Motivational weight loss tips
Weight loss is a three-part process: Exercising and cutting calories are vital, but your mental outlook can mean the difference between success and failure.
"Self-defeating thoughts are often the most overlooked factors when a dieter gets off track, " says Jeffrey Wilbert, PhD, author of Fattitudes: Beat Self-Defeat and Win Your War with Weight (St. Martin's Press, 2000). "You feel disappointed when a quick fix turns out to be anything but, or weak if you succumb to an intense craving for ice cream." Without the resolve to overcome such thoughts, sticking with any major lifestyle change can be difficult, if not impossible.
The key is to adopt the right attitude before you start your plan. "If you're really serious about slimming down, you need to think long-term. That's why it helps to ready yourself emotionally to take on the challenge, " says Daniel C. Stettner, PhD, a behavioral-medicine specialist at Northpointe Health Center in Berkley, Michigan. These eight strategies will help strengthen your mind-set.
You probably have lots of reasons for wanting to lose weight. Not all, however, may be good ones. "If your decision develops primarily out of pressure from someone else, your conviction to succeed could diminish over time, " says Stettner. "To ensure success, you need to develop the will to improve your life, not someone else's vision of it."
Start by listing all the reasons you can think of for slimming down. Highlight any that include other people. Rewrite the list, omitting the highlighted items. Next, inspect each one for phrases like "have to" or "must." Such words imply obligation, not desire; eventually, they'll also invite the instinct to rebel. (Test the theory: Stand in front of a piece of chocolate cake and tell yourself over and over that you must refuse it. You'll instantly want to dig in.) Translate each "have to" into a "want to." If your reasons lose their relevance, pare down the list again, until you find two or three of the most compelling motivations.
2. Choose an Attainable Goal
"Studies show that most dieters expect to lose as much as four times what they really can in a six-month period, " says Stettner.
Think smaller: Count on losing just 10 percent of your weight within six months, and focus on keeping it off for more than a year. But be careful about relying solely on figures. "A number on the scale isn't a goal; it's a measurement of success, " says Bonnie Goodman, a psychotherapist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who specializes in behavioral therapy. Instead, focus on behaviors you wish to change: to reduce your daily fat intake to below 35 percent, or to cut out your afternoon soda or vending-machine snack. Also, consider setting non-weight-related goals, such as entering a 5K race. The pounds you'll automatically lose in the process will seem like a bonus.
3. Design Your Own Plan
Rather than trying every new diet fad, create your own plan that will fit your lifestyle. You need to cut out only 150 calories a day to lose 15 pounds in a year, so start small.
"Little changes to your current eating style, like downsizing portions or preparing foods differently, can add up to big results, " says Stettner.
Think about the foods you can — and can't — live without, then try to work your diet around them. Love chocolate? Have a small piece every day. If you're a born snacker, divide your daily calories into six or seven mini meals so you always feel like you're having a nibble. Whatever you do, don't give up your favorite foods. You'll inevitably feel deprived, which will only make your cravings stronger — and your willpower weaker.