Finding the Motivation to Go All the Way to Your Weight Loss Goal

Top Reasons Motivations Fails
1. Rate of weight loss slows down after the first few weeks.
2. Boredom from eating from overly restrictive food choices and quantities.
3. After some pounds are gone the urgency to lose weight begins to wane.
4. Friends and family are unsupportive.
5. Friends and family actively sabotage.
6. Believing your own negative self-talk about success.
7. Negative body image.
8. The work to get to goal isn’t commensurate with the perceived benefits.
9. Unrealistic goals.
10. Weight loss plan is a bad fit with your life/lifestyle.

If it seems easier to find the motivation to want to lose weight, than to stick to your weight loss goal that’s because for most, it is. Two things motivate all of our actions. We want to escape anything that causes us pain and we want to get anything that gives us pleasure.

When we’re overweight escaping pain and gaining pleasure both motivate the desire to lose weight. We don’t like how we look and feel. Some of us are so sensitive to the pain of being overweight that we can’t function. We feel ugly and stupid and believe that’s how the rest of the world sees us although that’s rarely reality. That’s a whole lot of pain making going on a diet highly motivating!

I was satisfied with my weight until I saw this pic of me walking on the beach! Seeing what I looked like from the back changed everything. "I need to lose 10 pounds!"

I was satisfied with my weight until I saw this pic of me walking on the beach! Seeing what I looked like from the back changed everything. “I need to lose 10 pounds!”

When we’re overweight, the thought of losing weight makes us happy. We are even happier when we decide to go on a diet and we can actually see we’re making progress! Stepping on the scale and seeing the number get smaller and smaller is very pleasurable. We our happy because our clothes are fitting with less pulling or even better, getting too big. We get compliments. The positive reinforcement is very nice indeed!

If we have successfully escaped the pain our weight caused us and we’re enjoying everything that comes with weight loss then why is it so hard to stay motivated? It’s hard to stay motivated for the same two reasons – Moving away from pain and searching for pleasure! It’s just that what was once pleasure is now pain and what was once pain is now pleasure. Our diet isn’t pleasurable because we feel deprived. Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 7.51.15 AMOur weight isn’t painful anymore because we made enough weight loss progress to receive compliments and we’re in smaller clothes. We lose our internal motivation. We may also experience outside motivational loss or in other words the people with whom we spend most of our time start to take away our motivation with their words and actions.

Almost every weight loss journey goes through a point where we want to quit. For some of us we actively recognize that we don’t care about losing weight anymore.

Listen to how you talk to your self! Watch out for negative messages such as, "I'm a beached whale and I'll always be a beached whale."  You are not a beached whale and you don't have to stay overweight. You have the power to change that!"

Listen to how you talk to your self! Watch out for negative messages such as, “I’m a beached whale and I’ll always be a beached whale.” You are not a beached whale and you don’t have to stay overweight. You have the power to change that!”

For others, it’s a more insidious kind of loss of motivation. The goal seems as desirable as it was from the start, but we begin to doubt we’ll ever reach it and the doubt leads to more and more behaviors that undermine success. In other words we wake up planning to have a “good weight loss day” and by 3:00 pm we have “totally blown it!” Everyday it seems harder and harder to support our weight loss actions and eventually we have stopped altogether.

5 Ways to Recharge Your Motivation
1. Rethink your goal. Make sure it’s realistic.
2. Focus on the pleasure of reaching goal. What are the benefits you will get.
3. Review your weight loss plan to ensure it’s a good fit with your life. For example: If you are often away at meal times is it realistic to expect to brown bag your meals? If you don’t have time for shopping, making and packing meals to take with you, then this is not a good fit. Make a new plan that allows you to eat in restaurants. Create strategies to order from menus without overindulging.
4. You don’t need anybody’s support or approval. If you are surrounded by people who are trying to spoil your progress, learn how to say, “no, thank you!” when they push food. You don’t need to offer any explanations. “No thank you,” is all you need to say and mean it!
5. Never doubt your chance for success. Group support can make the difference helping you to do what you cannot do alone. Getting the support in person is more effective than being part of an online group.

Success at last! Ten pounds are gone and although it seemed to take longer than I thought it should, once they're gone I know that it was worth the time and the effort!

Success at last! Ten pounds are gone and although it seemed to take longer than I thought it should, once they’re gone I know that it was worth the time and the effort!

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.