How to Stay Motivated When Losing Weight

Today, I will save you a lot of time and frustration by explaining how to stay motivated when losing weight without relying on willpower alone. Instead, we will ensure that you learn to stay motivated by considering how your brain works with the psychology of motivation.

How to Stay Motivated When Losing Weight

Before we dive into practical tips to discover how to stay motivated when losing weight, let me give you a brief overview of the psychology behind weight loss motivation. I find that understanding something usually helps put it into practice more effectively.

Psychology of Weight Loss Motivation

Weight loss motivation is a complex topic involving various factors influencing our behaviors and attitudes toward weight loss. Some of the key factors that affect your motivation include:

  1. Intrinsic Motivation: This type of motivation comes from within and is driven by personal values, beliefs, and interests. For example, a person who values their health and well-being may be intrinsically motivated to lose weight to improve their health. Or a person pursuing a specific skill or goal will feel intrinsically motivated.
  2. Extrinsic Motivation: This type of motivation comes from external factors, such as rewards, praise, or social pressure. For example, a person may be extrinsically motivated to lose weight to fit into a specific outfit or receive positive feedback from others.
  3. Self-efficacy: Refers to a person’s belief in their ability to achieve their weight loss goals. People with high self-efficacy are more likely to stay motivated and persist in losing weight. In contrast, those with low self-efficacy may struggle to stay motivated and give up more quickly.
  4. Goal Setting: Setting specific, achievable goals is essential for maintaining motivation and progressing toward weight loss. Goals should be realistic, measurable, and relevant to the person’s weight loss plan. Goal setting impacts your intrinsic motivation and vice-versa, you need intrinsic motivation to achieve your goals.
  5. Social Support: Having a support system, such as friends, family, or a support group, can help boost motivation and provide accountability and encouragement along the weight loss journey.
  6. Mindset: A positive mindset can be a powerful motivator in weight loss. Focusing on progress rather than perfection, celebrating small victories, and practicing self-compassion can help maintain motivation and overcome setbacks. You may enjoy my posts 9 Detrimental Self-Limiting Beliefs and How to Overcome Them and Growth vs. Fixed Mindset: Rewire Your Brain With a New Mindset.

Overall, the tips that I will offer to help you stay motivated when losing weight will include all these elements, as you will see.

How to Stay Motivated When Losing Weight (Practical Tips)

  1. Set SMART Goals: Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals can help you stay focused and motivated. Instead of a vague goal like “I want to lose weight,” set a specific goal such as “I want to lose 5 pounds in the next two months by exercising four times a week and fasting for 20 hours 3 days a week.”
  2. Find Intrinsic Motivation: Reflect on your values and beliefs related to health and weight loss. Connect with your intrinsic motivation by reminding yourself of the benefits of weight loss beyond just appearance, such as improved health, increased energy, increased confidence, and better mood. Write down your reasons for wanting to lose weight and revisit them when your motivation wanes. Take before and after photos as well as measurements to track your progress. SMART goals increase your intrinsic motivation.
  3. Build Self-Efficacy: Focus on building your belief in your ability to achieve your weight loss goals. Start with small, achievable steps and celebrate your successes. I have seen women give up on their goals over and over again because they have unrealistic expectations. Keep a journal of your progress, take videos and photos, and reflect on how far you’ve come. Surround yourself with supportive and encouraging people who believe in your ability to succeed.
  4. Create a Support System: Having a support system can be invaluable in staying motivated. Share your weight loss goals with friends, family, or a support group, and seek their encouragement and accountability. Consider finding a workout buddy or a mentor who can provide guidance and support.
  5. Practice Positive Self-Talk: Monitor your self-talk and challenge negative thoughts or beliefs that may sabotage your motivation. Replace negative self-talk with positive and encouraging statements. For example, instead of saying, “I failed because I ate a cookie,” say, “I made an indulgence, and I’ll make a healthier choice next time.” Remember that weight loss is a journey. Even after reaching your weight loss goal, you will keep practicing the skills you are learning as you lose weight to maintain your weight.
  6. Visualize Success: Use the power of visualization to imagine yourself achieving your weight loss goals. Create a mental image of how you will look and feel when you reach your desired weight. Visualize yourself overcoming challenges and staying motivated. Visualization can help reinforce your motivation and keep you focused on your goals.
  7. Create healthy habits: Creating habits removes much of the resistance to adopting healthy behaviors because habits require so much less willpower. James Clear explains: Your current life is the sum of your habits. You do not rise to the level of your goals; you fall to the level of your systems. Your goals are what you want to achieve the desired outcome. The collection of your habits is your system. When you optimize your habits, you optimize the system. If there is a gap between your goals and your system, the system always wins. It doesn’t matter what your intentions were. It doesn’t matter what you hope to achieve; your habits will win. Read 15 Powerful Habits to Improve Your Health to select habits supporting your goals and learn how to create habits effectively.
  8. Reward Yourself: Set up a system of rewards for reaching milestones or achieving small goals along the way. The rewards can be non-food related, such as treating yourself to a spa day, buying new workout clothes, or taking a day off for self-care. Rewards can help reinforce positive behaviors and keep you motivated.
  9. Remember your why: Ask yourself? What are you hoping to gain from losing weight? Is it feeling more confident? Liking what you see in the mirror? Feeling energized and strong? Loving yourself and your body? Think about your reasons and focus on them. Let them give you more motivation.

Remember, motivation may fluctuate over time, and it’s expected to have ups and downs. Be patient with yourself, and use these practical tips to stay motivated as you work towards your weight loss goals. I created a 5-Day Yoga Habit Challenge for women who want to get in shape by instilling a daily yoga habit.

How to Stay Motivated When Not Losing Weight

I mentioned that one of the most common reasons women give up is that they set themselves up for failure with unrealistic expectations (like losing 10 pounds in one month – read How to Lose 10 lbs in a Month (No Counting Calories) to learn what would be involved in losing this much weight). What if you are not losing weight at all? How do you stay motivated?

  1. Focus on non-scale victories: Sometimes, the number on the scale doesn’t accurately reflect the progress you’re making. Focus on other progress indicators, such as how your clothes fit or how you feel. When I was losing weight with intermittent fasting, some months I didn’t lose weight, but I felt amazing, so I was willing to keep up my routine. Then, the next month, I would lose some weight again. Weight loss is a journey, not just a destination.
  2. Troubleshoot: What if you are not feeling amazing and not losing weight? Be flexible to try other intermittent fasting methods. Find the one that works for you! Read my Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss for additional help.
  3. Remember why you started: When you’re feeling discouraged, remember why you started your weight loss journey. Keeping your goals and motivations in mind can help you stay focused and motivated. Not seeing any weight loss simply means that you have some tweaking to do. Giving up will not take you closer to your goals. Continuing on will.
    Furthermore, your why is likely not just about the scale. It’s about feeling
    more confident, sleeping better, and caring for yourself. Think about your other goals and focus on your habits that support those goals. Read Focusing on Weight Loss is Preventing You From Losing Weight and Other Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight to troubleshoot your mindset further.

How to Stay Motivated When Losing Weight Slowly

The SMART goal I like to offer my client is a weight loss of two pounds a month using a fasting window of 20 hours 3 times a week. For many women, this may feel like a slow weight loss. How do you stay motivated when weight loss is slow?

It will boil down to paying attention to non-scale victories and remembering your why. Plus, you are losing weight and inches, so celebrate that! Even if it was just one pound last month! Remember how far you have come!

How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight When Depressed

Maintaining motivation for weight loss can be challenging, especially when feeling depressed. However, there are several strategies you can try to help you stay motivated and focused on your weight loss goals:

  1. Celebrate Small Wins: Celebrate your progress, no matter how small. Take pride in each step toward your goal, and reward yourself with something that makes you happy.
  2. Find a Support System: A support system can help keep you motivated. Share your weight loss journey with friends or family members who can offer encouragement and support. Community is crucial for your mental health.
  3. Seek Professional Help: If your depression interferes with your motivation, it may be time to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help you work through your feelings and develop coping strategies.
  4. Focus on Self-Care: Taking care of yourself is crucial in maintaining motivation. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, and make time for enjoyable activities. Did you know that self-care habits improve your mindset and your hormonal health?

Remember, weight loss is a journey, and setbacks are a normal part of the process. Be kind to yourself and focus on progress, not perfection.

How to Stay Motivated When Losing Weight Video

In Summary

Staying motivated when losing weight revolves around having realistic goals, instilling healthy habits that support your goals, celebrating your victories, creating a support system (friends to cheer you on), visualizing your success, and keeping a positive mindset. Remember why you are on this journey! You will learn that you are capable of so much more than you ever thought possible.