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What’s a New Year without resolutions? Fifty percent of Americans make them, and fifty percent of those put losing weight at the top of their lists. Unfortunately, only 9% of those who make ANY type of resolution feel like they achieve success in their goals of the previous year. So how do you retain your motivation to beat the odds?
I know all too well about those ugly odds, but last year was different. I started losing weight in September, (yup… it took me 9 months to start my resolution…..) but since then I’ve lost 61 lbs. I am asked all the time what my “secret” is. I suppose people are looking for a magic pill, or effortless diet plan, or something that will do the work for them, but the big fat scary truth is that there is no “secret”. I got this far with a TON of hard work and by dumping all of my excuses. I’m just counting old-fashioned calories and working my butt off (quite literally… HALLELUJAH!) on the treadmill. When it comes to busting through plateaus and being consistent though, I do have a few things that keep me motivated to stay at it, and may, potentially, be a help for you!
1. Put a Date on Your Goal
Choosing a date to complete my weight loss journey gave me the ability to look ahead and see what could realistically be done to make that goal. How many calories can I eat? How much exercise do I have to do? I played around with this calculator to find those answers and establish a genuine plan of attack. If I am faithful, science promises I will reach my goal by the date I’ve chosen. There’s no need to diet aimlessly and for an indefinite amount of time.
2. Be a Tracker
Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I’m obsessed with tracking. I make charts and record calories, exercise, pounds, clothing sizes, and goals. I have widgets, apps and spread sheets. I used this calculator to show me what I had to weigh at the end of each week, and I keep a copy of the results on my computer to remind me when I will hit certain milestones. There’s something about knowing that what seemed impossible, is now just “one month away” or “I’ll be ____ by this day”… and then tracking up to that day and hitting that goal on schedule.
3. Be Flexible
Sadly, I’ve not hit every goal on time. I’ve hit most, but had a few setbacks along the way. At first, I tried to “catch up” but I found that discouraging. Motivation can dwindle quickly if you feel like you are failing, so it’s important to remind yourself that you are NOT. You’re still in the game and that is HUGE. If I need to reconfigure my plan, I just go back to the calculators I mentioned above, tweak some things, and then update my goal charts to reflect the changes.
4. Try NOT “cutting things out”
If it helps you to eradicate your vices from your life, by all means! Take that step! But when I looked ahead at 9 months of dieting and then a lifetime of maintaining, I knew I would not be able to stick with it if it was too restrictive. If I have a particular craving, I still eat it, but I limit myself. I make sure I don’t exceed my calorie limits. I keep fun size chocolate bars on hand for my chocolate addiction, and they work well for portion control. When I eat fast food I forego the fries and coke and stick with the entree alone, or, I’ll eat a child’s portion.
5. Have an Arsenal of Replacement Options
Some things are so calorie laden that it’s easier to find replacements for them than try to master adequate portion control. Halo Top works well for ice cream, and Dreamsfield pasta is engineered with lots of fiber so it doesn’t impact your weight to the extent regular pasta does. I gave up Pepsi, but I still drink Coke Life. I eat my burgers and hotdogs in Carb Balance tortillas, and sweeten my tea with stevia. I never eat something I don’t like for the sake of dieting, but if there’s something that’s pretty close to the real thing and saves me some calorie room, I’m game.
6. Use Some Plateau Busters
I’ve been able to steadily keep the weight coming off, but not without re-strategizing as I go. I always stick with an hour of exercise every day and counting my calories, but when I hit a stubborn pound, I add something in. I’ve used Trim Healthy Mama concepts, low-carb, extra hours of exercise, different exercise, intermittent fasting, a full-on (RARE) cheat day. I just don’t sit on a stall. If I see the same pound for 3-4 days in a row, I do one of these things until the scale starts moving again, and then I resume my normal diet and exercise plan.
7. Educate Yourself
I feel like educating yourself is huge when it comes to weight-loss. Learning the science of macro-nutrients, and how to make sure your exercise is efficient goes a long way when you are fighting this battle. I used to wonder why I couldn’t lose weight when I was doing “everything right” but I learned that some “healthy” options are just as detrimental as the processed food, and some exercise doesn’t amount to much in caloric terms.
I mentioned Trim Healthy Mama above, as something I do to break a plateau, but I don’t follow the plan on a regular basis. I find it too restrictive and unrealistic for me, BUT, I IMPLORE YOU to read their book and learn about the science of weight gain and loss. Weight loss is not as simple as “calories in calories out”, and these ladies break down how our bodies gain and lose and that information is invaluable.
Even if you don’t implement everything you learn, the more you know, the better off you are, and the more you have in your arsenal to win the battle!
8. Know Your Cycle
And call that sister out! You know how frustrating it is to step on the scale and see a stall or a gain when you KNOW you are doing EVERYTHING right? I’m not talking about lying to yourself and convincing yourself you were an angel when you ate a dozen Krispy Crème and 3 bags of Dove Chocolate. I’m talking about those times when you religiously counted your calories and had long sweaty workouts and STILL weren’t seeing progress. It’s not because you are failing. It turns out that our bodies magically gain weight right before ovulation, regardless of what we do, and will hold that weight until the end of the cycle. So, all of your hard work during that time? It’s not getting lost in a black hole. It’s getting put on layaway. Hang in there, keep at it, and you’ll likely see some BIG losses in the first half of the next cycle to make up for your trouble.
9. Focus on Small, Bite-Size Goals
When I started losing weight, I knew I had to lose 90 pounds and that number was absolutely overwhelming. I knew if I focused on that, that I would get lost and discouraged between starting and finishing. I try not to think about how far I have left to go. Instead, I broke my goal up into small increments that come with rewards. But each day I choose to always focus on ONLY the next pound.
10. Reward Yourself!
Losing weight is HARD work and it is WORTHY of reward! Rewards don’t have to be expensive to be motivating! And they don’t have to be food! I created a goal chart and appointed each goal with a reward appropriate for the milestone. I reward myself with clothes in my new sizes, décor, and various things I’ve wanted for a while. And for goal weight reward? Go all out! Girl, when you get there you DESERVE something GREAT!
11. Try Journaling
Anytime in my life that I have been successful losing weight, I was journaling through it. God has taught me a lot of lessons through weight loss, and anytime I feel like I’m not seeing the progress I want, I flip through the pages and see how far I’ve come and it motivates me to press on.
12. Throw Out All of Your Excuses
We tell ourselves all kinds of things that convince us we can’t lose weight. The truth is, we can lose it, we just have to be willing to quit making excuses. 85% of this battle is in the mind. There’s nothing more defeating than believing our own excuses, so one of the most powerfully motivating steps you can take, is to purge them from your mindset.
That’s it! I hope you found something that can help you meet your goals!
Have you been successful with weight loss? What are some of your most powerful motivators?