Motivation is always sky-high at the start of a weight-loss journey but for some, the road can be long and patience can wane as time goes on.
It’s perfectly normal for motivation to ebb and flow throughout your journey to healthy change but the trick is to have a few trusty tools to rely on when motivation starts to decline.
Try these 8 proven habits to infuse your weight-loss journey with energizing new motivation and reach your goals with gusto.
1. Switch things up
If you find you’re losing interest in the workouts you’re doing or the food you’re eating while you’re on the path to slimming down, it’s time to make some changes pronto that will reinvigorate your journey.
Switch up your fitness routine or try a new style of fitness altogether. When it comes to your meal plan, it could be time to shake up your recipe rotation or switch to a healthy meal delivery service for a while to excite your taste buds with a fresh array of meals that keep you engaged and excited about your transformation. Here are some delicious new recipes to try.
2. Dangle milestone “reward carrots” for yourself
Small rewards along the way to your goal can be a motivational secret weapon. Allow yourself a small indulgence like a new piece of workout apparel for every milestone—it could be every 10 pounds lost or for consistently sticking to your healthy meal plan for a month straight. Rewards that aren’t food are a great way to stay motivated—excited even!—while working towards your goal.
3. Celebrate small wins
Don’t wait until you’ve hit the finish line to celebrate your hard work. Every small milestone deserves praise and a little victory lap. Not only will you build up your confidence as you go but a good pat on the back has also been shown to drive even more success and results down the road. When you feel successful and celebrate it, you’ll be much more likely to keep going.
4. Revisit your “whys” daily
In a large-scale study on 6000 people who lost weight and successfully kept it off for at least one year, the weight loss maintainers had one big thing in common: they regularly paused to reflect on life before they lost weight and to reaffirm their “whys”.
Common themes among weight-loss maintainers were reflecting on the pain they alleviated, how much their health profile improved, how they felt more physically and mentally confident and how they feel more fit and have a more positive body image daily.
Whatever your “whys” are, write them down or post them in a place you’ll see them often and read them—or recite them, affirmation-style—daily.
5. Expect setbacks but prepare to ride the wave
Setbacks are going to happen—that’s the nature of life—but if you equip yourself mentally to expect them and decide ahead of time that you will ride the wave but ultimately stay the course, you’ll be much more likely to succeed in the long term.
In a new study on people that lost 50 pounds (or more)— and kept it off—an overwhelming majority of participants credited their ability to accept setbacks as part of the process, weather the storm and get back on course as one of the most powerful tools for long-term success.
6. Buddy up
One of the best ways to stay motivated to lose weight is to have someone on a similar path to share the journey with. Research shows that participants who partner up with weight-loss buddies tend to lose more weight than those who attempt the goal alone.
Whether you team up with a friend, colleague or significant other for in-person support or join an online group like this one, there are plenty of ways to find support while losing weight.
In one study on people in an online weight-loss support group, a whopping 87% of participants said the encouragement they got from the group was the single most valuable puzzle piece to their weight-loss success followed by intel sharing on all things nutrition, exercise, individual experiences and even humor.
7. Trade perfectionism with body positivity
Forget hanging a picture of a supermodel on your fridge and hoping to be motivated to lose weight. Striving for perfection only leads to unrealistic expectations, self-judgment and disappointment. Instead, embrace the concept of body positivity, defined by the Cleveland Clinic as, “Loving your body regardless of shape, size, color, gender or ability”.
A few ways to reprogram your brain and develop a body positivity mentality is to practice positive affirmations, focus on becoming healthier instead of thinner, focus on what you love about yourself—it could be your strength, curves, determination, passion for building a healthier body or something totally unique to you. Try to stop comparing yourself to others and cut off negative self talk as much as possible.
8. Set realistic goals
Nothing will bring your motivation to a screeching halt quite like impossible-to-reach goals that drive you into the ground and cause you to doubt your willpower or ability to reach your goals all-together.
To ensure you’re being realistic with your weight-loss aspirations, set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-limited. Here are some good examples of different health goals using the SMART system. Sit down with a notepad or your laptop and draft your detailed SMART goals and check in on them often.
Being safe with your weight-loss plan is just as important as being realistic. Experts recommend a one- to two-pound weight loss per week as a safe and attainable weight-loss goal.
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