Weight Loss Motivation - Getting and Staying Motivated
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Struggling to keep your weight loss motivation and need some inspiration to continue with your diet? Dietitian Juliette Kellow gives you more fabulous motivational tips to keep you on track.
So you’re back to where you need to be, but now, out of the blue, the pounds are no longer falling off and you’re starting to get niggling doubts about whether you can really reach your goal. Worse still, you’re craving all your favourite comfort foods and the idea of exercising has suddenly lost its appeal.
Look forwards rather than backwards
Don’t dwell on your experiences with diets in the past. The chances are if you need to lose weight now, they weren’t right for you.
Whilst it’s probably easy to find examples of times when you’ve felt demotivated with your diet in the past, given up and quickly regained those lost pounds, this doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to happen this time.
Thinking negatively will almost certainly result in you giving up. So instead, put past dieting failures behind you and instead focus on the success that lies ahead.
Reflect on your successes
Start by reminding yourself how much better and healthier you already feel. Then look at some old pictures of yourself when you were bigger and reflect on the differences in your appearance now. Doesn’t it feel great to have more prominent cheekbones, slimmer arms or a trimmer waist?
Put on an old item of clothing that used to be tight – there’s no better feeling than trying on a pair of trousers that you couldn’t get past your hips and can now do up at the waist! Checking out your overall weight and inch loss to date can also really help to give you a boost.
Do some maths
If your motivation to lose weight is sliding, dig out a pen and paper and attempt to add up all the hours you’ve spent in the last month worrying about things like:
- your weight
- your shape
- what you eat
- what you don’t eat
- feeling guilty about not exercising
- how you look in your clothes
- whether people are looking at you
- if your health is suffering
- anything else that’s linked to your size
Now add up the number of hours in that month where you’ve felt great about your size, shape and diet. Chances are you’ll find a massive difference in the two numbers, with negative thoughts seriously outnumbering positive ones.
Ask yourself whether you really want to go another month wasting so many precious hours thinking negatively about your weight, health, eating and exercising habits. When you think positively, you’ll generally feel happier with the result that you’ll regain your motivation to diet and achieve your weight loss goals.
Get to grips with a weight loss plateau
Jumping on the scales after a hard week of dieting only to discover you haven’t lost as much as a pound can be seriously disappointing and demotivating. But sadly it’s very common.
Research suggests that after four to five weeks of steady weight loss, some people even increase in weight by about a pound. Why this happens isn’t clear but it’s probably the result of our metabolism adjusting and seems to be the body’s way of ‘catching up’ with its sudden change in size.
Many slimmers see this plateau as a sign that their diet isn’t working, lose their motivation to lose weight and so give up and quickly pile the weight back on.
Understanding that your weight may stabilise for a few weeks – and looking at this as your body sending you a positive message that it’s been through some pretty big changes and is preparing for more – really can help to keep you positive and focused during this difficult time and regain your weight loss motivation.
Pay attention to your food diary
People who regularly write down everything they eat and drink are generally more successful at losing weight – and keeping it off. The reason: it helps to keep them focused on every single morsel that passes their lips.
After several weeks or months of dieting many of us get complacent about keeping our food diary because we think we know what we are doing. As a result, it’s all too easy for portion sizes to gradually increase, more treats to creep back in and old bad habits such as skipping breakfast to return.
Unsurprisingly, the scales stop moving in the right direction and we end up feeling miserable and lose our motivation to lose weight. If you’re not already keeping a diary, get back into the habit of writing down everything you eat and drink – and watch those pounds start dropping while your diet motivation soars.
Cut calories a little
It might not sound like a great way to get you motivated, but if the scales have been static for several weeks then cutting your calorie intake slightly may be all it takes to get them moving again.
There’s a good reason why you should reduce the number of calories you have as the pounds fall off.
Quite simply when you lose weight, you need less energy to move around, and so need fewer calories to continue losing weight at the same rate. The good news is, WLR does all the hard work for you, so as the pounds drop, your daily calorie allowance is adjusted to suit your new lower weight.
Surrounding yourself with a good support network really can help to spur you on so enlist the help and support of friends and family.
- is there a friend you could exercise with?
- could your partner also do with eating a more healthy diet?
- could you encourage your work colleagues to do a fruit run rather than a chocolate run every afternoon?
Make the most of being a member of WLR. By going into the chat rooms or using the message boards, you’ll meet plenty of like-minded people who all want to lose weight and you’ll always be able to find someone who has been through a difficult slimming patch and has come out the other side.
This alone can be all that it takes to keep you motivated to lose weight and stay on track.
Don't Let Fear of Failure Get in Your Way
Bonus tip from dietitian Lyndel Costain
Sometimes fear of failure can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if you follow the strategies of people who have been successful, you can lose weight.
"There is a general perception that almost no-one succeeds in losing weight and keeping it off in the long term" say scientists from the Brown Medical School, Rhode Island, USA.
They go on to explain that research has in fact shown that 1 in 5 overweight people are successful - when success is defined as losing at least 10 percent of their weight and keeping that off for at least 1 year.
To help motivate people who feel despondent about their ability to control their weight in the long term, they have compiled this list of top success strategies used by the thousands of successful slimmers they have interviewed.
- being physically active for an hour or more daily e.g. a total of walking for one hour
- eating a low fat diet and keeping a check on overall calorie intake
- eating breakfast regularly
- keeping a regular check on their weight e.g. once or twice a week
- not falling into the trap of ‘all or nothing’ thinking (where you feel bad if you overeat/eat a high calorie food, feel you’ve blown it and keep on eating)
- having a fairly consistent eating pattern across weekdays and weekends
- greatly limiting their variety of fatty and sugary foods
This study is very encouraging as it shows that long term weight control is possible – and it points to surprisingly simple ways to help make it happen.
While this study highlights practical strategies of successful slimmers, the big reason they can keep putting them into practice rather than go back to old habits is their positive state of mind. They believe, and keep on believing that they can keep up these changes and that they are worth it.
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