Working out, eating healthily, and shedding some weight doesn't always have to feel like an ordeal – here's how to turn your weight loss journey into a cake walk.
On the face of it, losing weight is not hard. It's basic thermodynamics: move more, eat less. Easy, right?
As anyone who's tried will know, that simple equation in no way captures how difficult it is to actually stick to a weight loss plan. Which is why motivation is the real secret to changing your body composition. You can know everything about nutrition and have a bulletproof workout regimen, but if you can't actually muster the impetus to eat well and exercise, then the results won't come.
We sympathise. The human body is remarkably stubborn and making changes to your body composition can be really tough. That's where these tips and tricks to help you stay motivated come in. Whether you're just starting or looking to power through a plateau, we've got your back. Let's do it.
Before we get to the 'what', it's helpful to start with the 'why'. When you can recognise demotivation and understand why it's happening, you're less likely to sabotage your goals.
That old 'move more, eat less' mantra ignores the inner monologue telling you do the exact opposite. It is, after all, much easier to eat more and move less. Motivation comes from the mind and this can get overlooked in the weight loss conversation.
Behavioural change research into motivation shows a correlation between mentality and goal failure. The research explains that we often believe we have more control over our behaviour than we actually do, meaning that when it comes to achieving weight loss goals, factors such as stress, anxiety and our environment all play a part. This can limit the conscious control we have over the choices we make.
That being said, even if we remove those factors, behaviour change is still difficult to achieve, especially when trying to keep up a routine that goes against what we might want to do. Sustaining a weight loss routine isn’t easy, but you can make it less arduous with these mindful tips.
In order to stay motivated to lose weight, you need to understand why you want to lose weight. It may be due to health reasons, improving your self-confidence, or for a special event such as a wedding. Whatever your own personal motivation is, capture it by writing it down in a journal so you physically have it in front of you to refer back to if your motivation ever wavers.
Success is the best motivator. If you set yourself goals that are totally unrealistic, you’ll find motivation deflates like a balloon when you don’t see the results you want. Instead of setting vague and overly ambitious goals – 'lose a load of weight in six weeks' – be specific and start small. For example, if you’re a big fan of fizzy drinks, you could say “I’m only allowed one can of soda a day” which can lead on to “switch to diet sodas” and eventually to “have a glass of fruit juice or water every other day instead”. Actions lead to results, which is why it's better to focus on the steps you'll take rather than the number you want to see on the scales.
It can be helpful to make sure your goals are not just realistic, but process-based, as opposed to looking towards an end goal. If you set an end goal, it can become overwhelming and your motivation to lose weight can be derailed because the target seems so far away. If you focus more on the process goals, it can be easier to stick to. One step at a time! Some examples of these process driven goals would be exactly like the soda scenario above, or something along the lines of ‘I will make sure I walk on my lunch break at least 3 times this week.’
For more on goal setting, check out our article: Hit your goals with Huel.
Top tip! What's a realistic goal for one person might not be for another. Try to avoid comparing yourself to others as this can be a catalyst for feeling demotivated. Try to focus on you and your progress
There are many different ways you can track your progress. The most common is to use a set of scales. This can seem quite daunting at first, so start with tracking your progress with simple goals. Writing down the progress you’ve made with achievable weekly/monthly milestones will remind you of how far you’ve come, even if it’s just baby steps. Your mind can play tricks on you, especially if you’re only using the mirror as a sign of progress.
Top Tip! Avoid weighing yourself daily. Visible progress usually takes longer to see in the early stages of losing weight. Your weight also fluctuates daily for various reasons such as bloating, menstruation or water mass. Don’t demotivate yourself by checking the scales constantly.
Let’s be honest. A lot of people don’t like the gym. They sign up, go a few times, then carry on paying their membership fees until they finally remember to cancel because they’ve not been for months. The good news is that ‘exercise’ doesn’t have to be lifting weights or running on a treadmill (it can be, and a lot of people love it, but it doesn’t have to be).
There are lots of other options: a brisk walk at lunchtime, a competitive sport like squash or badminton with a friend, a dance class, gardening, group exercise classes, even getting a virtual reality headset! Lots of VR experiences are a work-out in their own right. The point is, you can reframe the idea of exercise and make it something you look forward to. As soon as it becomes a chore it reduces the chance of you sticking to your regime and it can be very easy to lose your motivation to lose weight.
You don’t have to go through the weight loss journey on your own. You could do it with friends or family, sign up to a gym or yoga class or join an online group. Studies have shown that people are more likely to follow a weight loss plan if they have social support.
You could also give a copy of your goals to someone you trust which could help you stick to your plan because you don’t want to let them down. This helps to provide an external motivator, rather than just relying on your internal motivation.
Top Tip! Humans are social creatures. Friends and family can provide emotional support and a reason to keep going, both of which are key to long-term weight loss.
Following on from the previous point where we explored the benefits of using others for motivation in your weight loss journey, it can be incredibly helpful to share your successes with these people. Give yourself a (not food-based) treat for hitting your process-driven goals. As mentioned, sharing these goals with your friends and family will help you stick to them as well – if you’ve announced that you’ll be walking every lunchtime, you’ll feel more accountable and will be more inclined to stick to the plan. They’ll no doubt be more than happy to join in your celebrations when you hit your milestones.
Relying on willpower alone can add unnecessary pressure to reaching your goals. At home you could decide to have no unhealthy snacks in the house or switch share bags to individually portioned bags. This will make your eating habits more conscious. Additionally, when eating a meal, turn off the TV and put your phone to one side, as eating without distractions has been shown to reduce how much you eat[5,6].
Top Tip! A good environment encourages good habits and reduces the amount of willpower needed to stay on track. You can make the uphill battle a little flatter by tweaking what you’re surrounded by.
In your quest to stay motivated to lose weight it can be helpful to think and talk in a positive way about your goals and progress. Similar to how smiling can inherently make you feel better, instilling a positive attitude really can influence how you approach your weight loss journey. Talking about your commitment and how you are going about achieving your goals can make it more likely that you’ll follow through.
Despite everything said in point 8, it is important to remember that every day won’t be smooth sailing, and that things will happen that can negatively impact your motivation to lose weight. For every success and milestone reached, there might be a week where you’re not able to hit your 4 exercise sessions because of other commitments, or you have a stressful day at the office which hampers your motivation. It’s important to recognise that this is a normal part of the process and don’t let it derail your efforts. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t hit your goals every single time. There’s always the opportunity to get thing back on track.
There are professionals who can help equip you with the tools and motivation you need to lose weight. They can often educate you on the right kind of food to eat and help you put a longer-term plan together. Many people find that the accountability of working with a professional means they are able to keep motivated – they work harder so they don’t feel like they’ve let themselves or their dietitian down at the next appointment!
When it comes to losing weight, Huel can be a great tool in helping you achieve your goals. Still don’t believe us? We’ve compiled a list of reasons why you can lose weight with Huel:
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