How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight
For everyone who’s had an on-again, off-again relationship with weight loss, this article is for you. So often the motivation to start on a new plan is triggered by something: a scary doctor visit, clothes that no longer fit, an upcoming event where there will be photographs taken. If only that initial motivation lasted. How do you stay motivated to lose weight?
I recently read an article by Brittany Williams where she makes the excellent point that motivation is fleeting, and that the key to her tremendous weight loss success was that it didn’t rely on having constant motivation. Instead, she made sustainable changes in her lifestyle.
While I completely agree with Brittany’s point that weight loss takes hard work, consistent lifestyle changes, and vulnerability, for so many of us, changing behavior is more complicated. Foods hold a certain emotional power over us. We may not have people in our lives who understand or support our behavior change. Weight loss is a constant roller coaster, and the shame, frustration, and pressure associated with weight loss fuel our deepest insecurities.
So when you’re a few days or weeks into a new program and you start feeling the old temptations creep in, how do you stick with it? Here are 10 unconventional ways to stay motivated to lose weight.
1) List out the positive side effects
Warning: weight loss can have significant side effects. It can make you stronger (physically and mentally), more knowledgeable about food, fitness, and human anatomy, and ultimately more interesting as a person. It can push you out of your comfort zone, which can make you happier. List out all of these very motivating side effects of weight loss.
2) Measure and track non-weight variables
Related to the positive side effects above, adopting healthier behaviors will cause significant changes throughout your body. Track your progress through variables like your resting heart rate, hours of sleep, how fast you can run/walk a mile, how you feel. These metrics may improve well before numbers on the scale budge.
3) Visualize success in HD
Don’t just picture yourself in a killer outfit once you meet your weight loss goals. Imagine exactly how you’ll feel when you’re healthier: what your heart, lungs, and legs will feel like after climbing a flight of stairs. Also, try imagining how good choices, like eating nutrient-dense vegetables, are bringing happy vitamins into your cells, helping fight disease and lower your blood sugar. Go back to these visualizations whenever you need a motivation boost.
4) Go deep
Is your weight loss a symptom of something deeper? If could be if...
You’ve started diet/exercise plans multiple times but keep gaining the weight back;
You get intense cravings and spend a lot of your mental energy trying to resist temptations; or
Even when you’re making progress, you still feel disappointed in yourself
If this sounds familiar, then you need to understand what’s happening below the surface, which can motivate you from the inside-out.
5) Seek out relatable role models
I have a love/hate relationship with before and after transformation photos. On the one hand, they can be inspiring; on the other, it can be demoralizing to see someone transforming effortlessly while you struggle with slow or stalled weight loss progress. Precision Nutrition published an insightful article with the breakdown here. My take? Find a role model with whom you can relate: someone with similar priorities, weight goals, and challenges as you.
6) Get inspired by people outside of the weight loss/fitness industry
Thinking about weight loss all the time can lead to burnout. Instead, venture out a bit further to find motivation through stories of people who have overcome the odds to achieve something profound in other areas. Podcasts are a great way to hear some of these stories during your commute or workout. No Limits by Rebecca Jarvis is one of my favorites for career inspiration. You can also get inspired by a fictional superhero, as suggested in this video by NoobStrength (dressed as Captain America).
7) Celebrate what you didn’t do
Did you skip dessert? Did you stop yourself during negative self-talk? Though harder to track, what you don’t do can have a huge impact on your success, so celebrate the heck out of the negative behaviors you didn’t do! Treat yourself. Tell a friend. These non-behaviors truly add up and over time, help rewire your brain to a healthier mindset.
8) Think about the why...AND the why not
A common and obvious suggestion for weight loss motivation is to think about your “why”—the reason you have this weight loss goal. Instead, try turning this advice on it’s head and list out “why I shouldn’t lose weight.” For example, you might list: “because I’m scared to try,” or “because I’m okay with how things are,” or “because it will take a long time.” At first, listing the opposite can seem silly, but it can actually supply that extra boost when you realize that those “why nots” aren’t good reasons (inspired by the poem scene in 10 Things I Hate About You).
9) Dedicate your weight loss to something greater than yourself
Identify a cause or person you care about, and dedicate your weight loss efforts to this cause. We often have more motivation to do something for someone else than we do for ourselves. Print out photos and place them around your home as a constant reminder of this greater cause.
10) Find an accountability partner with a different goal
If you hate letting down people who depend on you (see #9, above), find someone to hold you accountable. This isn’t just gym buddy, but someone who is going to make sure you did what you said you’d do. Find someone with a different goal so that you don’t compare yourself with this buddy. It’s not a competition. Looking for an accountability partner? Sign up for Supporti.
Weight loss takes patience and practice. Hopefully, you’ll use some of these tricks to find motivation through your weight loss journey. For more ideas on staying motivated and achieving your goals, subscribe to Supporti’s articles below.