Trying to lose weight can sometimes feel like a Sisyphean exercise in futility: We finally manage to push the scale down a few numbers, only to watch it slowly crawl back up. Occasionally we know exactly where the wrong dietary or lifestyle turn was taken, but often there seems to be no rhyme or reason.
Luckily, there are many ways to replace bad habits with healthier ones, keep track of what made the scale move up, and other things everyone can do to ensure that our best-laid exercise and diet plans yield great results.
Below are 5 tips to help keep weight loss efforts moving up the mountain of motivation without the frustration of backsliding down:
1. Don’t Torture Yourself—
If you buy the junk food and salty snacks, you will eat them. You know this, and are only self-sabotaging if you buy them as an “occasional treat.”
We’ve all done this, fully aware that the many servings we’re visualizing that bag of chips providing will most likely end with an empty bag of chips eaten in one sitting, and a lot of self-loathing. Don’t do this to yourself. Why make it harder?
By keeping the empty calories out of the house and making it a major effort to acquire them, you’ll reduce your occasional treats to what they’re supposed to be, rather than an excuse to binge.
And if you’re absolutely dying for that chocolate bar, consider walking or biking to the nearest store for your craving to help burn off some of the calories before you even ingest them.
2. Become a Writer—
It can be painful to see it on paper, but it really helps to write down your current weight, weight loss goals and fitness plans in a journal; perhaps the one you use to document your daily caloric intake.
There’s something about writing things down that makes them feel tangible and official, creating accountability while motivating us to solve the problem.
Looking ahead to the weight and fitness finish line can also help you visualize yourself achieving goals, keeping you on-track during the process.
3. Do the Math—
It’s really important to figure out how many calories a person at your height and age should be eating to lose weight, because simply cutting down may not be enough.
Once you’ve figured out your daily caloric target (there are multiple websites online for this), your food journal will let you know if you need to make changes.
Many dieters become afraid to eat once they start to see results because they’re so excited about the weight loss. But eating too few calories per day slows down the metabolism, creating a demotivating plateau when the scale stops moving, so be sure to eat enough to keep your body burning fuel.
So remember that food is your friend, not the enemy. You can always fuel up on fiber-rich and naturally low-calorie foods like vegetables to make sure your metabolism keeps running at top speed.
4. Aim High with Exercise Goals—
No matter what your fitness level, you can find some form of exercise to start out with, such as walking, swimming or riding a stationary bike. Start slowly to work up without injury, and progress consistently.
But rather than setting a goal to exercise 4 times a week, why not aim higher and try to push yourself instead? Set that goal for 6 workouts a week, and really try to achieve it.
Not only will this make you more likely to exercise at least 4 times a week as originally planned, you might surprise yourself and do 6 workouts a week, with even faster fitness results. Bonus!
5. Gather your Group—
Get the people in your life that you trust to help you accomplish your fitness goals, and ask for their support, or even include them in your workout and diet regimen.
One of the main reasons professional weight loss companies succeed is because they gather like-minded people together to unite in a common goal, hold each other accountable, and motivate the group.
By creating your own group of friends to start a morning before-work boot camp, an after-work session at the gym, a running group, or any way you choose to exercise together, you will eliminate many of the days you might have decided you were too tired to work out.
Nobody wants to be the weakest link, and this healthy competition can really give your weight loss a push in the right direction. For example: Take a timer (or cell phone/app) with you and see who can do the most sit-ups before the alarm goes off. Or try to burn the most treadmill calories in the same amount of time. These kinds of friendly contests can make working out fun and more effective at the same time.
Be sure to get plenty of sleep and drink extra water, because both of these things can lead to a false sense of hunger, and use the 5 tips above to keep your fitness and weight loss program moving forward.
Most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself if you have a setback, because one bad moment doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it simply means you’re human. Forgive yourself and keep going knowing that you can achieve your fitness and weight loss goals.