I am a proud loser. I lost 18kg in 6 months and maintained that loss even through the lockdowns. I designed my weight loss plan based on science, but that was only half of the equation. The other, arguably more difficult half was maintaining my motivation to lose weight. I am sharing the solutions I found in my journey, not because they are revolutionary (they aren’t), but just to help you keep track of your (often neglected) psychological needs.
So... here we go.
#1 Know WHY you want to lose weight
This will be the source of your motivation to lose weight, so think it through, and be specific. Sure, you want to be healthy and fit, but when the fridge is winking at you... you won’t be thinking about health and fitness. Set a specific, measurable, and, most of all, personally important goal. In my case, it was avoiding type-2 diabetes, an illness that claimed the lives of a few of my loved ones.
Two or three related goals can work better together. For instance, avoiding chronic knee pain correlates well with being able to travel and explore new places (that was my mom’s winning combo), and allows for multiple ways to celebrate your progress. This brings us to the next point.
#2 Measure and celebrate your progress
Reaching milestones is the best way to prove to yourself that the plan is working and will do wonders for your motivation to lose weight. It does not matter how you measure it, just find whatever proof of progress gets you more excited and keep track of it regularly.
When you do reach a milestone, no matter how small, reward yourself. My friend and weight loss buddy went for a full spa treatment each time she lost 5kg. If that’s not a reward, I don’t know what is!
#3 Will power gets you started, but good habits keep you going
Finding your motivation to lose weight is crucial in the beginning, but keeping on track fueled by will power alone is simply not realistic.
To keep going, you need to switch on the autopilot. There is a reason why it is called “the force” of habit. When this force is with you, no decisions are necessary, so there is no need to flex your will power.
Building a lasting habit takes time, but associating a new behavior with something you do regularly can speed up the process. I made it a rule to do three squats whenever I got up from my seat. It may not seem much, but it really adds up! You could also create a pleasant ritual around your desired habit to make positive associations.
Creating an environment that supports your fledgling new habit can also help you maintain the motivation to lose weight. Many advocate “detoxing” your fridge and pantry, but if you tend to binge when stressed, that may not be enough. Overeating healthy food is still overeating. For me, prepping and portioning meals worked well to avoid bingeing. It also eliminated the need to decide what to have for lunch every day, so... fewer decisions, fewer challenges.
#4 It need not be a lonely affair
Believe me, social pressure counts. Not all family members and friends will understand your new eating habits, especially in more traditional settings. Talk to them and explain why you are doing
this, why it matters so much to you. If they get it, they may offer to help or even join you, as was the case with my spa-aficionado friend.
If you have many social engagements centered on meals, consider them when you are designing your weight loss plan. Make the Sunday brunch with your parents your cheat day or bring your low-carb sweetener with you when meeting clients for coffee.
This doesn’t mean you should always accommodate others’ expectations, but find a reasonable balance between your physical, psychological, and social needs, and be open about your goals and plans. It will not only avoid conflicts but may also support your motivation to lose weight.
#5 Be patient
Setting reasonable expectations is important, but so is adjusting those expectations to reality. I was very disappointed when my weight seemed to plateau two months into my plan, and that disappointment cost me a lot in terms of maintaining my motivation to lose weight. I did eventually get back on track, but my impatience made it harder than it needed to be. Do not beat yourself up if your body does not keep up with your plans. Learn, adapt, and keep going. You’ll get there.
#6 Be kind
Might as well accept this from the beginning: there will be moments when you cannot follow your plan. Maybe you are visiting family and must try your aunt’s pie or be disinherited, or you’re working insane hours, or... for whatever reason, you lost control. It’s okay. You are not a failure. Treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer a friend, and help yourself get back on track, with no judgement.
Whether you are just starting or are already on your journey, I hope this helps you maintain your motivation to lose weight. And if you have other tips that worked for you, I hope you will share them in the comments. Stay happy and healthy!
By Ioana Vulcan,
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