Looking for Ways to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight?
Okay, at the time of writing this, we’re in the middle of April. And looking back to this brand new year we have, a question for you…Is your weight loss motivation beginning to wane? Don’t fear! We’ve tapped a handful of the nation’s foremost experts – MD’s, fitness experts, life coaches, and psychologists – to share 50 of the most inspirational tips for keeping motivation to lose weight.
What to do when you’re losing wind in your sails instead of pounds on the scales:
1) Wellness instead of weight loss alone. Quick test: Is the only time you give much thought to food choices when you’re focusing on weight loss? Because this is likely to lead to rebound gaining after you revert to old habits…even after you’ve reached a goal weight you could lose all the ground you’ve made. Food isn’t some addiction that you just quit. You’re going to eat each day, so why not focusing on eating better each day?
2) Reasonable goals. Is the amount of weight in the amount of time you’re proposing reasonable? Attempting to achieve too large a weight loss in too short a time can get you stuck. Dropping 50 pounds in a month is simply unreasonable unless you’re in the middle of weight loss surgery. On the other hand, losing 10 pounds in a month would fall into the “reasonable weight loss goal” category!
3) Don’t ELIMINATE, but instead LIMIT. Eliminating less healthy favorite foods out of your diet straight away without allowing yourself a little flexibility may lead to excessive craving. You’re likely to create a spring-loaded binge appetite! Find ways to limit the portion sizes and the frequency that you eat these guilty food pleasures. That way you’ll get your fix, but spend the time to savor each delicious morsel instead of going to town on these food faves too often!
4) Pace yourself. Don’t take on too much too fast. I.e. starting a new exercise plan, earning more money, beginning a new strict diet regime, etc. Instead, consider taking on bite-sized steps toward your goal. Working on something you’ve been putting off for a short amount of time can give you a good sense of accomplishment. For example, if you haven’t worked out in a while, walk out the door, and go on a 10-30 minute power walk. If you’re enjoying it, continue the activity, and if not, schedule another time in the near future to continue tackling it.
5) Tip the scales with a little blue. The color blue has been shown to be an appetite suppressant? So consider using a little of the color blue to help keep on track. Eat dinner on blue plates, heck, how about some blue food coloring!? Okay, maybe that’s going too far, but at least you get the idea. Remember that to lose weight, any little reminder can help you stick with your weight loss resolve.
6) Notice and record positive changes you’re seeing along the way. Don’t just complain about how your scale isn’t dropping. Spend a minute to focus on anything you’ve seen already, like saving cash on junk food, more energy from exercising, and even just a better attitude. Write it down and refer to it later.
7) Celebrate little victories! Fitness is like a marathon. It may feel like a sprint sometimes, but achieving small goals on a monthly and weekly basis helps keep you motivated to keep going toward the bigger goals. Each time you achieve a goal, regardless how small, take time in some way to celebrate it! If you’re running a marathon, not too many people would focus on the fact that they have 23 miles to go, instead they would think…okay, I’ve got 3 miles down! Celebrate with a phone call to a friend, buy a new fitness toy, get a mani-pedi, take your kids to the park, or do whatever floats your boat when you want to enjoy life a little!
8) Wear red?! If you’re looking for a bit of fun energy, the color red is something that energizes your system, gets your confidence levels up, and brings your A-game. Ever noticed that a lot of important speeches are delivered by someone wearing a red tie? It’s a power color. So bring your bold red shirt and get out onto the local high school track for a little jog. Heck, maybe you’ll find some other colors that you enjoy wearing as you progress toward your goals.
9) Tricking out your best new tracksuit! Buy yourself a stylish exercise outfit to look good working out! If you feel like you’re looking good, you’re going to feel better working out. You’ll be more likely to get into the new gym gear on the rough days, too. Because when you’re feeling a little less motivated, or it’s the time of the month, or you’re just not wanting to brave the rain on your way to the gym or wherever you’re heading, you know you’ll be looking good, so it will help overcome the lackluster nature of the day.
10) You don’t have to be perfect–don’t sweat it. Did you mess up a little? Did a weakness creep in and give you a weak moment that made you feel badly? It’s OK, you can just use this to motivate you back on track. Don’t use a mess-up as an excuse to mess up again…You might be thinking of saying to yourself that I messed up last night so I might as well relax and give up this morning, but resist that urge and recommit right then and let that moment of weakness roll off your back like water off a duck.
11) Be kind to others and to yourself. Give and get a hug once in awhile! Eat well, sleep well, train well, and once a week, allow an indulgence such as your favorite dessert, a massage, or just some time to relax a little bit. Do something nice for someone around you like a family member or friend, then do something nice for yourself!
12) Get rid of the “all or nothing” approach. Some people like using a calendar to place gold stars on the days you do well. You’ll reward yourself mentally and visually as you see the strides you’re making in the right direction. It may seem silly and simple, but doing something like this with gold stars on a calendar gives you visual snapshots of your progress. You won’t be as likely to give up if you miss just one day of eating your target calories if you look at that calendar and realize that you’re going to get back on track. You’ve done it on these other days, and you can do it again for the rest of today and tomorrow!
13) Get an accountability partner. Find a trainer, spouse, friend, or group to keep you going when you miss a workout. People love weight loss wars for this reason of keeping accountability.
14) Journal about how your weight loss makes you feel healthier. Focus on how weight loss is bringing you better health. You might not exactly feel thinner right away, but you can definitely feel healthier. Soon, as you keep with it, you’ll see the physical “visual” changes coming, but in the mean time, you’ll also feel health benefits that can help keep you motivated to keep working towards the ultimate goals. This can be especially true on days that it feels like the scale just won’t budge for you.
15) Fall down? Get right back up! You don’t control everything, so don’t beat yourself up over a single diet slip up! You can miss a workout every so often without erasing all of your hard work.
16) Focus on the positive and not just what is going wrong. Sometimes we become discouraged over missing a workout, or eating too many bowls of cereal. Take a second to acknowledge the collective positive steps you’ve been taking towards goals.
17) Don’t focus only on the physical. Yes we all know that the physical is important. But an approach based solely on vanity-based fitness and weight loss goals is not going to always keep you going. Consider some metrics that are activity, time and frequency-based. You might think to yourself that the goal is to be able to run for 30 min 5 days a week. And while you may not all the sudden look like a super model, you will certainly feel differently when you get to the level that you can handle this amount of activity!
18) Use your weight loss social network! Post about changes, activities etc! Send tweets, announce blog entries to friends and put it out there! Telling friends and family about major goals will bring support from them that keeps you accountable. By going public with your goals online, you will also find people who are on the same path as you. Popular weight loss social networks like Project Weight loss are available to find buddies to work out with, and you can also join a weight loss challenge on weightlosswars to keep you going as well.
19) Schedule workouts on your calendar for a month. Create workout “dates” on the calendar. This gives plan priority as well as structure. Sync the calendar into your phone, your outlook calendar or just jot them on a wall calendar.
20) Choose 2-3 new habits to focus on instead of 20 or 30. Simple changes one at a time can bring large results. Deciding to tackle one or two things a day like carrying a water bottle, portion control, or a 20 minute run can keep you from becoming overwhelmed.
21) Set the mood of your mind. Anything you can do to make a workout more appealing like getting comfortable clothes, great music, and reading a great motivating quote will go a long way to setting the mood for the workout or for the day!
22) Change the scenery. Consider eating food away from the TV so you don’t eat mindlessly. Head outside with your family to have a treat on a picnic table with your family at a park. These kind of things can help you focus on more than just the food.
23) Sleep on it. Write down your goals, stick them under your pillow, or next to your bed so you step on them when you get up. Take a quick look, feel energized, and get going on your day!
24) Get rid of negative self-talk. Avoid negative perceptions when you feel them creeping in. If you do start thinking negatively, have an “out” thought that can quickly pull you out of negative thoughts. If you’re tempted by a brownie and feel weak and unmotivated and you’re thinking “is this really worth it?” Notice the negative thinking, and switch immediately to thoughts about being leaner, fitter, most importantly happier as you make good food choices.
25) Have backup plans ready. Setbacks happen. Successful goal achievers take setbacks and turn them into learning and motivation for re-committing. Identify the weakness and what caused the slip-up. Then initiate a plan B with different options on how to solve and overcome these weak moments.
26) Be a Cheerleader for yourself. Well-placed post-it notes in the bathroom, kitchen, and on steering wheels with motivational quotes and reminders like, “I’m feeling great!” or “food is fuel, and I consume fuel efficiently,” or “I have the strength to win in the weight loss war!” can help keep you on track.
27) Refine Goals as you go. Motivation comes from all around – whether yours is to stay healthy to be around for your children, being strong enough to carry and keep up with your kids or other things like that. But as soon as you reach the goal of keeping up with your kids, it’s time to focus on a new goal! Goals need to be dynamic and evolving so you always have something new to strive for.
28) Mentally Cross train habits. Mixing things up works for fitness plans, and it also does the trick with daily choices. Instead of going out to eat Friday night at a buffett, consider trading that tradition for something less risky. You could replace it with a new healthy habit that’s just as fun like a different restaurant.
29) Break goals into parts. Having too big of a goal (like losing 50 lbs.) can really overwhelm a person, and of course we know that it’s easy for us to to lose steam and motivation because it takes time to achieve bigger goals like 50 lbs. Why not break your goal down into three, smaller, partial goals or mini goal steps . Making a 3-part goal can also gradually build healthier choices instead of jarring you with a complete overhaul all at once.
30) Ponder your goal. Many people make goals in sort of a “helter skelter” casual mode–and hence when they go to follow through on what they’ve committed to do, they approach the “doing” part of it just as casually as the “thinking up the goal” part. Have you sat down to consider how much you really want this? How badly you want to reach your goal? If a goal doesn’t present a valuable proposition to you, and if it isn’t important enough, you’re bound to lose interest as quickly as you made the goal. Take time to re-evaluate your goals. Take stock in what the true goal is that you’re working on – And if the goal isn’t something very important in your life right now, this also may mean that you haven’t picked the right goal, or you haven’t really found the right motivation to achieve. Be honest with yourself, and if you don’t have the right goal, or don’t have enough motivation, either redo your goals, or search deeper for stronger motivations to achieve. The stronger the motivation, the stronger your will to achieve, and the more likely you are to achieve your results.
31) List negative and painful consequences for not reaching your goal. Yes, of course it is nice to focus only on positive…to think only of all the potentially great results and feelings for after you’ve achieved your goals. But remember that sometimes the negatives are very powerful motivators alongside the positive. A big list of possible negative outcomes may come in handy. Think about all the outcomes that you face if you DON’T achieve your goals. Write down the negative consequences for not eating properly (such as bad health–and this list about health could be its own sub-list of a whole slew of diseases and conditions and physical restrictions…Consider the pain, limited abilities, foregone opportunities, huge medical costs, poorer social life and friendships, lower self-esteem, etc.) With each negative outcome from not achieving your goal, ask yourself the question: “What would this negative consequence meant to me?” Keep writing until you’ve got a full blown list. Then use it as blackmail right next to the positive consequences. You can refer to it whenever you need a little kick in the pants. A note on this though: Don’t overly focus on this. Scare yourself, but don’t focus on these consequences too often. Remember not to be too hard on yourself because you’re going to make this!
32) Turn to YouTube for a little bit of Inspiration.Motivational speakers and stories often stock lots of Youtube videos! Download a few clips: One example would be the TED Talk by Richard St. John.
33) Stay away from negative influences or temptation traps. Maybe for you it’s certain stores, specific foods, or even certain friends that like to drink too much? Stay out of the way of triggers that tempt you into the unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits. Ask for support, find new friends, and even look for whole new hobbies that will more positively influence your lifestyle and help you reach your goals.
34) Keep a weight loss journal. Documenting your weight loss saga including successes, struggles, and even just new insights in a journal form helps build your confidence. Put a big star on the successes to boot your future successes. Keep it next to your bed or go online regularly to weightlosswars.com where you can write in a journal and even choose whether you want to make it public.
35) Help someone else in order to forget your own hunger, or weight loss struggles. Here’s a video that might make you cry: Lessons I learned as a Boy.
36) Do some venting. Research also shows that “venting” helps people transition out of “stuck mode” into “solution mode”. Instead of complaining that you don’t have what you want or that you can’t reach your goals, consider making a list of the 3 biggest drags on your energy to reach your goals. Write down your feelings about that ‘pain’ – as well as how your expectations are not being managed. How is this ‘pain’ or ‘drainer’ keeping you from reaching your goal? Are you tolerating other things along with the drainer that are holding you back as well? Are your values being compromised by the ‘drainer’ and if so, which? Do you beat yourself up over the could’ve’s, should’ve’s, and would’ve’s? Take this information and put it on the back burner if you don’t have solutions right away, but just writing it down can help you to come up with ways to work around, fight, or eliminate these ‘pains.’
37) Take it a half-day at a time. Sometimes people focus too much on the long miles and miles (or pounds and pounds) that you have left on your journey. But focusing instead on the immediate future like the first half or the second half of your day can be a more manageable way to approach things. You’ll find that you can do just about anything for a half day!
38) Share your weight loss goals with close friends and family. Create your personal support team to cheer you up, cheer you on, and encourage and keep you accountable toward your weight loss goals.
39) Get the first taste. Losing just the first pound is a huge motivator. Hit things hard till you get the first pound. This little victory will bring feelings that can tide you over through tough workouts and with tempting food choices.
40) Recognize your progress. Some people keep themselves motivated through setting new goals each time they reach one. Remember you can always tack a few more minutes onto your workout. Try to push yourself just a bit harder and when you do, graph it so you can see your progress. Weight Loss Wars has free tracking and you can track anything from crunches, miles walked, steps taken, weights, or calories and of course–your weight! Remember to look back over past achievements to acknowledge how far you’ve come. This process of tracking regularly and looking back at progress is a proven success factor in weight loss.
41) Hone in on visual cues. As visual creatures, we humans can flip through fitness magazines, scroll through websites for inspiring pictures, or even watch fitness or workout shows on TV to get motivated and increase inspiration. Maybe you’ll see cute workout clothes you come across in a magazine as well as some great bodies as motivational tools.
42) Assess your options as well as your actions. Research continues to reveal that making just about any movement in the right direction, no matter the size of the change small or big, feeds upon itself, giving us more motivation to go on toward progress. If you could just take 5 minutes, brainstorm options on how to overcome some weaknesses, or brainstorm enjoyable ways to start your plan, you’ll be breaking through the ordinary and be on the path to making progress forward with your goal. Write everything down that you come up with in your brainstorm session. Anything that comes to mind. Go over the list and select one or two options, commit to them and turn them into action that you’ll do TODAY. Decide what you’re going to do, whom you’ll do it with, and when you’ll do it. Remember, today is almost always better than tomorrow.
43) Get to Know Yourself Better. Finding out better who you are as a person, and dissecting the reasons behind the regular choices you make are important to being able to overcome wrong choices. You’ll notice that your natural tendencies are going to pull you back to the couch or to the fridge to get a snack. Understanding the urges and psychology behind them may help you to work with these tendencies instead of always having to fight them. Maybe you’re a walker, and if you are that might mean you shouldn’t try to force yourself to become a marathoner. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever do one if you want to, but it means you can work withing the range of activities that you enjoy instead of trying to do what someone else thinks you need to do. For example, if you’re very social, you could start going to a new workout class with your spouse or a friend so that you can be around new people. If you like going solo, buy a new workout DVD at home or head off to the park for a nice jog.
44) Reward your Good Behavior with Positive Rewards. When you have been good to yourself, treat yourself! Pick something that inspires you- maybe it’s a new pair of shoes, new workout clothes, a new CD you’ve been wanting or go get a pedicure.
45) Relax and enjoy some Bliss. Everyone needs the occasional boost. Some of the best ways to accomplish this is by doing LESS, and not MORE ironically. Don’t push yourself so far that you hate life. Try yoga or some other class that you might enjoy. Surprise yourself and enjoy a massage, mani-pedi, or a nice mountain biking excursion. Do whatever is fun for you and simply just focus on having fun.
46) Visualize. Create mental pictures that are crisp and detailed about yourself having already lost the weight and looking great! What will you feel like, look like, and how will you move around after having accomplished your weight loss goals? Living with faith as if you’d already accomplished your goals makes reaching your goals a reality. Focus on the vision daily!
47) Keep it simple. Don’t give in to the sirens lure of quick fixes like sweat suits or dangerously extreme diets. You could start with a simple approach like trading out half of your orange juice in the morning with water. Maybe you could try your normal sandwich but with just a single slice of bread. Swap a TV show out for a half hour of jogging with a great audio book or some great tunes. Do something nice for a friend like taking care of someone’s kids while she takes a few hours to relax for once. You could even make a habit of trading off once or twice a week to get a good workout in. These simple and small steps are more likely to produce major, lasting results as they become habits!
48) How about a theme song? Rocky had one, so why not you? Yeah it might be corny, but listening, humming, and even outright singing or dancing to your motivational favorite song or songs can really boost spirits if you’re feeling down or uninspired. A theme song helps to trigger you back into strong, and healthy motivation. Here’s a favorite? Spaceman by The Killers – The line: “It’s All in Your Mind” is classic and fitting. Also another one is eye of the tiger. But just find one that inspires you to action and commitment!
49) Fudge or Cheat once in a while - And I repeat… ONLY once in awhile! Programming into your diet a cheat, whether it be a favorite snack, a special meal, or an occasional weekend “diet vacation,” may make the right amount difference in the world. If you allow yourself “controlled” wiggle room, you’re more likely to avoid slipping off the wagon in a big way. Just as much as you plan the “cheat” into the plan, make sure you realize immediately afterwards to get right back to the disciplined plan.
50) Donate your former “overweight self” clothing. Don’t hold onto your ‘heavy’ outfits –instead, visualize yourself in new, skinnier outfits. Imagine how great you’re going to feel in a new, slimmer body and sexier clothes. Picture yourself, then get rid any possibility to go back by getting rid of your old clothes.