Motivation to Lose Weight & Exercise, Part 1: The Big Picture

What’s the best way to stay motivated to lose weight and stick to a diet? It’s a great question and one that is asked every day by people hoping to finally find a way to do it. But this is not a one-answer-fits-all kind of question because we each have different influences and obstacles to work around.

I actually think there’s still another question hiding beneath the first one. That is…how do I remove the resistance I feel toward losing weight and exercising? This, I believe, is the ultimate question and it applies to all motivation. If we’re not motivated to do something that we say we want to do, there must be some resistance preventing us from taking action, otherwise, we would do it without hesitation. Remove the resistance and you unblock your motivation. Makes sense, right?

Things that Cause us to Resist Dieting and Exercising

  • Fear of giving up the foods we love
  • Fear of pain from exercising
  • Frustration due to past failed attempts
  • Confusion about why nothing ever seems to work
  • Confusion about what to change or do differently so that we can succeed
  • Mixed messages from all media sources about what foods are healthy and which to avoid
  • Confusion about how to exercise properly and what types of exercise are the best for us
  • Feeling sad, depressed, ambivalent, or uninspired
  • Being disorganized or distracted by other things going on in our lives

Do I really have to stop eating cheeseburgers and fries?

When people talk about losing weight or starting a new exercise routine, they often do so with a mix of fear, frustration, and desire. The fear is from the feeling that it may hurt or take a lot of effort. This resistance is natural because our instinct is to avoid painful or unpleasant experiences. But the fact is, many people associate exercise with pain.

Not only do we fear the pain that comes with exercise, we also fear having to give up our favorite foods, though this is more emotional or psychological pain because we feel as though we’re being deprived of some of life’s greatest pleasures. I’ve felt that pain, too, and it’s not very motivating. Like most people, I enjoy certain foods and when I think about never eating them again, I get a little depressed… which is why I’ll never give them up, completely.

Stop the roller-coaster…I want to get off!

The average person has likely tried adopting some kind of exercise regimen or diet to lose weight and get into better physical shape. However, most people wind up on the roller-coaster diet; their weight goes up and down and up and down… This is really frustrating so it’s no surprise if you’re feeling a little anxiety from the last diet you tried. I can hear you thinking, “why even bother if I’m only going to end up gaining all my weight back?”

The good news is, there are ways to improve your odds of losing weight and keeping it off. And you have two really important things going for you:

  1. You have a real and honest desire to succeed
  2. You haven’t given up yet

Mistakes DO NOT equal failure, they equal FEEDBACK. Having this kind of attitude lessens the mistakes and improves your next try. For this series, I’m going to help you remove your resistance so that you can finally create a plan that works and that doesn’t overwhelm you. Here’s some of what I plan to cover in this series:

  • A radical way of approaching diet and exercise
  • The easiest way (ever!) to start a diet…and stay on it
  • A No-Fail plan for starting an exercise routine that you will easily keep
  • The best way to deal with weakness when it strikes
  • How to start eating healthy by NOT eating healthy (What??)
  • How to play with your food

Have I whet your appetite for more? Good. Before we dig in, it’s important to realize that this is a comprehensive plan, not just a lose-weight-quick trick. I know it goes without saying, but, if you’re going to start a new diet or exercise program, you should consult your doctor first. There are several key parts to making a comprehensive plan and they all work together like puzzle pieces that make up the big picture, and that is a picture of a healthier you.

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If you let me know where you struggle the most in dieting or exercise, I’ll try to cover it in this series.

Just post a comment, send an email, or connect on Facebook.

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Comments

  1. Hi Scott, just happened upon your site from Owen’s list of Headway sites. Congrats on a great blog. Very interesting information. I sense your sincerity. I’ll track back to your post. Best, Dr. Z

    • Dr. Z,

      At the risk of sounding corny, I sincerely appreciate it. :-) I see that you have a site called Stress Hacker. I can’t wait to check it out when I have time. My quick-glance impression is it looks cool.

      Cheers,
      Scott

  2. Hi Scott. Enjoying your blog. I would say my biggest challenges when it comes to eating healthy and exercise are:
    1) I am not (and have never been), overweight so I haven’t been motivated to exercise or diet
    2) I don’t want to diet because none of the foods I enjoy eating are healthy and I don’t want to give them up!

    These two things have always prevented me from doing what I know I need to do to become more healthy. Hopefully your coming blog posts will motivate me to get started!

    • Jeff,

      I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Thanks for submitting your biggest challenges. It means a lot to me that you’ve taken the time to do it. I appreciate it.

      You’ve certainly listed a couple of really tough challenges. I hadn’t considered the first one, but I will address it in this series. As for the second one, I most certainly have thought about that one a lot! Mainly, because I’ve struggled with it too. So, you can be sure I’ll be talking about this one as well.

      I have to say, Jeff, that couldn’t help but notice that you said, “…prevented me from doing what I know I need to do…” There’s definitely come cognitive dissonance going on inside your head. LOL If you “know” you need to become more healthy, what do you feel are the consequences if you DON’T do it? I hope you’ll post your answer here…I’m a very curious person. ;-)

      Scott

  3. Seriously. Thanks!
    How do I stop yo-yo dieting? It’s been an on going problems for years and years. I’m done. HELP!
    I have lost the same 10lbs over, and over and over again times three! It sucks and I really would like it to stop to lose this much need weight that I have kept on for the last 4 yeas since my son was born. Any and all advice is appreciated Scott!

    Jenny

    • [cue super-hero music]

      Have no fear, Jenny, I’m here to save the day!

      No, seriously, thanks for such an honest and sincere comment. If it is within my ability to help you, I will apply all effort to do so. The reason you seem to be on the yo-yo diet plan is merely a matter of perspective. And what I mean by that is your results match your perspective on the whole dieting/exercising ball of wax. Does that make sense? My goal is to help you shift your perspective so that you have a clearer and more refined sense of how to diet, and how to exercise in a way that is best suited to your lifestyle so that the obstacles that repeatedly trip you up can be avoided or removed altogether. I know that’s a tall order but I think you’ll appreciate this series as it unfolds.

      If you would like the opportunity to actually shape the series as I’m writing it, all you need to do is tell me the areas that challenge you the most. Where do you struggle when you’re on a diet or exercise plan? The next post in this series will have been shaped by the answers I’ve already received about other people’s challenges. The more I know about your specific challenges, the better I’ll be able to give you information you can use right away. If you know anyone else who also struggles to lose weight and keep it off, please share this post with them.

      I know we all have busy lives so I don’t take it lightly that you’ve taken the time to leave a comment here. I sincerely appreciate it.

      Cheers!
      Scott

  4. I found myself nodding to every item on your list of things that get in the way of dieting and exercise. Color me All of the Above. :)

    One challenge I didn’t see on your list was not knowing how to make the healthy foods taste good, i.e., how the heck do I cook this stuff if I’ve never cooked it (or had it) before? I grew up in a meat and potatoes household and avoided vegetables as if they were roaches. The only veggies I ate growing up were disguised in cheese and fat.

    Another challenge in my household is dietary restrictions. I am a meat-eating, soy-hating, non-dairy person who does much better avoiding bread and pasta, and my husband is a fish-eating vegetarian who doesn’t actually eat many vegetables. Figuring out what to eat for dinner makes my brain cramp up, and we usually end up with some pasta, rice, or bread-laden dish.

    I need being healthy to be simple, which is not the same as being easy. I’d love a template I could follow (I take direction very well, despite what my husband says) that wouldn’t over-complicate my life.

    I’m looking forward to reading more in this series!

    • Wow, Ellen, I love your comment. In my opinion, you’re speaking with the voice of so many people. I think it’s funny (and odd) that your husband is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat many vegetables. I’m guessing it’s for the same reason that you don’t; because it’s hard to find enjoyable recipes that actually taste good. Right? Well, I KNOW that it’s possible because my wife has found some veggie-based recipes that I would eat even if I wasn’t eating heatlhy because they’re that good. I think it’s key to start with fresh vegetable rather than canned, which I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. It’s also important to not over cook them.

      Some of your challenges are more than simply staying motivated, which is what I’m trying to dissect. But key to staying motivated removing the resistance we feel when we’re in unknown territory, which seems to be what you’re facing. Are both you and your husband open to eating vegetables as long as they actually taste good? I think the rest of the series will point you in the right direction. But in the mean time, here are some ideas that may help you. Your quest is to find vegetable recipes that taste good. But if you don’t try to make this a little adventurous, you’re doomed to fall back into your old behavior. At the same time, don’t reinvent the wheel.

      1) Start simply by browsing around on AllRecipes.com for vegetable-based recipes that have high ratings. My wife spends a lot of time here and uses this strategy a lot.
      2) Ask friends, especially those who really enjoy cooking, for their favorite veggie recipes.
      3) Be willing to try recipes that include vegetables that are not familiar to you because when they’re mixed in a recipe they may add important flavor to it that wouldn’t be there if you left it out.
      4) Try veggie kabobs on the grill (or even include chicken). There’s something about grilling veggies that makes them taste really great.
      5) If you need a more hands-on approach to cooking new recipes, look for videos on cooking websites or even YouTube.
      6) When you try a recipe, keep track of it. Write on the recipe how you and your husband each would rate it. The better you know what you like and don’t like, the easier it gets to find more that you like.

      This is one of my favorites: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Zucchini-and-Potato-Bake/Detail.aspx Let me know what you think about it if you try it.

      I hope this helps a little. I would love it if you gave me an update on this issue down the road. Feel free to write any time if you want to discuss more strategies or if you have any questions. I sincerely appreciate your comment.

      Cheers!
      Scott

  5. Scott,
    Look at the great conversation you have started!! So cool. I heard about you form Sterling and Jay so I had to come and check you out! I have a blog where I teach people EFT Tapping– and cutting edge technique that helps to eliminate limiting beliefs and emotional blocks in order to as you say “shift perspective” in a very efficient way. I love what you are doing and I have just recently begun to apply this technique to my own issues with food and weight. I look forward to your posts on this and am excited to be part of the conversation and journey as I too am so sick of yo yo dieting and struggling with food and exercise.
    Rebecca Johnson´s last blog post ..It’s Affecting Your Ability To Manifest…Figure Out Where You Are On The Gratitude Scale Right Now!

    • Rebecca,

      I checked out your web site and Twitter page and love the whole social entrepreneur thing that you’re promoting. You seem like you have a big heart and I think that’s so important today. I have tried EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and didn’t have much success with it. But I honestly don’t think I was the best candidate for using it. What’s your Twitter name so I can follow you? I’m happy you found your way to Behavior and Motivation and I look forward to your insights and perspective.

      Cheers,
      Scott

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