It’s Monday morning and you’ve promised yourself this time you mean it. For the next three days, it’s nothing but salads, jogging, and protein bars. Then Thursday rolls around unexpectedly and you’re plastered to the couch with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. What happened? A lack of motivation, that’s what. But don’t worry — if you put your mind to it, you can avoid the yo-yo diet and turn it into a yo-u look awesome diet.
Method 1 of 3: Starting a Motivating Routine
1. Set a realistic goal. Saying, “I want to lose 50 pounds in the next couple of months” is just plain demotivating in itself. As soon as you write it down, you have to fight the urge to slump over until your forehead meets resistance. Not a great way to start off the new you! Keeping your goal realistic makes it attainable — and when you start reaching your weight loss goals, you become happier. A happier you is much more likely to hit those goals than the you slumped over your keyboard.
One pound is 3,500 calories. Cutting 500 calories a day with no added exercise is a pound a week. What kind of regimen do you plan on taking up? In order to keep the weight off, you’ll be better off going slow and steady. Try to limit yourself to a couple pounds a week.
2. Find a weight loss partner. Won’t it be great to cut your woes by half? Finding a partner lets you share what you’re going through with someone, cutting down on the mental strain. What’s more, we’re more likely to let ourselves down, telling ourselves, “Oh, it’s just the one workout I’m missing,” or “Oh, it’s just my third filet-o-fish. And this time, I didn’t even get cheese!” But when we have someone else, we can’t get off so scot-free. We’d be letting them down too.
Depending on your regimen, this person should either aid you in eating better, working out more, or both. Even a grocery shopping buddy would help! Just make sure to choose someone who makes you feel better about the whole process — not someone who turns it into a competition.
3. Join a class. If a workout buddy doesn’t seem feasible, join a class. It’s like having thirty buddies (and one drill sergeant, if we’re being honest). If the class is any good, they’ll take attendance and you’ll feel guilty for missing (which you won’t do). You also have the added pressure of falling behind everyone, and you certainly don’t want that.
Odds are there is probably at least one class out there that wouldn’t seem like the word “work” should be in “workout.” If you love dance, join a dance class. Love to get out your anger? Try kickboxing. Want to destress? Yoga. There are so many options out there; all you have to do is a little exploring.
4. Start an exercise (b)log. Writing down your progress makes everything concrete. You can choose to write it down however you like, but we’ll cover two forms:
Start an exercise (and food) log. This is where you’ll write down what you do every day, how many calories you’ve burned, how close you are to your goal, and the food choices you’ve made. If you have a buddy, share it with them for extra responsibility.
Start an exercise blog. This will be published to the Internet world — ultimate exposure (if anyone reads it, of course). With this, you take a more creative route, including all of the factors of an exercise log, but also how you feel about it, the obstacles you’re facing, and how it feels to be making the progress. Just make sure you keep writing in it!
5. Get a trainer. Don’t have a friend that wouldn’t either totally school you or encourage you to go to Starbucks instead? Well then, a trainer may be your best bet. Find one that jives with your personality though; one that makes you feel terrible will end up in you faking sick.
Generally, any gym can provide you with a trainer. Hopefully, you’ll be able to try out a couple for an introductory session for free. Ask around for those with a good reputation and only work with those that clearly know what they’re doing and respect your weight loss goals.
6. Sign up to run a race. When you have an official “due date” on your fitness, it becomes pretty clear what you have to do. Can’t train for a 5K right now? No problem, just sign up for one that’s in a couple of months. Knowing it’s coming will help get your butt off the couch!
Many training programs and apps are available to help you go from “Couch to 5K” by alternating walking and running. It’s totally okay to take walking breaks!
If it’s not already, the Internet should be your best friend. Sites like RunningintheUSA.com and NextBib offer comprehensive lists of runs in the USA. So no excuses; signing up is just a few button clicks away!
7. Find an old photo where you look good. Most people have a photo or two where, upon seeing it, they think something along the lines of “Dang, I don’t know how that happened. If only I actually looked like that!” Find that photo and post it on your fridge, your bathroom door, on your desk — anywhere and everywhere you think would be helpful to stay motivated. Seeing that what you want to be is attainable (by you!) will make it seem that much easier and keep you on the right track.
Not one for photos, eh? Then you’ll have to settle for the Victoria’s Secret catalog you get sent every month. Though it’s a little more pleasant comparing yourself to yourself, looking at bodacious babes all the time is an effective reminder, too.
8. Hang “the outfit” on your bedroom door. You know that pair of pants you bought a few weeks back that are a size or so too small? Instead of shoving them in a drawer and vaguely remembering their existence, hang them on your bedroom door. They are there and they’re not going away. When you reach your goal, how good is it going to feel when you get ’em on and don’t hang them back up? The answer: so ridiculously good.
Don’t have a magical outfit you’re aiming for? Well, you could go out and buy one. Apart from that, the same concept can be done with your fat pants. Hanging your fat pants on the door is also a constant reminder of what you don’t want to become. While constantly thinking about your fat pants is no cup of tea, the farther away you get from them the better you’ll feel.
9. Tell your family/roommates/friends about your plans. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that a lot of these bullet points are about holding yourself accountable. And telling those in your social circle does just that. How else are you going to get your friends to consider your dietary restrictions when you go out for meals? They’ve gotta know! When they know, they can help.
Telling the people you live with is absolutely imperative. They can assist you in your eating decisions and keep the temptations away from you. Maybe they can jump on your gravy train, too!
10. Get into books, blogs, and success stories. Seeing that hundreds of others have gone through the same thing you have can be incredibly motivating. Some of their stories may even touch your heart. Why can’t one of these people be you? Here’s something crazy: It can and will be.
Successful weight lost stories can be found all over the place. Try AuthenticallyEmmie.com, Canyoustayfordinner.com, and bloggingrunner.com for starters. Those are just three of a gazillion, really. Not only will you be motivated, be these can be used as resources, too.
11. Set up a reward system. Humans are evolved enough to the point where wecan train ourselves but not so evolved that we can’t not be manipulated by certain tricks of the trade. Set up the right reward system and your brain will be putty in your hands.
Some like to devise a point system. For every good decision (be it food or exercise), you get a point. When you reach 100 points, treat yourself to something you’d enjoy (like a massage or a shopping trip).
Some like to bank their progress. Every time you have a good day, you put some money into a jar. That money goes to your reward, whatever it is.
Your reward doesn’t only have to be at the end! Set it for a certain amount of miles, a certain amount of calories cut or weight lost, or a certain amount of days you’ve gone without caving. Making them constant will keep them in sight.
12. Set up a punishment system. Alright, so sometimes rewards just aren’t enough, especially if it means cutting out the things we really enjoy in life (eating and being lazy are every human’s guilty pleasures). If the idea of an imminent massage doesn’t do it for, how about donating $100 to the Hitler Youth?
Okay, so maybe not to the Hitler Youth, but you get the idea. Give a certain amount of money to a friend (if you can’t trust yourself to keep to your word). Tell them if you don’t meet your goal, they have to take that money and donate to some organization that goes against your belief system. They’ll be more than happy to help!
13. Spend time thinking positively. If your thought process solely consists of, “I’m so fat. I’ll never make any progress” you risk living a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you start thinking positively, the idea of accomplishing something difficult becomes more believable because you feel better about yourself. You know you can do it. And you can.
If positive thinking is particularly difficult for you (which is totally normal), set aside a few minutes every day to focus on it. When you start thinking negatively, stop and start over. What do you like about yourself? What do others say they like about you? What are you good at? Over time, this will become easier and easier, just like anything else.
Method 2 of 3: Motivating Your Diet and Workout
1. Pace yourself. It’s day 1 of your new workout routine and you just ran a 10k. It felt great yesterday, but today you’re stuck in bed and your legs literally won’t move. Instead of becoming a temporary paraplegic you should’ve paced yourself. Taking on too much hurts your body. Only do what you can so your body can keep up.
If you haven’t worked out in a while, start out small. Spend a week gauging your fitness level. When you’ve found what’s easy and what’s hard, start working your way up from there. Only increase by 10% each time to avoid wreaking havoc on your muscles/joints/self.
2. Keep it fresh and fun. Maybe you’ve been running that same 5k three times a week and that last ten pounds you want to lose just isn’t coming off. Such a frustrating feeling! If that sounds like you, you’ve gotta switch it up. You and your body might be becoming bored with your routine. Mix it up with some cross training, find a class you’d enjoy, or set a new specific exercise goal.
The best way to lose weight is with cardio and weights. If you’ve only been doing one or the other, this may be your problem.
If you straight up loathe the exercise, don’t waste your time. Not a runner? That’s fine — don’t run. If you hate doing what you’re doing, you won’t stick with it. Invest your time and energy into an activity you feel good while doing and it’ll become a life-long hobby.
3. Change the way you talk about your diet. Telling both yourself and other people that you don’t eat certain things rather than you can’t eat certain things has been shown to improve your ability to stick to your resolutions.
Likewise, try to think of exercise as a part of your daily routine, rather than something you are obligated to do.
4. Count your calories/miles/steps. If you’re only going for weight loss, it’s gonna be a drought of results for a while. Instead, consider looking at different numbers that you can see build up on the daily. After just one week of walking, you’ll rake up tens of thousands of steps. That number is going to feel mighty impressive!
This is where your (b)log comes in handy. Write everything down — soon, you’ll be addicted to the feeling after, anxious to see the numbers pile up. Can you imagine having ran 15 miles (24 km) this week, cutting 4,500 calories and clocking in 30,000 steps?
Don’t know how to count your steps? Simple: Get a pedometer.
5. Only limit, never eliminate food. If your trip to the grocery store involves not making eye contact with the ice cream aisle, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. A day is going to come when you decide to throw caution to the wind, abandon Jillian Michaels and decide Sara Lee is your new BFF. To avoid this day from looming on the horizon, allow yourself a bit of wiggle room.
Never say to yourself, “I can’t eat that. I’m dieting.” You’ll just feel deprived. Instead, eat 1/4 of what you normally might eat, but eat it slowly, in between drinks of water. Drinking more water and eating slowly will naturally cut down your appetite.
The color blue is an appetite suppressant.If you’re having a little cheat, consider putting it on a blue plate.
6. Turn off the negativity. It’s easy to get super frustrated when it comes to weight loss. It never, ever, ever goes as fast and easily as we want it. You may feel like you’ve put in 120% for the last two weeks, get on the scale, and find that you’ve dropped half a pound. We’ve all been there, and it sucks. The easiest thing to do is get negative. Don’t succumb to it! That’s how you become demotivated.
Instead, concentrate on your progress. That log you’ve been keeping is beautiful. It’s proof that you’re on the right track. Go back to it and revisit your numbers. Set aside time to worry later. Right now it’s time to make good decisions.
7. Keep it short and sweet. Plenty of us make the excuse, “I just don’t have the time,” or “Working out is sooo boring!” Well, newsflash: High-intensity interval training can be done in minutes and burns tons of calories. The excuses just got schooled.
To do this, all you have to do is do intense bouts of exercise between periods of rest. And saying you’ll burn calories is an understatement — they’ll practically vanish in a glittery poof of air. It can be done with anything, but a simple example is on the treadmill. Start walking for a few minutes, blast up to 90% of your maximum heart rate for 30 seconds, and then return to your walking speed for a minute. After that, go back to the super-intense level for 30 seconds.Do this 8-10 times. And then? You’re done.
Consult a doctor before you try this regimen if you have even the slightest of health concerns. It is not for the faint of heart.
8. Get some sweet gear. Starting running, going to the gym or taking a class is a lot easier if you have new stuff to try out. Get some new tennis shoes, new headphones, or just a new exercise outfit. Anything to keep the workout spicy!
Method 3 of 3: Making Your Routine Stick
1. Reward yourself. You know that reward system we talked about? Well, implement it. Implement it as often as you dang well please. No one said you can only reward yourself when you hit your long-term goal. How about the short-term? Set up small rewards, too.
Stay sane by cheating. Once in a while, your reward can be food based. If it’s not, you might feel like the only thing you want in the entire world is that Frappuccino or that handful of Pringles. When you’ve hit a mile marker, you are allowed to indulge yourself. Just don’t make it an everyday thing!
2. Relax. Now that your body is a lot more active than it used to be, you’re going to need ample time to relax. Take a bit of time out of your day for you. Take an extra long shower or shove in that power nap. It’s well-deserved.
3. Take pictures. When you’re having a particularly hard time getting up and going, these pictures will be used to remind you of the work you’ve done. Take a picture of yourself at day 1 and subsequently every week. How is your body changing?
Once your progress gets noticeable, you may want to consider posting these photos in your room or around your home. It’ll keep it fresh in your mind that you’ve done all this work — why sabotage it now?!
4. Choose a new, healthy habit to add on. Just like how you should mix up your workout routine, as soon as you become an old pro at this healthy lifestyle thing, consider adding on a new habit. Try experimenting with a week of vegetarianism, taking a vitamin, or picking up an outdoorsy hobby. This new you, what might they like to do?
If you’re not already, start cooking. It’s the most enjoyable to control what goes into your stomach. Not only will you be bettering the lives of your friends and family, but you’ll gain a skill set and make healthy eating a lot more accessible.
5. Get right back up when you fall. This should almost be higher up on the page. Know that you will have setbacks. This is inevitable and happens to everyone. The only thing you can do is get back up. If you miss a day of working out, it’ll be a lot harder to get back to where you were if you miss two.
It’s much harder to work up to a point than it is to fall back. Missing a week of working out could put you back to where you were two weeks ago. Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about spending the morning in bed. What will the repercussions be in a few days?
6. Keep a success journal. This sure involves a lot of writing, doesn’t it? This doesn’t necessarily have to be its own book — this could be a section of your (b)log, too. Just make sure whatever it is you’re writing has a portion dedicated to how awesome you’re doing. It’ll feel so good when you can add to it.
When you feel like you haven’t had a successful day, keep looking. What temptations did you pass up on that you could’ve given in to? Think about what you didn’t do in addition to what you did do.
7. Get a theme song or two. Rocky had his theme song (you caught that, right?) so why shouldn’t you have yours? Everyone needs something to get them into the zone. What’s your signature jam?
Take the time to find 15 or so songs that really get you going. Having a playlist that amps you up in a matter of seconds will get your whole workout off on the right foot.
8. Donate your “fat” clothes to charity. The time has come! That pair of pants is off the door, your goal weight is reached, and your old-you clothes are no longer of service. Donate them to charity in an act of altruism and hubris. Congratulations!
You can donate your clothes to a worthwhile organization, but can you also donate your time and knowledge to others? You probably know at least half a dozen other people who are currently struggling through the same thing. How can you help?
Water is incredibly important. Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses per day.
Remember to be realistic. If you have a friend who is unnaturally small and you want to be their size, forget it! Find someone who is similar to your build but is in shape. This will help you a lot.
Stay realistic. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There is no standard of beauty. You do not have to have a certain number attached to you to be beautiful.
Don’t get discouraged! If you do, talk to your best friend and tell them what you’re going through. They will listen and try to help. Do not be self-conscious with the people you love. They love you too!
Get a shopping buddy who will not let you buy unhealthy foods, or call someone who can help discourage you from eating that third piece of cake.
Don’t try out any kind of weight lose supplements first. Do exercise and plan a healthy diet; of course it will take a few months, but the changes are permanent. Hope on it.
Do not binge on sweets when you are feeling down or worn out! Stay strong. The mood will pass.
Should you have any health concerns, first check with a doctor or health professional before engaging in any sudden changes in diet or fitness routine.