Recently, I was asked for help on staying motivated to stick with a diet and exercise plan. This person expressed difficulty in following through with eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. So many people who struggle with weight loss issues often cite having a chaotic schedule and running into moments of weakness which ruins your effort causing you to slide back into your old behavior.
I know how hard it can be. I’;ve been there and I’;ve made all the mistakes. I’;ve hit all the walls and have been sabotaged by my own weak moments that caused the end of many diets. But I can say with complete confidence that it’;s possible to get on diet and exercise routine and stick with it. I am not a health expert so you may want to consult a doctor or fitness professional. As for staying motivated while trying to lose weight, here are a few pointsers:
1) Be Flexible but not too much It’;s one thing if every day is the same for you. If it is, then keep the same routine and do not be a little more strict and consistent with it. But if you’;re like most people, things can change your routine quickly so you need to be prepared to change things up without going off your diet.
2) Go off your diet You can lie to yourself and say you’;re never going to eat the bad stuff again, but what’;s going to get you. The trick here is to allow yourself a treat now and then. But put a calorie or serving limit on it and do not do it every day. Have a slice of chocolate cake at a friend’;s birthday, but just have an average sized slice and that’;s it! Giving yourself permission to have a treat now and then removes the guilt and desires you from giving up because you crashed. And it also keeps you from feeling like you’;re depriving yourself from the foods you love. It’;s not all or nothing, so keep it real.
3) Prepare for the unexpected What are you going to do when you’;re at school or work and you suddenly get hungry? Raid the vending machine, of course. But if you’;re ready for it, you can hold off a major hunger with a little healthy snack that you’;ve bought with you. But you’;ll have to experiment with your snack until you find what works best.
What will you do if you’;re invited to a restaurant for lunch? Four things:
1) Order first – you’;ll be more likely to order something healthy.
2) Order off the kids meal, whenever possible. That way, even if you end up eating something that’;s not so healthy, you’;re consuming far fewer calories.
3) Try to order non-baked anything and stick with chicken or other lean meat or fish.
4) Consider eating only half your meal and taking the rest with you. This is especially true if you wind up ordering something that is not so healthy.
4) Surround yourself with fitness Periodically, through the day, listen to a few minutes of a fitness podcast or video. Carry around a good health-related magazine to browse around during times. If you keep this type of material handy, all day long, you’;ll keep yourself more focused and be more resistant to weak moments. Socialize with healthy, fit-looking people who are passionate about staying healthy. Get excited about what adopting a healthy lifestyle and let your magazines, books, podcasts, and friends help you with this.
5) Suck in your gut … not literally, but walk around with your stomach muscles tightened whenever you can. This will make you feel more confident on your diet and help you keep your eyes on the prize.
6) Start a marathon Exercise is like a marathon, not a sprint. When it comes to exercise, ease into it slowly. You’;re trying to adopt a lifestyle that include exercise. Taking it slow and easing into an exercise routine makes it easier to start and you’;ll be more likely to stick to it.
Try this to ease into exercise: Start with a minute per day. Add another minute each week. When you’;re up to 10 minutes of warm-up-level exercise, start adding cardiovascular exercise by 1 minute each week, but add the cardio right in the middle of the 10-minute easy exercise. It looks like this:
~ 5-minute warm-up / 1-minute cardio / 5-minute cool-down ~
When you add the next minute of cardio, it will go in the middle: 5-minute warm-up / 2-minute cardio / 5-minute cool-down. Try and get the cardio to 15-20 minutes or up to 30 minutes. Once you start getting really intense with your routine, only do it 3 or 4 days per week with stretching and moderate weight training on the off days. But you’;ll have to explore how often is best for you to work out and what intensity is right for you.
7) Sleep it off Get plenty of sleep. It helps with everything !!!! Stay for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But experiment with this to see how much sleep will leave you feeling thoroughly rested. Some athletes sleep 10 hours per night. So it really depends on what works for your body.
8) Make it an adventure Have fun with the whole diet and exercise process. Research new, healthy snacks to try out. Try to discover new exercise routines or even hobbies that are physically demanding, such as rock-climbing, fencing, martial arts, or dancing, and participate in them. It’;s not hard to forget that you’;re working out when you’;re really into what you’;re doing. Cultivate an active lifestyle and really get into it. Why not make this an adventure and have as much fun as you can.
All of these things will help you avoid stalling. It will help you keep your motivation up and prevent you from burning out. The more fun you can inject into your routine, the easier it will be to stay motivated and stick with it. Wishing you all the best of success for your continued weight loss. Stay motivated!
Go to the Behavior and Motivation website (see link below) to read my extensive series on this topic.