There’s still a lot that is unknown about motivation because there are an infinite number of variables. But there’s also a lot that isn’t so mysterious anymore. What trips people up when starting a diet or trying to get regular exercise is often the same kind of things that get in the way of achieving any goal.
This series is designed primarily to answer the call from so many people who ask, “How can I stay motivated to lose weight?” or “How can I finally stick to a diet?” or even, “How can I get myself to exercise?“
If you don’t know what’s stopping you, you’re probably going to struggle to lose weight for the rest of your life. So I’ve tried to share with you what you need to know that will finally make a difference. I’ve tried to help you understand how to overcome the obstacles that stop most people so you can finally get off the weight-loss roller coaster. And to officially conclude this series, I want to offer a brief summary of the most important points. But before I get into the summary, there are a few more things I want to cover, just to round-out the big picture.
Exercise and weight loss
Keep in mind that if you are exercising regularly, you’re likely building new muscle, which weighs more than fat. Because of this, you’re going to want to pay more attention to your body fat percentage rather than just your overall weight. Body fat percentage is a much better indicator of how you’re doing with your exercise and weight-loss program.
Also, keep in mind that exercising for 30-60 minutes per day isn’t as important as the form of exercise. If you’re walking for 30-60 minute per day, compared to some form of aerobic activity in which your heart rate is elevated for most of your workout, you won’t burn as many calories and that means you won’t lose as much weight. However, it’s more important that you are exercising regularly, regardless of the form of exercise. So even if you only walk everyday (at a brisk speed), you’re doing more than most people, and maybe even more than you have been able to do in the past. And that’s what really counts.
Being too focused on losing weight
This is really important and is partly why you’ve failed to maintain a healthy weight after trying so many diets. When you are dieting ONLY to lose weight, you’re going to have much more resistance to overcome in order to be successful in the long-term. When you focus more on adopting a healthier lifestyle that includes wholesome foods and regular exercise, you won’t be so obsessed about your weight, which means you’ll have far less resistance to overcome.
Short-term weight loss (specifically)
Okay, okay…I realize that some of you might be a little anxious to lose weight more quickly. It’s okay to focus on quick weight loss as long as you also include long-term weight maintenance goals in your plan. Remember, the slower you lose weight, the better your chances of keeping it off. If you are going to focus specifically on weight loss at first, then you may want to modify the diet and exercise strategies I’ve included in this series in part 4 and part 6.
Try condensing the No-Resistance Diet Strategy down to 4 weeks instead of 8. As for the No-Resistance Exercise Strategy, maybe skip weeks 1 through 10 and go right to Phase 2 and start with week 11 so that you’re revving up the exercise right at the start, which will also kick-start the weight loss. As a reminder, week 11 is, “exercise 5 minutes at a moderate pace (warm-up), 1 minute at a vigorous pace (aerobic), followed by 5 minutes at a moderate pace (cool-down)”. You could also add extra minutes into your aerobic zone according to your level of comfort and how quickly you want to build up your exercise routine. You may also want to start the diet and exercise strategies at the same time.
Remember, it’s best to phase these plans in very slowly to reduce resistance and increase success. Also, if you feel like you’re going too fast, stay at the same level for an extra week, such as exercising for 2 weeks without changing how much time you spend exercising. Be flexible and listen to your gut feeling about how to proceed and make small adjustments rather than large ones. Anyway, if you’re looking for quick weight loss, these adjustments may help speed things up a bit.
Using a personal trainer
I think that using a personal trainer would be awesome. Knowing there’s a plan in place for me and experiencing weekly progress toward this plan would be a great motivator for me. Having a personal trainer would be great for accountability purposes. Plus, I think I’d be more likely to push myself to try harder. Working on exercise goals with a trained professional, being able to ask exercise and health-related questions, and getting encouragement every week would definitely keep me charged up and focused on my health goals. For some people, just working out with a partner (such as a friend or spouse) does the same thing, and that’s great. But if you have the surplus income, finding a personal trainer is worth trying to see if you like it. I suspect you would likely reach your weight loss goals sooner as well.
Totally cutting out sweets and junk food
I think it’s important to point out that anyone who goes on a diet and totally cuts out the fun foods that they enjoy and love is instantly throwing up tons of resistance and increasing the probability of failing. I mean, if you thought you could never have chocolate chip cookies, Ben & Jerry’s Cheesecake and Brownie ice cream, pizza, or your favorite coffee beverage from Starbucks, would you want to stay on a diet like that? Me neither. So don’t do it. Obviously, you’re going to want to cut down on eating foods that are unhealthy, but you can be very healthy and still enjoy the foods and snacks you love…and still lose weight (which I’ve experienced first-hand). In fact, if you adopt a diet that includes more healthy foods and only small amounts of your favorite foods, you can skip calorie-counting or weighing your food and still lose weight…as long as you are exercising regularly as well.
It’s all about balance: healthy foods, regular exercise and a treat now and then. Think long-term health, not short-term weight loss. If you want your new diet to stick; if you want to keep exercising, the best possible way to do this is to follow my No-Resistance Diet Strategy and my No-Resistance Exercise Strategy. It’s easy and it works.
Living the adventure
If you have the right frame of mind, you can make your diet and exercise life an adventure. Try new, healthy, and interesting foods using a variety of spices and flavorings. Change up your exercise routine and supplement with fun and vigorous outdoor activities, like sports, swimming, hiking, biking, and maybe even taking a dance class or other classes that are geared toward exercise. The more interesting you make it, the more probable that you keep your weight off and stay in good health for the rest of your life.
Don’t forget about the importance of surrounding yourself with healthy reminders and people. The more you are reminded about your healthy lifestyle, the more likely you are to make consistently healthier choices. Keep your thoughts saturated with inspiration using magazines, health shows on TV, health and exercise websites, audio books and podcasts about health and fitness, etc. Take some inspiration with you throughout the day. If you have an exercise or diet partner, check in with him or her a few times throughout the day. Use these suggestions as a part of your overall plan and success is within your reach.
The power and magic of sleep
I’m going to be brief with this, otherwise, I’ll end up writing several more pages because this is so important. To put this simply, you should get more sleep. Here are a few reasons why:
Getting more sleep…
- makes you happier
- reduces stress
- helps you stay alert and focused
- keeps you strong against making poor eating choices
- makes you feel more optimistic and capable
- supports all your diet and exercise goals
- helps to regulate and optimize all autonomic body functions
- basically makes you better in just about every conceivable way
Also, consider this. If exercise reduces stress and increases happiness, and if eating healthy reduces stress and makes you happier, and if getting more sleep reduces stress and also makes you happier, than doing all three of these things (exercise, diet, and getting enough sleep), would make you feel radically better than you have in many years…or ever! Right?
Just trust me on this one, getting more sleep is essential to your long-term (and even short-term) diet and exercise success. So don’t make me come over there and knock you upside the head and force you to get more sleep. Make sure you’re getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night. End of discussion.
Key Points for Motivation to Lose Weight & Exercise
If I were to summarize the key points of this series, as briefly as possible, here’s what they would be:
- Motivation is natural and normal to you.
- Resistance prevents you from taking action.
- Obstacles, whether mental or physical, cause resistance.
- Success in dieting, exercising, and weight loss is easy and natural when resistance is reduced to zero.
- Slowly implement regular exercise and a healthier way of eating over many weeks. This will reduce or remove your resistance and reprogram your self-image to match your goal of being a healthier you.
- Plan ahead for potential obstacles and find ways to remove all resistance.
- In the absence of all resistance, you are naturally motivated and happier.
If I haven’t addressed your biggest motivation/weight-loss challenges, please tell me so I can include it in the ebook version of this series. Oh, by the way, I’ve had some requests for turning this series into an ebook, so I’m planning to create an expanded edition of this series that will include extra strategies and other material and will be for sale in the Behavior and Motivation store.
I sincerely hope that you have finally found the help you were looking for, and that you can stay motivated to eat healthy foods, exercise, and finally lose weight and keep it off forever. Remember, if you refuse to give up, you refuse to fail. So please, never, never, never stop. No matter what goals you set for yourself, whether they’re weight-loss related, or some other life-improvement project, keep trying; never accept anything less than true happiness.
Good luck on your journey to a healthier lifestyle!