How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight: 13 Tips for Staying Motivated to Work on Your Health, Instead of Simply Allowing Yourself to Get More and More Out of Shape
What follows are 13 tips for keeping you motivated to lose weight and live a healthy life style. Start with two or three tips that are easy for you. Add one or two a week, working from the easiest to the more challenging. If you try a tip and it doesn’t work for you, just move on to another one.
13 Tips on How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight
1. Write and Display Your “Why” Statement. Think about how the further back you pull an arrow, in a bow and arrow, the further the arrow will go, when released. This is similar to having a strong set of reasons to live a healthy life – a “why” statement. Without proper mental preparation, you are likely to give into self-defeating thoughts. You can give into being disappointed by slow progress, yielding to a craving for an unhealthy food choice, or failing to stay with your exercise routine.
Give some quality time to brainstorming and making a list of all of the reasons that you want to live a healthy life. Make a list of all of the positives. Make a list of all of the negatives. For brainstorming, it is fine to list how people will respond to you and what you think you should do.
Now, take the list and pull out the three to seven most compelling reasons for you to live a long term healthy life. Your top reasons should be about what you want to do, not what others want or what you feel obligated to do. Develop a well written paragraph.
Here is an example, “I am committed to living a healthy life because of the following reasons: I want to be in good health to enjoy my grandchildren (e.g., go for walks, play catch, and go to events), I want to enjoy my retirement years (e.g., travel, serve on boards, and volunteer for special projects), and I want to be an inspiration to others (e.g., my children, grandchildren, and my peers). Most of all I believe that it will bring glory to God, which will lead to my being richly blessed.”
After you have your compelling “why” statement completed, post it in places that you will see it and be inspired by it. Think about your night stand, bathroom mirror, car dash board, office desk, refrigerator, etc.
Intentionally read your statement every week. Feel free to tweak it as needed. Your “why” statement is extremely important to staying motivated to live a healthy life.
2. Write and Achieve SMART Goals. SMART is a popular acronym. The S stands for specific, M for measurable, A for attainable, R for relevant, and T for time bound. Aiming to lose one or two pounds a week is attainable for many people; however, five to ten pounds a week is not likely.
It is also a good idea to set some non-weight goals. You can set a goal to take a 45 minute brisk walk three times a week for the next 90 days, perform your weight training workout twice a week for the next 90 day, jog and walk at the upcoming 5k event, or eat five servings of vegetables and drink three liters of water five days a week for the next 90 days. These type of goals are much more under your control than just weight lost. You may want to include both types of goals. But it is good to see that you were successful with several of your goals, even when the weight goal is not met.
Make some lifelong goals, 5 year goals, 1 year goals, 30 day goals, 7 day goals, and today goals. Your goals should include your eating habits, exercise habits, and keeping a positive mental attitude. Writing the goals will help you stay more committed to the goals than simply saying them in your mind.
As with your “why” statement, write the goals down and display in places where you will be inspired by them. In fact, you can combine your “why” statement with your goals, in the same document. Think about your night stand, bathroom mirror, car dash board, office desk, refrigerator, etc.
Intentionally read your goals every day. Feel free to tweak them as needed. In fact, you need to replace goals that have been accomplished with new ones.
3. Develop and Follow Your Written Plans. It is good to study and perhaps receive coaching to help you develop a well informed plan. However, it is also important for you to understand that you are unique and what works for others may or may not work for you.
You need plans for your eating. Here you want to develop meal plans that satisfy your macro-nutrient needs. You need to figure out which works better for you – three meals and two snacks, two meals and three snacks, or whatever works for you.
If you have unhealthy foods that you just love, instead of eliminating them, try to simply limit them. I love chocolate. Instead of eliminating it, I have it on one day out of the week. I take a bite or eat a small piece slowly and clear my pallet, before having more. I savor the treat, so that it will last until next week.
Make sure you plan when you are going to go shopping and when you are going to prepare your meals and snacks. Proper planning can prevent poor performance.
You need plans for your exercising. Here you want to make sure you get enough cardio, strength training, and flexibility training. Think about what works for you. Are you a walker or jogger or a mix? Do you like dumbbells or bands or body weight or a mix? Do you like going to the gym, working out at home, in class, solo, or some mixture of the above?
You need a plan to keep your motivation up. This may include a schedule to review your “why” statement, goals, and plans as well as tweaking as needed. You may include a journal, an accountability partner, reading helpful material, and things of this nature.
4. Remember That Little Changes Add Up. Since it only takes 3,500 calories to make a pound, you can lose 12 pounds a year by simply cutting 120 calories a day from what your body needs. You can lose 12 pounds a year by burning a 120 extra calories a day, by way of exercise and being active. And of course you can lose even more pounds by adding the cutting of calories and the adding of activity together. Plan to add a couple of small changes at a time, instead of being overwhelmed with too many changes too quickly.
5. Keep a Journal. Document your goals, plans, and actual actions. Try a 30 day challenge, where you make a daily entry of what you eat (what food, portion, and macro nutrients), how you felt about your eating (did you eat only when hungry or what triggered your eating), how you felt about your exercises, what exercises did you do (type, reps, sets, weights, distance, etc.), your weight (weekly), the measurements (at least a weekly measuring of your waist) things that helped you stay focused, things that distracted you, lessons learned, and anything that you think will be helpful. After the 30 day challenge, make a least a weekly entry and other entries as needed. Start with some pictures of yourself – front, both sides, and back. And take new pictures each month. It may be helpful to write a summary entry every month, if the data gets a little confusing. Experiment and learn what key information you want to track.
6. Accountability Partners and Supporters. Work hard to develop at least one person whom you can talk to at least weekly about your eating, exercising, and mindset. Two is better than one. These partnerships work best when they work both ways. You help your partner with his/her goals, and your partner helps you with your goals.
Your supporters can be your Facebook family, Twitter followers, social media contacts, or anyone who will cheer for your success. Family and friends should be among your supporters. With social media, you can send out a message letting people know your goals and asking them to support you. Some have even went so far as to make a friendly wager. The truth is you can only hold up so long, if all you have is your will power – your personal self-discipline to do what is challenging. Get others to provide some positive energy and support.
7. Use Visualization. Look through magazines, websites, and those around you. Try to find someone who looks about how you would like to look, when you accomplish your goal.
Close your eyes and visualize how you will walk, dress, and feel. Visualize two or three of the greatest benefits of reaching your goals.
Also visualized how you will face your two or three of the greatest challenges, temptations, or setbacks to staying focused. Some call this a doublethink (comfortpit.com). It is important to visualize both your ideal situation and handling temptations or challenges. This will help you press your way through the difficulties.
8. Use the Right Type of Role Models. According to comfortpit.com, there are two major types of people, when it comes to being motivated to lose weight or to get healthy. There are the preventals. They are trying to prevent something bad happening – sickness, taking medicine, having restricted activity, and the like. And there are the promotionals. They want to be promoted or improve their current health and fitness level.
For the preventals, they would do well to find someone who represents what they could realistically be like, if they don’t stay focused on their health. They should not be the 600 lb. man or woman, but maybe 20 or 30 lbs. heavier than you are and perhaps experiencing some health challenges because of the extra weight.
For the promotionals, they need the opposite. They need someone who is in a little bit better shape than they are in. The role model should not be the body builder with 1% body fat. The role model may be 10 to 15 lighters and has plenty of energy to do what he or she wants to do.
Knowing the stories of the role model is important as well. The role model may be a friend or family member. It is not necessary to reach for some “super role model” from the ranks of the celebrities.
9. Work on Your Environment. Work on making your environment conducive to healthy living. Think about how the coffee shops have created an environment that makes you look past spending $4 for a cup of coffee. Think about the sights, aromas, sounds, and textures that would help you eat, exercise, and keep your mental focus for the sake of your health. Brainstorm, talk with others, and experiment with ways to make your environment supportive of healthy living.
10. Watch Your Influences. Find people, youtube clips, magazines, blogs, and whatever else you can gather to help you stay in a positive state of mind. Avoid or limit your exposure to negative influences. These may include people with unhealthy habits, restaurants, stores, or anything that influences unhealthy thoughts.
11. Manage Your Emotions. Anger and sadness are known to be triggers for over eating, even though we know that over eating will not stop the emotional discomfort. In fact, over eating often leads to more sadness and anger about your lack of self-discipline.
Try keeping a journal and include in the journal when you feel tempted to over eat or when you actually over eat. What were you feeling and thinking? Why were you feeling and thinking this way? What are better ways of dealing with the trigger?
It is not strange to feel a little fear about trying to make a change. There is the fear of failure, the fear of what others may think or say. One of the better ways of dealing with fear is to face it head on. Focus on how every day that you eat right, exercise right, and keep your mind right is another day of getting healthier and being in aligned with your “why statement.”
Work hard on turning off your negative self-talk. When you become conscious that you are entertaining negative self-talk, learn to quickly analyze is there anything worth attending to in the talk. If there is nothing worth attending to, learn to switch to something more constructive. You may develop an affirmation or mantra that helps you change your focus.
If there is something worth attending to in the negative talk, pull it out and deal with it. Deal with the issue with a “solution” mindset, not a “complaining” mindset. Journaling is very helpful in getting your thoughts on paper – problem description, brainstorm options, analyze the options, commit to an option, and track what happens. Remember that we feel what we feel because we think what we think.
12. Celebrate Your Achievements. Don’t wait until the end, celebrate along the journey. First, make sure you are tracking your progress with eating, exercising, and staying motivated enough to do what you have planned to do. Celebrate doing your work, whether the scale agrees or not. You can always celebrate that you still have a mind to work on your health.
Second, find a reward that will give you energy but doesn’t harm your health. Buying a pair of sneakers, a fancy sweat suit (some think red attire gives you a little more emotional energy), or a sophisticated pedometer is much better than buying and eating an entire pizza or binging on ice cream. A reasonable indulgence is fine, but don’t overdo it and sabotage all of your hard work. You may buy yourself a nice outfit that accentuates your figure, a new music download, get a massage, or almost anything that doesn’t hurt your health or your finances too much. Talk with friends about your success, if they are supportive of your work.
13. Forgive Yourself. All of us make mistakes and have some relapses. The worst thing that you can do when you eat something unhealthy or skip a workout is develop an attitude that says, “You are so weak and so unreliable.” This leads to, “You will never lose weight.” This leads to “Just eat whatever and stop exercising. It was not working for you anyway. No matter how hard you try, you still have to die one day.” Can you see this downward spiral of thought?
Instead, simply stop, regain your focus, and do better from here. When you become conscious of your mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Simply remind yourself of your “why statement,” goals, and plans. Recommit to them. And do better from here. Don’t even try to go back and fix up. Just do better from here. The best way out of the mistake is recommitment and action.
Conclusion: Well there you have 13 tips for keeping you motivated to lose weight and live a healthy life style. Start with two or three that are easy for you. Add one or two a week, working from the easiest to the more challenging. If you try a tip and it doesn’t work for you, just move on to another one.