We all know diets work. Every book, article, regimen, fitness plan, you name it, works as long as you actually do it. Getting the motivation to follow through is arguably the most important part of losing weight. The information will always be there, but the motivation....that's the elusive piece of the puzzle, the thing that everyone wants and few of us have. How do you get the motivation to get started, stay on track, and most importantly, to reach your ultimate goal?
How To Get To The Core Of Weight Loss Motivation
What is motivation?
"the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and the condition of being motivated."
So let's pull some key words from that definition and see if we can come up with a useful way to apply the concept to weight loss.
Action Toward a Desired Goal:
Taking action here implies that there is a desired goal in place, so the first thing that you must be absolutely clear on is 'what is your goal?'
If your goal is weight loss, the challenge here is that it's usually not sufficient to just come up with a number. 20 pounds or 30 pounds isn't going to cut it. You've known that for perhaps years, and telling yourself "I need to lose 20 pounds" over and over again hasn't gotten the job done. Just having a number in mind is not provocative enough of a goal.
So consider: the better question to ask is, "Why do you really want to lose weight"? At first glance, this may sound like an obvious question, but if you're struggling with your weight, you need to ask yourself this question again and again until you have a very clear answer.
Why are you looking to lose weight?
To feel more confident to start dating again?
To get into your favorite pair of jeans?
To feel sexy for your husband or wife?
To look good at your upcoming high school reunion?
Because the doctor told you you're pre-diabetic but that there is still a chance to turn it around?
Because you're sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?
You have to become crystal clear on your "Why". This is the first step in establishing a goal.
Now let's look at the first half of that equation, the part about 'taking action'. When you get clear and write it down, how motivated to take action are you? Do you feel your emotions stirring? Are you feeling the pull to get off the couch? Are you feeling the readiness to break your bad habits and make changes to your diet?
If you're not, then you probably need to do some more work on your "Why", because your "Why" is the foundation of your motivation.
Here is a hint: some people are more naturally motivated towards pleasure (the thought of looking great in a summer dress, meeting a guy/girl, running a 10K), while others are more motivated away from pain (being single forever, having to start taking insulin, having to see their friends while being heavy).
The trick is to find out which one- "Towards Pleasure" or "Away From Pain"- is more compelling to you in terms of your weight loss, and to focus on that.
rite down all the reasons that cause you to begin to stir and want to take action. This is just for you, so be bold and write everything down, even if it's very personal. This is a very important step that cannot be overlooked.
That Which Gives Purpose
Building on your "Why", what is your deeper purpose behind losing weight? How will your life be better if you lose the weight?
Create a compelling picture for yourself that is rich in detail of how your life will be better.
What will you be doing?
Who will you be doing it with?
Where will you be?
Will the motivation to exercise come naturally?
How will you feel when you're there?
What clothes will you be wearing- or not wearing ; ) ?
In case you didn't notice, all of the above examples were written in "Towards Pleasure" language. But maybe you'll find that doesn't work so well for you- maybe it doesn't quite give you a sense of purpose.
If not, how about if you change the wording around a bit? Remember, some people are more motivated "Away From Pain". If this is you, you'll be more stirred by this question: "So if you don't lose the weight, or if it continues to get worse and worse, how unhappy and miserable will you be?"
Similarly, you may want to create a compelling negative picture for yourself.
If you don't lose the weight, what are you going to miss out on?
What opportunities will you lose out on? Maybe the ability to enjoy healthy time with your family late into your life? Or maybe it'll mean you continue to go out to go to restaurants and take vacations by yourself.
How will your health deteriorate if you don't lose weight?
What does the hospital room look like where you'll have to go for dialysis treatments?
So create a compelling picture for how your life is going to be better if you lose the weight, or worse if you don't. Cultivate this picture until it gives you a clear sense of purpose. When that purpose is there, you will be much closer to taking the necessary action.
Remember, that while uncovering your "Why" and the deeper purpose that motivates you is a first step that cannot be skipped over, we all get busy and stressed, and it's very easy to lose our focus. At least until you build some positive, forward momentum and get comfortable with your new habits and behaviors, you may have to remind yourself of your "Why" and your deeper purpose again and again every day.
Write down your answers on an index card and put in by your bed stand or tape it to the bathroom mirror. Every morning and every night remind yourself why you really want to lose weight. Remind yourself why you need to begin taking action today, what the payoff will be if you do, and what the cost will be if you don't.
This is not the only step on the journey, of course, but it is an important one that you have to master early on. Getting the right support in place is also extremely important, as is learning how to handle the stress and challenges of daily life in a healthy, constructive way that doesn't cause you to abandon your weight loss efforts or turn to food for emotional comfort.
Some Simple Eating Adjustments That Will Boost Your Motivation
One very important thing we have observed over the years is the difficulty people have sticking to plans where they have to track every detail of their eating. Or where they have to stick to a very strict nutritional regimen that some nutritional guru has convincingly laid out for them. The problem isn't that these plans work. They often work incredibly well. The issue arises when one inevitably falls off track.
Often what happens when people fall off track, is that they either beat themselves up or they just say "screw it" and accelerate their downward spiral. The issue here is simply one of "expectation." Their plan is expecting too much of them. If this pattern sounds familiar, the Couch Potato Challenge is ideal for you.