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20 Science-Backed Ways to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight

Losing weight is hard. And keeping it off? Even harder—almost to the point that shedding pounds for good can feel like a Sisyphean struggle. That’s probably why, according to recent research out of JAMA, that the amount of overweight people in the United States consistently rises while, at the same time, fewer people than ever are embarking on weight loss journeys of their own.

But what these struggling souls may not know is that losing weight doesn’t have to be such an arduous slog. In fact, by deploying the right methods, weight loss can be effortless, entertaining, and, most importantly, effective. The first step, as with all things, is getting started; once you’re on a roll, you won’t be able to stop. To that end, we’ve gathered the 20 easiest lifestyle changes, all thanks to science, that are certain to get you up and at ’em and ready to incinerate any paunch—once and for all. And as far as what not to do, be sure to learn—and avoid—the 40 Weight Loss “Secrets” That Don’t Work At All.

1 Ask A Friend to Go with You

Starting an exercise routine is a great way to shed pounds, but it can be hard to initiate a new one. Asking a friend to workout with you will turn your gym sessions into commitments and will also keep you working harder when you get there. A study in the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology showed that people work harder at what they are doing when they are part of a group versus when they are alone. So grab a friend to maximize your time at the gym. Plus, this trick will give you someone to grab brunch with after.

2 Start Each Day With A Motivational Phrase

Yes, seriously. Positive reinforcement is a great way to stay motivated toward your goals. A study in the Frontiers of Psychology tested different motivational practices on 44,000 people to find which was most effective, and, as it turns out, using self-talk had the best results. Saying things like “I can do better today or next time” will keep you more motivated and on-task to meeting your weight loss goals. For ideas on what to say, check out the 50 Inspirational Quotes That Are Certain to Energize Your Days.

3 Set Smaller Goals

Another roadblock in the journey to lose weight is that people set goals that are too high or simply unrealistic. A wellness expert at the University of Alabama says that setting a high weight loss goal for yourself can discourage you from hitting that goal. A simple change in language can make your goal seem much more attainable. Losing 25 pounds in three months seems like a lofty goal. But losing one to three pounds per week over the course of three months seems achievable. The end result? It’s the same amount of weight.

4 Write Your Goals Down Somewhere Visible

We all set goals, some of which are far easier to attain than others. But if you want to make sure that you’ll stay motivated with your weight loss benchmarks, you should write them down and put them somewhere you’ll see often—say, on your nightstand or maybe your kitchen counter. A study at the Dominican University found that those who wrote their goals down were significantly more likely to complete them than those who didn’t.

5 Don’t Compare How You Look to Others

Renowned psychologist Richard Wiseman wrote in his book 59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot that those who hung up a picture of either a celebrity or an athlete as weight loss motivation didn’t actually end up hitting their weight loss goals. Weight loss is so much more than just body image, so instead of idolizing someone by how they look, pick someone who is a baller at the gym—or maybe a healthy food blogger—to follow instead. And for some different inspiration to lose weight, check out the 10 Craziest Celebrity Weight Loss Stories of 2017.

6 Stop Smoking

Yes, it’s quite obvious. But for some people, a post-gym cigarette is relaxing. If you’re one of them, stop—immediately. The Cleveland Clinic says that smoking not only makes it harder for you to exercise but that you also reap less benefits from exercising. So, if you are trying to hit that weight loss goal, put the pack aside. For good.

7 Hang Out with Likeminded People

A 2016 study found that overweight or obese people tend to hangout with other people who have similar lifestyles as them. What’s more, the study found that these fraternizing tendencies proved a negative influence when it come to losing weight. On the other hand, those who hung out with other people trying to lose weight—or people who were thinner than them—had much better results. It may sound harsh, but stick with those folks.

8 Reward Yourself When You Stay On Track

Few things are more motivating than a little treat at the end of a hard workout or after a healthy dinner. A 2016 study found that the thought of losing a reward motivated the study subjects to complete their exercise goals more than a control group that did not have a reward. So give yourself a metaphorical pat on the back and maybe have a cupcake after each successful pound drop.

9 Up Your Fiber Intake

Keeping yourself on track for your weight loss goals can be as easy as simple dietary shift. A 2015 study proved that just increasing the fiber intake in your diet is a simple and effective way to improve your weight loss. Lentils, steel-cut oats, chickpeas—slate all of these foods into your diet.

10 Ban the Idea of Banned Foods

You may think about cutting out that daily doughnut or pizza slice, because they are high in calories and fat, but cutting out foods you will still have exposure to is actually antithetical for weight loss. A 2008 study showed that people who restricted themselves from certain foods had a hard time controlling impulses around the food when they end up exposed to it. So don’t cut out that doughnut in the morning if it means you’ll eat three when your coworker brings them to the next meeting. Eat everything in moderation.

11 Don’t Follow A Controlled Diet

Sometimes controlled diets do work effectively at helping you keep weight off—but this comes at the cost of having to stay on them seemingly indefinitely. Not only do they give you a psychologically negative look at food, but many studies show that people who follow a controlled diet usually gain the weight back right after they end it. For instance, research out of JAMA found that, after ending a controlled diet, only 12 percent of the participants managed to keep 75 percent of the weight they lost off. 40 percent ended up gaining back more than they had started with.

12 Keep A Food Diary

Keeping track of what you eat is a great way to document different healthy recipes that you know you like and should make again. It can also help you meet your weight loss goals. A study published in the American Journal for Preventive Medicine found that people who diligently journaled their food intake lost significantly more weight than those who were inconsistent or didn’t keep one at all.

13 Drink Two Glasses of Water Before Eating

A study from 2009 studied the effects of drinking 16 ounces of water before each meal and how the practice pertains to weight loss. Researchers found that drinking 16 ounces of water (about two glasses) can help you lose up to 44 percent more weight. Plus, water has so many other health benefits—from promoting smooth skin to keeping you energized—that there is no reason to skip out on this one.

14 Slow Down Your Eating

A study from 2011 found that those who eat quicker had a higher body mass index than those who eat slower. When you eat slower, you are much more in tune with how full your body feels, so you don’t end up inadvertently overeating. So take your time. You’ll end up eating less—and enjoying your food more.

15 Eat Your Meals on Time

A 2013 study showed that those who ate lunch later in the day actually lost less weight than those who ate lunch—and their other meals—on time. So don’t hold out on yourself. Eat your meals slowly and on time when you get hungry to stay motivated for your weight loss goals.

16 Use Smaller Flatware

Portion control is a huge aspect of weight loss, but it isn’t always easy to manage how much you are taking, especially at a buffet or restaurant. The secret is the plate size. At all-you-can-eat events, you’ll naturally want to fill your whole plate. A study from 2013 showed that people at a buffet who were given large plates took 52 percent more food and ate 45 percent more food than those who had smaller plates.The solution? Take a smaller plate.

17 Eat A High-Protein Breakfast

A recent study out of Tel Aviv University found that eating protein, specifically whey protein, for breakfast helps you feel more full throughout the day, ultimately causing you to eat less overall. This healthy start to the day is a great way to keep you motivated on your weight loss goals; you’ll not only feel less hungry throughout the day, but, due to the energy-boosting benefits of protein, you’ll be prepared for your gym session later.

18 Weigh Yourself Daily

People always said that getting on the scale everyday was detrimental to weight loss (a larger-than-you-expect number could be a deterrent) but, as it turns out, that’s a myth. A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that those who stepped on the scale every day avoided gaining any weight and the practice ended up contributing to their weight loss. Of course, don’t freak out about the number staring back at you. Allow yourself a 5 pound grace period as your weight fluctuates naturally.

19 Photograph Your Progress

In addition to weighing yourself daily, be sure to take a picture of yourself every week or month to document your progress. A 2014 study found that participants who took photos of themselves were more likely to reach their weight loss goals; a lot of weight loss is about body image, as opposed to raw numbers.

20 Dress Up

One of the first steps toward getting to your workout is getting dressed for it. A 2012 study found that we associate certain clothes with the activity they are usually used in and putting them on actually changes our psychological state. So buy yourself some nice workout clothes. And for more ways to get yourself up and moving, learn the 11 Ways Smart People Motivate Themselves to Go to the Gym.

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Unless you’ve the self-control of the Dalai Lama, you’ll know the feeling: you’ve lasted a whole 24 hours without succumbing to the temptation of chocolate/alcohol/a boxset marathon and have actually hit your five-a-day and daily burpee target. And you’re feeling pretty smug. So, why then, when your BFF invites you out for an all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut does your weight loss motivation vanish as fast as you can shove your homemade soup back into the fridge?

‘Almost 40% of people who diet regularly give up within the first seven days,’ says Mark Bohannon, manager and head personal trainer of Ultimate Performance Manchester (upfitness.com). ‘Then 20% give up before seeing the month out, and just 20% of people will make it through to the second month of dieting.’ Not inspiring stats when it comes to diet motivation loss.

What’s worse, according to Public Health England the UK population is steadily growing – outwards – and the list of health implications associated with obesity continues to grow.

Losing excess weight because you want to is one thing, but what about when you have to? How do you keep weight loss motivation high when it feels like your calories are low?

‘The most common reason for weight loss failure is setting unrealistic goals, and following unsustainable diets and exercise programs that you don’t see results from,’ says top fitness consultant and husband of actress Cath Tyldesley, Tom Pitfield (thepitfields.com). ‘Women can be very impatient and have high expectations. Wouldn’t life be great if there was a “quick fix”, right? But it’s making a lifestyle change that will really yield long-term results.’

But you already knew that. So, what’s the difference between ending up in that gold-standard 20% minority and finding yourself back on the sofa at square one? WH quizzed the experts for their insider weight loss motivation tricks of the trade to ensure, this time, you stay on track.

Your weight loss motivation crib sheet

1. WORKOUT IN THE MORNING

‘Weight loss motivation and willpower decrease as the day goes on,’ says Lee Mullins, founder of Workshop Gymnasium. ‘Train first thing in the morning when both are at their peak.’ Indeed, researchers from the National Center of Medicine and Science in Sports agree, noted a significant improvement in athletic performance in those shifting their training regime to the AM. Struggle to get out of bed? Fitness blogger Susie Chan recommends prepping your kit the night before so there are no excuses when that alarm goes beep. We say go one step further – sleep in it.

2. RAISE MONEY FOR CHARITY

According to Harvard University, altruism can increase willpower, and has been linked to improved mental health and mood, which, in turn, has been shown to improve physical performance. Ie when it comes to weight loss inspiration, training for charity is win-win. ‘There’s no bigger motivator than competing to raise money for a charity that’s important to you,’ Mullins says. Sign up to the 28 Days Better challenge and do just that. For £28, you’ll receive a programme of daily 15-20-minute home workouts plus a carefully structured nutrition plan – that costs just £4 per day to whip up. All profits go to supporting Action Against Hunger, a charity dedicated to ending starvation. See 28daysbetter.org to find out more.

Read on: The real deal on fat freezing

3. SHARE YOUR JOURNEY

‘Partner up with a pal and get some regular training sessions in the diary,’ says Chan. Sounds simple but it works. According to data from Strava, the social network for athletes (strava.com), people who exercise with friends are 22% more active than those who go it alone. Not sure who to pick? ‘Choose someone, who is aiming towards the same goal of losing weight to keep you accountable and provide a sense of competition,’ recommends Bohannon. You can then up your weight loss motivation by posting pictures of each workout to a blog or Instagram account – hey, who knows, you could be the next Alice Liveing.

4. IDENTIFY YOUR PULL

Alex Lawler, a personal trainer at Pro Fit (pro-fitpersonaltraining.co.uk) puts it simply: ‘Have a why,’ he says. Which basically means, identify your weight loss inspiration. But avoid being led by external factors such as looking like Mollie King in a swimsuit. ‘Dig deeper for something that is intrinsically motivating like wanting to stay active as you get older or being able to play with your children. You “why” motivation is something that will stay with you throughout life,’ he says. For Bohannon, it’s about keeping your eyes on the prize. ‘Make sure you are aiming towards a pull goal of where you want to be; not reacting to the push of trying to get away from something,’ he says. ‘The thought of hitting your goal is much more exciting and motivating than trying to run away from something.’

5. SET MINI GOALS

You know the score – as with any major project, when it comes to weight loss help, it pays to break things down into baby steps. ‘Having one big goal that seems months away can be disheartening and demotivating,’ Bohannon says. ‘Instead, give yourself milestone targets along the way, and reward yourself when you hit them.’ And no that doesn’t mean lose a kg then celebrate with a takeaway curry and all the sides. ‘Buy a new dress or book tickets to see a show.’

Photo by Chris Ralston on Unsplash

6. BREAK THE HABIT

It’s time to get mindful. ‘We make lots of food decisions every day – but we aren’t aware of most of them,’ says Joe Warner, author of The SHIFT56 System (£14.99, Amazon). ‘Instead, we rely on routines and habits. We eat in our cars, on the train, walking to work and at our desks. When we see or smell food, we just grab it and eat it. Pause before you make choices and ask yourself, “Is this the smartest choice I can make right now? What might be better?” Look at your environment and routines to see where you can adjust, control and eliminate those cues that lead you to eating the foods you need to cut back on.’ #disclaimer. It may mean a longer way into work.

7. POSITIVE THINKING

What do you think Usain Bolt thinks about before smashing yet another world record? Probably not crashing and burning his way off the starting blocks. Words of wisdom: weight loss motivation means thinking positive. Research shows that being able to picture your progress towards a goal can actually help you to achieve it. ‘Mentally prepare yourself ahead of each training session,’ Mullins says. Sorted.

Read: An AM to PM guide on dealing with an anxiety attack

8. DON’T OVERDO IT

So, you’ve committed to losing weight and have more enthusiasm than a Duracell Bunny to get going. But hang back. ‘When you’re excited about starting a fitness journey and full of weight loss motivation, it can be easy to throw yourself head first into a workout routine,’ says Keith McNiven, director of Right Path Fitness (rightpathfitness.co.uk). ‘However, if you’re not used to exercise, it’s important to build up to a consistent and regular workout routine gradually. Doing too much too quickly could have you burning out, meaning you might not be able to make the most out of your next workout.’ Or make that next session at all. FYI – DOMS is never an excuse.

9. TAKE PHOTOS

Thinking of investing in a new set of scales to keep your weight loss motivation flying? Save those pennies. ‘The best way to monitor progress is through pictures,’ says Pitfield. ‘Take a photo of yourself in the same position, in the same clothing, in the same light every other week; no more than that. This will give you a clear visual to identify any subtle changes because your shape maybe changing, while the scales stay the same.’

10. SET REMINDERS

‘Make your phone or laptop’s wallpaper a weight loss inspiration that excites you,’ says Bohannon. ‘It might be the number of your target weight or dress size, or it could be a picture of the leggings you’re trying to fit into. Having the image constantly in your eye line will act as a reminder of the bigger picture and why you are embarking on this weight loss journey.’

11. BE PATIENT

Unlike burpee-induced muscle pain, weight loss isn’t immediate. ‘Be reasonable with your workout expectations and understand that it can take time for your body to change,’ says McNiven. ‘Appreciate every step along the way of your journey towards your end goal, without rushing yourself to get there.’ Taking it slow and steady will make the end result that much more pleasurable – like all good things in life then… Read about 9 of the hottest sex tips for women here.

12. FIND YOUR BALANCE

Some foods are good for the soul – think fatballs, Thai red curry and that large bar of Dairy Milk. The secret is not living off them 24/7 but offsetting them with a nourishing plate of veggies or homemade stew. ‘When it comes to your food choices, aim to find balance across the week,’ Warner says. ‘It’s the bigger picture that matters. And, if you decide that you want to eat something just for pleasure, then go for it and allow yourself to enjoy it. There’s no point in eating for pleasure – and then feeling guilty.’

13. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

When it comes to weight loss motivation, where would we be without apps such as Strava, MyFitnessPal and Lose It. They remind us to get moving, which, as you all know, has a direct link to how good you feel yourselves – meaning you’ll be more inclined to make better lifestyle choices overall. Happy days. Joining these old faithfuls is Lifesum (lifesum.com), which has a three-week Kickstarter plan to give your weight loss motivation a boost; and the Healthspan app (healthspan.co.uk), which provides customized dietary targets such as how much protein you should be eating each day, as well as suggesting those supplements that will further aid your goals and providing a log of how active you’ve been. ‘Celebrate all progress, no matter how small and enjoy the process,’ Pitfield says. Read here for the best fitness trackers review.

Kaboompics

14. DON’T BE INTIMIDATED

‘It’s so important to recognise that every single person in the gym is on their own personal fitness journey,’ says McNiven. ‘Don’t focus on someone else who might be lifting heavier or running faster than you – the fact that you’ve showed up is a massive achievement and you should absolutely be proud of yourself.’ We’ve all got to start somewhere after all.

15. BE MINDFUL

Want some simple weight loss help? Ditch the desk dining. ‘Eating in a stressed state reduces how well your body is able to digest food and absorb the nutrients from it, and therefore increases the risk of overeating and weight gain,’ says Warner. Instead, Warner recommends practising slow, mindful eating – think eating at a table and not in front of Stranger Things, chewing each mouthful properly and putting down your cutlery between mouthfuls. That’s right. Cutlery. Put the burrito away.

16. GET ORGANISED

You schedule in your monthly hair appointment and Bottomless Brunch, and even have alerts for those weekly catch-ups with your boss. Treat your weight loss goals with the same respect and say hello to self-control. ‘Having some kind of plan in place in advance allows you to feel more in control of your time,’ says Lawler. ‘Which means you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed during a busy period. It also allows you to be more realistic in terms of when and how you will be able to train.’ Made the plan, but hopeless at sticking to it? ‘Make sure you get your surroundings ready to make life easier for yourself,’ suggests Dr Pixie McKenna. ‘So, if your plan is to eat healthier, or cut down on alcohol, make sure you are not surrounded by temptation. Stock up on what you want; get rid of the things you don’t.’

17. JOIN THE CLUB

‘Keep an eye out for clubs and groups that’ll help you achieve your goals and resolutions,’ says Chan. ‘From running clubs for new mums to those built around communities getting fit by doing good deeds, there’s a group out there to cater to most fitness interests and abilities.’ Sign up to a Strava fitness club and, bam, you’ll immediately be 50% more active than non-members.

Read on: 52 ways to practice self-care

18. LOOK GOOD WHILE YOU SWEAT

As if you need an excuse to stock up on even more millennial pink gym clothing. ‘New training gear will always help to drag you back into the gym,’ says Marc Downey, the Regional Training Coordinator at Les Mills. And researchers at the Northwestern University in Illinois, US agree, finding in their studies that simply putting on your gym kit will put you in the right frame of mind to get active – and make your workouts more effective.

19. WORK OUT LIKE A CELEB

She’s the model who’s known for championing the idea that one size definitely does not fit all and from 11 January 2018, you’ll be able to follow her own feel-good programme of workouts, meals and meditations. That’s right, Iskra Lawrence is launching her very own app, ‘everyBODY with Iskra’ (everybodywithiskra.com), which, instead of relying on weigh-ins, will be all about increasing body confidence and promoting a healthy lifestyle. ‘I’m proud that my programme aims to boost how you feel rather than comparing your results against someone else’s idea of what “fit” looks like,’ she says. Users of the app will also be able to log into a private support network online to receive encouragement from Iskra on a daily basis. ‘Everybody is welcome to join me.’

Instagram

20. GET ACTIVE DURING YOUR COMMUTE

You’ve heard the one about getting off the bus a stop before yours, but why not up the ante and ditch the bus altogether? ‘Run-commuting is one of my favourite ways to fit training in,’ says Chan. Starting out? Run your usual bus or train route so you’ve the option to hop on if the going gets too tough.

21. OVERCOME THE BAD

Okay, so you’ve skipped a gym session or ODed on Lindt Lindors. Who hasn’t? The secret, when it comes to retaining your weight loss motivation, is kindness – towards yourself. ‘Everyone has a bad day,’ says McKenna. ‘So don’t worry about it. Remember that every day is also a new day, too.’ Downey agrees. ‘If you miss a session it’s not the end of the world. Just make sure you book your next class or workout right away to stay on the wagon.’

22. SHAKE THINGS UP

Variety is the spice of life and it’s a mantra that’s definitely true when it comes to boosting weight loss inspiration. ‘Let’s face it, working out is tough,’ says McNiven. ‘Keep yourself motivated by trying fun and new ways to exercise.’ Sound a bit overwhelming? ‘If you’re worried about trying a new class – perhaps because you feel you might not be ready for the intensity – try Les Mills Smart Start, which allows you to do the first 20 minutes of a class,’ Downey says. ‘Every week you can do an extra track and before you know it you will be completing the whole class.’ It’s proven by science, too – researchers from Iowa State University found people who vary their workouts have increased motivation. Their takeaway though? Attaching your workout to a particular cue (say your alarm going off) will give you ultimate weight loss help.

23. DON’T TRACK CALORIES

Calorie counting isn’t for everyone. But monitoring effort is and is great for weight loss motivation. There’s a reason why Orange Theory workouts are so popular. But why? Well, just because your BFF could be sprinting for the Olympics while you’re barely breaking a jog, your effort levels could still come out on top. Track your progress with the Myzone MZ-3 (myzone.org), which gives an effort-based reading based on your maximum heart rate.

Read on: The best Joe Wicks recipes – you’ll wonder how meal prepped without them

24. WORK OUT AT HOME

No gym membership? Still not got around to watching that workout DVD – let alone actually doing it? Unless you fix a time and date, chances are you never will. ‘Put a list of times you can train at home in your diary so you have your workouts planned for the week. And think of it like this – schedule in four 30-minute sessions and that’s just two hours of your week you’ll be losing. But for what better reason than improving your fitness, strength and mobility.’ Downey says. Try Les Mills on Demand for at home workouts that are guaranteed to burn.

Read on: Doeslifting weights help you lose fat

25. GET PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE

‘If you’re stuck in a rut, need more weight loss motivation or just want advice on how to take your training to the next level, book in with a PT,’ Downey says. ‘New ideas and fresh eyes can really help you to hit your goals.’ Think personal training has too hefty a price tag? ‘A one-off session that keeps you motivated for a month is great value for money,’ Downey says. You know he’s got a point.

26. LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF

Research shows that the more you like what you see when you look in the mirror and appreciate your body for all the things it can do for you, the more likely you’ll be to stick to an exercise regime. If you’re working out simply to change your appearance, expect your weight loss motivation to quickly dwindle…

27. TUNE IN

Whether you’re a fan of long distance running, strength training or yoga, making sure you’ve got banging beats to work out to can be the only weight loss motivation you need. Studies have shown that matching the beats per minute on your music to your activity is crucial to your performance. The higher pace of dance music, for example, is best suited to weight training, while for running, something slighter slower is recommended. But it’s also a matter of taste. For Brooke Vincent, it’s Ellie Golding and Stormzy that keep her going through her workouts. Find the tunes that lift your mojo and you’ll be 70% more like to stick to your plan. Sweet.

Stuck for breakfast inspiration? Check out these healthy breakfast ideas or these protein pancake recipe ideas.

How To Stay Motivated To Lose Weight

No-one, and we do mean no-one, can stay motivated all the time. Even the most dedicated Olympians have moments when they want nothing more than to ditch their training and sit on the sofa with a family pack of crisps, and all those influencers posting pictures of their healthy meals and constant workouts are just wisely not taking photos of the motivational crises that arise in between.

So, if all your past efforts to lose weight have fizzled out, don’t worry – you are absolutely not alone. To get to the bottom of what makes motivation such a fickle friend, and how we can get better at staying committed to the things we really do want to do, Coach spoke to Juliet Hodges, a behaviour change advisor for Bupa UK.

We assume that when people try to lose weight they start very motivated but quickly lose that – is this what you’ve observed?

Yes! There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. We’re intrinsically motivated to do activities that we genuinely enjoy, like spending time with friends or eating delicious food. Extrinsic motivation, however, drives us to do things for the outcome or reward, like studying to get good marks on a test. As you might expect, intrinsic motivation is much more sustainable in the long term. Unfortunately, weight loss is an extrinsic motivator and people often don’t enjoy the changes they make to achieve it, like working out more or eating a healthier diet. Even worse, results are typically slow to appear. This means people often find themselves doing things they don’t enjoy, for results they aren’t seeing quickly enough – a recipe for motivational disaster.

How long does it usually take for motivation to fade?

There’s no set amount of time. Motivation alone isn’t enough to make and sustain a change – there are lots of other factors that can determine whether or not you’re successful. It may be partly down to your capability, which involves physical skills, knowledge to make the right changes and willpower to keep going. You also need to consider your environment, like the time and money you have available, and whether you have support from your family and friends. Even if you are motivated, there are lots of things that can prevent you from achieving your goal, like not finding the time to work out or being tempted to order a takeaway. No matter how motivated you are, it’s easy for life to get in the way.

What are the main reasons people lose motivation?

We lose motivation for a variety of reasons. You might not enjoy your new diet or exercise regime, so you’ll need more willpower to stay focused. In a normal day, you use up your reserves of mental energy getting out of bed when your alarm goes off, navigating your commute, solving problems at work and dealing with difficult colleagues. So by the time you get home, it’s difficult to motivate yourself to exercise.

It’s easy to fall victim to the “what the hell” effect too. This is when we slip up in a small way, like having a sweet treat in the office. Once this happens, it becomes easier to get tempted by more. A cheat day could then turn into a cheat week or month.

Our present and future selves are also disconnected. In other words, our future self feels like a separate person to us. This can make losing weight a challenge, because it feels like someone else will benefit from the hard work we’re putting in now. So you might find it harder to give up immediate pleasures, like having a pizza or pressing the snooze button.

How can you stay motivated?

Motivation isn’t a permanent state, so it’s unrealistic to expect to feel motivated all the time. Just think of the last time you felt really fired up to start a new gym routine, only to press the snooze button when your alarm went off the next morning. Instead, it’s important to remember that feeling motivated isn’t necessary to get started, and find ways to make sure you keep going even when you don’t want to.

One way to harness your initial enthusiasm is to use commitment devices. Try booking an exercise class with a cancellation fee or agreeing to work out with a friend you won’t want to let down. This will help you stay focused, even if your motivation has dwindled.

There are even some apps and websites you can try, like Stickk, which allows you to set yourself a goal, a time period in which to achieve it, and an amount of money you’ll lose if you don’t stick to it. If losing money isn’t punishment enough, you can also choose where this money goes: to a friend, a charity or cause you support, or one that you hate – like a rival football team!

Another example is Bupa Boost, an app which allows you to compete against your colleagues on a virtual leaderboard based on health-related goals you set yourself.

Lots of us fall off the wagon because we aren’t enjoying what we’re doing. So try to combine something you love with your new behaviour. A great way to do this is to listen to your favourite music or podcast when you’re at the gym. This can add some much-needed enjoyment to keep you going.

Finally, the most important thing to remember is not to beat yourself up if you do slip up. We’re only human, and making big lifestyle changes is incredibly difficult. People who treat themselves with compassion when they make mistakes are much more likely to keep trying, and ultimately achieve their goals.

The Fatgirlslim massager by Bliss promises to visibly reduce the appearance of cellulite. But is a smoother, sleeker-looking silhouette really possible? SheKnows puts the Lean Machine to the test!

product review

Skin smoother

Fatgirlslim massager by Bliss promises to visibly reduce the appearance of cellulite. But is a smoother, sleeker-looking silhouette really possible? SheKnows puts the Lean Machine to the test!

What it promises

According to Bliss, the Fatgirlslim Lean Machine ($145) visibly reduces the appearance of cellulite and gives legs, buttocks and abs a more contoured look. The set contains a Lean Machine, power adapter and a 2-ounce jar of Fatgirlslim skin-firming lotion.

Bliss says the device combats cellulite in four ways:

  1. Lifting function stimulates skin and gently guides it into the vacuum unit.
  2. Adjustable vacuum setting creates a deeply penetrating massage that encourages circulation.
  3. Rear roller gently smooths out the skin.
  4. Pulsing action creates repetitive motion to intensify the massaging effect.

To use, follow these steps:

  1. Apply a thin layer of Fatgirlslim lotion to the desired treatment area.
  2. Get into a comfortable position for your massage treatment.
  3. Turn the suction strength dial to a low setting and switch the device to position 1.
  4. Start moving the device in a circular motion over legs or stomach to promote circulation.

How it held up

My main reason for using this device is to help tighten up those sagging abs in preparation for bathing-suit season or a tropical vacation. I wouldn’t use it for the winter months because I cover up those areas.

The device takes some getting used to, because of the awkward vacuum sensation. It was hard for me to measure the results right away, but I did feel that instant tightening feeling from using the lotion. I do believe boosting circulation has many benefits and can give skin that smoother appearance.

The bottom line

Bliss recommends using the system a few minutes every day. Bliss shows off some before and after photos of results obtained after eight weeks of use. For those who are really bothered by cellulite or sagging skin, this product may give good results as well as boost overall body image confidence.

It’s important to note it is not a weight or fat loss product. Look at before after photos.

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Thinkstock It can be tough to stay motivated when it comes to weight-loss and fitness goals. Why else do so many people make the same New Year’s resolutions year after year? If motivation flits in and out of your life, don’t worry—there are ways to make it a constant companion rather than a fickle friend.

One of those ways is to have a solid network of friends and family that knows about your goals and supports you in all that you want to accomplish. But what if your network is in another state, on another coast, or even in another country? Or what if your loved ones just aren’t supportive as you’d like them to be? The good news is that with a little know-how, you can put together a support system that will work for you—or become your own cheerleader!

12 Ways to Stay Motivated On Your Own

1. Give yourself a pep talk. Remember Jessica, the self-affirming Internet sensation? Sure, her self-pep talk is silly and cute, but she’s wise beyond her years and that positivity is infectious. Channel your inner Jessica and set aside a minute every day to let the positivity flow; write down (or say aloud) everything that you like about yourself and your life, and use that minute to reaffirm why you want to meet your goals. You may feel silly at first, but it’s harder to feel unmotivated when you’re literally cheering yourself on!

2. Find some virtual buddies. Technology makes it easier than ever to connect with like-minded people—and it doesn’t matter where they live! Online communities (like SparkPeople) can be great resources for support and tips. Chat on message boards about topics from diet and nutrition to exercise and fitness. There’s even a SparkPeople message board purely for discussing motivation. SparkTeams narrow down the focus even more, so click around and to find a good fit for you and your goals.

3. Surround yourself with success. It may be said that misery loves company, but it should be that success loves company. Why are weight-loss reality shows so popular? Because viewers can see that other people have overcome obstacles on the way to achieving their goals. Success stories can be great for lifting you up and revving up that motivation when it’s lacking, and reading that someone else had the same problem and pushed through can help you push through the hard times, too. SparkPeople’s own success gallery can provide a quick motivational pick-me-up and remind you of the reasons you’re taking control of your health and fitness.

4. Pat yourself on the back. Even if no one else knows about your accomplishments, they shouldn’t go unnoticed. Commemorate finishing a marathon by framing your bib or medal, or engrave the date of a huge accomplishment on a piece of jewelry. Not only does it feel good to celebrate the achievement, but it also serves as a visual reminder of your progress, which can help keep you pumped up on those less-than-motivated days.

5. Challenge yourself. A little competition can be good for you! Join a SparkChallenge for that extra push you need to meet your goals, as well as the support from others who are going after the same goal.

6. Commit to weekly check-ins. Just because you live alone or with people who don’t support your goals, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to fail! Unlimited cell phone minutes, email, and web chats can make checking in with a supportive friend or family member a breeze. Set a weekly date with your mom, sister or an uncle with similar goals to help you stay on track.

7. Get involved. If you’re new to an area, it can be hard to make friends and find that support system that makes you feel at home. Join a gym, take healthy cooking classes, or join a local meeting to find like-minded people who share similar goals. You may not click with everyone you meet, but in no time you’ll have found a key person or two who can be the foundation for your new support system and will help keep your goals a priority.

8. Use your pet as a workout partner. Dogs rarely turn down the opportunity to exercise. If you have a dog but have relied on the backyard for potty breaks, start taking a trip around the block with your new workout buddy! Or get out in the backyard with your pooch to play fetch or chase. You’ll often find that once you’re outside and moving, doing an extra block or two sounds better than another episode of reality TV anyway.

9. Call on your co-workers. They may not be part of your “inner circle”, but if you see them every day, your co-workers can be great motivational support. Make weekly lunch dates (or better yet, walk during your lunch breaks) to check in with co-workers who may be trying to eat better and get or stay fit. You can also give co-workers permission to take away your quarters when they see you heading to the vending machine!

10. Journal. Writing down your goals, struggles, setbacks and successes can be a great way to support yourself even when no one else will. You can go the pen-and-paper route or take it online in a blog format, or even do a video blog. Sometimes just writing about your struggles and reminding yourself why you’re working toward your goals is all you need to get going again.

11. Pay yourself. Don’t do all of that hard work for free! Set up a reward system that works for you. Throw a dollar in a jar each time you work out or meet a healthy eating goal and watch both your health benefits and your money grow! Use that money for a healthy treat after a few months—a massage, a new workout outfit or a gym membership are all awesome splurges.

12. Reward yourself for meeting weekly goals. If you don’t have spare dollars to throw into your workout stash as mentioned above, reward yourself in other ways for meeting weekly goals. If you meet your goal of losing a pound or working out five times, pamper yourself. Whether it’s a long bath or a day off from exercise with no guilt, have a reward in mind for meeting your weekly goal and stick with it.

Sharing your goals with others is a sure way to get support. But even if you’re in a new city or don’t have that support system in place, encouragement from yourself and others is possible!

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How to Stay Motivated and Stick to a Diet

Have you ever taken up a promising diet and failed to hold on to it? Most of us know how hard it is to change our eating habits—the worst part is when frustration comes in. One day you’re happy and hopeful, and the next day you’re guilty and ashamed because you just couldn’t say no to that extra piece of cake or pint of beer. Most of the time, diets don’t fail because they are too drastic or expensive. They simply don’t work for people who are not willing to fight. Here are some simple motivation tips to help you stick to your diet!

Number One Priority: Your Health

People usually decide to start a diet because they want to lose the extra pounds. It’s natural. You want to feel fit, look good and stop being ashamed of your flaws. However, the most important impact of a balanced diet is a healthy body. Forget about those slim jeans you want to fit into—your primary motivation should be your overall well-being. Weight problems are often the basis for various ailments, so prevent them through clean eating.

A healthy diet is a strong ally against numerous health problems ranging from digestive issues to skin ailments. Even that bothering urinary tract infection can be dealt with through natural remedies. You can to find out how nature itself provides us with enough to keep ourselves happy and healthy.

State Your Goals

There are multiple motivation techniques to get you on the right track, but nothing is effective unless you know what you want to achieve. The first thing to do before starting any diet is to state your goals. Take your time and make a relevant objective list—to make things easier, try to answer the following questions:

  • Why do you want to lose weight?
  • How soon do you expect to see the first results?
  • How long are you willing to stick to your diet?
  • Is this diet a lifestyle change or just a temporary phase?

When you set your goals, it is crucial to make them as realistic as possible! If you promise yourself to lose 10 pounds in one week, you might be disappointed at the end of day seven. Learn to be realistic and go for achievable goals to keep yourself motivated in the long run.

Don’t Rush

Once you’ve gotten a clear view of your purpose, take your time to craft a realistic action plan. Take into account the timeline and try to set it wisely. Your diet program should not be perceived as something unattainable. If you want to lose weight safely, do not starve yourself. You want results as soon as possible, but it takes patience to get there. Diets can often be disheartening because results don’t show up immediately, but there is no need to panic—if you thoroughly follow your diet’s rules, you will enjoy its full benefits. Just wait and see!

Keep Track of Your Diet

Make a daily list of your diet program. It will help you record your progress and analyze your evolution. There are other things you might want to include here besides meals and foods, namely, your daily physical activity. For a diet to become fully effective, start moving. Besides weight loss benefits, regular workouts help you relieve stress and strengthen your body. You might even want to add to your diet some foods that enhance muscle building.

Say No to Cravings. You Can Do It!

There is a huge difference between hunger and cravings. There is no way you can confuse them. Hunger is accompanied by that empty stomach feeling you get when the gap between the meals is too long. Craving is the mere desire for certain foods, usually those we find more appealing. Learn to make a clear distinction between these two sensations. After you can tell them apart, start finding a substitute for your cravings.

Fresh fruit or a glass of water is recommended. We know it’s hard to resist temptations, but teach yourself to stick to your goal. The thought that you’ve done the right thing for your body is more rewarding than any chocolate bar or cake slice!

Give Yourself a Reward Every Now and Then

Speaking of rewards, how about giving yourself some incentives? They will keep you on the right track and help you boost your mood. Since you’re on a diet, we can’t recommend you any culinary bonuses. You could opt for other things you’re into like a shopping session, a night out at the cinema or a visit to a beauty salon. Whatever you choose, make sure you’ll be getting it only after you have reached your weekly or monthly target.

Like any other long-term commitment, diets require much effort and nerves of steel. It takes patience and self-awareness to keep yourself motivated. One last thought: always keep your goals in mind! Try to visualize yourself achieving them. This picture will be your daily fuel.

Found in: Weight Loss

How to motivate yourself to lose weight and find the motivation to get fit

Getting motivated to start a diet and exercising can often be the hardest part of the diet. But fear not because help is at hand.

We spoke to Anthony Healy, a personal trainer at Vivacia, about why motivation is so important for successfully loosing weight,

“Weight loss is anything but easy.

The reason Katie Hopkins was so successful in her recent weight loss TV show is because she is so incredibly motivated! Her entire identity, TV persona, and livelihood is wrapped up in its success. Failure is simply not an option!”

So how do you muster that motivation?

Here are Anthony’s top tips on how to motivate yourself to lose weight:

1. Decide why you want to lose weight

Is is to look good in a bikini, to feel better about yourself or another reason?

2. Set goals

‘Lose weight’ is too vague. You need a clear and achievable goal, such as ‘lose 10lb in 10 weeks’. Write down how you’re going to achieve this, such as ‘run three times a week’ or ‘go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday’ and STICK TO IT.

2. Create visual goals

Visual cues are a great motivator. If you want to look good on the beach in a size 10 bikini then buy that bikini (or dress for special occasion/favorite pair of jeans) and hang it outside your wardrobe.

3. Write a morning mantra

Write and then read a motivational mantra every day. Make the goal seem like something that has already having been achieved,

E.g. “I have successfully lost 10lbs, and I am about to board the plane for Spain at Heathrow airport. I can’t wait to get to the beach in my yellow bikini….”

By doing so you get the good feelings associated with the goal ahead of time.

4. Kick the bad habits

Long term transformations take time.

To get quick results and keep the weight off you need to kick bad habits.

In the beginning you need to go cold turkey. For many people the enemy is booze, processed food and/or sugar in all its forms – most obviously, chocolate and sweets.

Giving these up for at least 6-12 weeks “breaks the back” of the usual suspects, forms some good eating habits, and brings about those quick results – which will keep you motivated and “hungry” for more success.

5. Think positive

With sufficient motivation anything is achievable, and those obstacles can now be overcome.

More tips on getting your weight loss started!

Outspoken weight loss guru Steve Miller of Sky1’s Fat Families shares his tips on how you can stop complaining you’re fat – and actually lose weight.

Carry a mirror

In order to eat healthily, it’s really important to watch your portion sizes. To help you do this, carry a mirror everywhere you go, ensuring you remind yourself of how fat you are, which will automatically motivate you to eat less.

Be your own weight loss whip

This may sound odd, but you need to give yourself some tough love. Motivating yourself is not just about carrot, it’s also about stick – you need to whip yourself into controlling your eating. Without control, it’s too easy to get carried away bingeing on treats and then swilling them down with booze.

Ditch the fat feeding excuse

(Image: Getty)

Year after year, many people say, “Oh I’ve put so much weight on over Christmas, I may as well eat what I want.” This is just an excuse. Stop making them. Always remind yourself to stop eating when you feel full, and then take your mind into something non-food related.

Keep treats hidden

Or don’t buy them at all. Out of sight will mean out of mind. You won’t be able to resist if you have chocolates and biscuits lying around the house.

Ditch diets

The first and immediate step is never ditch junk food all together. Instead, create a diet plan and live each day eating healthily 80 per cent of the time and eating some junk for 20 per cent of the time.
This way you’ll ensure you don’t deny yourself, which can lead to bingeing.

Steer clear of conflict

(Image: Getty)

After the stresses of the holidays, new year can be the time of year when we rub each other up the wrong way and end up having a number of verbal brawls. Steer clear of them, otherwise you will probably end up comfort eating. Bite your tongue and walk away as soon as you sense you are about to throw a verbal bullet.

Carry a warning sign

Make yourself a credit card size warning sign that reads, “If you are fat THINK before eating.” Look at it before you eat to help you control what you consume, and how much. The truth hurts, but the truth is the truth.

Try on the frock

(Image: Getty)

Just before you sit down to eat at home, pop to the bedroom and try on that dress you are desperate to fit into. Let it motivate you to control your food intake.

10 ways to focus on wellness as the key to weight loss

The first step to losing weight isn’t stepping onto your bathroom scale.

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Considering a weight-related New Year’s resolution? This year, consider making your goal a little more well-rounded. Try to focus on a more complete approach to mind and body wellness, and not on the number on the scale. You may find that this approach goes hand-in-hand with losing weight.

1. Focus on what you should eat. Too often, diets focus on what you shouldn’t eat, not what you should eat. Instead of concentrating on what to cut out, try building a meal plan from the ground up that fills your day with healthy, balanced meals. One of the best ways to keep yourself on track is to build a detailed meal plan in advance so that you won’t draw a blank when you get hungry. Need help? Consider consulting a professional wellness company like NutriMost that can create a detailed, personalized meal plan built to match your lifestyle and your goals.

2. Choose real food. While we’re on the topic of what you should be eating, a good general rule to follow is to choose real food – food that’s found in nature – over heavily processed options that are full of chemicals and additives. Yes, you can probably lose weight with low-calorie options no matter how many unpronounceable words are in the ingredients list, but that doesn’t make them healthy. Ditch the weight-loss shakes and bars and opt for fruits and vegetables that will keep you slim while giving you the nutrients you need to keep your body functioning at its best.

3. Drink more water. Water packs a dual punch! It’s healthy, and helps you lose weight. Not only does water help flush the toxins from your body, but studies show that drinking more water can significantly boost your metabolism. It also helps fill you up so that you don’t feel the need to eat as much. Cut out the empty calories of soda and other sweet drinks and replace them with life-sustaining H2O.

4. Listen to your body. It may seem obvious, but one of the best ways to lose weight is also one of the most simple: Only eat when you’re hungry. Next time you reach for the fridge, take a minute to consider whether you’re really in need of nourishment or whether you’re just trying to pass the time. Keeping in tune with your body’s true needs will keep you on course – not only to weight loss but also to overall health.

5. Use food as an opportunity to practice being mindful and grateful. As important as it is to take care of your body, it’s also important to take care of your mind. Research shows that actively practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to increase happiness levels. That’s a great reason to start thinking more mindfully about the food you’re eating and to use mealtimes as a chance to express gratefulness. Whether that involves saying grace out loud with your family or just taking a moment to appreciate the food on the table in front of you, a less absent-minded approach to eating can bring great rewards.

7. Cheat when you need to, but don’t let it turn into a pattern. Whether it’s having a slice of wedding cake or enjoying a mixed drink during a night out with friends, we get it. Sometimes you need to “cheat,” and in the right context cheating can even be healthy – for your mental health, that is. Do it, don’t dwell on it and don’t let that nagging voice in your head convince you that there’s no turning back.

8. Discover a form of exercise that energizes you. A good exercise regimen should tire you out, but it shouldn’t feel like torture. If you’re running on the treadmill with your eyes glued to the calorie-burning counter, it might be time to reconsider your approach to working out. If you don’t love cardio? Try strength training. Feeling left behind at the yoga studio? Try a Zumba class. Finding your fit will make you more likely to keep up your exercise routine over the long term.

9. Power your body with essential nutrients. If you have any particular nutritional concerns, consider taking natural, food-based supplements to fill in any gaps. Consult a professional to learn more about how supplements can ensure that you get the vitamins and minerals you need.

10. Don’t just copy what worked for others. Just because you’ve heard that a particular fad diet worked for someone else doesn’t mean that it will work for you. You’re an individual, and you need an individual weight loss plan. If you want to take a more formal approach to wellness and weight loss, choose a company like NutriMost that will develop a personalized plan tailored to your own circumstances.

Remember that weight is just one small piece of the wellness puzzle. By focusing on the suggestions above, you can cultivate healthy habits that go beyond the scale. Here’s to your health!

Want to develop a personalized plan that works just for you? NutriMost is tailored to fit your specific needs.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.

How to Actually Stay Focused on Your Weight Loss Goals

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The only thing worse than setting a goal and then not accomplishing it is setting a goal and then not accomplishing it because you lost focus on the journey—because you stopped trying. Don’t let something so silly and so fixable be the cause of you not accomplishing your weight loss goals.

Losing weight is more important than you may have thought when you made your goals in the first place. Your weight loss goals are, therefore, a lot more important than some of your other goals may be, and you might not even realize it.

Your weight directly affects your health. Being overweight can lead to a variety of health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Your health directly affects everything and anything you do in life. Having health problems such as diabetes and/or heart disease can lead to you missing out on things that you love, like rollerblading, going on a hike, going up the stairs to get to your favorite store, or simply going for a walk with a friend.

I know that if I couldn’t do such things, I would be far less happy than I am right now. As someone who has transitioned into always staying focused on my fitness goals—going to the gym and eating healthy on a regular basis—I am the happiest I’ve ever been.

Don’t let your life be negatively affected by not staying focused on your weight loss goals. Instead, crush those weight loss goals. Prove everyone who doubts you wrong. Make yourself the happiest you’ve ever been. Continue reading to find out how to do that. Learn how to actually stay focused on your weight loss goals and become a happier, healthier, more driven you.

Keep track of your progress.

Keeping track of your progress might be the most essential thing for you to do in order to stay focused on those weight loss goals of yours. You can get creative in doing so, but my go-to way of tracking this progress is by taking photos.

When I look back at the photos I took of myself in my bikini years ago, I smile. In that picture, I see a girl who was unhappy with her body. That makes me smile because of how far I’ve come. As I look at the most recent photo I’ve taken of myself in the same bikini, I see a girl who has more muscle, less fat, and is much happier with her body.

Looking at the difference between old photos and recent photos of your body is the ultimate motivation. It helps you remember how far you’ve come—it’s sort of a pat on the back for all of the hard work you’ve done and will continue to do.

Set goals.

Setting goals for yourself is the biggest self-motivator. Think up some goals. You can think up some that you know you can reach (so that your confidence is boosted), but most of them should be ones that really challenge you (so that you’re that much more proud of yourself when you reach them). Write those goals down so that they’re tangible and something you can check off when you’ve accomplished them. It really strengthens the feeling of reward when you can physically check it off.

I, myself like to write them down on a scrap piece of paper and then carry that piece of paper around with me–I just slide it into my purse. That way, I have a constant reminder of my goals and am always constantly working to reach them.

When I get to the gym, before I even put my earphones in to start working out, I take out that piece of paper, read over the exercise goals that I set for myself. I end up pushing myself ten times harder during my work out than I would have if I hadn’t read them.

I do the same thing when I go grocery shopping and also when I go out to eat. Before I go into the grocery store, I read over the nutritional goals I set myself. This helps me to only purchase the food items that will help me reach those goals. Similarly, before I go out to eat, I read them over. This helps me to order a meal that will further my progress toward reaching my goals.

Focus on your health, not the scale.

People often focus on the number that’s on the scale during their weight loss journey. Not only is this an inaccurate way of looking at your progress, but it also slows down your progress. As you continuously work out, you continuously build muscle. Since muscle is heavy, gaining it can make you gain weight.

This type of weight gain is the good kind of weight gain during your fitness journey. If you’re gaining muscle, you’re most likely losing fat, which will make you feel and look better. The scale is a way of measuring weight, not health, so don’t draw so much attention to it! If you refrain from caring so much about that pesky number on that even peskier scale, you’re sure to stay more focused and more driven on your fitness journey.

Track your exercise.

It’s important to track your exercise—write it down in a notebook, jot it down on the Notes app on your phone, log it on your Fitbit or Apple Watch app. It doesn’t matter how you track it. What matters is just that you do track it.

Doing so helps you to notice not only your accomplishments, but also your weaknesses, which helps keep your ultimate goals in focus. For me, they are equally important. When I look at my successes, I get fired up and I feel proud of myself. This helps me to continue to push myself just as hard during all of my workouts. When I look at my weak points (maybe I couldn’t finish that seven mile run, or maybe I couldn’t get in that last set of bicep curls) I sometimes get angry at first.

I get angry at myself for not pushing myself just a little bit harder. Then, I realize that anger does nothing for me and my weight loss journey. So, I then turn that anger into motivation, and I use it during my next workout, and the one after that, and the one after that. Before I know it, I not only finish that seven mile run, I run eight miles. Before I know it, I not only get in that last set of bicep curls, but I add an extra set of tricep dips to the workout.

Another benefit of tracking your exercise is that it keeps you stay aware of how many calories you’re burning and it helps you to adjust to your diet accordingly. Which, again, helps you keep your eye on that end prize of losing weight. You shouldn’t restrict yourself from foods that your body might actually need—just make sure that the calories you do eat are healthy ones!

Learn More

Check out our 30 Delicious Low-Calorie Dinners for Weight Loss for those lower calorie days!

Now, you know how to stay focused on those weight loss goals of yours, so get out there and achieve them! While you’re at it, make sure to check out our Facebook page, follow us on Pinterest, and subscribe to our newsletter for more delicious recipes and healthy lifestyle tips!

“The best diet is one that works for the individual while providing appropriate nourishment,” says Yeung. “Generally, I encourage eating healthier overall, focusing on choosing more whole foods, having balanced meals, and practicing moderation with less-than-healthy foods, rather than providing a strict meal plan.”

Still, some people might benefit from more structure when it comes to meal planning. “Sometimes a structured diet is easier for people to manage in their busy lives, because they don’t have to think about what foods they should eat,” says Tamara Melton, M.S., R.D.N., L.D., nutrition communications and wellness consultant, and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson. “They can also help to get someone used to a proper portion size of meals.” So newbies to healthy eating might consider starting on a structured weight-loss meal plan and then adapting it as they get more comfortable with new eating habits. But again, if you have or are in recovery from an eating disorder, this might not be the best choice for you—focusing so much on numbers can take a lot of people to a dark place that is definitely not healthy.

4. Take it slow.

“Rapid weight loss can happen, but it is rarely sustainable,” says Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Slow and steady weight loss is the way to go, as you’ll be much more likely to keep that weight off in the long run.”

A healthy rate of weight loss is typically anywhere from ½ to 2 pounds per week, she says. But try not to get too caught up in these weekly numbers. Instead, focus on consistency when it comes to eating well and working out. “The best thing to do is to slowly change your habits and build sustainable, healthy eating patterns over time,” says Rumsey.

5. Look beyond the food.

“It can be easy for people to focus merely on what they are eating and on the weight loss progress,” says Mast. But sustainable weight loss relies on other factors as well. Mast emphasizes that finding a supportive community or one-on-one health coach is invaluable. Without a positive support system or the knowledge to develop a healthy eating plan, your weight loss is likely to stall. Speaking of which…

6. Don’t panic if you hit a plateau.

Go easy on your body if your weight loss slows down at some point in the process. “Plateaus are very normal,” says Melton. “It is … stressful on the body to lose weight. Plateaus help your body to take a break make sure that all of the body systems are still in healthy working order before losing any more weight.”

Changing up your diet might help you move past a plateau. But, says Yeung, “It really varies person to person. Sometimes the diet needs to be reevaluated and sometimes other factors, like stress levels, sleep, and levels of physical activity may be playing a part and need to be addressed.”

In other words? Don’t assume a plateau means it’s time to eat fewer calories. Instead, consider the bigger picture to identify any and all contributing factors. And be open to the fact that your body might be happy right where it is—even if you were hoping to drop another five pounds.

7. Keep feeding your resolve.

Achieving the weight loss you were after can be simultaneously thrilling and a letdown. When you’re no longer moving toward something, it can feel like the wind’s been knocked out of your sails. To maintain your weight loss, you’ll need to keep feeding your resolve.

“Keep up with your healthy habits—eating healthfully, maintaining consistent physical activity, managing stressors, and sleeping well,” says Yeung. “It’s important not to just forego your new lifestyle because you reached a weight goal.”

It can also be helpful to set new health goals for yourself—such as running a 5K or getting eight hours of sleep every night—in order to maintain your forward momentum, says Mast. And remember to keep focusing on the motivator(s) you identified when you first started toward your goal.

8. Be kind to yourself.

As you endeavor to lose weight, remember to be your own cheerleader. Practice self-care and reward yourself for building healthy habits. Above all, says Melton, “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else—even if that someone else is you (20 years ago, before you had kids and a career, etc.). Focus on looking forward and give yourself pep talks to stay motivated.”

Some quotes were edited for clarity.

Motivation for losing weight

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