This is a question that pops up often in my Fitness group on a website that shall not be named. I took over the group in 2017 and have turned it into a supportive group for members who want to lose weight and keep it off in a healthy manner. The group grew from under 7000 members around the world, to now sitting at close to 12,000.
Every few days, we get asked the same question:
How do you stay motivated when you hit a plateau or life gets hard?
Losing motivation is a common thing to happen for people who have large amounts of weight to lose. A plateau can make it seem like everything you are doing is a big waste of time. You might be eating all the right foods, or doing all the right exercises without seeing progress. I know for me, that can really hurt and sometimes I just give up all together. Then I binge eat. And then I feel like crap after the fact. It’s a vicious cycle and one I’m trying to overcome and learn to control better.
I thought I would share some of the group’s more popular responses to the question of how do you stay motivated?
Set small and realistic goals to avoid major disappointment
One mistake I see often is that people who are new to weight-loss will set goals that are very difficult to meet. Some goals like “lose 20 pounds in a month” or “100 pounds in a year” or “run a marathon in six months” – even though the person has never run before in their life.
Setting goals is a crucial part of losing weight. By setting small and easily achievable goals, you will have an easier time of meeting those goals and not feeling like a complete failure when things fall apart.
- Start tracking your food daily using an app like My Fitness Pal
- Set weekly fitness goals and track how many workouts you do each month
- Cook 3/5 meals per week and eat all the leftovers
- Learn a new healthy recipe each week
- Go for a long walk or hike, or join a fitness class
- Run 5/7 days per week for 12 months to prepare for a marathon
Goals can be anything you want – the trick is to set small goals that can be easily achieved. Don’t feel discouraged when you don’t meet those goals. We all have bad days, weeks, and even months where we fall off the wagon. The important part is to pick yourself up, and start over again.
The Reward System
Having a reward system can be a great motivator when it comes to meeting your goals. But be careful with this. Allowing yourself a cheat meal every few days is a great idea as it can help to prevent binges. But if you binge for an entire day or weekend as a reward, that can easily undo all your hard work you put in during the week.
Give yourself non-food rewards for each goal you meet. Some examples can be:
- Buy a new pair of pants when you drop a dress size
- Get a haircut or makeover when you hit a milestone goal
- Get a spa day and treat yourself to a massage, facial or pedicure
- Celebrate your final goal with a life event – like throwing a party, going on a big trip, or running that marathon you’ve dreamed of running
Build a habit
What does that mean exactly? It is said that building or creating a habit or routine can take two to three weeks. The same goes for a fitness routine. You can create a meal schedule if you’re doing something like intermittent fasting. Or you can make a fitness schedule where you alternate exercise routines on different days.
Fitness schedules will totally depend on your overall fitness goals. The key is not to kill yourself with cardio as we call it. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym. Finding something you really enjoying doing that is fun – like going swimming, taking a dance class, or joining a sports club can really help up your fitness game.
This is my current fitness schedule for October – I hope to change it up when more pool schedules open and I can fit into my bathing suit.
- Monday: cycle for 30 minutes, short walk
- Tuesday: core strength with exercise ball, and weight training
- Wednesday: cycling for 30 minutes and yoga stretches with exercise ball
- Thursday: go for a short walk, cycling 30 minutes
- Friday: cycling for 30 minutes and yoga stretches with exercise ball
- Saturday: day of rest – as I usually see my dad and spend the day in the kitchen
- Sunday: go for a walk or enjoy the outdoors
So, to recap this section: set a routine that works around your work or school schedule. Start off slow, and work your way up. Just going for a walk and climbing stairs can be a great start especially for those people with joint issues from bearing a lot of weight.
You may benefit from the aid of a personal trainer or coach who can help create a suitable fitness schedule for your fitness level. If you have any health conditions, do check with your doctor first.
Accountability Friends or Partner
If you’re really struggling to stay motivated, find a fitness friend with similar goals. You can sign up for fitness classes together or join a sports team. You can use sites like My Fitness Pal for free and join accountability groups.
Having someone to help keep you accountable for meeting your goals, can be a wonderful thing. But do be careful with this. Make sure the person you are spending your time with is actually being supportive and is not undermining your efforts. A good fitness friend will listen to you when you need to vent or will offer advice when you are struggling.
Or you can start a blog like I did to help keep me accountable. I know I’ve failed in many goals when it comes to fitness, but like many of my readers, I try to get back on that horse and start all over again.
These are just a few common methods people choose to help stay motivated as the struggle with their weight loss journey. The summarize the key points of this post:
- Set small and realistic goals that can easily be achieved in a month
- Create a reward system for when you meet those goals, but avoid food rewards
- Allow yourself a cheat meal to prevent binges from happening
- Find exercises you enjoy doing – join a fitness class, go hiking, swimming or join a sports club
- Join a support group or surround yourself with positive influences who will help keep you accountable
The most important rule is to remove the negative people in your life who may hinder your weight loss progress. If you have someone in your life that constantly makes snide remarks about your weight, or continues to eat junk food around you – think about spending less time with that person who acts as an enabler.
Don’t Give Up
Don’t give up. The struggle is real. Many of us face this. Just remember that you can take charge of your life and make those changes needed to succeed.
- Exercising without a gym
- Keeping fit while in isolation
- Over-training and common injuries
- Exercises and recovery tips for bad knees
- Measuring progress without a scale
- How much exercise to lose weight?
- Exercise for weight-loss that’s fun!
Making Healthy Lifestyle Choices
- Fasting vs Starvation
- The “skinny” on intermittent fasting
- The benefits of intermittent fasting
- Best foods and treatments for hypermobility, joint pain, and inflammation
- Fad diets to avoid
- The keto challenge – I gained weight
- Everything you need to know about the keto diet
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