Motivation Articles

6 Essential Pieces of Weight-Loss Advice for the Halfway Mark

Tips for Dealing with a Plateau

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You're about to sit down to another salad with chicken, like you eat every day for lunch, when it hits you: You just can't do this healthy eating thing anymore. And the thought of tonight's spin class makes you want to scream. You just want to inhale a bag of potato chips and not feel guilty about it. Whether you're in the middle of trying to lose 100 pounds or you're three months into a new fitness routine, your motivation to lose weight is gone. So what do you do?
 
Excuse the cliché, but weight loss is very much a marathon, not a sprint, which can be difficult to accept when you see significant progress right out of the starting gate and then watch as it slows way down over the next few months. Plateaus tend to rear their ugly head and wreak havoc on your motivation at some point along the journey to weight loss, but they don't have to derail your progress. Learning how to arm yourself early against the mental blocks and ennui that can come with being right in the middle of your weight-loss journey is key in leaping over that hurdle and powering through to the finish line.
 

Re-Evaluate Your Reason


"The first step to getting motivated again is to look at why you wanted to lose weight in the first place", says Lisa Austin, personal trainer and owner of It Fits Personal Training. Did you want to lose weight simply to look better for a big event, or were you doing it to lower your blood pressure or decrease your risk of heart disease? If your reason for losing weight isn't serious enough, it's easy to lose your motivation. Many people give up because they realize they don't really want to do the work, even though they know they should lose weight. Improving your diet and exercising regularly is hard, though, and you can't be successful if your heart really isn't in it.
 
Consider making a list of all the ways your life could improve once you lose the weight or how your health will benefit. Then, when your motivation is at an all-time low, consult the list and remind yourself of all the positives waiting for you at the end of the road.
 

Embrace the Learning Experience


Losing your motivation doesn't mean you're a failure, so don't beat yourself up. Think about what you've learned, instead. If you've tried lifting weights a few times but hate it, you haven't failed because you don't like weights—you've simply discovered what you don't enjoy. If you haven't worked out for a while, Austin recommends making a deal with yourself to exercise for only four minutes at a time. "A few minutes of stair climbing, jumping jacks or planks every day is better than going to the gym once a week for an hour and hating it", says Austin. This is a short, easy-to-reach goal, and it's likely you'll want to keep going after those four minutes are up. If not, you've got some exercise in and you haven't let yourself down.
 

Acknowledge the Stress Connection


"Stress causes many women to lose motivation", says Lisa Hocking, registered holistic nutritionist. If you're working all day, then rushing home to take the kids to soccer practice while also trying to maintain some sort of relationship with your partner, you're likely pushing your own goals and needs aside. It's hard to lose weight when you're busy taking care of everybody else, and you might not realize how stressful your life really is because it just seems normal to you.
 
Calling your best friend to vent about the day or sitting down with a cup of tea and a good book will help give you the mental and physical energy you need to keep eating right and exercising. "Self-care is important if you want to stay motivated", says Hocking. 

Escape the Boredom Trap


If you're bored with your diet, break out of your mealtime rut by trying different foods instead of eating the same things all the time. Pick some new recipes each week and buy all the ingredients at once so you have what you need to make healthy meals every day. Consider adding a meal prep day to your calendar so you can do all your prep work at once and make large batches of foods like soups and stews to freeze, which is what Hocking does each week. That way, you always have a healthy meal that you can warm up quickly, instead of being forced to order pizza again.
 
Going back to what worked for you at the beginning of your weight loss can re-energize you. Clean out your cupboards again and toss any foods like potato chips and cookies that have crept back in. Crack open the food journal if it's been gathering dust, too. Keeping track of your meals every day will show where your eating habits have slipped.
 

Make it Manageable


If the thought of having to lose a large amount of weight is so overwhelming that you want to give up, break your goal into smaller, attainable chunks. Instead of focusing on the 50 pounds or more you need to lose, concentrate only on the next 10 pounds instead, which is difficult enough to be a challenge but not unachievable. You are more likely to stay motivated if your goal isn't too easy or too difficult—otherwise known as "The Goldilocks Rule".
 
It may seem surprising, but motivation is the result of taking action, not the cause of it. Even if it's only baby steps, getting started is what motivates you to keep going. It's that tiny thrill you get when you've done what you've set out to do. It's the reason why exercising for only a few minutes gives you the push you need to keep going.
 

Create a Ritual


Creating an easy-to-repeat ritual is another way to get motivated. If you exercise in the morning, that means putting on your workout clothes as soon as you wake up. Wearing that outfit is your ritual, the signal that says it's time to exercise, no thought required. Another ritual might be to drive straight to the grocery store after work on Fridays so you can prep your meals over the weekend.
 
Your motivation is likely to slip when you can't make healthy choices easily. If you need extra support, hiring a personal trainer or a nutritionist might be a good way to stay accountable. Losing weight is hard work, but look forward to where you could be in six months, one year or five years and remember that all the struggles, sweat and strength are all adding up to something great. Don't give up. Keep going, and do something your future self will thank you for. 

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Member Comments

  • This is a great blog. No matter where you are , lots of sensible, doable, information .
  • I will keep trying
  • Halfway there is a celebration but also sort of a downer. This article helps.
  • Whenever I feel like throwing in the towel, I read this article and it puts my mind back in the right space.
  • So true....especiall
    y the reason why. For me, I will NOT lose motivation because either I eat right and exercise or I'll die. Literally. Every day I tell myself I'm doing this today because I am determined to beat cancer. I am strong. I am healthy. That is my motto.
  • such a good article
  • this article hit home today, as it was one of those days when I was practically gnashing my teeth together I wanted to eat so bad! It wasn't cause I was hungry. It wasn't cause I wasn't drinking water. It was just one of those days and I knew if I gave in to it like I wanted, it was all over! So I did give in a little by having an extra snack and a double portion of lean turkey for dinner. now I feel FULL, without having totally blown my calories for the day. It is a marathon, and sometimes we hit the wall, but we have to power through it to get to the finish.
  • Motivation is the result of taking action. What a profound point. I usually try to find motivation first, and then act on it. Hmmm.
    Someone once told me to "Do the deed and the heart will follow." I didn't really understand what they meant, till I started telling myself "If you just workout for 5 minutes, you can go back to bed (or whatever else seemed more pleasurable at the time.) Once I get going, it is easier to keep going. Not always, I'll admit, but usually.
    Losing weight is hard and it does take work. I think it is weird how I can eat a Snickers bar everyday and never think "Oh no, not a Snickers again! I am so sick of chocolate and peanuts." Never happens!
    But you give me a chicken salad everyday and I think..."My life is over, kill me now!" I guess that is human nature for you!
    Didn't mean to go on and on. Enjoyed the article. Keep up the good work!
  • Gotta say, I don't quite agree with this article. It makes valid points, but its comparisons are simplistic and devaluing.
  • give it lots of time
  • Comparing losing weight to 'warriors" is disrespectful to all the men and women in our military. There are many better terms for people trying to lose weight than this.
  • I don't know if it's a ritual, but for me, exercising in some shape EVERY morning is non negotiable and helps me keep off the weight loss.
  • Comparing weight loss, fitness and health eating to 'a marathon' with 'a finish line' is misleading. It doesn't end when you 'get there' that is when the work of maintaining begins. Which is equally challenging because it does not meet the 'Goldilocks rules' of just-right challenge and immediate feedback on progress. There is no progress if you do it well, and there is no challeng to aspire to, unless you play with new fitness goals. It's just staying the course. So healthy eating and fitness have to become just who you are, what you do.
  • ETHELMERZ
    All of these tips help, but over time and years, they wear thin, and become meaningless. So sick of salads, hate to even fix them for others. Tired of looking up more boring recipes. The rituals of eating the same things is what keeps dieters able to go on for long periods of time....stress is not easily solved by calling some other poor soul and venting, either.
  • This article resonated with me! I've lost and kept off 117 lbs so far but for almost a year I have lost no an ounce. I am maintaining which I'm told is good but it is frustrating--I monitor/keep track of what I eat daily-- I'm not perfect & there are times when I pig-out on sweets or snackies but I get back on track the next day. Part of my problem is worsening mobility issues--back to using a cane & a walker by times. Movement of any type--walking even is difficult. I do try to do some chair exercises but again issues with back/shoulders/ha
    nds/wrists limit me. So giving up is NOT an option--I have 45 lbs or so to go and I'm sure at some point I will succeed--just going to take longer than planned!

About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.