10 ways to stay motivated when you’re not losing weight

10 ways to stay motivated when you’re not losing weight

Visualize your future self, set behavior goals, reward positive behavior, and change your definition of success

Use the 10 tips below to help you stay motivated on your journey to permanent weight loss, especially when you’re not losing weight. But don’t just read them…do them.

1. Visualize and write about your future self

Create a clear vision of you at your goal weight:

  • What do you look like?
  • Where are you?
  • What are you doing?
  • Who are you with?
  • How do you feel?
  • How do you act?

Create a movie in your mind. Visualize yourself in as much detail as possible, and then write about it. Write in the present tense as though you are currently at your goal weight.

2. Create a list of powerful reasons

Write down all of the reasons you want to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. Keep your list visible and review it daily as a source of motivation and to stay focused.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” ~ Zig Ziglar

3. Think about your future in 2 different scenarios

Think about and visualize what your life will be like in two different scenarios: 1. You stick with your weight loss efforts and 2. You don’t.

Ask yourself:

  • What will my life be like one year from now if I continue to exercise and make healthy changes to my lifestyle?
  • What will my life be like one year from now if I give up on my efforts and go back to my old habits?

4. Think about the chance of losing weight

Discontinuing healthy behavior because you’re not losing weight is one of the biggest mistakes people make. Not only do you deprive yourself of future weight loss, but you deprive yourself of its benefits, including improved health.

One of my clients said it best when she told me “I haven’t lost any weight and I’m getting so frustrated! I’m going to keep exercising though because at least then I’ll have a chance of losing weight. If I stop exercising, I won’t even have a chance!”

5. Set realistic behavior goals

Set behavior goals instead of weight loss goals. For example, set a goal of exercising three times this week for 30 minutes instead of setting a goal of losing one pound this week. You have much more control over your behavior than you do the number on the scale.

Set realistic goals you are confident you can achieve. Setting and achieving your behavior goals will leave you feeling confident, proud, energized, and motivated to continue setting more goals. (Set BEST goals on your journey to permanent weight loss)

On the other hand, striving for an unrealistic goal will only lead to failing and feeling frustrated and defeated. It will also reinforce any doubts you had about achieving your goal and losing weight in the first place.

6. Reward your positive behavior

Reward yourself for achieving your behavior goals. You are more likely to keep doing something if it’s followed by something you want. Rewards might help motivate you to to continue your efforts despite not losing weight.

7. Change your definition of success

Change the way you think about success. Success can mean many things other than losing weight. Success might mean:

  • Exercising consistently for two weeks
  • Skipping the drive thru on the way home from work
  • Noticing changes in the shape of your body
  • Improving any current conditions
  • Decreasing the dosage of any medication you take
  • Feeling better (or happier) in general
  • Feeling stronger, etc.

Success is any positive change in your behavior that puts you one step closer to your ultimate goal.

8. Keep a ‘small success’ journal

Start a journal (paper or electronic) and keep a running tally of any and every small success on your journey to permanent weight loss.

Keep a daily list of:

  • Things you did well
  • Things you’re proud of
  • Obstacles you overcame
  • Compliments you received
  • Positive changes other people noticed

Add to your list throughout the day or spend 5-10 minutes at the end of each day reflecting and writing in your journal. Congratulate yourself for every success, no matter how small it might seem.

It’s easy to forget about the small, daily successes when you’re focused on only one measure of success (weight loss).

9. Evaluate your expectations

Determine if your weight loss expectations are realistic in the first place. (Examples of unrealistic expectations). Many people underestimate the amount of exercise it takes to lose weight and keep it off. Many people also overestimate the ease at which they will lose weight.

This is especially common if you hear, see, or believe ads claiming that you can ‘lose 20 lbs in 20 days’ or other false claims.

10. Stop weighing yourself

If you’re frustrated because the scale doesn’t seem to budge, stop weighing yourself…at least temporarily. This can help you focus on the other tips above. Top 5 reasons to stop weighing yourself

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About the Author
Stephanie Averkamp

About the Author was created by Stephanie Averkamp, a recognized health and fitness professional and sole-author of the content on this website. Stephanie's approach to weight loss emphasizes making small, realistic, and permanent lifestyle changes. Read more...

Stephanie Averkamp

Our Approach: Short-term solutions (like dieting) are unrealistic and ineffective because at some point they end. As soon as a diet or program ends, so do the results. Permanent weight loss is a journey; it's not a race or competition and there is no finish line. Read more...