Finding motivation to lose weight can be tough. In this article, I outline the truth about weight loss motivation and 4 tips for finding yours with ease!
Have you ever looked into the research on the success rate of dieting?
Well, It ain’t pretty…
Studies show that over 50% or more of all dieters fail to continue losing weight after dropping the first 5-10% of their excess weight. Even more, nearly a third of those dieters end up gaining back more weight than when they started! (source)
So why is this? Why is it so flippin’ difficult to both lose weight and maintain a new & healthy body?
The "elephant in the room” argument would say it’s a flaw in our diet and/or exercise approach which, to a point, is true…
Way too many people try to lose weight following unsustainable crash diets and overly-taxing workout routines.
Deep down, they know their excessive approach won’t last, but they can’t help themselves...
Humans are wired to want things as quickly as possible. As a result, we continually find ourselves riding the cycle of extreme crash dieting and weight relapse.
Our obsessiveness with losing weight quickly through using unsustainable diet and exercise protocols is a problem - that much is clear.
But I think focusing on just diet & exercise is missing the forest for the trees...
There's a BIGGER problem behind our constant struggle to lose weight and maintain a healthy body—a lack and misunderstanding of motivation.
Motivation: It's what's keeping you fat
I'm sure you know what it's like to feel motivated to lose weight...
Sometimes the feeling arises from a #FitInspiration post you see on Instagram, other times it's from wanting to make a change after having a negative life experience that's directly related to your weight.
For me, it was getting dumped by my high school crush two weeks before Homecoming... (cue Dashboard Confessional)
Regardless of how your motivation comes to fruition, you feel a sudden jolt⚡️ to make a change and, at that moment in time, you're willing to do anything to see results.
So that's what you do...
You jump on the latest FAD diet that has the best before & after pictures in hopes that it'll deliver similar results for you, preferably in the shortest amount of time possible!
Maybe it works at first. Heck, maybe you're even down 10-15 pounds after the first few weeks and still feeling stellar.
"Psst. I could do this forever!"
But you and I both know that it never lasts much longer...
At some point—usually two-six weeks in—you start losing momentum. As time passes, it becomes more and more difficult to follow through on the restrictive guidelines of your diet plan.
Then one night you slip up and overeat.
Everyone slips up on their diet on occasion. And the reality is that one night of overeating is never enough to destroy your progress.
But because you're so stressed and tired from dieting, this one-off mistake is enough to push you over the tipping point...
Instead of recollecting yourself and starting back up the next day, you say "screw it!" as you metaphorically (or physically) throw your meal plan and workout routine papers in defeat and gobble down every last bite of food you can get your hungry fingers on...
Why's It So Stinking Hard To Get & Stay Motivated To Lose Weight?
There are a hundred and one different individual reasons why YOU may be struggling, but I've found that a lack of motivation is one of, if not the biggest reason most people fail in their pursuits of getting and staying lean.
It's because motivation is fleeting, where losing weight is constant
In other words, motivation isn't something that sticks around forever.
It comes and goes like tides in the ocean...
It's not IF you'll lose motivation—you WILL lose or have a significant drop in motivation at some point during your fitness journey.
Losing weight, on the other hand, requires a constant stream of effort to happen efficiently.
When you're motivated, losing weight is easy. It's when you lose motivation, and stop being consistent with your diet and exercise, that things start to take a turn for the worse...
You see, your body doesn't care how "motivated" or "unmotivated" you are to lose weight.
Sure, it would be nice if your body was like:
"Oh, you're not motivated right now? No worries, I'll keep on grinding and getting rid of this extra fat until you get another spark of momentum... you can just thank me later :)" - Your Body
Unfortunately, that doesn't happen (wouldn't it be awesome if it did, though?). Your body doesn't give a crap about your mindset.
If your motivation fades and, as a result, you stop being consistent with your diet and exercise, it's more than likely that your weight loss journey will come to a screeching halt.
And that's the best case scenario...
There's also the possibility of ending up in the 1/3rd of the dieters who gain most or all of their weight back!
Note: If this is sounding like you, don't fret. Here in a minute, I'm going to give you some practical tips and advice for avoiding this outcome and sticking to your weight loss plan!
How Did "Carter" Stay Motivated To Lose 140+ Pounds?
I wish I could say that I was an anomaly—that my weight loss journey was fueled by an endless supply of unrelenting, high-octane motivational energy that kept my results steady all the way through...
But that wouldn't be true.
In fact, it would be the complete opposite of what actually went down...
You see, I didn't just wake up one day and decide to buckle down (like, physically buckle down!) and lose the extra 140 pounds around my waist.
Not at all. I struggled for YEARS with my weight! (YearZZ... PLURAL!)
When I did attempt to lose weight, I'd follow the same routine of starting, stopping, undereating, over indulging, bingeing, and excessively exercising... just like every other failed dieter.
After doing that a few times, It didn't take me long to realized the initial spark of motivation I felt at the start of a diet would slowly wither away after 2-3 weeks...
At first, I used this knowledge to try and push myself as hard as I possibly could to lose weight quickly during that small 2-3 week window.
What's crazy is I did this KNOWING I would eventually start losing motivation to continue... sound familiar?
But it always ended the same... usually with my face buried in a pint of ice cream, a box of Oreos, or both. (usually both)
After failing at that, oh, +/- 14 times, I knew I'd have to try something different...
So the next time I had a spark of motivation to lose weight, I decided to do the boring thing and take the long road approach to weight loss dieting.
The first thing I did? I STOPPED trying to follow extreme FAD diets and punish myself with hours of cardio.
Instead, I started researching and experimenting with varies nutrition, exercise, and mindset strategies that would be more sustainable.
Sure, it took a bit more upfront work and effort, but I kept at it, and eventually found diet and exercise protocols that "clicked."
Before long, I was leaning down easier (and surprisingly, faster) than I ever had before. In what felt like a blink of an eye, I had lost 60, 80, 100+ pounds!
Was it easy? Well, no...
Losing weight is NEVER easy.
But this long-term weight loss mindset I adopted is what changed the game for me.
It's what kept me consistent (finally) and focused on my ultimate weight loss goal regardless of what side of the "weight loss motivation wave" I was on at the time.
4 Strategies To Get Started Losing Weight Without Relying On Motivation Alone
What follows are a few of the strategies that have not only helped me lose 140+ pounds but also maintain my success over the past couple of years without having to rely on constant motivation.
Now, I can't guarantee that they'll solve ALL of your weight loss woes...
But If you put in the upfront effort and implement these strategies, I'm confident that, like me, you'll have an easier and more enjoyable time achieving your health & fitness goals.
What's more, you'll have a clearer understanding of how motivation affects YOU, and how to control it.
This control is what'll keep you on track at times when most other dieters would end up quitting
Understand "WHY?" You Want To Lose Weight
If I asked you why you wanted to lose weight, what would your answer be?
For most people, it's usually something like:
- To Look Better...
- To Feel Better...
- So I Can Weigh "X" Amount...
All of those reasons are fine and dandy but, in my opinion, they're not specific enough...
If you want to lose weight and not give up after losing steam a few weeks in, then you need to dig a bit deeper and identify your CORE Why for wanting to make this change...
"You want to look better, feel better, or weight "X" amount? Cool... but WHY?"
There's an exercise I like to use with my clients called, "The 5 Why's?" which makes finding your CORE Why super easy.
You start by asking yourself, "Why do I want to lose weight?"
Then, you'll take that answer and ask, "why do I want that outcome?"
You'll repeat this 4 times, and by the fifth go-round, you should have a much clearer understanding of what's really driving your desire to lose weight.
Here's an example:
Susan is a 40-year-old female who's struggled with weight all of her life. She has three kids and has decided it was time she take back control of her body.
Here's how "The 5 Why's" exercise might look for Susan:
- Why do I want to lose weight? Because I am tired of being heavy and out of shape.
- Why am I tired of being heavy and out of shape? Because It has plagued me all of my life, and I don't want to be the "fat" parent...
- Why do I NOT want to be the "fat" parent? I don't want my kids to think less of me...
- Why do I NOT want my kids to think less of me? Because they're the most important people in my life, and I want to set a good example for them...
- Why do I want to set a good example for my kids? [here's her CORE Why]: Because I don't want them to develop similar unhealthy habits. I want to show them that anything is possible when they put their minds to it. I want them to think, "If mom can do it, so can I!"
Susan went from "tired of being heavy and out of shape" to "wanting to show her kids anything is possible."
Pretty powerful stuff, huh?
Do this yourself
Identify your CORE Why for wanting to lose weight. Once you have it, hold it close.
You don't have to share your CORE Why with anyone else if you don't want. Just make sure you keep your CORE Why at the forefront of your mind.
Do that, and you'll have a much easier time resisting in-the-moment temptations, staying internally driven, and sticking to your long-term goals.
CTRL+ALT+DELETE the More-Must-Be-Better Mindset
There's a long list of negative mindsets that keep people from losing weight...
The More-Must-Be-Better Mindset sits right smack at the top.
The essence of this mindset comes from having a false belief that more hard work and effort will always translate into greater return and faster weight loss results.
For example, say you're dieting on 1800 calories and, after three weeks, you're already down 3 pounds!
You're excited about your progress, but the thought pops into your head...
"What If I drop my calories down even more to lose 2 pounds per week? I'd get results in half the time!"
So starting week 4, you drop your calories to 1200. Despite feeling constantly exhausted and hungry, you stick with this extreme deficit for the first four days...
Then Friday happens.
Let's set the scene:
You come home from a long and stressful day of work—practically starving by this point—and reach into the fridge to grab your 300-calorie prepped dinner.
But as soon as you open the fridge, you see a big, fat, plump slice of cheesecake sitting right in front of you...
"Who would leave this here? Everyone knows I'm on a diet!"
You continue looking at the cheesecake, smell it, then pull it out of the fridge (just to inspect it a bit more...)
Fast forward two hours, you've devoured the entire slice of cheesecake and are well over halfway through a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream.
For some things in life, a More-Must-Be-Better Mindset could be a good thing....
But weight loss is NOT one of those things.
Having this mindset towards losing weight is just asking for trouble. More often than not, it leads to more bingeing and an endless loop of yo-yo dieting...
Listen, I get it. Seeing progress early on is super exciting and incredibly motivating.
BUT - you can't let your heightened & temporary motivation to get lean quickly dictate your long-term decision making.
If you do, you'll end up creating irrational and knowingly unsustainable changes such as slashing your calories in half or doing hours of daily cardio - all because you want to see the weight fly off just a little bit faster.
A VERY IMPORTANT thing to remember...
Losing weight is going to take time...
(read that sentence a few times over.)
Here it is again, just in case you decided to ignore my suggestion above 😏...
LOSING WEIGHT IS GOING. TO. TAKE. T-I-M-E!
It's better to accept that fact, embrace it, & use it to design a diet and exercise regimen you'll stay consistent with well after your initial spark of motivation fades away.
One of the best ways to do this is by creating smaller, more sustainable changes to your current routine, Which brings us to the next tip...
Focus on "Small & Sustainable" over "Big & Bodacious" Changes (& be the tortoise 🐢)
Wanna know why Fad Diets and Body Wraps are so popular?
Because they're Big, Bold, Bodacious, and Sexy...
And in the world of marketing... Sex Sells.
It's sexy to say "Lose 10 pounds in ten days!" or "Wear this wrap every night for two weeks and watch your belly fat vanish!"
(I'm getting all hot n' steamy just thinking about it...)
You know what's NOT sexy?
Telling someone to take weight loss nice & slow, and be willing to make healthy eating and daily exercise new life habits.
The reality is We ALL know that FAD diets, body wraps, juice cleanses and the like don't work. Despite this, though, we continue to let fancy marketing tactics trick us into thinking that they do...
The switch from big & bodacious changes perpetuated by FAD diets to small & sustainable changes is when my weight loss journey took a huge turn, and for the better!
Instead of crash dieting from the get-go... I started out slow by simply controlling my portions and making healthier choices.
Instead of running myself into the ground 2 hours every day... I started with a modest 20-minute walk—and I ONLY added more once the 20 minutes was mindlessly easy.
Yes, results were somewhat slower in the beginning, but I had already mentally prepped myself for it...
I call this mental prepping, "Channeling Your Inner Tortoise"
Doing this involves disassociating with the speed of short-term results.
When you're channeling your inner tortoise, you're not worried about how fast or slow your progress is week-to-week. Instead, your ONLY FOCUS is on making sustainable diet and exercise changes that ensure you reach the finish line.
Just like our turtle friend's victory over the hair... "Slow & Steady Wins the Race..."
Take things slow, and focus on making changes that are simple.
Because when changes are simple, they're also easier to do. When changes are easier to do, they're more likely to turn into small & healthy habits....
It's these small & healthy habits that add up over time and lead to extraordinary weight loss results!
Take ACTION! Motivation Will Follow...
A lot of people make the mistake of sitting around and waiting for motivation to take action towards achieving their goals.
About 99.999% of the time, though, this waiting turns into procrastination, laziness, and pretty much everything other than taking action.
I was guilty of making this mistake (and still am)...
Even after my success with losing weight, I occasionally find myself waiting around for a spark to get moving on things I want to accomplish.
But I'm nowhere near as bad as I used to be, and it's from realizing that I had it backward all along...
ACTION leads to motivation, not the other way around
Taking action is like "priming the pump" for motivation. It's what builds momentum, and with it, the motivation to keep going.
Think back to a time when you put off writing an important paper because you didn't feel like doing it...
(maybe you're doing this now... I see you 😳)
You procrastinated all the way up until the night before the 12-page report was due and had the "Oh, shit..." moment.
At that point, you didn't have a choice of waiting for motivation. You just had to sit down and start writing.
You were probably super annoying at first, too. You were tired and couldn't stop thinking about all the times you should have been writing the paper instead of playing beer pong and hooky...
After about 5-10 minutes, though, you got in a groove, and the initial resistance you felt started disappearing...
Before you knew it, you were six pages in and hadn't looked up from your computer screen.
Once you got past that first 10-minute block, your resistant mind essentially "gave up," which let you focus executing on the task at hand.
Taking action and letting motivation follow is something that has been a complete game-changer for myself and my clients.
It's a HUGE step towards breaking your dependence on motivation and actually getting shit done!
So anytime you "don't feel like working out" or are "too lazy to cook," remember this action follows motivation phenomenon...
Grit your teeth, fight your urges to quit, and just do the task you need to do. After about 5 or 10 minutes, you'll likely find yourself easily doing whatever it was you had resistance towards a few moments before.
I feel like I've made it abundantly clear already, but just in case, I'll say this again...
Losing weight is NOT easy.
It requires effort, commitment, sacrifice, a bit of physical discomfort, prioritizing, honesty with yourself, reality checks, and a 10 or so more things I can't think of at the time of writing this...
But with the proper diet plan, exercise routine, and a clear understanding of motivation, losing weight is not only possible but a rewarding and overall more enjoyable experience!
What's The Best Way to Get Started Making Sustainable Diet, Exercise, & Mindset Changes?
If you're looking for help, then you'll definitely want to check out my free course, Fat Loss Forever.
In this 14-day fat loss course, I send you daily emails for two weeks that cover the best diet, exercise, and mindset strategies I know of for losing fat and staying lean forever.
In fact, they're the same strategies that I've used to not only lose over 140 pounds but also maintain my success!
If you're interested in joining, click the button below to enroll in the course instantly. Once you do that, you'll receive your first day's lesson within minutes of signing on 🙂