Whether you are just starting out or you’re only a few pounds from your ideal weight, it’s easy for distractions to steal your focus. Here are 9 ways to stay motivated, overcome challenges, and reach your weight loss goal.
Save the date.
Keep a calendar specifically for listing milestones in your journey towards fitness. For example, the morning you ignored the donuts in the breakroom, the day your weight finally dropped into the 100’s, and the evening you made it through every lunge in an exercise class — these small achievements deserve recognition. Circle the date and write a description of your success. This calendar will remind you how far you have come in both weight loss and self-improvement.
Keep your stats in a prominent place.
As you start your journey to fitness, track more than just your weight. Track inches lost around your waist, body fat percentage, blood pressure levels, miles you've walked, or new healthy foods you’ve added to your meals. Write them down and post them in a spot you will see frequently. Any change for better health is something to be proud of.
Pictures are an easy and powerful way to track how far you’ve come. Take before photos, and then take photos again at regular intervals, such as every 3 months. Hang these photos on the fridge, or make a scrapbook that you can flip through regularly. Seeing your progress is the perfect motivator to skip an unhealthy dessert, or to grab your shoes and get to the gym!
Keep a journal.
Tracking food intake is essential for weight loss, but don’t let your journaling stop there. Writing down thoughts and feelings forces you to pay attention to positive changes. If you do not take the time to assess progress, the small changes in physical, emotional, and mental health go unnoticed. Personalize your journal to meet your own needs. Record what makes you happy, when you feel stressed, and things you are thankful for.
Make the weight a physical object.
A number on the scale is more motivating when it becomes something you can touch and feel. Find an object that represents the weight you will lose, and the weight you’ve already lost, whether it is 3, 25, or 50 pounds. It may be a bag of food from the pantry, a dumbbell, a medicine ball, or a combination of all three. Pick it up periodically, feel the magnitude of this weight and how it slows you down. This exercise should not cause you to beat yourself up over the weight that you need to lose. The purpose is to remind you of what your body is dealing with on a daily basis and the huge difference in how you feel as the weight begins to come off.
Try on old clothes.
As your body begins to change, your first thought may be to celebrate by getting rid of all the clothes that no longer fit. Keep a few around, and try on old favorites as you get close to your goal weight. Notice how they feel, and how your body has changed for the better.
Test your fitness.
It is great to have long-term fitness goals such as running a half marathon or completing a triathlon, but smaller goals can be just as effective at showing your progress. Maybe you can now do 10 standard push-ups instead of doing them with bent knees. When starting your exercise plan, test how many repetitions of push-ups, crunches, and lunges you can complete. Every few weeks, test yourself and see how many more you can do as your fitness improves.
Try one new thing each week.
Pick one new thing to try each week that supports your new healthy lifestyle. It may be eating a new vegetable, wearing a new piece of clothing, or trying a new leg exercise at the gym. Be adventurous and choose something you never considered in the past. Adding something fresh and exciting to a plan that has become monotonous will provide motivation.
Make sure that your weight loss goal is flexible. Ideal weight recommendations are simply that - recommendations. You may find that after losing 15 pounds you feel strong, lean, and energetic and that further weight loss results in weakness and hunger. Listen to your body and trust the feedback that it provides. You will know when you reach a healthy weight that is right for you.