Diets Don’t Work, Lifestyle Changes Work!
Weight loss is a combination of nutrition and exercise. One without the other will not get you very far because you need to burn more than you consume to lose weight. You can lose weight by reducing daily calories without exercising, but you will eventually hit the weight loss plateau. No matter what you do, if you do not cut your calories and exercise every day, you will not lose weight fast.
It is not easy to lose weight. If it were, America would not have an adult obesity of 42.4% – that is without including the 30% of overweight adults – and the American diet industry would not be making $72 billion in profits annually.
Weight loss and maintaining it requires long-term, important lifestyle changes. Some people find these changes more difficult than others. Lack of motivation is a major obstacle for weight loss. If you are one of these people, you are certainly not alone.
Why is it so difficult to lose weight?
We often ask ourselves these questions:
Why do I find it difficult to maintain a healthy nutritional plan?
How can I like more vegetables?
Can I learn to love exercising?
Why am I losing my willpower so often?
Why doesn’t my motivation keep me on track enough?
This question has many answers. Lack of motivation is often cited as a barrier to weight loss. The motivation you have to lose weight is influenced by many factors.
Extrinsic Motivation comes from outside. It can be in the form of monetary rewards or other tangible rewards. Other external factors include pressure from others, approval from others or negative emotions like guilt or shame.
Intrinsic Motivation comes from the inside out. You are motivated by your own personal satisfaction when you do an activity or see its results.
Researchers studied how the two motivations affected participants’ ability to adhere to a 16-week Internet weight loss program, and how much they lost. The majority of participants showed increased intrinsic and external motivation at the start of the program. However, the group that achieved a 5 percent body weight reduction at 16 weeks maintained their intrinsic motivation from week 4 to week 16. As time passed, the less-successful participants experienced a significant decline in intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.
Researchers found that an increase of self-monitoring in the first four weeks predicted an increase in intrinsic motivation, which contributed to the success of participants.
Later studies confirmed this. Researchers found that self-monitoring, reporting, and the level of detail of their reports improved their intrinsic motivation and weight loss.
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Weight loss motivation: How to find it within yourself.
It is important to know why you want to lose weight. You are not the only one who wants to lose weight to look better. It is crucial to cultivate your own intrinsic motivation if you want long-term success.
In a 2018 study, people motivated by their appearance to lose weight gained weight during a 30-month online program. However, those motivated internally lost weight and maintained it. The study found that extrinsic motives such as wanting to look good for a big event or getting approval from others are linked with binge-eating and other factors that can lead to weight gain.
According to the study’s findings, self-monitoring, and mindfulness, are what drive intrinsic motivation. Being aware of your thoughts, behaviors and mindfully recording and monitoring them is key to developing an inner motivation. This will not only help you lose weight, but also maintain a healthy weight over the long term.
Here are nine ways to improve your self-monitoring and mindfulness to develop the motivation to lose weight.
1. Realistic goals are important
Writing down your goals and setting realistic ones can help you reach them. It will also improve your health in later life. Goal setting is an art, and SMART objectives help you get it right. SMART goals include:
Specific: Make your goal “lose weight” something like “lose fifteen pounds by eating healthier foods and exercising five times per week.”
Measurable: What will you do to measure your progress? Weekly or daily weigh-ins? Do you record your food intake, activity, and exercise?
Set goals you can achieve. They should be slightly outside of your comfort zone, but still not too difficult. Do not make a goal of exercising for one hour per day, seven times a week.
Realistic: You can achieve realistic goals by sticking to them over the long term. Losing 30 pounds within a month would not be a realistic goal. It is possible to lose one or two pounds per week.
Timely: Set an end date for your goals. Break down your main goal (15 pounds) into smaller goals and assign a date to achieve them. Lose 5 pounds per month for 3 months.
Your goals should be flexible. It is okay to change or extend your timeline if you do not reach your goal in the period, you originally set.
2. Keep a food diary and track your exercise.
Recording what you eat, and how much exercise you do, increases mindfulness, and helps keep you on track to achieve your goals. It allows you to evaluate what is working and what may not. You can make better choices when you know you will be writing down what you eat, and how you exercise. You will also gain a better understanding of the nutritional value of the food you consume, which can help you make informed decisions. You can keep track of your food intake and physical activity in many ways.
Old-fashioned pen and papers
Add the information into a text editor or note-keeping application.
Use an app to track your goals or foods.
Wear a fitness tracker and download its app to monitor and set goals, track your water and food intake, and set up reminders.
3. Positive self-talk is important
You are the only person who can motivate yourself. The way you speak to yourself is important. Be kind and gentle. Do not punish yourself if you miss an exercise session. It is okay, things come up. I will exercise tomorrow instead.
4. Create a calendar or checklist
Set up a calendar, a checklist, or a list that is SMART-compliant. Use specific language in your calendar or checklist. Write “Walk” instead of “Walk 30 minutes at 3 PM.” Knowing that you can check the item off your list will motivate you on a difficult day.
5. Keep a weight loss journal
A journal can help you to stay in touch with your feelings and thoughts about weight loss. Journals can be used to track your nutrition and your exercise. But the most important thing is that you write and reflect in your journal each day. This will help you to move your cluttered thoughts, emotions, and ideas from your head to a physical space to clear your mind. You can use a journal to see patterns and trends in your life. Perhaps you realize that you are less motivated to exercise when you have a bad night’s sleep. Or you recognize that you tend to overeat when stressed. A journal can help you to stay focused and motivated.
6. Enjoy the food and activities you do.
Exercise does not just have to consist of walking, running, and lifting weights. You have many options when it comes to exercising, and some of them do not feel like exercise. You will feel more motivated if you choose activities that you enjoy. Do not limit your food choices to only melba bread and salad. Make a list of the foods you enjoy eating, then make notes on how to fit them into your daily nutritional plan. If you like rich, creamy dishes, you can make them lower in calories or serve your favorite pasta dish as a side so that you eat a smaller portion.
7. Exercise boredom: Fight it!
You can make your workout more appealing by providing yourself with something to look forward to too. You can, for example, watch only your favorite TV show on the treadmill or make a playlist with songs that will help you feel energized and fabulous. Listen to an audiobook or podcast while working out. Use your daily walk to meditate, plan your next trip, outline your novel, or brainstorm ideas for redoing the house or creating a backyard oasis.
8. Find a workout or weight loss friend
One of your best allies and motivators can be a friend or family member on the same weight loss journey. It is more fun to work out with someone else, it makes the time fly by faster and you feel less lonely in your weight loss quest. Your workout partner and you can motivate each other and hold each other accountable when you are not feeling motivated. This will make you more likely to stick to a healthy nutritional plan and exercise plan.
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9. Get Support
Seek support. Talk to a therapist if you are struggling with depression or anxiety and find it difficult to follow a weight loss plan. They can help you develop coping skills and change your negative thinking patterns. A registered dietitian can help you decide what to eat. Hire a personal trainer if you are not sure where to begin. They can help you create a workout plan that is right for you.