I was recently asked for help staying motivated to stick to a diet and exercise plan. This person expressed difficulty in following a healthy diet and regular exercise. So many people who struggle with weight loss often cite a chaotic schedule and moments of weakness that destroy your efforts causing you to revert to old behaviors.
I know how hard it can be. I’ve been there and made all the mistakes. I hit all the walls and was sabotaged by my own weak moments that led to the termination of many diets. But I can say with absolute certainty that it is possible to start a diet and exercise routine and stick with it. I’m not a health professional, so you might want to consult a doctor or fitness professional. When it comes to staying motivated while trying to lose weight, here are some tips:
1) Be flexible, but not too much It’s one thing if every day is the same. If it is, then keep the same routine and don’t be a little stricter and more consistent with it. But if you’re like most people, things can quickly change your routine, so you need to be prepared to change things up without interrupting your diet.
2) Stop the diet. You can lie to yourself and say that you will never eat bad things again, but what will that do. The trick is to treat yourself to a treat every now and then. But limit your calorie intake or portion size and don’t do it every day. Eat a slice of chocolate cake at a friend’s birthday, but only take an average-sized slice and that’s it! Giving yourself permission to treat yourself right then and there removes the guilt and prevents you from giving up because you’ve crashed. It also keeps you from feeling like you’re depriving yourself of the foods you love. It’s not all or nothing, so be realistic.
3) Prepare for the unexpected What will you do when you are at school or at work and suddenly get hungry? Wash the machine, of course. But if you’re ready for it, you can satisfy a big hunger with a small healthy snack that you brought with you. But you’ll have to experiment with your snack until you find what works best.
What will you do if you are invited to a restaurant for lunch? four things:
1) Order first – you’re more likely to order something healthy.
2) Order a children’s meal whenever possible. That way, even if you end up eating something that isn’t so healthy, you’re consuming far fewer calories.
3) Try to order anything that isn’t breaded and stick to chicken or other lean meat or fish.
4) Consider eating only half of your meal and taking the rest with you. This is especially true if you order something that is not so healthy.
4) Surround yourself with fitness Occasionally, during the day, listen to a few minutes of a fitness podcast or video. Carry a good health magazine with you to peruse during your downtime. If you keep this type of material at hand, all day long, you will be more focused and more resistant to weak moments. Hang out with healthy, fit-looking people who are passionate about staying healthy. Get excited about adopting a healthy lifestyle and let your magazines, books, podcasts and friends help you do it.
5) Suck your guts … not literally, but walk around with tight abs whenever you can. This will help you feel more confident about 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, take it slow. You are trying to adopt a lifestyle that includes exercise. Going slow and easy to get into an exercise routine makes it easier to get started and more likely to stick with it.
Try this to make exercise easier: Start with a minute a day. Add another minute each week. Once you reach 10 minutes of exercise at the warm-up level, start adding in 1 minute of cardiovascular exercise each week, but add cardio right in the middle of the 10-minute easy exercise. This is what it looks like:
~ 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 increasing your 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 a week with stretching and moderate weight training on the days off. But you will need to research how often is best for you to exercise and what intensity is right for you.
7) Take a nap. Get enough sleep. It helps in everything!!!! Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But experiment with this to see how much sleep you need to leave feeling fully rested. Some athletes sleep 10 hours a 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. Explore new, healthy snacks to try. Try to discover and participate in new exercise routines or even hobbies that are physically demanding, such as climbing, fencing, martial arts or dancing. It’s not hard to forget you’re exercising when you’re really into what you’re doing. Cultivate an active lifestyle and really get into it. Why not turn this into an adventure and have as much fun as you can.
All of these things will help you avoid deadlock. This will help keep you motivated and prevent you from burning out. The more fun you can put into your routine, the easier it will be to stay motivated and stick with it. We wish you much success in your further weight loss. Stay motivated!
Go to the Behavior and Motivation website (see link below) to read my extensive series on this topic.