Motivation Weight loss & Fitness

How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise and Lose Weight


Losing weight can be difficult and whilst it is easy to start on a weight loss program, it can be hard to follow through until you get the results you want.  In order to motivate yourself to keep up your exercise and lose weight, you may need to develop some tricks to focus yourself on what you want to achieve.  Here are some tips that may help to motivate you to get off the couch, kick start your weight loss and keep it going.

1. Set small, realistic goals

Large long term goals are overwhelming and often lead to dropping out or giving up.  Unrealistic weight loss goals are also likely to be de-motivators as they tend to cause frustration when you find it impossible to achieve what you set out to do.

In terms of exercise and diet for weight loss, a goal such as going to the gym at least three times a week for a month is much better than deciding to go every day for the next year as it is much less overwhelming and achievable.

Remember once you have achieved each small goal, you can set a new one, or increase the time.  Often something you have managed in the short term does not seem so out of reach for the long term if you have already achieved it for a while.

Being realistic is also important as if you set goals that you cannot achieve you will never feel that sense of achievement and success that motivates you to carry on.

2. Do something you enjoy

There is nothing worse than trying to motivate yourself to do something you hate.  It is much easier to find that motivation more often if you actually enjoy the activity, so when choosing your exercise regime, try to find something you love.

Exercise doesn’t always mean hitting the gym and pumping weights for hours on end, there are plenty of other options that burn calories, tone you up and get the heart going.  Investigate classes at your local gym such as body pump or pilates, or try a team sport or even dancing.  If you love being outside, spend more time hiking, running or riding a bike.

Even walking is an excellent form of exercise so get some friends together and go for a walk instead of a coffee, chances are you won’t even realise you are exercising.

3. Exercise with friends

Meeting up with friends to exercise is a great way to motivate yourself; as if you do not go you are letting someone else down as well as yourself.  Exercising with a friend can also be a great opportunity to catch up and can even encourage a little healthy competition that may make you push yourself more than you would alone, or force you to try new things that are outside your comfort zone but which can have benefits for your weight loss.

A good friend will also offer support and encouragement in times when the last thing you feel like doing is exercising.

4. Sign up for a class

Making a fixed commitment to a class can be more motivating that randomly exercising on your own.  For a start you will often have to pay for the privilege, which in itself can be motivating as you do not want to waste money, and secondly after a while the instructor or other members will notice if you do not attend.

Sometimes it is easier to just go to the class than explain why you haven’t been for three weeks for no good reason than that you just didn’t feel like it!

5. Use visual tools

Putting a picture of yourself when you were at your goal weight or a record of your weight loss in a prominent place can help you remember why you are putting in the effort and what you are trying to achieve.

Be realistic about this though, or it can have the opposite effect, for example putting a picture of yourself at 16 or of a 6 ft supermodel on the fridge is likely to cause more frustration than motivation when you are miles away from these ideals.

Tracking weight loss on a graph or table can also be motivating, although be aware that weight loss generally has plateaus and will not drop consistently.  If you are exercising, you may not even lose weight as you are gaining muscle mass, so think about more appropriate tools such as waist circumference or dress size to track your progress.

6. Reward your progress

If you achieve one of your goals, reward yourself with a special treat such as new clothes, a spa day or even a relaxing hot bath.  This will motivate you to set your next goal and achieve that too as you know that success will bring you something pleasurable. 

7. Talk about your weight loss goals

Discussing your weight loss goals with friends, family or your health professionals can be a good motivator as they are then aware of what you are trying to do and will notice if you are achieving it or not.  Knowing that others are looking at your progress will often encourage you to try harder, and it is always good to have the support of another person when you are struggling for motivation.

8. Join a support group

If you are really struggling to stay motivated with diet and exercise for weight loss, meeting with a team of likeminded individuals that are going through the same thing as you is a great way to get support and also to get new ideas for motivation. 

9. Look at what is stopping you losing weight and find solutions

If you sit down and make a list of the reasons that you cannot make healthy changes to your diet or exercise on a regular basis, sometimes it is easier to find a solution.  For example if time is an issue, think of ways you can exercise at home or during a break at work.  The internet is a great place to look for ideas to solve your problems as chances are there are many people out there with the same issues as you stopping them from losing weight.  Finding ways to make exercise easy is a key to staying motivated and keeping it up in the long term.

10. Add variety to maintain motivation

Monotony is boring and will not give you motivation to continue.  Not only this but in terms of exercise, it is thought that variety increases how effective your workout is.  If you find you are bored doing what you are currently, try something new to bring a little excitement to your day and push your body harder.

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