable. The more people you share your weight loss goals with, the greater your accountability will be.
You might even want to think about investing in your weight loss goals, such as:
Paying for a 5K race in advance
Purchasing a package of workout classes
Buying a gym membership
You’re more likely to maintain motivation if you’ve made an investment toward your weight loss journey.
5. Prepare yourself for setbacks and challenges
You’ll always have everyday stressors popping up. There will always be birthdays, holidays, or parties for you to attend. A bad boss, a toxic colleague, or a noisy neighbor can stress you out and make you crave some comfort food.
It’s important that you identify your stressors. Coming up with proper coping skills ahead of time will help prevent you from doing this.
In fact, research has shown that individuals who have better coping skills and strategies and are better at handling stress will lose more weight and maintain this weight loss longer.⁵ To cope with stress better, you should consider some of these strategies:
Take a bath
Ask for help
Call a friend
Practice square breathing
Go outdoors and get some fresh air
Remember to plan for social events, holidays, and eating out. For instance, before you go out to eat, look up the restaurant’s menu and find healthy choices in advance. At parties, eat smaller portions and stay away from the buffet table.
6. Find a role model
Having a role model can help you maintain your motivation to lose weight. When it feels like your weight loss journey is going nowhere, that person can help rekindle your desire to reach your target weight.
However, choose your role model carefully. Find someone you can relate with rather than a supermodel or a celebrity.⁶ Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
You might know, for example, a friend or a friend of a friend, who had recently lost a lot of weight. Find out how they did it and use them and their stories as your inspiration. If you don’t know anyone, you can also just read inspirational stories or blogs about people who have lost weight and kept it off successfully.
7. Celebrate your wins
It can be difficult to lose weight, so celebrate all your wins to stay motivated. Each time you accomplish a goal, no matter how small, give yourself credit. Weight loss sites and social media with community pages are the perfect places for getting support and sharing your wins. When you have pride in your accomplishments and in yourself, it can help boost your motivation.
Make sure you’re not just celebrating the digits on the scale going down, though, but also any behavior changes you’ve made. For instance, if you achieve your goal of working out several days a week, plan a fun friends’ night out, or take a bubble bath to celebrate.
You can also boost your motivation by giving yourself rewards. Choose the rewards appropriately. Avoid using food or too expensive (or too cheap) items to reward yourself, otherwise, you may find yourself sabotaging your weight loss journey.
Now that you’ve learned different ways of motivating yourself to lose weight and maintaining this motivation, here are a few steps to actually get started on your weight loss journey.
Step 1: Embrace the long game
If your aim is to not just lose 50 pounds, but also keep that 50 pounds off, it’s important that your expectations and your plan of attack are realistic. A sustainable, safe amount of weight to lose per week is around one to two pounds. In the beginning, it might actually look more like this:
Two to three pounds per week
Down the next week to about half a pound
Up a pound the following week
Maintaining for several weeks before you drop a pound again
When you first get started, your weight loss graph will likely resemble a staircase. You won’t see a perfect, linear trend. That is okay. If you notice it jumps around for a few weeks and then trends down overall, you’re on the right track.
In the first year of your weight loss plan, make a number of habit changes. Afterward, find long-term habits that you are confident you can stick to.
Step 2: Track your food
A study found that people who track the food they eat tend to be most successful at losing weight and keeping it off.⁷ You won’t have to track it forever, but until you create new habits that stick, it can be helpful.
These new habits need to become automated. Once they become automated, you’ll have fewer decisions to make, clearing up your mind for other things. It will also help you notice certain things about the food you eat, such as how many occasional handfuls of chips you snack on or what your oatmeal serving looks like in your bowl.
Step 3: Seek help
Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a professional who can help you with your weight loss efforts. Feeling more confident in your knowledge and abilities could help increase your chances of losing weight and maintaining it.
Hiring a professional can help keep you accountable too.
This might mean working with a registered dietitian who will educate and teach you about specific foods. You might also require an exercise physiologist who can teach you the right way to exercise.
If you continue to struggle with motivation, consider finding a dietitian or psychologist who has the proper training in motivational interviewing, which can help you achieve your goals.
Your long-term weight loss success depends on how motivated you are. Different things motivate people, so it’s important that you figure out what works for you.
Keep in mind that it’s fine to allow yourself some flexibility. During your weight loss journey, remember to celebrate all your successes, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you feel stuck.
With the right support and tools, you can find just the right motivation you need to successfully achieve your weight loss goals.
Keeping a food diary doubles diet weight loss, study suggests | Science Daily
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