Motivation to lose weight: 10 strategies to help you persevere

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The most important thing in losing weight is motivation. Only those who strive will achieve their goal. We’ll show you ten simple tips to help you do this. You will see: it is not as difficult as you think.

1. Know your goals: Why do you want to lose weight?

Before you start looking for “figure-friendly” recipes, you should think carefully about why you want to lose weight. You must formulate your reasons or wishes as concretely and positively as possible.

The best thing to do is hang up your list of motivation or put it in your wallet to protect yourself from prying eyes. For an initial brainstorming session, you can first note down all of the “flashes of thought” that arise in connection with your desire to lose weight.

Then it comes to the formulation. For example, instead of “I want to be slim,” you could write down “I want to fit my favorite jeans again.”

Or “I want to feel good in my body again.” In this context, it must be your wish. In no case should you lose weight, for example, in order not to lose your partner? Of course, wanting to please your significant other is understandable, but first and foremost, it is about your well-being.

Other reasons for losing weight are often health-related. Instead of “I want to improve my health,” you can put “I want to climb stairs again without getting out of breath,” etc., on your list of motivation.

Tips: In digital times, it seems tempting to type the list of motivation directly into your smartphone or tablet, but words can be better internalized from a psychological point of view if you write them down by hand and read them out loud now and then.

The same applies to the visualization of matters of the heart: With pictures – for example, a previous photo in your favorite jeans – you can illustrate the personal reasons why you want to lose weight.

2. Positive thoughts: focus on the good things

Instead of seeing weight loss as a sacrifice, I recommend focusing on the positive aspects. By replacing negative considerations with positive factors, you create the basis for motivating weight loss.

Instead of “I’ll have to go without chocolate for the next few weeks,” you can say to yourself, “I’m looking forward to trying out delicious alternatives.”

Our 1st motivation strategy is closely linked to this 2nd tip for persevering with a change in diet. Take your list of motivations to hand now and then. Picture the positive aspects in your mind and imagine how good you will feel when you have reached your desired weight.

3. Be realistic: set milestones.

Sustainable changes don’t happen overnight. Of course, it sounds tempting to lose weight as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, your body and soul need sufficient time to get used to the new body feeling for long-term success. This aspect is all the more true if you have been overweight for a long time.

Do you want to lose 10 kilograms? You can subdivide the overall goal into stage goals of “I want to lose 2 kilograms of weight per month”. While this realistic intermediate goal is based on the nutritional recommendation to lose a maximum of 0.5 kilograms per week, you create sufficient motivation without putting yourself under too much pressure.

If you lose 2 kilograms per month, you can achieve your overall goal in 5 months. To also plan setbacks – or physiologically caused and utterly natural weight stagnation – your overall goal can be: “I would like to lose a total of 10 kilograms within six months”.

While too high expectations can lead to unnecessary stress and frustration, realistic interim goals and sufficient time provide for deceleration, which creates space for a new motivation to lose weight.

Note: If you are very overweight or obese, it can make sense to lose more than 500 grams per week, in the beginning to give you sufficient motivation at the beginning of your weight loss. In this context, it is advisable to do a health check at the beginning and, if necessary, seek additional professional support.

4. Reward yourself for achieving goals

As soon as you have successfully achieved an intermediate goal, you can be proud of yourself and consciously treat yourself to something.

If, for example, you decide on a piece of chocolate cake in your favorite café, you must enjoy it consciously and without a guilty conscience. You must return to your next stage goal and stay on the ball with new motivation.

The reward for reaching a stage goal can be a treat but does not necessarily have to be culinary.

How about a relaxing day of wellness, a shopping tour with your best friend or a short trip to the sea as a reward?

To motivate yourself further, you could, for example, choose a piece of clothing while strolling that you would like to fit into after reaching your overall goal. You should not choose the clothing size too small but estimate it as realistically as possible.

5. Play it safe: Draw up an emergency plan.

It would help if you created an emergency plan before starting a more leisurely life because changes do not succeed in the blink of an eye but require enormous willpower.

If the motivation decreases while losing weight and a relapse into old behavior patterns threatens, individual emergency strategies can help stave off frustrations, cravings, and the like.

First, ask yourself if it is “emotional hunger.” Since obesity is often based on psychological causes, a possible connection should be considered. In “emotional hunger,” food is used to compensate for emotional difficulties.

Accordingly, the food is not consumed because of appetite but because unpleasant feelings such as fear, sadness, or stress are supposed to be overlaid by the food. This mechanism works at first but carries the risk of eating disorders.

Whether the food is gobbled down as part of “binge eating” – or whether food is forbidden in anorexia – all eating disorders have in common that enjoyment is lost.

If you suffer from binge eating attacks, often associated with overweight or obesity, additional psychological support can be helpful.

As emergency strategies for self-help, I recommend the following tips to you, which you can change or add to your emergency plan:

• In case of impending cravings: drink a large glass of water and brush your teeth, as peppermint reduces the appetite for sweet things.

• “Run away” from a bad mood as exercise creates happiness hormones. This tip is by no means aimed at repression but instead relieves unpleasant feelings about physical activity.

• Talking to your best friend on the phone.

• Make a list of low-fat and low-sugar alternatives (fruit with dark chocolate instead of pralines, wholemeal biscuits instead of cream cake, …).

• Try calming breathing meditation or other relaxation methods such as autogenic training, muscle relaxation, according to Jacobsen, or yoga.

• Go outside even in winter when the sun is shining and use the light as a positive energy source. The synthesis of happiness hormones is also increased.

• Turn up your favorite music and start dancing.

• Write negative emotions from the soul (diary).

6. Accept setbacks – and overcome them.

Setbacks are part of the change. Keep realizing that it takes a long time for unfavorable behaviors to be replaced by new strategies.

Sometimes it just takes several attempts. Instead of perfectionism, it’s much more about valuing yourself and not throwing yourself into old behavior because of a relapse.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about feeling guilty after a relapse or an allowed food cravings attack. A temporary revival of old avoidance strategies (avoiding unpleasant feelings by eating) does not stand in the way of successful weight loss.

It’s about mobilizing new energies after a setback and motivating yourself again. Look ahead and stick to your goal with confidence.

7. Exchange ideas with like-minded people

In weak moments, which are part of every change, you can motivate other willing people to lose weight.

For example, you could join a support group. If you can’t find like-minded people in your area, you could organize your weight loss group yourself. The meetings are not just about discussing setbacks, but sharing new recipes, positive experiences, etc., can also give you new motivation.

Tip: Introverts can also lose weight successfully “on their own” if they heed the other points to persevere. Another possibility would be to exchange ideas anonymously with like-minded people via forums.

8. Weigh only once a week

Not only psychological but also physiological changes need sufficient time. Fluctuations in your weight are natural. Especially in women, the weight varies for hormonal reasons.

Do not be demotivated if the pointer has not fallen as hoped. Much more important than the display of your scale is your body feeling. To still get an overview of whether you have reached your milestones, it makes sense to weigh yourself once a week – or every ten days. This is also a great way to find out if your weight loss is going too fast. It should not be more than 2 kilograms per month if you are slight to moderately overweight.

To create the same conditions as possible, it is best to weigh yourself in the morning immediately after getting up without clothes. If the result is different from expected, wait a few more days before standing on the scales again.

9. Don’t count calories

Bans increase the risk of hunger attacks or of abandoning the change in diet. Therefore, the recommendation is to control your desire to lose weight flexibly.

In this context, flexible control means that you do not meticulously count calories and do not forbid yourself any food, but instead choose suitable meals before changing your diet that will support you on your way to a healthy desired weight.

You can use an average amount of calories of around 1200 to 1500 kilocalories per day as a guide. Put the focus on wholesome and nutritious dishes that are sufficiently filling and enjoyable.

Over time, a feeling for and understanding of suitable portion sizes and quantities develops. Strict calorie counting and prohibitions, on the other hand, promote eating disorders and have nothing to do with natural eating behavior. The latter should be the long-term goal when it comes to maintaining healthy body weight.

10. Cheat day – don’t be too specific.

Cheat days (“cheat days”) have proven themselves – based on the flexible control (point 9) – when losing weight and can make it easier to persevere with a change in diet. In this regard, you can choose one day per week to let the reins be a little more relaxed from a culinary point of view.

It’s not about saving calories all week and then gobbling down high-calorie foods on Cheatday while losing control. The Cheatday focuses on the conscious enjoyment of your favorite foods – as a kind of icing on the cake – which would be counterproductive due to high amounts of sugar or fat during the actual weight loss phase.

Cheat days – or your favorite delicacies – can be a weekly highlight to create targeted new motivation to persevere and successfully stick to your weight loss goal.

If you want to know more about Cheatday, I recommend my article: Cheat Day – How it helps you lose weight.

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