How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight (6 Tips that Really Work)

Running woman with tired shadow

There’s a lot of unhealthy or just plain bad advice out there on how to lose weight. Chances are you’ve tried some of the tips you found online only to end up frustrated (and no closer to your weight loss goals).

One of the biggest common denominators between ineffective weight loss plans is a lack of motivation.

So before you start your next weight loss plan, it’s important to ask yourself why you want to lose weight:

  • Are you preparing for an event or vacation?
  • Is it to help manage depression or improve body image?
  • Are you trying to fit into a certain pair of jeans?
  • Or maybe you just want to be healthier overall?

With your goal in mind, let’s consider six tips to help you stay motivated throughout your weight loss journey.

Curious if hypnosis could help you lose weight?

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1. Set Your Own Goals (and Make Them Realistic)

While many people are told by their doctors to shed some pounds, research tells us that people tend to be more successful when they make that decision on their own.

Another key factor in staying motivated is feeling like your goals are attainable and that you are making constant progress.

New Years resolution list next to healthy mealRemember that the weight loss journey is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re building a pathway to weight loss, and it’s important that your goals and expectations be realistic so you keep walking that path.

If your goal is to lose 30 pounds or more, most experts advise trying to lose no more than 2 pounds per week for a more sustainable and healthier change.

Let your goal serve as a motivator. Starting with goals that are unrealistic can leave you feeling defeated, especially if you aren’t losing weight as easily or quickly as you want.

2. Stay Positive & Avoid Self-Criticism

Positive reassurance puts your mind in a spot where it’s easier to achieve intended goals. Self-criticism, on the other hand, can reduce motivation, increase stress, and make it harder to stick to a weight loss plan.

If “slipping up” involves eating a slice of cake, or some other “forbidden” food, you can still make the choice to set it down. You don’t have to finish the entire thing. And even if you do, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat a healthier alternative later. There is no such thing as a point of no return.

If you beat yourself up every time you fail to reach a goal, it’s harder to stay motivated and easier to give into cravings as a source of stress relief—I’ve already slipped up today, I might as well go all the way.

Studies have shown that positive thinking actually helps reshape your mind so you are more likely to achieve your goals—more so than if you motivated yourself with shame or guilt.

3. Avoid Fad Diets and Weight Loss Tricks

Fad diets and tricks are tempting because they promise a quick turnaround—eat this food, do this exercise, and lose ten pounds in just a few days!

Not only do many of these fad diets just not work, they can actually be dangerous.

Be especially wary of any exercise plan that involves little to no physical exertion at all. Exercise—even if it’s low intensity exercise like taking a walk—is an important part of losing weight and improving overall health. Cutting corners means you’re not only compromising your results, but you could be sabotaging your health and wellbeing.

Determined female athlete in front of stairs

4. Focus On the Journey and Building New Habits

Instead of thinking only about the pounds or inches you want to lose, try to focus on enjoying the journey. Think about how you are working to become the person you want to be (and consider hypnosis as a helpful way to achieve this mindset).

You may find that some changes you make are actually quite enjoyable. Maybe you love the food you’re eating on a ketogenic diet, or you really enjoy the yoga class you started attending.

As you try different physical activities, consider adding music or a podcast to your routine to help make it more enjoyable. Choose something fun and upbeat to increase your energy level and keep you going.

In a similar way, you can listen to a favorite podcast or watch your favorite TV show only when exercising. Over time, you may find you’re excited to work out, because it means you get to watch or listen to the next episode.

Remember, the goal is to build sustainable habits you enjoy, not to punish or deprive yourself.

5. Set a Pathway of Short-Term Goals

Short-term goals help make long-term goals more manageable. Trying to tackle too much all at once can be overwhelming and intimidating. The longest journeys still start with a small step in the right direction.

Instead of giving up all your favorite foods all at once, start by reducing your intake or finding healthier alternatives you’ll enjoy just as much. You could drink only one soda per week, for example. Swap out milk chocolate for healthier dark chocolate.

And if you want to increase daily activity, don’t start with a 10 mile run (especially if you haven’t exercised in awhile). Instead, try parking the car a little further than usual so you have to walk a greater distance to the store. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Pick your favorite time of day and walk around the block for half an hour whenever the weather’s nice.

Make sure the goals are attainable. And don’t hesitate to adjust your short-term goals when necessary so you’re constantly moving forward while maintaining a positive mindset.

Man on skyscraper celebrating the sunrise

6. Track Your Progress (and Celebrate Small Victories)

As you set and reach your short-term goals, don’t forget to track your progress!

Keep a journal that records what you ate and when and how you exercised. This will help you identify what practices have worked, and what haven’t.

MyFitnessPal is a great resource that can help you achieve weight loss goals by breaking down your consumed calories by type: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It takes the guesswork out of counting calories.

This practice is not recommended, however, if you have a history of disordered eating, as counting calories and tracking what you eat can actually increase stress and self-critical thinking.

Losing Weight Starts With a Small Step and Positive Attitude

Every milestone is something to celebrate. So treat yourself to a reward when you reach your short-term goals—a bubble bath, a good book, or a TV show. And have a plan for possible setbacks. You’re only human, and we all stumble from time to time. Remember to be good to yourself through the weight loss process—your success is well deserved.

Learn more about common obstacles to weight loss motivation and reasons you may be struggling to lose weight.

Curious if hypnosis could help you lose weight?

Take our hypnotizability test and find out!