Even when you accept that you need to lose weight to become or stay healthy, it can be hard to maintain your motivation over time. It's common to start on a new diet with a burst of energy, then to lose your motivation to continue. Staying motivated can be especially hard when you hit a plateau or if you gain back a few of the pounds you had lost. But there are ways to keep pushing through these periods. If you stay motivated, you will feel better physically and mentally, and your heart will be healthier. These are some of the main ways that you can keep losing weight and moving toward your goal.
- Avoid fad diets.
- Work toward permanent behavior change.
- Cope with your feelings without using food.
- Find and ask for support.
Following these steps will keep you moving toward your weight-loss goal.
Avoid Fad Diets
You will be more likely to stick with your weight-loss program if you are following a reasonable meal plan. Many of us are long-time members of the diet-of-the-month club. We're willing to try the newest gimmick whether or not it makes nutritional sense. Avoid extreme approaches that involve any of these elements:
- crash dieting
- eliminating whole categories of food, such as carbohydrates
- limiting most of your diet to one category of food, such as protein
- severely limiting calories
- self-induced vomiting
- use of laxatives, amphetamines, or diuretics
- use of over-the-counter weight-loss products, which may be dangerous
These strategies can harm your health. Even if you do lose weight this way, you won't be able to keep it off over time. Why? Because people simply can't continue to eat this way for the long haul. Long-term weight-loss success isn't about a quick fix. It's about making changes that you can sustain for the rest of your life.
Work Toward Permanent Behavior Change
Any short-term diet - whether it's a fad diet or not - is a recipe for failure because you go on the diet and then go off it. As soon as you return to your old eating patterns, the weight comes back. For lasting weight loss, try to make permanent changes in what you eat and how much you eat. By keeping this long-term goal in mind, you may find it easier to remember that any change in behavior takes time and practice. So be patient with yourself. Think of yourself as practicing your new eating habits - just as you would practice to learn a new musical instrument or language. Most change gets easier over time. In other words, the more you work at it, the easier it gets.
Cope With Your Feelings Without Using Food
Sometimes eating may be the way you comfort yourself. Or it can even be a way of avoiding other issues in your life that you may feel unable to deal with. Until you look at the reasons why you eat and find other ways to deal with your feelings, it may be hard for you to follow a healthy eating plan. If you think you might eat for emotional reasons, see Examine the Emotional Issues Behind Your Weight and Eating. When you better understand your feelings about food, it will be easier for you to deal with those feelings. That way, you'll be able to stay focused on your efforts to lose weight and keep it off.
Ask for Support
You might feel embarrassed about telling friends and family about your weight-loss goals. This may be especially hard if you've tried to lose weight in the past but haven't been able to keep it off. But if those closest to you know about your goals and your reasons for losing weight, they can help. In most cases, they will be less likely to tempt you with high-fat foods or encourage you to overeat. Let them know how they can be most helpful to you in your efforts. You may also want to join a local weight-loss program, such as Weight Watchers, or a local weight-loss support group through your hospital or health plan. Self-help groups can offer encouragement and practical strategies for changing your eating habits. So you won't have to try and stay motivated all on your own. Lean on others when you need to.