How to Keep Motivation to Lose Weight

Motivation To Lose WeightYour number one tool when you’re losing weight (other than dietMD Hawaii, of course!) is your mindset. Your success is going to depend, to a large extent, on your motivation to lose weight.

Motivation alone won’t do it, of course. You’ll need some flexibility and creativity to help you create new healthy habits so that motivation won’t have to do all the heavy lifting alone.

Choose the Motivators That Work For You

Motivation is an individual thing, just like weight loss. What works for you may not be the same as what works for another. Choose the weight loss motivators that work for you, but don’t make the common motivation mistakes that can lead you to self-sabotage.

Motivators to Avoid

1 – Rewarding Yourself With Food

This is one of the biggest mistakes (or forms of self-sabotage) that new dieters commonly make. It’s not surprising, really. We tend to act the parent to ourselves when we’re trying to change our behaviors, and our parents often used food rewards to get the desired behavior.

So while rewarding yourself is good, food rewards have to be “off the table”, so to speak. No treats, no candy bars, no binge days or rich restaurant meals as weight loss rewards. I’m not saying you can never have a piece of birthday cake again – I’m saying it shouldn’t be a reward for sticking to your diet.

“Don’t reward yourself with food. You are not a dog.”

Choose to reward yourself with things you enjoy – non-food treats such as new music, new clothes for your slimmer self, a haircut or salon visit, a massage, excursions that keep you active such as windsurfing or rollerblading, new classes such as yoga or Tai Chi. Activities that create memories make great rewards.

2 – Focusing Only On What The Scale Says

It’s understandable that people who are trying to lose weight become a bit obsessed with what the scale says. There’s weight loss research that discusses how important it is for new dieters to see fast and measurable results. However, your weight on the scale isn’t the only way to see progress. You can help your motivation to lose weight with other ways of tracking your progress.

Measuring your chest, biceps, waist, hip, thigh and calf dimensions can help you see weight drop. Write your measurements down, and take them at the same time (morning) each day. Feeling your jeans zip up more easily can help you understand that your body is trading fat for muscle, even when the scale isn’t showing a big shift. Using a body fat caliper can help you measure fat loss more directly. If you exercise for muscle-building, remember that muscle weighs more than fat (but takes up MUCH less space). Your body is going through a process of restructuring itself in a more healthy way. Don’t forget the “before” pictures, either!

Your weight will drop over time, your Body Mass Index (BMI) will drop, and you’ll feel better… but sometimes a few days will pass with no weight loss. That’s normal. Don’t see the scale as the only indicator of progress. If you know you’ve finally managed to cut out soda, or you can walk upstairs without becoming out of breath, you’re making progress even when the scale doesn’t (yet) show it.

3 – Expecting Too Much, Too Fast

It took time to gain extra weight, and probably a lot of bad eating habits too. It will take longer to lose all of the excess weight than it took to gain it, so don’t expect that you can recover your high-school figure (or dream figure) in a few weeks. Beating up on yourself isn’t good for your motivation to lose weight. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

Healthy weight loss is normally in the area of .5 to 2 pounds per week. With medical weight loss, we can accelerate this safely and comfortably, and it’s not uncommon for dietMD Hawaii patients to lose up to 30 pounds in the first month. However, if you’re losing weight on your own, it’s unlikely that you can achieve results like that safely. That’s okay… even at an average half-pound per week, it will take less than a year to completely change your health situation.

“Remember that 80% of your success will depend on how you eat!”

Expecting too much of yourself is discouraging and harmful to your maintaining your motivation. It’s important to notice and celebrate the progress you make each week, and give yourself credit for the improvements you are making. If you focus on what you don’t have, or the weight you haven’t yet lost, you’re self-sabotaging and positioning yourself for failure.

A Lifetime Of Good Health

Remember what’s at stake here. Obesity is a killer, detracting from both the length and quality of your life. Your decision to lose weight is one of the best choices you’ve ever made, so do everything  you can to support yourself, keep your motivation to lose weight, and avoid sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

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13 Responses to How to Keep Motivation to Lose Weight

  1. lis_ve May 25, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    These are some really good tips, I find myself doing the majority of these things as I have always been one to lose the weight only just to gain it back at the end of a season. Having the right motivation and mindset is vital to success, personally I know that I can lose the weight, it is just keeping it off that I tend to struggle. I will have to try choosing something more rewarding than food, maybe a salon day would be a nice tip or a new outfit. When I really think about food as a reward it is counterproductive to my health, as I feel that when I do that reward it is almost like binge eating. Plus, knowing that obesity is a killer and how many diseases and medications that come with extra weight, it is to motivation to lose weight and keep it off. I guess the changing the mindset is the most challenging part as learning to love yourself and giving up on pleasing others is difficult. Small changes make for great things in the future.
    – Lisa

    • DrBruce June 4, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

      Small changes are the key. One step at a time. Every positive choice you make helps!

  2. BeanKeeper June 3, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

    You definitely had me at: ““Don’t reward yourself with food. You are not a dog.” What is wrong with me? I have been doing that all along. If I have a great week – exercising regularly and eating health, small portions – I think I’ve earned something at the end of the week. I always tell myself, “Oh, it’ll just be this one serving, I’ll be back on track tomorrow.” But, it ends up being a 3-day weekend full of terrible treats! I. Am. Not. A. Dog!
    BeanKeeper recently posted…Meeting HuzMy Profile

    • DrBruce June 4, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

      Rewards are good – just find some non-food treats!

  3. CelestiaX3 June 7, 2015 at 3:58 am #

    I am teenager and My prom as well as my graduation will be in June of 2016. I’ve been using Prom as an motivator for losing weight and I hope that when the time comes and Prom is finished I can find another motivation. This article was really helpful and I love the tips. I wish I could lose weight faster though, I heard that the more you age, the harder it is to lose weight. I’m pretty young and I lose weight regularly but lately I haven’t been losing as much as I want. I’m gonna try changing my diet by finding healthier substitutes for my usual sugary snacks and start exercising more, hopefully that helps with my situation.Also, I think that rewarding myself with shopping would be a great idea and I thank you for making a much-needed article on such a crucial topic.

    • DrBruce June 7, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

      Keep reading the articles on this site and you’ll find many small lifestyle changes that will lead to lasting weight loss. Two of the best (and related) examples are to add more fiber to your diet consistently, and to get in the habit of consuming slow carbs (while avoiding other carbs such as the sugary snacks you mentioned). Stay away from fad diets – they make it harder to keep weight off in the long run.

  4. alexis June 15, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    5 his hot weather is not helping me! It’s so hot I can’t go walk and can’t take my son out in this j need ways to lose weight in the pool or in the air

    • DrBruce June 16, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

      Actually, a pool is an excellent place to lose weight, for a reason you might not be aware of. As long as the temperature of the water is below body temperature (98.6 F or 37 C), which it almost always is, your body is working harder to keep itself at a normal temp. This burns calories! Have you looked into whether your community pool offers an aquasize or water aerobics program? Thanks for the idea, Alexis – I should write an article about this.

  5. purduepete June 20, 2015 at 7:08 am #

    My biggest motivation to lose weight comes after one month of starting a new healthy lifestyle. It takes about a month to start to see my body change. After that, the mirror is my continual motivation. Thanks for the food tips like not rewarding yourself with binge meals or giving myself “treats. You’re right! I’m not a dog.

  6. HaableVaurimn June 29, 2015 at 2:07 am #

    Motivation is definitely a big part of weight loss but, just like you said it’s not everything. There’s always a lot of hype when you first start a diet or fitness regimen but, you must stay consistent. This article is a great starting point.
    HaableVaurimn recently posted…Summertime Smoothie BowlsMy Profile

  7. lporter July 13, 2015 at 5:52 am #

    I completely agree with the don’t expect to much to quickly because sometimes I see people giving up on their goals. Me and my friends start working out together for motivational purposes and many of them gave up because it was too time consuming since they didn’t see progress. I continued and eventually I saw progress but it wasn’t in the numbers. When I got on the scale, the numbers stayed constant or got bigger. I talked to my doctor about it and she brought to my attention that muscle is heavier than fat. That’s what helped me realize that it’s a bit more complicated than stepping on a scale or looking in the mirror.

  8. GemmaRowlands July 28, 2015 at 3:25 am #

    Learning the best motivation for you is completely essential, and I think that it is the only way that you’re ever going to be able to lose weight for good. I have lost a lot, and one thing that I know doesn’t work is using food as a reward, as it is exactly that which you are trying to avoid. Reward yourself, by all means, but don’t strengthen negative habits with food by allowing yourself to believe that eating junk is somehow a “reward”, when it is actually so negative for your body.

  9. Alex July 30, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

    This is excellent advice. I hardly ever measure my weight loss success with the scale anymore, as I believe that is more about how you look and feel then what the numbers say, because a certain weight on one person can look completely different on another. I have also found that is so much easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you find exercises that you love to do. A couple of mine are surfing, golfing, hiking, rock climbing; you don’t even realize that you are burning off so many calories because you’re just having fun.

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