Weight Loss: 21 Ways To Stay Motivated on Your Journey

So, you’ve started a diet to transform your life, but after three weeks in you’re finding it really difficult to stay motivated on your weight loss journey.

Sound familiar?

Well, my friend, you’re not alone.

I and many others have been there multiple times. 

The journey usually starts off well.

There’s a spring in your step and you’re full of enthusiasm and motivation to lose weight.

But it fades when reality sets in and things get a little tougher.

This is because motivation isn’t permanent.

It comes and it goes.

Independent of how good your weight loss plan is – or how motivated you are at the start of your diet – it’s irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

Why?

Because motivation doesn’t stick around. And this is normal.

Do you want to know one of the hardest parts of a weight loss journey?

Staying motivated when the going gets tough.

This is where people fall off the wagon and give up.

With that in mind, let’s take a deep dive into what motivation actually is and how you can use it to hit your weight loss goals.

Motivation: What is It?

Here’s the definition of motivation:

Definition of motivation

 

the general desire or willingness of someone to do something”.

So it makes perfect sense when it comes to wanting to stay motivated on your weight loss journey.

It’s about the desire to put in the hard work and follow through with your weight loss plan until the very end.

It’s about achieving your goal weight.

I used to band the word around everywhere at the start of the many failed diets I tried in the past.

I’m so motivated to do this“.

My motivation is through the roof this week!“.

I’m motivated to succeed“.

All very nice and positive phrases, and a great way to feel inspired, but I eventually realized that the fire doesn’t remain lit forever.

The hard part is keeping it lit.

weight loss motivation

Motivation: Where Does it Come From?

I’ve learned that true motivation is an inside job.

Basically, the drive – the thing – that makes you feel motivated is found from within.

An example of that could be related to a health scare, your family, or the simple fact of wanting to look and feel better.

Something within you is the reason behind feeling motivated to achieve a goal.

Never Wait For Motivation

A big mistake I used to make was to always wait for motivation to come to me.

And boy, there were stages where I could be waiting a LONG time for it.

I don’t feel motivated to work out today, but I’m sure I’ll feel more motivated tomorrow“.

But what if Mr. Motivation didn’t pop up to say hello tomorrow (which used to happen often, by the way)?

I tell you what would happen…

I would put my workout off again.

And again.

And again.

Then I’m the King of Procrastination.

I would wait for motivation to come and grab me by the neck and drag me to the gym.

And bizarrely, that never used to happen.

So if you’re putting off starting your weight loss diet, how many times are you going to do this?

How many days are you going to kid yourself for?

You can’t rely on motivation to come to you.

I’ve said this for a long time:

“Motivation is an emotion”.

And I’ve been met with someone giving me a confused look each and every time I’ve said that statement.

But think about it.

Motivation is very similar to your mood.

In the morning you can be bright-eyed-and-bushy-taled ready to conquer the world. Then once the afternoon comes around, you can almost be in a depressive-like slump wanting to do nothing at all.

fitness woman arms crossed

Why Does Motivation Fade?

The result of something is often the reason why motivation fades.

Let’s say you start a weight loss diet and you’re feeling super motivated about it.

You imagine how good you’re going to look and feel as a result of the transformation that’s going to take place.

At the start, there’s nothing stopping you.

You eat plenty of healthy food and you crush four workouts in a week.

You weigh yourself at the end of week one and you’re half a pound down and look no different in the mirror.

Then doubt creeps in.

You can feel your motivation fading because there’s been no significant change after working your ass off for one week.

During the second week, a few treats start slipping in here and there and you’re eating healthy 70% of the time.

As for working out, well, you scrape together three lackluster sessions that were nothing to write home about.

But you think “What’s the point? I’m not seeing results anyway“.

Then you enter a self-destructive repetitive cycle.

You’re cheating more on your diet and you’re hardly working out, so you’re not losing weight.

And when you realize you’re not losing weight you feel bummed out and lose all motivation to eat well and exercise.

So what happens?

You quit and tell yourself (and everyone else) that the diet you followed wasn’t right for you.

So you hop online and research more “suitable” diet methods that will “definitely work” next time.

Sound familiar?

This is why relying on motivation alone can be super challenging.

Motivation sign

Types of Motivation

Here are some of the different types of motivation.

1. Fear motivation.

Using yourself in this example, this type of fear is exactly as it sounds.

You get yourself to do something out of fear of what will happen if you don’t do it and do it well.

For example, this could be the fear of knowing you’re going on holiday and you don’t want to be the standout person on the beach who everyone is looking at.

Is this type of fear helpful?

Only short-term, not in the long run.

2. Incentive motivation.

This type of motivation is where you reap a reward from an activity.

If I lose 20lbs I’ll buy myself that $400 dress“.

“You do this and you get that” mentality.

3. Attitude motivation.

This is how you think and feel.

It’s your self-confidence, your belief in yourself, and your attitude to life.

It’s how you feel about the future and how you view the past.

The version of myself right now is born out of the past. I am no longer that person. I am a healthy, fit, vibrant being who is going to lose 25lb“.

This type of motivation can work wonders.

4. Competence motivation.

This is established out of the drive to be good at something.

So in this example, you want to be good at losing weight.

You don’t do mediocre or half-hearted – you’re fully competent and take pride in whatever you do.

Most Common Motivation Types

The two most common types of motivation are:

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation

This is the type of motivation that is doing something for the joy of doing it.

You might start off with a goal of losing 20lbs, but then learn that you really love following a healthy lifestyle because you feel amazing and full of energy.

This type of motivation is usually long-term because there’s been a shift somewhere along the line and lots of enjoyment comes out of the journey.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation

This is focusing on the outcome of the desire.

Hitting a goal bodyweight, looking a certain way, or fitting into that old pair of jeans, for example.

Extrinsic motivation is great at the start, but it’s not deep-lasting enough and loses its momentum before long.

It has a way of being demotivating, especially when, for example, you don’t look how you pictured yourself to look after losing weight.

How to Get Motivated And Stay Motivated on Your Weight Loss Journey

1. Find your why

What is the specific driving force behind you wanting to start a weight loss program?

And you can’t just say “I just want to lose weight” – you need the motive to last the course.

So what is it?

Why are you wanting to make a change in the first place?

Or what was the thing that made you say enough is enough and it’s time to lose weight?

Take some time out to really sit and think about the true reason behind why you want to change.

2. View weight loss as a journey

Yes, ups and downs are expected on most journeys, more so when it’s related to weight loss.

But, the secret to lasting results rests on learning to enjoy the journey.

So, with this in mind, you cannot purely focus on the outcome of the goal, like hitting a specific weight on the scale, for example.

Otherwise, if you do it’s probably not going to end well.

Have fun, relax with it, and be disciplined.

If your weight loss goal is an absolute chore and it’s making you down, evaluate why.

You might be restricting your favorite foods too much, or the style of dieting you’re following isn’t suitable for you.

3. Baby Steps

Rome wasn’t built in a day and you should have the same mentality when it comes to weight loss too.

Take one day at a time and appreciate there should be no rush with dieting.

You overeat one day, just get back on track the next day.

Never aim for fast weight loss as it goes back on twice as quickly.

Take your time losing a reasonable, safe, and healthy amount of weight each week.

And never put pressure on yourself to “smash this coming week perfectly“.

Hour-by-hour, day-by-day.

This should be your focus.

4. Make it fun

Be creative on your journey.

Instead of eating repetitive bland food, make interesting meals you haven’t tried before to keep things fresh.

Look up healthy meal recipe ideas online and spend a few hours prepping some for the week ahead.

Also, make your workouts fun.

Fed up with doing the same training split? Change it up.

Bored of walking on the treadmill for cardio? Go hiking instead.

Or better still, hire a personal trainer to be creative for you and have fun workouts that way.

5. Reduce Unhealthy Expectations

A healthy expectation is wanting to lose 30lbs in 6 months, for example.

An unhealthy expectation is wanting to lose 30lbs in half that time.

So, be mindful of any unhealthy expectations you set, as the stress and pressure you put yourself under can cause you to crack.

Are you really going to have your abs showing in 8 weeks by following a safe, sustainable dieting method?

Or, is the better, safer, more sustainable option to aim for visible abs in 16 weeks?

6. Don’t fall in love with the scale

Society has conditioned humans to be completely attached to the weighing scale.

And to be honest, it’s not good for our mental health.

Sure, of course, we want to lose weight as part of our journey (and we will), but it shouldn’t be viewed as the end result.

Instead, it should be viewed as a side effect of a weight loss journey.

There are many more ways to monitor fat loss progress on a diet.

The scale is merely one way, and actually not the most accurate at that.

There comes a point where weight loss stalls on a diet (which happens to everyone), but this doesn’t mean progress has stalled.

You could be gaining muscle, for example, or it could be water weight.

The best way to measure true progress is by how you feel.

Are your clothes looser than they were? Are your body measurements coming in?

Is your fitness performance improving?

Weight is but a number, and it means very little in the grand scheme of things.

7. Be gentle to yourself

One thing I can guarantee when it comes to weight loss is that it’s not linear.

There will be bumps in the road along the way, which is absolutely normal.

You will have periods where your weight will either stall, increase, or it will not want to come back down.

But, you’ll also experience tremendous wins along the way too.

So when you hit these roadblocks, practice self-forgiveness.

Be kind and gentle towards yourself.

Most of the time you’ve not done anything “wrong” as such – it just happens.

The body is strange.

And even if you’ve intentionally gone off track because you’re suffering from some stress in your life – that’s fine too.

Or if you didn’t have time to meal prep and you ate out – then this is okay.

Just forgive yourself, and remind yourself you’re human, and get back on the wagon as soon as possible.

Progress is a result of our long term actions and not from something we do occasionally.

8. Assess your environment

Your surroundings – believe it or not – will absolutely make a difference to your weight loss.

Be mindful of any temptations in your environment such as candy, cookies, or alcohol, for example.

Be organized by preparing a grocery list before you go shopping to avoid impulse buying any foods you’re wanting to avoid.

If you have to eat out, choose a restaurant with plenty of healthy options.

Fill your fridge up with fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean proteins.

And get your workout clothes and bag ready in your bedroom the night before so you’re ready to hit the ground running in the morning.

9. Treat yourself

If you know there’s some kind of reward waiting for you once the goal is complete, you’re more likely to really focus and strive towards it.

For example: if the CEO told you that if you did an amazing job of training the sales reps in the next intake you would get promoted to Director of Sales, you’d probably master the training.

You’re willing to engage in the necessary actions to produce the best results because you see the reward dangling in front of you.

Seek ways to celebrate the small successes that aren’t associated with food. I.e. Going away for the weekend, buying a new pair of sneakers, treating yourself to a spa day, etc.

Do whatever it is that helps you keep the positive energy moving in the right direction and makes you want to push harder to reach your goal.

And here’s a little tip…

If you do want to schedule cheat meals into your plan (which I think you should do, by the way); don’t ever look at it as a reward.

This can start a slippery slope to a poor emotional relationship with food, and can actually make you less committed to sticking to your diet in the long run.

A better approach is to plan your cheat meals and enjoy them.

And remove any feelings of guilt or reward that come to the surface too.

10. Track your nutrition

If you don’t track your food intake it’s near impossible to make the correct adjustments that you need to keep moving forward on your weight loss journey.

Using a food journal keeps you accountable and it shows an overall picture of where you’re at.

I’d be lost without using MyFitnessPal.

When I stall I know how much food to take away to keep me progressing.

It removes all guessing when you use a food diary.

11. Welcome failure

Failure does not mean you’ve reached the end of the road.

The term “Weight loss journey” means just that – it’s a journey.

A journey means ups and downs.

It means obstacles.

It means bumps in the road along the way.

See failure as a lesson and a way to be stronger and better than before.

When you welcome failure, you accept it.

And acceptance means there’s zero resistance, which allows things to flow.

Resistance creates tension and stagnation.

Surrendering means acceptance.

The key to maintaining motivation is that when you experience defeat – keep a positive mindset.

You have failed before in many endeavors – we all have.

Learning to walk, run, talk, a new job, or a sport, etc. It’s happened to us all.

We would never be where we are now if we just gave up.

But we didn’t…

The good news is that we kept getting up time and time again.

12. Consistency is key

Consistency is so important when it comes to weight loss.

Probably the most important thing, truth be told.

Like I said at the start of the article: motivation comes and goes.

You may come out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, and this may last for days or a few weeks.

But, it isn’t sustainable long term as some days or weeks is bound to be more challenging than others.

I like to look at consistency as hitting your goals 80% of the time.

I think that’s a good benchmark.

This leaves room for 20% inconsistency – or lack of motivation as it were – but it still means that overall you’re making progress.

If you’re 80% consistent with exercise, eating, and food tracking, you’re going to see results, period.

This is why it’s essential to choose smaller goals that are achievable.

I will work out three times this week without fail“.

You’re not saying five or six days that might be unrealistic for your lifestyle – you’re committing to three days.

It’s the little bit of consistency day by day that creates change overall.

13. Do exercise that you love

Let’s be honest, many of us don’t enjoy exercise because it’s too challenging.

So if you’re not a lover of running – don’t do it, simple.

The worst thing you could do is force yourself to do an exercise routine you don’t like.

So what’s the answer?

Stick to exercises that you do enjoy doing.

If you like cycling, do that.

If kettlebells are your jam – go for it.

Or if you prefer hiking in the great outdoors taking in nature – go get it.

Keep experimenting and trying different exercises until you find ones that you like.

14. Find Like-minded people to vibe with

Social support provides a massive influence on hitting weight loss goals.

And they don’t necessarily have to join you on your journey; they can be a cheerleader.

Many weight loss programs offer online support groups for this very reason because it gives a place to share encouragement.

However, it goes without saying that you should avoid people who are negative towards your goals, or who undermine your achievements.

You don’t need or want these people in your life.

I’ve had family members not support me in the past and it wasn’t cool.

If you feel some support would help – consider sharing your journey on social media.

Doing this will hold you accountable, but it will also allow people to show you support or actually join you on your journey.

You may inspire people without even realizing it.

15. Meditate

Some of you reading this may question what on earth meditation has to do with weight loss.

Well, I’m a big advocate of mindfulness meditation because it has quite literally changed my life when it comes to my relationship with everyone and everything.

And my relationship with food is included in that.

Meditation is the first thing I do each and every morning.

Mindfulness allows you to tune into your thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and how they affect your actions.

You learn to live in that space between stimulus and response, meaning you no longer react impulsively.

And by doing this you slow down, acknowledge whatever it is you’re feeling, and make conscious choices.

I used to be in the pantry eating candy before I even knew what I was doing it.

Now, I slow down, assess what’s happening and live in the present moment.

Mindfulness is also fantastic when it comes to eating food because you can practice something called “Mindful eating”.

This means you feel the sensation of the food in your mouth and on your tongue.

You smell the food properly, and you become aware when you are actually full.

Usually, many of us eat food in a transactional way and keep going until it’s all gone off the plate.

Mindful eating stops you from doing that.

16. Focus on other things outside of weight loss

You’re inevitably going to experience highs and lows on your weight loss journey, so a good tip is to set goals that aren’t related to weight.

It takes some of the focus off weight loss and allows you to measure progress in another way, and of course celebrate it.

You could aim to drink a gallon of water a day, or aim for 7-8 hours sleep per night, for example.

Another awesome goal I like to do is to take up another physical activity.

I started running after a two-year layoff, and this gave me another goal, as well as being able to measure progress.

But here’s the thing – and this is super important…

Find an activity that makes you want to get out there and move, as this will work long-term, which is what you want.

Research shows that people stick with an exercise plan/activity if they are motivated by that feel-good factor they experience from running or walking outside in nature, for example.

17. Avoid crash dieting

The faster you lose weight, the faster you put it on.

And if you crash diet you will put weight back on, because crash dieting isn’t sustainable.

The reason why people choose to crash diet is down to one thing: lack of patience.

Here are a few potential downsides to crash dieting that I’m sure you don’t want:

  • Muscle loss (absolute given)
  • Damaged hair and skin
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Organ damage

Aside from this, crash dieting just isn’t fun.

You’re eating like a rabbit and not eating any of the foods you love.

When you diet properly you can lose weight safely and sustainably, while eating the foods you love and develop healthy habits long-term.

18. Choose a diet you can stick to

Always, always choose a diet you know you that is:

  1. Easy to follow
  2. Sustainable

Remember that if the diet doesn’t look right for you, don’t force yourself to try it.

For example, if you enjoy carbs too much then doing the keto diet is not going to be right for you because it’s not going to be sustainable.

Much in the same way that if you prefer eating meat. Don’t try going vegan because you’ve read reviews people lose weight quickly by following it.

You won’t last very long.

A diet should be a lifestyle change, and not something viewed as temporary.

19. Find inspiration in others

Hearing someone else’s successful weight loss journey can be just the thing we need to keep us pushing forward.

If you know that it is possible for them, the realization hits that it’s also possible for you.

And this can inspire us because inspiration is powerful for motivation.

20. Set short-term goals

Setting long term goals is great, but doing so can often feel like an uphill battle before we’ve started, which isn’t great for motivation.

Telling yourself “I’ll be happy when I lose this much weight” can add a lot of pressure and seem too far ahead in the future, and quite demoralizing.

Instead, try setting short-term goals to alleviate some of the pressure and to keep motivation higher.

I.e. “My aim is to lose 5lb in the next 5 weeks“.

This ignites positive changes within.

It’s the small changes that make a big difference over time when it comes to goal setting.

21. Visualize the new you

Start to identify and fall in love with the new version of yourself that is coming.

Visualize how you will look and speak your thoughts into existence.

Words and thoughts are powerful and make a huge difference to our well-being.

Instead of saying “I want to be strong, fit, and healthy“, say

I am a strong, healthy, and fit person who can conquer anything“.

It’s all in the power of the mind.

Think about how you will feel and what life will be like for you once you reach your goals.

How will this change your life?

Or how will life be if you don’t change your ways?

About the author

Chris Jones

I'm Chris. I have a vast interest in all things relating to health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition. I also love to improve my mindset and learn how to increase my productivity. If you'd like to say hello or ask me a question, please visit my contact page, and I'd be glad to hear from you. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter (@liveliftlife).