Five Ways To Boost Your Weight Loss Motivation
We all know that weight loss isn’t something we can reach with minimal effort- it requires self-control, planning, persistence, focus, consistency and patience. It also requires motivation. Losing weight has to be something you really want to do, but simply wanting to lose weight isn’t enough. For long-term results we must also be motivated to eat in a certain way that promotes not just weight loss but long-term weight control too, so that we don’t just put all the weight back on. We must also believe we can achieve our goal, because if we don’t, perhaps based on previous weight loss attempts, we’re unlikely to feel motivated.
Not only must you want to lose weight, but you must also be ready- and able- to lose weight (think of three components: ready, willing and able). Is it the right time for you? Perhaps you have too much going on in your life to have the energy or inclination to work towards a weight loss goal. We’re constantly surrounded by an abundance of food and drink temptations, so embarking on a weight loss journey requires a realistic, sustainable and enjoyable strategy, enabling you to adopt certain ways of eating that you don’t just stop once the diet has ended. A more effective strategy is to focus on how you can improve your eating long-term, not just go on another diet. Perhaps you know the rules of one particular diet well, but you don’t actually enjoy it and even find following it a chore. This is why a lot of people find excuses to keep putting off a diet, because they’re not looking forward to it- they’ve been on it so many times and after a few days or weeks they don’t have the motivation to carry on, usually because it’s too restrictive. Many people approach me saying they really want to lose weight but they need to find a new approach as they don’t want to go on diets anymore. Below are five things to bear in mind to help boost your weight loss motivation:-
1 Aim For Gradual Weight Loss
Diet plans that promise to provide quick weight loss results seem appealing to some people. However, cutting down drastically on your daily food intake requires not only willpower but it’s likely to feel overly restrictive, unenjoyable and unsustainable and is likely to provide only short term results. It’s important to be patient. It’s a much better idea to adopt an approach that makes gradual weight loss possible, whilst allowing for flexible, less restrictive eating.
One of the best ways to incorporate flexibility into your weight loss eating plan is to give yourself permission to eat the foods you enjoy. If we don’t allow ourselves to eat the foods we enjoy, sooner or later we’ll be craving them. Our motivation is unlikely to last if we focus on eating foods we think we ‘should’ be eating to lose weight, rather than the foods we would like to eat. Food is there to be enjoyed, so you should be aiming to select foods that are not only pleasurable but ones that provide the body with nutrients too, most of the time. You’re not striving for perfect eating, just realistic, balanced eating. No one food is ‘bad’, it’s how often and how much of it we eat that counts. When we give ourselves permission to eat all foods and stop labelling those foods we love as ‘bad’, we can escape the guilt and shame that accompany diets. Guilt is often a reflection of a poor relationship with food. I’ve seen this with clients- with permission, they’re able to stop the fight with food.
I teach clients to embrace ‘middle-way’ eating, which helps them to start relaxing around food whilst adopting mindful eating practises to guide them in terms of what and how much to eat. If you put too much pressure on yourself to lose weight, and focus too much on weekly weight loss results through restrictive eating rather than aiming for long-term mindful, healthy eating behaviours, you’re unlikely to stay motivated and achieve long-term results. This is why people get trapped in a cycle of yo-yo dieting.
2 Self-Care: Importance Of Feeling Good- And Ready
In order to embark on a weight loss journey, it’s crucial that we’re feeling both physically and mentally ready. If we’re leading busy, stressful lives it’s easy for healthy food choices to slip right to the bottom of the priority list because we’re not in the right frame of mind, even though we might feel desperate to lose weight. If we’re stressed and exhausted it’s easy to eat mindlessly and hard to focus on healthy, balanced eating. Perhaps you have a harsh inner critic, so you regularly talk to yourself in negative ways, which makes you feel bad about yourself and perhaps adopt a ‘what’s the point?’ attitude. Perhaps you have negative thought patterns that lead you to eat in a way that’s self-destructive. Perhaps you feel permanently tired because you’re not sleeping well due to high stress levels or because you tend to go to bed late, or because you never give yourself time to rest. Through acts of self-care, we can start to feel better. Pleasurable activities can often go out the window when we’re busy, and over time we can start feeling flat or unfulfilled- for many people this can lead to ’self-medicating’ with food or alcohol. If we’re not careful, modern busy lifestyles can result in self-neglect, where we’re not caring for our physical and/or mental health.
Self-care is a crucial part of successful weight management. It’s about doing things that promote good health, acts of self-kindness, not expecting too much of yourself at once, being patient with yourself and not beating yourself up if things don’t go according to plan. If you speak harshly to yourself, this can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, possibly leading you to reach for food because you feel ‘bad’; or perhaps you experience irresistible sugar cravings because you’re exhausted. Using self-care as a foundation, you’re more likely to be in a place to work towards weight loss goals.
When we feel good, we have a much better chance of making mindful food choices because we have more energy, motivation and mental capacity. We’re less likely to find ourselves battling through the day and relying on pick-me-ups such as chocolate, biscuits, coffee and alcohol.
3 Get To Know Yourself: Journaling
Keeping a journal can offer real benefits. It’s a great way to track your progress and can act as an aid to self-development and self-awareness. It’s an opportunity for you to record any information or tips you’ve learned, any ‘light-bulb’ moments such as your triggers to (over)eat or common unhelpful thought patterns and attitudes you’ve discovered you have. Exploring our feelings and desires is an important part of self-awareness, because how we think and feel influences our behaviours. Keeping a journal can help you to clarify your intentions, plan, it gives you a bit of ‘me-time’ and focus, allows you to go back in time to see where you were and how far you’ve come. It’s also a place to jot down ‘mini-victories’ when it comes to eating- the more you build a record of your daily successes, the more you can strengthen your self- belief, which is particularly important if you feel you’re out of control of food or have a history of weight loss failure. You don’t need lots of time to write a journal- even just jotting down a couple of words each day can be valuable. A journal can help to keep you motivated and focused on your weight loss journey as it can remind you of the progress you’ve made over time, and is a place to consolidate everything in relation to your self-development and journey.
4 Boost Your Knowledge About Healthy Eating
When I work with clients I ask them about their nutritional knowledge. The reason I do this is to make sure that people have a basic understanding of how they can lose weight through healthy eating and to clear up any confusions. For example, some diet plans demonize dietary fat, and yet dietary fat is a very important part of a healthy diet. Many clients I meet have ‘fat phobia’ because diet plans told them that avocados, nuts and peanut butter didn’t help weight loss. Dietary fat actually keeps us feeling fuller for longer and it tastes good! Including some fat in the diet is much more likely to curb appetite than carbohydrates and low-fat foods. I usually cover blood sugar balance, and which foods and food combinations can help to balance blood sugar, which in turn helps to control appetite throughout the day and help us to avoid food cravings. Balancing blood sugar levels is a really key part of weight management. Knowledge is power, and once people know how and why certain foods are beneficial for the body and how foods can help or hinder weight loss and long-term weight management, they’re more likely to feel motivated to make particular food choices, rather than just being told what to eat and what not to eat. You might like to try doing some research to help you fill in any gaps in your nutritional knowledge.
5 Adopt An ’Adding-In’ Mindset
When it comes to diets, it’s easy to fall into the mode of obsessing about what you should and shouldn’t eat- many diet plans provide lists of ‘allowed’ and ‘forbidden’ foods. A great way to boost your weight loss motivation and enjoyment of food is to have an ‘adding-in’ mindset- this encourages you to introduce new, healthy foods into your diet which can add more variety to your current eating and inspire you to try new recipes. One way you can start adopting an ‘adding-in’ mindset is to try one new fruit or vegetable each week, or buy a different type of nut for snacks each week, or try a new cheese or a variety of pulse or wholegrain you’ve not tried before. This approach can be a refreshing change from diet plans that tell you what you can’t eat- focus instead on what you can eat, and bring in more variety, tastes and flavours so that you don’t get bored with the same old foods. Try also to get into a rhythm with certain meals and snacks so that you don’t have to put too much thought into what to eat- this can free up your mind for other things.
It’s so important to have the right approach to weight loss- just wanting to lose weight isn’t enough. Approach it in a flexible way that makes it enjoyable, realistic and sustainable; give yourself the time to get to know yourself through journaling to help you understand your eating patterns and motivations to eat, and to find new strategies; get into the habit of adopting acts of self-care to support your physical and mental well-being, give yourself permission to eat the foods you enjoy, whilst balancing them through mindful eating strategies and adopt an ‘adding-in’ mindset. Finally, top up your nutritional knowledge- having the right knowledge to help you on your journey is key, and empowering. All of these factors can help to boost your weight loss motivation, keep you on track, give you tools to improve your relationship with food and help you to achieve successful long-term weight management. Often, to give our motivation a boost, all we need is a fresh approach.
For more information about how I support clients with their weight loss and weight maintenance goals, see ‘Services‘.
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If you feel you could benefit from my Mindful Eating service, give me a call (Emma Randall) on 07961 423120, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m based in Lightwater, Surrey. Online sessions also available.