Starting and sticking to a healthy weight loss plan can sometimes seem impossible.Often, people simply lack the motivation to get started or lose their motivation to keep going. Luckily, motivation is something you can work to increase.
Clearly define all the reasons you want to lose weight and write them down. This will help you stay committed and motivated to reach your weight loss goals.
Try to read through them daily and use them as a reminder when tempted to stray from your weight loss plans.
Your reasons could include preventing diabetes, keeping up with grandchildren, looking your best for an event, improving your self-confidence or fitting into a certain pair of jeans.
Many people start losing weight because their doctor suggested it, but research shows that people are more successful if their weight loss motivation comes from within
Many diets and diet products claim quick and easy weight loss. However, most practitioners recommend only losing 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week.
Setting unattainable goals can lead to feelings of frustration and cause you to give up. On the contrary, setting and accomplishing achievable goals leads to feelings of accomplishment.
Also, people who reach their self-determined weight loss goals are more likely to maintain their weight loss long-term.
The good news is that just a little weight loss of 5–10% of your body weight can have a large impact on your health. If you are 180 pounds (82 kg), that is just 9–18 pounds (4–8 kg). If you are 250 pounds (113 kg), it’s 13–25 pounds (6–11 kg)
In fact, losing 5–10% of your body weight can:
- Improve blood sugar control
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Reduce joint pain
- Reduce the risk of certain cancers
Many people trying to lose weight only set outcome goals, or goals they want to accomplish at the end. Typically, an outcome goal will be your final target weight.
However, focusing only on outcome goals can derail your motivation. They can often feel too distant and leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Instead, you should set process goals, or what actions you’re going to take to reach your desired outcome. An example of a process goal is exercising four times a week.
Consider setting SMART goals to set strong goals. SMART stands for:
Some examples of SMART goals include:
- I will walk briskly for 30 minutes five days next week.
- I will eat four servings of vegetables every day this week.
- I will only drink one soda this week.
Find a weight loss plan that you can stick to, and avoid plans that would be nearly impossible to follow in the long term.
While there are hundreds of different diets, most are based on cutting calories.
Reducing your calorie intake will lead to weight loss, but dieting, especially frequent yo-yo dieting, has been found to be a predictor of future weight gain.
Therefore, avoid strict diets that completely eliminate certain foods. Research has found that those with an “all or nothing” mindset are less likely to lose weight.
Instead, consider creating your own custom plan. The following dietary habits have been proven to help you lose weight:
- Decreasing calorie intake
- Reducing portion sizes
- Reducing frequency of snacks
- Reducing fried food and desserts
- Including fruits and vegetables
Self-monitoring is crucial to weight loss motivation and success.
Research has found that people who track their food intake are more likely to lose weight and maintain their weight loss.
However, to keep a food journal correctly, you must write down everything you eat. This includes meals, snacks and the piece of candy you ate off your coworker’s desk.
You can also record your emotions in your food journal. This can help you identify certain triggers for overeating and help you find healthier ways to cope. You can keep food journals on pen and paper or use a website or app. They have all been proven effective.
Losing weight is hard, so celebrate all your successes to keep yourself motivated.
Give yourself some credit when you accomplish a goal. Social media or weight loss sites with community pages are great places to share your successes and get support. When you feel pride in yourself, you will increase your motivation.
Moreover, remember to celebrate behavior changes and not just reaching a certain number on the scale.
For example, if you met your goal of exercising four days a week, take a bubble bath or plan a fun night with friends.
However, it’s important to pick appropriate rewards. Avoid rewarding yourself with food. Also, avoid rewards that are so expensive you would never buy it, or so insignificant that you would allow yourself to have it anyway.
The following are some good examples of rewards:
- Getting a manicure
- Going to a movie
- Buying a new running top
- Taking a cooking class
Research shows that those who make a public commitment are more likely to follow through with their goals. Telling others about your weight loss goals will help you stay accountable. Tell your close family and friends, and even consider sharing them on social media. The more people you share your goals with, the greater the accountability.
Moreover, consider investing in a gym membership, package of exercise classes or paying for a 5K in advance. You are more likely to follow through if you have already made an investment.
People who have positive expectations and feel confident in their ability to achieve their goals tend to lose more weight. Also, people who use “change talk” are more likely to follow through with plans.
Change talk is making statements about commitment to behavioral changes, the reasons behind them and the steps you will take or are taking to reach your goals.
Therefore, start talking positively about your weight loss. Also, talk about the steps you are going to take and commit your thoughts out loud.
On the other hand, research shows that people who spend a lot of time only fantasizing about their dream weight are less likely to reach their goal. This is called mentally indulging.
Instead, you should mentally contrast. To mentally contrast, spend a few minutes imagining reaching your goal weight and then spend another few minutes imagining any possible obstacles that may get in the way. Those who mentally contrasted were more likely to take action. They ate fewer calories, exercised more and ate fewer high-calorie foods.
Everyday stressors will always pop up. Finding ways to plan for them and developing proper coping skills will help you stay motivated no matter what life throws your way.
There will always be holidays, birthdays or parties to attend. And there will always be stressors at work or with family.
It’s important to start problem solving and brainstorming about these possible weight loss challenges and setbacks. This will keep you from getting off track and losing motivation.
Many people turn to food for comfort. This can quickly lead to them abandoning their weight loss goals. Creating appropriate coping skills will prevent this from happening to you.
Consider using some of these methods to cope with stress:
- Practice square breathing
- Take a bath
- Go outside and get some fresh air
- Call a friend
- Ask for help
Remember to also plan for holidays, social events and eating out. You can research restaurant menus in advance and find a healthy option. At parties, you can bring a healthy dish or eat smaller portions.
Physical activity is an important part of losing weight. Not only does it help you burn calories, but it also improves your well-being. The best kind is exercise you enjoy and can stick to.
There are many different types and ways to exercise, and it’s important to explore different options to find one you enjoy.
Consider where you want to exercise. Do you prefer to be inside or outside? Would you rather work out at a gym or in the comfort of your own home?
Also, figure out if you prefer to exercise alone or with a group. Group classes are very popular, and they help many people stay motivated. However, if you don’t enjoy group classes, working out on your own is just as good.
Lastly, listen to music while you work out, as doing so can increase motivation. People also tend to exercise longer when listening to music.
This Content has originally written by Caroline Pullen and published on April 24, 2017. No Copyright/IPR breach is intended.