The good news is that many people have successfully lost weight for the long-term and there are a few proven rules that we can all follow which will improve our chances of success.
Staying motivated is a 3 step process.
Step 1 – Taking Stock
The first step to long-term weight loss motivation is to affirm or remind yourself why you want to lose weight.
Here are some common reasons people choose to lose weight:
- They have a weight related illness that can be improved by losing weight?
- They are unhappy with the way they look and feel.
- They feel they are missing out on the best life has to offer and would like to become more active and spend more quality time with their family and friends.
- They want to find a life partner.
Whatever your reason, you have to believe that the costs of making significant changes are worth it. For most of us, this shouldn’t be hard; losing weight can have so many positive affects on our lives.
Step 2 – Taking Action
If you are ready to take action, set realistic goals and develop a plan.
Setting Realistic Goals
Like all goals, weight loss goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. In this context S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Realistic, Attainable and Timely.
- Ensure the goals you set are very specific and clear. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 2cm off your waistline or to walk 5 kilometres a day.
- Choose a goal that can be broken down into measurable steps. Doing this will help keep you motivated because it will remind you that achieving your end goal shouldn’t happen over-night and you can start to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving each step towards your ultimate goal sooner.
- Don’t set goals that are too far out or unattainable. Doing so only forces you to judge yourself overly hard and you’ll end up loosing motivation quickly and quitting. It’s far better to set yourself an intermediate goal that is at least part way towards your ultimate goal and once you’ve achieved that set yourself a further goal that to start off ballistic.
For example, aiming to lose 10kgs in one week is setting yourself up to fail. But setting a goal to lose 5kgs over 3 or 6 months and when you’ve achieved that, aiming to lose a further 5kgs will keep you motivated.
- To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective YOU can achieve. This is different from attainable, because it relates directly to your ability to achieve it. For example, a goal of never again eating chocolate again may be attainable, but not realistic for many of us.
- Set a time frame for your goals. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards. If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. Chances are you won’t achieve your goal because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.
Developing a Plan
Now it’s time to plan how you are going to achieve your goals.
Specific plans keep you on track and keep you motivated. The trick is to read them often and never be afraid to modify them as the need arises.
When writing your plan make sure it includes at least some of the following:
- Surround yourself with supportive people who’ll encourage you all the way.
- Get together with people who have the same aspirations as you.
- Exercise regularly. As well as helping you lose weight it helps fill your brain with oxygen and allows you to do your daily tasks with more vigor and energy.
- Get plenty of sleep and recharge yourself everyday.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you lose 4kgs in 3 months when your goal was to lose 5kgs, congratulate yourself rather than thinking you’ve failed.
- Focus on habits and the goals achieve themselves. Instead of setting a goal to lose 20kgs, try making your goal to walk every day or to lift weights 3 times a week.
- Keep a journal. Writing about how much fun exercising is or about how proud you are of yourself for overcoming obstacles can be very motivating.
- Make new friends. If you aspire to greatness, spend time with great people. Join a gym and spend time with people you can learn from and be inspired by.
- Join a support group on the Internet, in group therapy, or even just a bunch of friends who get together once a week to talk about their struggles and success.
- Watch educational and inspirational television or movies.
- Read educational and inspirational articles in magazines or on the internet (just like the one you’re ready now).
- Get your family and friends involved. Start taking your kids out for bike rides or go walking with your friends once a week.
- Sign up for a race or event. Now you have a tangible reason to put your runners on – you’re in training. Choose an event that’s happening about 8 to 10 weeks from now. That should give you enough time to get back in the exercise groove.
- Find a workout partner. Research has proven that people who exercise with a spouse, friend, or coworker are more likely to stick with it.
- Try something new. Boredom is a big cause of waning motivation. Change your jogging route. Hop on a bike and explore new areas of your neighborhood. Sign up for a yoga class.
- Get excited!
- Get started. Don’t know where or how to start? Get help from a professional like a dietitian or personal fitness trainer.
Step 3 – Reward successes
Rewarding yourself for sticking to your weight loss program is a great way to stay motivated.
Use positive rewards that are self-motivating and help you along the way to achieving your goals. Buy yourself an exercise bike or join the gym instead of rewarding yourself with fish and chips or a double serve of chocolate mud cake for dessert.
Focus on giving yourself small rewards for each step along your journey. For example, reward yourself with a CD after sticking to the first week of your modified eating or go to the movies.
It might be a good idea to leave bigger rewards, such as buying tickets to a concert or treating yourself to a vacation or a weekend trip for reaching long-term goals or you could end up costing yourself a fortune!