My weight loss journey has been a LONG one. I can’t remember ever not being on a diet. Granted, this time has been different – I don’t feel like I’m on a diet – I feel like I’ve adopted a new, healthy lifestyle that is naturally driving me towards my weight loss goals. However, even though it’s a lifestyle and there is no end point where I’ll go back to eating the way I used to, I am working towards specific goals for my body and it can be hard to maintain motivation through the ups and downs. I’ve had to constantly practice different strategies and ways of keeping my eyes on the goal because this is NOT a linear journey. It’s not a direct route. There are detours along the way. There are good weeks and bad weeks – successful months and less successful months. Maintaining motivation is a daily pursuit and the strategies that work for me change based on what I’m struggling with. Here are 5 ways to maintain motivation that have worked well for me:
- Set goals for the day every morning.
I do this first thing when I wake up – before I head to the gym, before I drink my coffee, before I give myself the chance to eat something that isn’t going to help me reach my goals. Some days I wake up feeling less motivated than others – some days I wake up down right tired, frustrated and ready to quit. But, forcing myself to stop and set a few small, daily goals is just what I need to get focused, remind myself of how important this is, and accept a personal challenge to have a great day. I’m talking about several small goals – they might be to stretch for 5 minutes (I despise stretching but I’m horribly tight), to do 100 pushups throughout the day while I work and to prep my food for the following day. I love the feeling of crossing things off my list so this strategy has been so helpful for me.
- Visualize your best self
I tend to use this at two specific times: when I’m working out or when I’m tempted to eat something I know I shouldn’t. When I am pushing through a workout and really want to quit I’ll visualize the body I’m working towards and imagine how I’ll feel when my hard work has created that body. When I’m standing at the fridge tempted to grab my husband’s trail mix (that stuff taunts me every day!) I remind myself that it’s much more rewarding to become the woman I want to be than it is to enjoy that trail mix for 5 minutes. (Damn trail mix.)
- Regularly check progress
Here’s what I know about myself: the less often I evaluate my progress the less disciplined I am. Accountability is king. Part of the reason I got as heavy as I did was because I avoided mirrors and never assessed where I was at. On the flip side, the more often I check my progress, the more motivated I am to continue to see progress. For me, that means I check my measurements weekly and always have a pair of pants that are just a bit too small that I try on regularly. I also take progress pictures – quick little head shots that help me see my progress when I compare them against previous weeks.
- Sleep therapy
This is a big deal for me. For a long time (until I left my job a couple weeks ago) I was getting up at 3:45am to workout, then working all day and sometimes working out again after work. Some days I was totally exhausted. Those were always the days when I struggled most with hunger and cravings. On those days, I go to bed early. Grumpy? Sleep more. Hungry? Sleep more. Sore? Sleep more. Tired? FREAKING GO TO BED! This means I DVR my favorite TV shows, I’m slow to return personal phone calls, I am reluctant to take on commitments beyond work and working out. Guess what? That’s ok. This journey I’m on is one of the most important ones in my life and I make no apologies. Sleep is powerful. Go to bed.
- Re-think deprivation
NOTHING is off limits. Stop feeling sorry for yourself because you have chosen to say no to your co-workers birthday cake. For most of my life I have been an “all or nothing” thinker. I’m either all-in or I’m all-out. This has been a downfall for me when it comes to food. I’m either binging and eating everything in sight or I’m totally restricting and making no exceptions. When I would binge I would think “I’d better eat everything I might possibly crave once I start my diet because I won’t be able to have this stuff anymore!” It’s almost like I thought there was a shortage of oreos and if I didn’t eat all of them now I’d never have them again! It took me a while to realize that all of my favorite less-healthy foods aren’t going anywhere. They’ll always be there. I’m just delaying my enjoyment of them for 2 key reasons: 1) to reach my physical health and body weight goals and 2) to learn the art of moderation. I love Cold Stone ice cream. I LOVE it. But you know what? I don’t need it today. I don’t need it this month. My goals are more important. But I don’t need to stress about it because there will come a day when I can have a cup (instead of a pint) of ice cream without guilt and without undoing all of this hard work. I routinely say to myself, “Chill, Elizabeth. Eventually you can enjoy that in moderation. It will be there. But today is about your goals”. And when I’m tempted to drive to Cold Stone and buy 10 pints? Go to bed. Call it a day.
So there you have it. Those few strategies have helped me to stay focused and on track during this long and challenging journey. What are your go-to strategies for maintaining motivation? Find me on facebook or instagram and let me know!
You can do this!!