Starting and sticking to a healthy weight loss plan can sometimes seem impossible. Often, people simply lack the motivation to get started or lose their motivation to keep going. Luckily, motivation is something you can work to increase. This article discusses best ways to motivate yourself to lose weight.
1. Determine Why You Want to Lose Weight
Clearly define all the reasons you want to lose weight and write them down. This will help you stay committed and motivated to reach your weight loss goals.
Try to read through them daily and use them as a reminder when tempted to stray from your weight loss plans.
Your reasons could include preventing diabetes, keeping up with grandchildren, looking your best for an event, improving your self-confidence or fitting into a certain pair of jeans.
Many people start losing weight because their doctor suggested it, but research shows that people are more successful if their weight loss motivation comes from within.
2. Have Realistic Expectations
Many diets and diet products claim quick and easy weight loss. However, most practitioners recommend only losing 1–2 pounds (0.5–1 kg) per week.
Setting unattainable goals can lead to feelings of frustration and cause you to give up. On the contrary, setting and accomplishing achievable goals leads to feelings of accomplishment.
Also, people who reach their self-determined weight loss goals are more likely to maintain their weight loss long-term.
A study using data from several weight loss centers found that women who expected to lose the most weight were the most likely to drop out of the program.
The good news is that just a little weight loss of 5–10% of your body weight can have a large impact on your health. If you are 180 pounds (82 kg), that is just 9–18 pounds (4–8 kg). If you are 250 pounds (113 kg), it’s 13–25 pounds (6–11 kg).
In fact, losing 5–10% of your body weight can:
- Improve blood sugar control
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Reduce joint pain
- Reduce the risk of certain cancers
3. Focus on Process Goals to Lose Weight
Many people trying to lose weight only set outcome goals, or goals they want to accomplish at the end.
Typically, an outcome goal will be your final target weight.
However, focusing only on outcome goals can derail your motivation. They can often feel too distant and leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Instead, you should set process goals, or what actions you’re going to take to reach your desired outcome. An example of a process goal is exercising four times a week.
A study in 126 overweight women participating in a weight loss program found those who were process focused were more likely to lose weight and less likely to deviate from their diets, compared to those who focused on weight loss outcomes alone.
Consider setting SMART goals to set strong goals. SMART stands for:
Some examples of SMART goals include:
- I will walk briskly for 30 minutes five days next week.
- I will eat four servings of vegetables every day this week.
- I will only drink one soda this week.
4. Pick a Plan That Fits Your Lifestyle
Find a weight loss plan that you can stick to, and avoid plans that would be nearly impossible to follow in the long term.
While there are hundreds of different diets, most are based on cutting calories.
Reducing your calorie intake will lead to weight loss, but dieting, especially frequent yo-yo dieting, has been found to be a predictor of future weight gain.
Therefore, avoid strict diets that completely eliminate certain foods. Research has found that those with an “all or nothing” mindset are less likely to lose weight.
Instead, consider creating your own custom plan. The following dietary habits have been proven to help you lose weight:
- Decreasing calorie intake
- Reducing portion sizes
- Reducing frequency of snacks
- Reducing fried food and desserts
- Including fruits and vegetables
5. Keep a Weight Loss Journal
Self-monitoring is crucial to weight loss motivation and success.
Research has found that people who track their food intake are more likely to lose weight and maintain their weight.
However, to keep a food journal correctly, you must write down everything you eat. This includes meals, snacks and the piece of candy you ate off your coworker’s desk.
You can also record your emotions in your food journal. This can help you identify certain triggers for overeating and help you find healthier ways to lose weight.
You can keep food journals on pen and paper or use a website or app. They have all been proven effective.
6. Make a Commitment to Lose Weight
Research shows that those who make a public commitment are more likely to follow through with their goals.
Telling others about your weight loss goals will help you stay accountable. Tell your close family and friends, and even consider sharing them on social media. The more people you share your goals with, the greater the accountability.
Moreover, consider investing in a gym membership, package of exercise classes or paying for a 5K in advance. You are more likely to follow through if you have already made an investment.
7. Think and Talk Positively
People who have positive expectations and feel confident in their ability to achieve their goals tend to lose more weight.
Also, people who use “change talk” are more likely to follow through with plans.
Change talk is making statements about commitment to behavioral changes, the reasons behind them and the steps you will take or are taking to reach your goals.
Therefore, start talking positively about your weight loss. Also, talk about the steps you are going to take and commit your thoughts out loud.
On the other hand, research shows that people who spend a lot of time only fantasizing about their dream weight are less likely to reach their goal. This is called mentally indulging.
Instead, you should mentally contrast. To mentally contrast, spend a few minutes imagining reaching your goal weight and then spend another few minutes imagining any possible obstacles that may get in the way.
A study in 134 students had them mentally indulge or mentally contrast their dieting goals. Those who mentally contrasted were more likely to take action. They ate fewer calories, exercised more and ate fewer high-calorie foods.
As seen in this study, mentally contrasting is more motivating and leads to more action than mentally indulging, which can trick your brain into thinking you have already succeeded and cause you to never take any action to reach your goals.
8. Learn to Love and Appreciate Your Body to Lose Weight
Research has repeatedly found that people who dislike their bodies are less likely to lose weight.
Taking steps to improve your body image can help you lose more weight and maintain your weight loss.
Furthermore, people who have a better body image are more likely to pick a diet they can sustain and try new activities that will help them reach their goals.
The following activities can help boost your body image:
- Appreciate what your body can do
- Do something for yourself, such as getting a massage or manicure
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Stop comparing yourself to others, especially models
- Wear clothes you like and that fit you well
- Look in the mirror and say the things you like about yourself out loud
9. Find an Exercise You Enjoy
Physical activity is an important part of losing weight. Not only does it help you burn calories, but it also improves your well-being.
The best kind is exercise you enjoy and can stick to.
There are many different types and ways to exercise, and it’s important to explore different options to find one you enjoy.
Consider where you want to exercise. Do you prefer to be inside or outside? Would you rather work out at a gym or in the comfort of your own home?
Also, figure out if you prefer to exercise alone or with a group. Group classes are very popular, and they help many people stay motivated. However, if you don’t enjoy group classes, working out on your own is just as good.
Lastly, listen to music while you work out, as doing so can increase motivation. People also tend to exercise longer when listening to music.
10. Get Professional Help When Needed
Don’t hesitate to consult professional help to aid your weight loss efforts when needed. People who feel more confident in their knowledge and abilities will lose more weight.
This may mean finding a registered dietitian who can teach you about certain foods or an exercise physiologist to teach you how to exercise properly.
Many people also enjoy the accountability that seeing a professional provides them.
If you are still struggling to get motivated, consider finding a psychologist or dietitian who is trained in motivational interviewing, which has been proven to help people achieve their goals.