We all need a regular dose of inspiration to stay motivated. Though weight-loss inspiration can sometimes come from seeing our peers’ progress via before-and-after photos and first-hand accounts of their success, we’ve compiled a list of 5 suggestions that we hope will inspire you to keep up the hard work. Ultimately, the real inspiration needs to originate within yourself and your desire to make this necessary change in your life.
Most of us have tried and failed at losing weight at one time or another. If you’ve struggled with this, you’re genuinely not alone. You’re not always going to succeed at staying focused; what’s important is that you keep trying and don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes.
1. Determine why you want to lose weight.
Establishing your goals and revisiting them regularly is a simple way to remain inspired during the weight-loss process. A goal directs your focus towards the activities that matter. It increases your persistence, energizes, and motivates you.
Goals are even more effective when you break them down into manageable parts. S.M.A.R.T. goals are designed just for that. To start, jot down three weight-loss goals. Now, let’s revise them to ensure they are S.M.A.R.T. goals by asking yourself the following questions:
Is the goal:
√ Specific—does it target a particular area?
√ Measurable—does it quantify an indicator of progress? (It could be an estimate.)
√ Assignable—does it identify who will be responsible? (This one’s easy!)
√ Realistic—is your goal reasonable and attainable? (See next section about identifying realistic expectations.)
√ Time-related—does it specify a timeframe?
Let’s break down an example of a weight-loss goal relating to intermittent fasting and how it qualifies as a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
I will fast intermittently for 14 hours every day, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m., for 31 days.
To fast intermittently is specific, and it targets a very particular area, that of a diet that requires abstaining from eating for a set length of time. Since it has an indicator of progress, for 31 days, it is measurable. Also, it is assignable to the person stating the goal. Since the goal has a specific length of time, between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m., mostly taking place during sleeping hours, it seems both realistic and time-related.
As you define your goals, keep in mind that you may need to reevaluate and adjust them as you go. If you miss your benchmarks, it’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it just means that you need to make your goal more attainable. It doesn’t cost anything to remain positive, and you have everything to gain; just making an effort has value and is something from which we can learn and gain momentum.
2. Maintain realistic expectations.
Remaining inspired and motivated during your weight-loss journey depends, in large part, on whether you set realistic expectations.
It’s crucial to challenge yourself about what you can achieve, but if you’re too optimistic and set the bar too high, you may get frustrated quickly and give up. This is especially true when it relates to a new diet or workout plan.
When we start a new plan, we’re usually revved up and excited, and it’s easy to overlook potential pitfalls. For instance, if you’ve decided you’ll start running to lose weight but have never run more than a couple of miles, don’t expect to run a 5K (5 km, or 3.1 mi) each day. Start small, leaving more room for improvement (and thereby satisfaction) and less room for disappointment.
3. Focus on your progress.
Another source of weight-loss inspiration comes from focusing on your wins over your failures.
You might be thinking, “It’s hard to focus on progress when I’m not losing much weight!”
Remember that progress refers to more than the pounds you’re shedding. Every time you manage to follow the 5 Second Rule, that’s progress. If you can add one more push up to your workout, that’s progress. Those are all wins worth celebrating because they carry you one step closer to your goal.
Our brains are trained to focus on and learn from our mistakes; it’s a survival mechanism. However, if we only focus on our mistakes and forget to appreciate the positive aspects of our lives, it’s easy to lose motivation.
One tool to help you focus on your progress is a weight-loss journal, which we’ll go into next.
4. Keep a weight-loss journal.
A weight-loss journal is an excellent way to track your progress and stay inspired during your weight loss journey. For many people, a weight-loss journal is the tool that helps them achieve their health and wellness goals.
If the idea of keeping a journal is intimidating, remember that you don’t need to use it daily. You can use it whenever you remember to during the week. Even once a week is enough unless you’re planning to use your journal like a food journal, in which case you may need to use it daily.
In your weight-loss journal, make a note of your emotional and physical state. What stands out to you? How do you feel about your body? Are you feeling guilty about something you did or didn’t do? Now is the opportunity to shamelessly lay it all out on paper (or digitally); you’ll be surprised at how liberating this exercise is!
You can also include details related to your exercise and meal plan. What worked and what didn’t work? Are there any recipes you want to try again?
Focus on your accomplishments. They will provide momentum for your continued progress. Your journal will allow you to see for yourself what you have achieved. This process will also allow you to establish a reward system, where, upon reaching a goal, you earn a particular reward.
5. Find social support.
Social support is one of your most significant sources of weight-loss inspiration. Every day, people like you are working hard to shed another stubborn pound or stave off unhealthy food cravings. With a lot of effort, many of them are succeeding and proving that it can be done.
Find a group of people, be it online or in person, committed to improving their health by losing excess weight. Listen to their stories, observe their progress, and share yours. You’ll be surprised at how much encouragement and motivation you’ll get out of this.
Through social support with like-minded people, you’ll be responsible to others for your shortcomings in a supportive and non-judgemental way. Conversely, your successes won’t go unnoticed! A support network will join you in celebrating your accomplishments. And, hey, you might even find a workout partner, or several, in your area!
Don’t know where to start? Search for “weight loss support group in [name of your city]” on Google or Facebook or subscribe to an online program. Alternatively, you can ask your trusted healthcare provider for a recommendation in your area.