So, you’ve decided to lose a couple of pounds, signed up for a fitness class and perhaps even had your first meeting with a dietitian. Your motivation is at an all time high, and you’re ready to go! The question is; will it last?
Losing weight is often said to be more of a marathon than a sprint, so let’s take a moment to make sure that the motivation you’re feeling now won’t dissipate into thin air two months down the road! Read on for 28 easy tips that will keep you inspired throughout your weight loss journey.
1. Say No To Fad Diets
One of the best ways to maintain motivation is to make sure you hold on to your results! And fad diets are notoriously known for messing with said results.
They typically lead you to underfuel your body, which lowers your blood sugar levels, leaving you de-energized and craving foods you’d rather not think about. This is what makes this type of diet so unsustainable! Sooner or later, you’re bound to go back to eating what you were, feeling frustrated for “failing” at a diet that was flawed from the beginning.
What’s even worse is that losing weight by severely restricting calories also makes you lose muscle mass, which slows down you metabolism. A slower metabolism means you’ll burn less calories at rest than you did before the diet, which directly results in regaining the weight (and then some) when you go back to your previous way of eating.
Talk about demotivating!
Long-term weight loss isn’t about a quick fix – it’s about finding solutions you can sustain for many years to come. So aim for just that; it will increase your chances of success, thereby maintaining your motivation!
2. Put Your Business Hat On!
You wouldn’t expect a new business to thrive without a specific plan, right? So don’t make that same mistake when it comes to your weight loss goal! For a victorious approach, look at it through a business lens and pick a specific, measurable and realistic objective. Then determine your strategy and your milestones working backwards from your ultimate goal. A winning game plan will help you progress towards your goal and keeping it realistic will prevent you from losing motivation!
3. Make Friends With Your Weekly Planner
Prioritizing your workouts and nutrition goals by planning them into your calendar is a great way to increase your chances of success. Try scheduling all of your workouts at the beginning of the month and selecting meals for the whole week each Sunday. Shop for healthy foods on the same day of the week, every week. Planning both fitness and diet goals in this way provides you some structure and ensures you keep working towards your objectives. Plus, by taking the guesswork out of when you’ll fit each activity in your schedule, you’ll no longer need to rely on motivation alone to get things done!
4. Plan For Setbacks
Did you know that it takes on average of 10 weeks to form a new habit, whether that habit is getting to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening, or eating two handful of veggies with every meal? What’s good to know is that setbacks are an inevitable part of this cycle.
Had two cookies, might as well finish the box… Skipped Monday night’s workout, might as well take the week off and start fresh next week… Sound familiar? This “all or nothing” mentality will most definitely keep you from reaching your goals. But expecting setbacks allows you to plan for them, which, according to a recent study, is actually more effective at helping you lose weight than motivation alone.
So plan ahead for any obstacles you might encounter, be it family vacations, BBQs with friends or a particularly busy workweek. It will maximize your results and help keep you on track towards your weight loss goal!
5. Ditch The Scale 6 Days Out Of 7
Weighing yourself can be a helpful way to measure your progress, but doing it too often is actually counterproductive when it comes to sustaining your motivation.
Weight normally fluctuates throughout the day, as well as from one day to another. Daily weigh-ins can bring on a roller coaster of emotions which can sap your motivation. Remember, it’s not just about the numbers on a scale, it’s about health too! Pictures and measurements are better methods of tracking your progress – looser jeans don’t lie! So limit your weight-ins to a weekly or even bi-weekly schedule to track your progress without messing with your motivation!
6. Keep A Food Journal
It’s been a long-known concept that tracking down what you eat effectively increases your chances of success, which, in turn, can motivate you to push forward with your weight loss efforts. But a recent study found that using an electronic diet diary (the type that allows you to have an overview of your daily nutrients) is actually more effective than the old pen an paper version.
Concretely facing what you’re eating forces you to confront your bad habits. It also allows you to notice certain eating patterns that may counter your efforts. So download apps such as myfitnesspal or calorific and get to tracking!
7. Push Back The Pushers
What’s a “pusher” might you ask? It’s that one person that will encourage you to go off your diet “just this once”. The problem arises when “just this once” comes up at every family gathering, every night out with friends, every date night…before long, you’ve fallen off the wagon and your motivation is at an all time low. So prepare for the pushers with previously thought of answers. And if all else fails, avoid the peer pressure by planning activities not revolving around food!
8. Fibre Up!
Willpower is said to be finite – the more you resort to it during the day, the less chances you’ll successfully use it at the dinner table! So spare this precious resource for situations that require tons of it by relying on effortless little hacks that help you eat less without even realizing it. One of such hacks is staking up on oats, lentils, bananas, carrots and green beans. They are all great sources of soluble fibre, which helps you feel fuller for longer, leading you to lose more weight over time. As a bonus, soluble fibre also protects your heart by lowering your LDL (a.k.a. “bad”) cholesterol!
9. Trick Your Mind Into Eating Less
Ever hear that smaller plates lead to smaller portions? Interestingly, a strong colour contrast seems to have the same effect! A clever experiment had participants serve themselves portions of pasta with either Alfredo or tomato sauce on plates that were either white or red. A lower colour contrast (i.e. Alfredo sauce on a white plate or tomato sauce on a red plate) led to 30% bigger portions than a higher contrast! So why not use this to your advantage at home to trick your mind into eating less? You’ll soon find less motivation is required when it comes to consuming smaller portions.
10. Catch Some Shut Eye
While on the topic of little hacks to help you eat less… notice how everything seems more difficult when lacking sleep, motivation included? It appears that lack of sleep not only messes with your mind, but also directly with you appetite. In short, appetite is regulated by two hormones; leptin and ghrelin. Ghrelin signals hunger to the brain, whereas leptin signals you’ve eaten enough, leaving you feeling full and satisfied. Leptin also signals to the brain that the body has enough energy stores (aka, body fat).
Interestingly, recent research shows that sleeping less than 8h per night can mess with your leptin levels potentially leading to weight gain. Mental fatigue caused by lack of sleep can also make you feel exhausted more rapidly, diminishing your wokout’s effectiveness. Talk about demotivating! The simple solution? Rally all chances of success to your side by maximizing your shut eye!
11. Visualize Success
The mind is a powerful tool. So whenever you’re feeling a little off your game, take a minute and a couple of deep breaths to create a mental picture of yourself having already achieved your goal. Where will you be? What will you be doing? And most importantly, what at will you feel like? Visualizing success is mighty motivating and definitely half the battle!
12. Consider The Painful Drawbacks Of Failure
For some people, thinking of how you’ll feel once you’ve achieved your goal is most motivating. For others, actually thinking of how you’ll feel if you don’t may be more effective. So find a pen and a piece of paper and list all the negatives of not exercising or not changing the way you eat. If nothing changes, where will you be a year from now? How will you feel? Refer to this list anytime you need an extra dose of motivation.
13. Change Your Perspective
If you see something as a chore, you’re less likely to go ahead and do it. This applies to both what you eat and the physical activity you do. So try focusing on the benefits of your choices instead. Each day, write down how your weight loss if making you feel healthier. Focussing on the positives is inspirational and this change in perspective will help you stay motivated.
14. Focus On What Is Going Right
Focussing on your shortcomings is another common motivation trap that often leads to the “all or nothing” mentality. So instead of beating yourself up over missing one or two workouts or having one glass of wine too many, take a moment to acknowledge the actions you are actively taking towards your goals (such as bringing your lunch to work, taking a walk after dinner, going dancing on the weekend, etc). Focusing on what you’re doing right, as well as all you’ve achieved so far will prevent your perfectionism from sabotaging your efforts and zapping your motivation.
15. Chose Your Motivational Pictures Carefully
Browsing Instagram for thinspiration may seem like a good way to stay inspired, but, according to a recent study, it may actually do more harm than good. Dutch researchers divided women who wanted to lose weight into two groups. Women in the first group were given a food journal sporting photos of thin models on the cover and interior pages whereas women in the second group were given journals with only neutral photos on the cover. Can you guess what happened? The women in the neutral journal group lost weight while the ones given the journals sprinkled with images of supermodels actually gained weight!
Staring at unrealistic standards can be counterproductive, actually de-motivating you. A better approach to staying inspired is to look for images of real people’s before and after weight loss photos, or, even better, for photos yourself at your healthiest weight.
16. Surround Yourself With Health
Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy food options, put a fruit bowl on the counter, keep your sweaty workout clothes off the exercise equipment and hang out with friends that have already honed the healthy lifestyle you’re after. Adjusting your physical environment to reflect your intentions makes it easier to stay on track.
17. The More, The Merrier
Research shows that the average body type of the people with whom you hang out affects your weight and size.
So enlist your friends, your spouse, your kids and your family in your health challenge. You’ll benefit from keeping each other accountable and motivated when the times get tough. As a bonus, surrounding yourself with people reaching for the same health goals means you’ll be more likely to maintain your results!
18. Reward Yourself
And not only once you reach your end goal! Start viewing weight loss as a process rather than an end-goal. To do so, set small weekly or monthly milestones and reward yourself for every one you reach throughout the process. Shifting your mindset from punishment to empowerment can be a great motivator. So stop putting off what you would do if you were at your goal weight and schedule it now. And celebrate every small victory!
19. Deal With Your Emotions Without Using Your Fork
In our modern era, food is consumed for various reasons other than basic sustenance. We celebrate with food, socialize around food, and may even consume it when sad, angry or frustrated – hence the term “comfort food”. But eating your emotions is a tricky little habit that can, over time, mess with your motivation and prevent you from reaching your goals. To stop emotional eating from getting in the way, start by tracking not only what, but also when and why you eat. Write how you feel every time you munch on something. This will help you identify if and in which type of situation eating your emotions is most prominent. Then, whether its by going for a walk around the block, having a bubble bath or ringing up your best friend for a chat, walk away from the pantry and find alternative ways to deal with your emotions.
20. Plan A Photoshoot
A recent study from Ohio state University showed that women who accept their bodies have better eating habits. As crazy as it may sound, planning a photoshoot (alone or with friends) can help with that! Seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes can help you view your body in a more positive light. If you need any proof of that, take a look at this fabulous Dove campaign! Give it a try – your self-esteem and eating habits could benefit from it.
21. Upgrade Your Old Tracksuit
While on the topic of accepting your body, who can deny that looking good can make you feel good? So trade in that old tracksuit for some stylish workout clothes and, while you’re at it, also upgrade your wardrobe regularly as you drop clothing sizes. This will do wonders for your mindset and a happy mindset will keep you progressing towards your goals.
22. Move The Way You Like
The same as with diet, the key to success when it comes to exercising is consistency. So it’s best to chose an activity you enjoy doing rather than one you think will “burn the most calories”. Take the huge amount of unused gym membership as any indication, that, as obvious as this may sound, you’re still prone to falling in this trap. So opt for the activities you enjoy doing most, be it salsa dancing, swimming, rock-climbing or kayaking. You’ll be much more likely to get moving and continue doing it even well after you’ve reached your goal!
23. Take It Slow
Exercise is notorious for releasing feel-good hormones (also known as endorphins), making opting for regular sweat sessions a great way to ignite your motivation. Getting your heart pumping will also speed up your weight-loss results by contributing to the daily energy deficit required to lose fat. However more is not always better, at least not from the get-go! If you’ve never set foot in a gym before, the extra-sore muscles you’ll get from trying to workout 6x per week might actually decrease your motivation. So opt for the turtle strategy – it will win you the race!
24. Hire A Coach
Don’t work out harder; work out smarter! Rather than spending hours on end in the gym, using the same cardio machines you’ve used week after week, month after month, secure yourself a couple of sessions with a professional trainer. A qualified trainer can design an exercise program that will maximize your time at the gym, and thus your results. You’ll benefit from quicker results and find yourself with more time to spend on other enjoyable activities which might be just the motivation you need to stick with the program and lose weight!
25. Make A Promise
It’s much harder to blow off a commitment you’ve made to a ton of people than one you’ve only made to yourself. Make this work in your advantage and join an team-sport or an athletic event to raise money for your favourite charity. You’ll be less likely to skip your trainings when you know you won’t only be letting yourself down, but your whole team or people that sponsored you down. Talk about a powerful source of external motivation!
26. Become A Class Regular
Following the same train of thought, group exercise classes are a good way to light two candles with one matchstick. Socializing with your pals will inspire you to show up and the guilt-factor associated with missing a class where everyone knows you by name (thus notices when you’ve missed a workout) can also be highly motivating.
27. Get Competitive
According to a recent study published in the journal Obesity, when it comes to shedding pounds, a little competition goes a long way. Social influence of team-based weight loss competitions can help you shed 20% more weight than if you were going at it alone. Interestingly, team captains seem to the ones benefiting the most. So recruit some friends or coworkers and embrace the triumph!
28. Rock Out
Science caught up to something we’ve intuitively known for a while! A recent study by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity found that women are more likely to stick to an exercise program if they listen to music while working out. So dust off that iPod and find your favourite earbuds, especially on those pesky days where you’re not particularly motivated to get your sweat on! Try jogtunes.com – a handy site that allows you to select your workout pace, then download playlists of songs with beats per minute that will match your heart rate – and rock out during your workout!