“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar
How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight for Dummies
We’ve all been there before. You get a quick high and the sudden burst of motivation causes you to do something drastic. You buy a 10-pack of personal training sessions, join Weight Watchers or even pay for a fancy and expensive gym membership.
In my first hand experience in the fitness industry I’ve found this initial “high” of motivation to wear off rather quickly. In just a couple weeks they’ve stopped scheduling sessions with their trainer, they stop payments on their meal programs but they’ll continue paying for their gym membership with the hope of someday going back and getting on track again.
It’s only a matter of time before the cycle begins again as people throw away more money on things that will never get them results because they can’t stay motivated in the first place. Let’s face it, losing weight is going to be hard and there’s no amount of money that can buy your way out of it. You’re going to have to buckle down and do some good ol’ fashioned hard work if you want to get some real results.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to better stay motivated so you can accomplish your goals faster and better than you had first envisioned. As a personal trainer I’ve found it to be a huge disappointment to see somebody so ready to change their lives for the better only to fall back off the wagon after a couple of weeks. The majority of people will always take the easier route which unfortunately means they will rather eat those slices of pizza, stay up late watching Seinfeld reruns and end up in the same crappy place they’ve been all their lives.
You only have one life to live and to living it to your fullest potential is going to be a waste to not only yourself but mankind. I’ve found those who have went the extra mile to achieve their goals have also been very willing to share their success with others who are trying to do the same. Spreading their success through motivation is one of the greatest gifts you can give to the world.
Staying motivated isn’t something that always comes naturally but instead is something that can be learned and improved with some very simple steps. There’s literally nothing separating you from that fit body you idolize except having the motivation to ultimately get there. Fortunately for you talent is very much overrated and these are what I’ve found to be the most effective ways to maximizing your motivation.
8 Ways to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight Forever
1. Write Down Your Goals and Track Them
I remember reading the few percenters who actually take the time and energy to write down their goals are significantly more likely to accomplish them. Knowing where you want to ultimately go towards should always be the first step. Just like you can’t take a road trip unless you know where you want to go and this should be something that is quantifiable.
The majority of people reading this blog post are looking to lose weight so a clear example of a quantifiable goal would be to lose 10 pounds of fat in 2 months time. This is definitely an attainable yet challenging goal and even more importantly it can be tracked. The next step after declaring your goal is to track where you are right now. This means you should have your body fat percentage measured as well as your current weight. Then every 2 weeks you should take measurements again to gauge your progress thus far so you can make the necessary adjustments.
When I ask people their goals I’ll usually hear something generic such as “getting more definition in the stomach.” Having these generic goals ultimately sets them up for failure because they won’t be able to statistically track towards these goals. If you can’t objectively see your progress thus far then it’ll be way too easy to just call it quits. Instead try writing down a measurable goal, track it and adapt your plan until you reach your goal.
2. Go to Bed and Wake Up at the Same Time
This is one that can be really difficult for me because there are days when my schedule forces me to wake up in the wee hours of the morning while there are other days that tempt me to sleep in. I’ve found I am significantly more productive when I’ve not only had an adequate amount of good sleep but also when I’ve went to sleep and woken up at the same time. I’m a big believer in following your body’s natural circadian rhythms to maximize your energy, health and productivity.
I’ve found through my own testing I need a good 8 hours of sleep and the boot camp I run needs me to wake up at 5:30am. This means I have to be asleep by 9:30pm in order to get the necessary 8 hours of sleep that I need. So to help to increase my complacency to going to bed at this early hour I found that setting an alarm on my iPhone for 9:00pm signaling my bed time has really helped. This has really improved my energy and mood so I’m much more likely to not be groggy or moody the next day so I can get more done and stay on the right track.
3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
If you’ve been following my blog for any time now you’ll know I’m big on eating a healthy breakfast to start the day off on the right track. I’ve found you’re much more likely to eat healthy the rest of the day if your first meal fits within your nutrition program. On the other hand if you indulge on a few Krispy Kreme donuts you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle the rest of the day. This is usually when you start telling yourself, “I’ll get back on my diet first thing tomorrow” as you chow down on a pizza while chasing it with a beer.
A simple rule of thumb I like to follow which I learned from Charles Poliquin is to eat a meats and nuts breakfast. This will ensure a slow rise in your blood sugar which will lessen the likeliness your insulin will remain stable. Cereals, donuts, muffins, toast and waffles are a few examples of the worst foods you could eat for breakfast. Some examples of a meats and nuts breakfast would be buffalo, chicken or steak combined with macadamia nuts, almonds or pecans.
4. Prioritize Your To-do List
Most people are well aware of how important having a to-do list is for productivity, but there’s one huge problem with it. The reason why most people’s to-do lists remain unproductive is because they do no prioritize what’s most important and should be done first. Usually the things we most need to do are the things we avoid. An example would be to put a higher priority towards preparing your meals instead of dropping off your dry-cleaning. What I’ve found to work well for me is to make my to-do list right before I go to bed and then I’ll rearrange them and put the most important ones at the top of the list.
Before I can check my email, Twitter or Facebook I must accomplish the first one of the list which is the most important to push me moving forward. But if I start off the day checking my email, playing around on Facebook or checking out the news my productivity will go out the window along with my motivation. So one of my biggest tips on how to stay motivated is to not only have a to-do list but to prioritize it so you get the most important things done immediately.
5. Eliminate Distractions
When I was in college studying nutrition I would find myself trying to study with my TV on along with my computer which was playing loud music. It’s a wonder I even graduated! Little distractions can easily pull you away from doing the things you have to do to get what you want accomplished. Telling yourself that you’re going to just check your Facebook feed before you get started is like putting your car in reverse when you’re supposed to be going forward. Now when I work I make sure you desk is completely clean and doesn’t have anything I won’t need on it. I put my iPhone on silent and put it on the other side of the room so I will not be tempted. If I do not need the internet I’ll also turn that off as well so my mouse doesn’t try anything sneaky like checking my email. I have found while I’m writing it helps to put a movie on in the background with the volume muted and some light music playing in the background spurs my creative juices.
In general, the more little distractions you have the more likely you are to get off course and lose your motivation. If you’re not taking control of your life then somebody else will. It’s up to you to steer where your car is driving and not to let the passenger reach over and move the wheel. When it comes to motivation I’ve found momentum is really the key and it’s very easy to lose it and incredibly difficult to get it back. So do yourself a favor and keep your motivational ball rolling strong and fast.
6. Surround Yourself With Positivity
There’s a saying that you are the sum of the five closest people who you are associated with and it couldn’t be any more true. Your closest friends and the rest of the people who you spend the majority of your time with will have a huge influence on you whether you know it or not. If you’re hanging around negative people then it doesn’t matter if you’re one chipper chicken because they’re going to drag you down with them. I make sure that I spend my time with passionate positive people who are driven towards success and helping others. If I come across a negative Nancy I’ll just walk the other way because it’s just not worth my time and energy.
So if you’re trying to lose weight then it’s going to be very important to surround yourself with people who will support you and not just try to make you feel bad about it. You know those people who you tell you starting a weight lifting program and they’ll gripe that you’ll just end up hurting yourself and getting bulky. Negativity is a motivation killer and spending your time with bad influences will only inspire you to sit on your butt in their comfort zone.
7. Harness The Pain
Once again, the major reason why most people finally do something drastic towards losing weight is because the pain has finally become unbearable. Maybe they have a vacation coming up in a couple months and the pain of embarrassing themselves in a swimsuit is more than the pain of eating clean and training hard. Whatever the pain is most people say, “screw it” after a couple weeks of getting their butt kicked in the gym. I actually recommend to them to remember what caused them to sign up in the first place and to harness that pain until they at least reach their goal.
This doesn’t mean I want them to live in a state of fear and negativity but I want them to stay motivated by not wanting to go back to the person they were before. It’s far too easy to revert back to our old comfortable ways if you forget about how bad you had it before. Instead always keep it in the back of your mind that you don’t want to go back to the person you used to be. Harnessing this pain can keep your motivation rolling stronger than you think as long as you keep reminding yourself of what you’re going towards along with where you used to be.
8. Reward Yourself
One of the biggest reasons why I love including a cheat day in my clients nutrition program is to not only help boost their leptin levels so they can burn more fat, but to also reward them for their hard work. Giving yourself these small rewards is an important step in staying motivated because if all you do is go go go you’ll end up as the hamster spinning the wheel. The trick is to give yourself a little treat every once in a while when you reach a milestone. This doesn’t mean you have to pig out on a bacon cheeseburger but you can find other ways to reward yourself such as buying those new pair of jeans or booking that weekend vacation guilt-free.
Heck, it worked well for me when I was a kid. I would refuse to go to the doctor and literally freaked out when they first had to take my blood. But I turned as calm as a cow when my mom told me she would buy me an action figure if I stopped being such a baby, and it worked like gangbusters!
Last Words On How To Stay Motivated
Implementing any of these above steps will have a profound affect towards keeping you motivated, but they key is actually finding a couple that work well for you and amplifying them. You don’t have to go out an immediately start doing all eight of these tips on how to stay motivated but you should pick out a few that you can get started on immediately. Work hard on perfecting them and watch your productivity and motivation go through the roof. Once you get the hang of those then pick a couple more and then repeat the cycle until you finally get your G.S.D. (Getting Stuff Done) degree!
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.