Everyone Needs a Little Motivation
Six motivators that can help with weight loss and weight management
The whole issue of motivation can be difficult to understand. There are quite a few competing theories and ideas of why people do what they do as well as some differences of opinion over what some people call motivation and others consider to be external influence. And when it comes to health-related behaviors, it would seem that most people are motivated. It's just that some of us are motivated to do what we are currently doing more than we are motivated to do what someone else may think is best.
You get the idea. From a psychological perspective, motivation is a complex subject. So let's make it easy. Whether we're talking about intrinsic, self-motivation or restructured priorities influenced by external forces, when it comes to weight loss and weight management, here are six "motivators" that are worthy of consideration:
1. First steps first: chart your progress
Efforts to reach a healthy weight range and weight loss itself are serious work. Treat them that way. Weigh yourself every morning -- a study in the Annals of Behavior Medicine shows that people who do daily weigh-ins are more successful losers -- and write the number down. You can do this on a piece of paper or chart it on your computer. The important thing is to get in the habit of regular recording. When you get discouraged -- say, you haven't lost a pound in a week -- seeing your long-term progress can help boost your motivation.
2. Long time no see
One effective motivational tool that works for many people is simply thinking about how reaching your healthy weight range will change how other people perceive you. Think of someone who last saw you in the past, before you had a more effective weight management system in place, and then imagine their reaction when they see you at your healthier weight. They'll notice a difference in how you look and move and they may even register some surprise at the new, healthier you. Even without words, that look can be a strong motivator.
3. The smallest item in your closet
Sometimes weight loss motivators take on a surprising form. For example, some of them may be hung up, unused and feeling neglected in your closet. Do you see something that may be too small to wear right now? For some people these currently too-snug items aren't just something they miss wearing but rather, a tangible goal to work towards as part of effective weight loss and ongoing weight management.
4. Show some class
For many people, joining an exercise class, like Dietcise, is a helpful motivational strategy. There is strength in numbers and a certain comfort in being with kindred spirits within the exercise weight management category. And it's good to know you're not in it alone. On those days when you can find a lot of reasons not to engage in physical activity being part of a larger whole can be a powerful motivation to get moving.
5. Reward Yourself
One of the best ways to stay motivated throughout your weight loss journey is to reward yourself with non-food rewards that you will look forward to and enjoy. It can be something tangible (a new book) or something intangible (no less important), such as a lazy few hours on Saturday watching movies on the sofa. By making a goal, each two or five pound loss for example, you will begin to correlate reaching your goals with a pleasurable experience. When simply seeing the scale numbers change loses its "buzz," that special treat will help keep you going.
6. Keep your eye on the real prize: ultimately, it's about your health
At some point, hopefully, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight range will become the norm. Eventually the compliments about your weight loss will diminish. Once you've worn that "new and improved" size for a while, the thrill of trying on the clothes in your closet (those once too tight items of apparel referenced in number three) will start to fade. While no one (if he or she is honest) is going to say it's not about looks, it isn't just about looks.
When motivation to stick to your new eating and exercise habits wanes, and a quick glance in the mirror doesn't do the trick anymore, consider the many health risks of being overweight or obese. By maintaining a healthier weight, you are more likely to live a longer life with fewer medical problems. Wearing a smaller size is just the icing on the cake; a happier, healthier life is the ultimate reward.
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