Motivation to start dieting can be one of the hardest things to muster.
I know because I’ve been there.
I had a lot of negative thoughts that I would ruminate about constantly. Such as:-
This is natural.
Anything that involves change always comes with reservations and doubts!
I think the biggest one for most people is the first on my list!
What if I fail?
This is especially so if you’ve tried dieting before and failed.
And let’s face it, many of us have!
I was on my third attempt at dieting before I finally started to see results.
So, do not let previous failures, or the threat of failure, stop you.
Everyone can lose weight with the right approach!
Yes, weight loss is easier for some people than others due to our genes.
And there are also some medical conditions that can make weight loss harder (and it’s worth questioning whether you suffer with these before starting). See here.
But generally speaking, your body is capable of weight loss!
You might disagree but I can guarantee you that is just you telling yourself that.
You just need the right motivation!
So, let’s look at 9 ways to get motivated, many of which I learnt along the way when achieving my weight loss goals.
1. Follow the science
The issue with many dieters is that they try to let willpower alone rule their diet plan instead of thinking about the science behind dieting and what it actually takes to lose weight.
They think “if I just cut down on what I eat, I’ll surely lose weight“.
The problem with this approach is that hunger ends up getting the better of them and they binge after starving themselves for a couple of weeks.
My motivation when dieting came from actually knowing what I needed to do.
I put my faith in the science of dieting, instead of just telling myself I just had to eat less or follow the latest fad diet.
This meant understanding the following:-
I learnt this stuff by reading as much as I could and really thinking about what weight loss really is and how it is achieved.
This meant I could formulate a plan, a routine and my own weight loss boundaries.
In other words, I wasn’t shooting in the dark asking myself “is what I am doing really working?”.
I knew it was probably working because it was backed by scientific research.
This meant I never really lost motivation or had any real doubts about my approach.
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2. Involve a friend
One of the best ways to get motivated by things we do, and not just losing weight, is to get a friend involved.
Team work has a whole host of benefits such as:-
We are much more likely to succeed in a team than on our own and this is supported by the science and studies that have measured this.
3. Devise a plan
The key to successful weight loss is to have a plan of attack.
Without a plan you have no set aims and nothing to keep you on track.
This doesn’t mean you have to try too hard either, which can ultimately lead to you becoming demoralized when you deviate and being too hard on yourself, thereby leading to premature quitting.
It simply means working with pre-defined goals so you aren’t going in blind and moving from diet to diet or exercise regime to exercise regime.
I found the following extremely helpful:-
4. don’t compare yourself to others
There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from others but if you become too obsessed with comparing your figure to others, it can become counterproductive.
It’s important to remember that we are all made up of different genes which means we all carry, gain and lose weight differently.
This means, of course, that one person’s weight loss journey will always be different to another’s.
If you do compare yourself to someone, instead of trying to emulate how that person looks, try and emulate how they act in their weight loss journey.
This might mean taking inspiration from someone who has followed and kept to a healthy diet or has maintained and stuck to a fitness regime they’ve followed.
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5. Act now
Science has proven that people who act today instead of putting something off until tomorrow, tend to be a whole lot more successful.
Yes, it is important to plan (without trying too hard), but it is also important to take action!
As soon as you begin to take action you will notice that you’ll begin to achieve things, no matter how small.
This is extremely motivating and spurs you on and helps move you on to your next task.
There is no better time than now!
6. Reward yourself
We all deserve a little treat from time to time, including when we are trying to lose weight.
Allow yourself a treat when you’ve reached a goal!
For example, when you’ve lost your first 5lbs or when you’ve stuck to your diet or exercise regime with no slips for a week.
And I don’t mean a treat where you splurge on McDonald’s or a gateaux.
There are other ways of treating yourself that allow you to stick to your weight loss regime.
Here’s some ideas:-
Allowing yourself a treat will give you something to aim for and will provide encouragement!
7. Keep track of your progress
Keeping track of your progress doesn’t have to mean obsessing about your achievements, or lack of.
I found it extremely useful to at least know how far I had come without being too obsessive.
Without some idea of what you’ve achieved, there’s a temptation to question whether your approach is working.
So, make a record of how far you’ve come and have an idea of where you’re going on your journey.
Some of the following assisted me:-
8. Set Realistic Goals
If your aim is to lose 100lbs in four weeks, then you are probably destined for failure and you are never going to be satisfied with your achievements.
It’s much better to set smaller goals that are realistic than to set very big ones that you ultimately fail to hit.
I found it so much more motivating when I set tough challenges but ones I knew I could achieve.
When I hit them, I felt a sense of pride which spurred me on to my next goal.
The science shows that losing only 10% of our body weight can have a huge impact on our health and our wellbeing, so the smaller gains make a big difference.
So, be realistic and measured and you’ll see your motivation sky rocket!
9. forget perfection
I failed my first attempt at losing weight because I was too hard on myself.
I set myself unrealistic targets, didn’t devise a plan and beat myself up when I didn’t see results!
The key is to be disciplined but not obsessively so!
A slight deviation from your exercise or diet regime is not the end of the world.
Use those small failures to improve when you make your next weight loss choice.
That might mean running an extra two miles at your next gym session if you didn’t quite run enough miles at the session you just finished.
Or it could mean eating a super healthy dinner when you slacked off a little at lunch.
Weight loss doesn’t have to be an overly rigid or inflexible journey!
Motivation is a key part of any weight loss journey and you’re going to need a certain amount of it to get by.
But that’s the same for anything we aim for in life.
It’s about finding what motivates you personally.
Be strategic, but not obsessive about your weight loss goals and be kind to yourself.
Celebrating the small wins along the way is essential to keep your motivation high and the momentum going.
Keep track of your progress and enjoy your successes as they occur, no matter how small.
About the author
Catherine holds a bachelor of science degree and is a registered mental health nurse.
She is a self-confessed health and fitness freak, nutrition fanatic and mental health boffin.
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