7 ways to stay motivated on your weight loss journey, according to a dietitian – Insider – INSIDER

Posted: December 17, 2020 at 6:52 am

If you're trying to lose weight, you may experience common challenges, like slow progression or a weight loss plateau. But staying committed will pay off in the long run.

The best way to stay motivated will vary depending on the reasons you want to lose weight. You should always consult a doctor before beginning any weight loss plan to determine if losing weight is right for you and your own health needs.

Here are seven ways to stay motivated when trying to lose weight:

Setting goals is crucial for weight loss, says Sydney Spiewak, a registered dietitian and nutritionist at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

Research shows having small targets to aim for leads to greater long-term weight loss than trying to lose weight without setting goals.

Using the SMART method can help you set goals that are attainable and allow you to track your progress. SMART stands for:

Losing weight is easier when you have support from others, Spiewak says, especially if you can find a community of people with similar goals. Teaming up with friends or family members who also want to lose weight can help you stay motivated when you're struggling and allow you to hold each other accountable.

For example, a small 2014 study found social support and weekly accountability meetings were critical for study participants in meeting their weight loss goals and keeping the weight off.

Mindfulness means tuning into your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations, and paying attention to how they affect your actions.

Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for establishing healthy habits and making nutritious food choices, Spiewak says. This is because mindfulness encourages us to slow down, acknowledge how we're feeling, and tune out distractions.

"Think about how your food tastes, how it feels on your tongue, and your favorite part of the food," Spiewak says. "This will stop you from eating too quickly which will help you not overeat, and this will help you be more present in the moment."

Spiewak says it's crucial that your surroundings help you make healthy choices for weight loss. You can do this by:

Exercise can be challenging. But if you don't like running, you don't need to force yourself to do it, Spiewak says.

The best way to exercise is to find a type of workout you like doing and can stick with:

Writing down what you eat helps hold you accountable and makes it clear where you can improve. Keeping a food diary can also help you spot trends or certain triggers that may cause you to veer off course.

In fact, a large 2008 study found keeping a food journal can double a person's weight loss. In another 2012 study, participants who kept food journals experienced a greater percentage of weight loss than those who did not.

Losing weight is hard and it's often not a linear process, Spiewak says. It's common to experience plateaus or even occasional weight gains.

"Life is not perfect, your weight loss journey will contain setbacks, but it will also contain great triumphs," Spiewak says. "Reminding yourself that you are human is extremely important."

It's crucial to forgive yourself when you experience a setback. An illness or a stressful day at work may cause you to falter but staying committed to your long-term goals is more important than striving for everyday perfection.

"An all or nothing mindset is detrimental to achieving your goals," Spiewak says. "There will be times where your nutrition is not perfect. Maybe you didn't have time to meal prep or maybe it's your birthday and you want to have a slice of cake. Give yourself the freedom to do so and then get back on the wagon for either the next meal or the next day."

If you've been trying to lose weight for a few months and aren't making much progress, you should reach out to your doctor or a dietitian for help, Spiewak says.

You may have an undiagnosed medical condition that is inhibiting your ability to lose weight or may just need some professional help in setting realistic goals. A doctor or dietitian can also help you determine if losing weight is the right decision for you and your health.

Losing weight is a journey that presents challenges for nearly everyone. Setting attainable goals, finding a community of support, and forgiving yourself when you experience setbacks can help you stay motivated to reach your weight loss goals.

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