One day you decide you want to lose weight and start an exercise regimen.
You choose what diet you wish to go through and feel good that you are actually starting something and making an effort to lose the excess weight. Three to five days in, you start to feel like you might be dragging yourself into it.
How do you keep the motivation up and alive? It may seem an impossible task but winning the battle against unwanted pounds can be achieved if you let yourself in with the right mindset and the proper motivation. Motivation is key. It is what will see you through the weight loss journey.
Willpower alone is not enough. Everyone wants to lose weight and sometimes, no amount of willpower motivates us to get up and exercise. The will to lose weight may be so strong but the power to see it through may not be enough to pull you into taking action.
Motivation doesn’t just happen once. It is a continuing process that needs to be worked on and actively pursued in order for us to achieve our goals. Pursuing something with a passion – that raw feeling in your gut that no matter what happens, you will see it through may be difficult for something that you are not wholly committed to.
How do you stay motivated? Here are some simple ways that may help you stay the course and stay motivated so that you achieve not just your desired weight but a healthy lifestyle as well.
1. Find what works for you
There are lots of weight loss activities you can choose from. Not everything works for everyone. But in order for you to find out, you must first need to try them. Activities such as yoga, crossfit, pilates, biking, running, weightlifting or boxing are just some of the choices you may have.
If you like what you do, the motivation to continue on becomes much easier. Find something that you enjoy doing and make it “your thing”.
I know it may seem hard to even try but this is where your commitment to losing the weight gets in. It’s easy to say that you want to lose weight and that you will do something about it, but to actually take action to find what is best for you could be difficult if your mind is not open to new things.
The fear of the unknown is quite strong and there are many excuses you can think of as to why you shouldn’t. Just do it – so they say. The mere fact that you are willing to try something new is a big step towards achieving your weight loss goals.
2. Turn your computer and TV off
It is always tempting to watch your favorite soaps on TV or browse the internet for what’s new and what’s in the news during times when you feel you want to “relax” for a bit. But after being a couch potato to “de-stress”, you find that you might be feeling too tired after that mind stimulating romance, action or drama series you’ve been watching.
This overload of stimulation makes your mind feel tired and will make you feel unmotivated to do anything. These things drain your ability to stay motivated. Turning these devices off may result in boredom but you might find that your desire to do things will be stronger without these mind stimulating activities.
Try cutting down on these for about an hour a day and notice how motivated you could become to try to do other things to ease the boredom. If you are willing to go extreme, try fasting from your TV and computer. You just might be surprised.
3. Establish a habit
What makes you brush your teeth and wash your face in the morning? What makes you grab a tub of ice cream and sit in front of the TV just as your favorite show is about to start? Why do you have coffee and donuts or green tea and a banana for breakfast?
Habits are anything you do without thinking. It comes out of you automatically. How did these habits form? By repeating these actions over and over, day in and day out, it becomes second nature to you. These are things that you do without any effort or motivation.
Here’s how a coffee habit might work:
You pass by your local coffee shop every morning and smell the scent of freshly brewed coffee. You decide you want to buy a cup of coffee and actually buy one. You drink the cup of coffee on your way to work. You do it again the following day, and the next, and the next…
What happens is that your mind forms associations and triggers that develops your habit of having coffee every morning on your way to work. The scent of coffee triggers your habit and reminds you of the pleasures you experience by drinking it.
You’ve set up a trigger to fire your habit – the scent of coffee. And you’ve associated a reward – the pleasure of drinking it.
Start by establishing a weight loss habit of having a healthy breakfast everyday. Decide what trigger you would want and associate a reward from it. Same goes for establishing an exercise habit. Before you know it, it becomes second nature to you.
4. Join a community or find social support
It is always good to know that in anything we put our minds and hearts into, there will be people ready and willing to support us. Nothing keeps us more motivated than the people we surround ourselves with.
Family and friends are a valuable source of strength that can keep us motivated to achieve our goals. Let them know that you have decided to live a healthy lifestyle and that you hope they would support and help you achieve it – or better yet, that they would too.
Make them aware of their own habits that keep you from sticking to your diet or exercise program. Maybe you could inspire them to embark on their own weight loss journeys. It is always better if you go through it together as a family or a group of friends.
Sometimes though, it is so difficult to inspire our own families to start a healthy way of living. In this case, join a support group or an active community of like minded people who have decided to change their unhealthy lifestyle habits. Join a yoga club, a diet group, a martial arts group or whatever group you feel you could fit in.
Find your fitness buddy. Be each other’s support and strength. This journey isn’t easy when you’re alone. You can hold each other accountable for days when you lag and encourage each other to get moving.
5. Plan for challenges and setbacks
Handling stress can be quite difficult especially when you are on a weight loss program. So many opportunities to make excuses come your way that sometimes you just find it hard to cope with the demands of pressure from work or family that keep you away from your weight loss journeys.
There will always be those parties to attend, that holiday you’ve planned, or that celebration you could never ignore. There could also be the stress from problems at home or in the office that somehow feel so much easier to handle with the comfort that food might bring. Why do you think good food have been labeled as “comfort food”?
You can convince yourself that you would hold it for just one day. In cases such as these, it is always best to plan for your course of action. Decide how you would deal with these now, before it actually happens.
Being prepared with how you would act in case you encounter any of these situations would be a big part of your journey and should always be a part of your plan. It doesn’t help to try and figure out what you are going to do when the situation is right in front of you.
Creating appropriate coping skills can prepare you for the challenges and setbacks you are bound to encounter. The better you get with handling stress and applying your coping strategies, the more weight you can lose and the easier it will be to keep it off longer.
6. Forgive yourself when you make a mistake
Don’t be too hard on yourself during times when you make a mistake and just can’t resist the temptation to lag. You are not perfect. If you aim for perfection, you may lose the motivation to stay the course.
Be flexible. Be kind to yourself. If you beat yourself up with self-defeating thoughts, you just end up hindering your motivation.
Acknowledge that you made a mistake and gave in to temptation. Forgive yourself and pick up where you left off so you can stay motivated.
7. Don’t look in the mirror
Never rely on the mirror. Do you remember when you started to gain all that weight? Did you see yourself start to pack in the pounds day after day or month after month as you looked at yourself in the mirror?
You probably didn’t know that you were gaining weight and was just shocked one day when you realized how much heavier you’ve become. You ask yourself why you didn’t see this. Looking in the mirror everyday doesn’t really tell us how much weight we might be gaining.
In the same instance, you shouldn’t be relying on the mirror to see if you’re losing the weight. It is so easy to lose motivation when you look in the mirror everyday and it just seems as though nothing is really happening. You feel like you haven’t made any progress at all and might think what a failure you have become.
Instead of looking in the mirror everyday, you should measure your waist, arms, hips, and thighs from the start of your program and regularly afterwards – maybe once every two weeks or so. At the same time, keep a record of how much you weigh.
When you start to lose the weight, you notice that your measurements drop too. Other times, your weight may be the same but you notice the inches fall off. These are what will keep you motivated. Numbers don’t lie.
The motivation to lose the weight is important to ensure long-term success. It is important to find out what it is that motivates you. Remember to be flexible and to celebrate every lost pound no matter how small it may be. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask.