Motivation Articles

7 Things that Separate Weight-Loss Winners & Losers

How You Could Stay on Top of Your Game

As you've probably figured out, winning at weight loss is about making long-lasting, life-altering change. Just like any sport or skill, you might start out a little rocky. Choosing healthy foods, trying different workouts, and finding the strategies that work for you will take a little practice.  As you find your stride, those habits will get easier and you'll start knocking down more barriers that try to get in your way. Your momentum will start to build and you'll be ticking away at your weight loss goals one by one. Soon enough, you'll reach a fantastic tipping point when you feel a shift in the energy and really enter "the zone"—the stadium starts to flutter, the crowd starts to cheer! And you are winning at weight loss!
Whether you’re focusing on your diet or hitting the gym, the commitment to long-term weight loss takes the mindset and mental stamina of a champion. You’ve got to have a supportive team and a great playbook to get on a winning streak. In this head-to-head match that lasts a lifetime, it’s all about preparation. Your success will be determined by how well you set your strategy and play the game.
We're opening the playbook on the weight-loss game. Here are the winning strategies you'll need!
Winners Set Small Goals
It seems so straightforward: Your main goal is to lose weight. So, now you can just decide how much to lose and power through to the finish line, right? Unfortunately, simply knowing how many pounds you want to drop may not be enough to help you win this game. Rather than only focusing on the end zone, a better strategy is to set lots of small milestones on your weight-loss journey. Perhaps you want to run a 5K, curl 20-pound dumbbells, squeeze more veggies into your diet, or fit into a smaller pair of jeans. All of these are great goals and tackling each one can keep you motivated to keep fighting the good fight. Plus, meeting these smaller benchmarks gives you the opportunity for more frequent pats on the back. If you only focus weight loss as your main achievement, you’ll miss out on celebrating all of the other small victories!
Winners Take Breaks and Timeouts
When you first set out to shed pounds, it is easy to overdo it. We all know that the best way to lose weight is by eating fewer calories and increasing physical activity. But, if you set too many harsh rules and regulations at the start, you’re likely to get overwhelmed by a too-strict diet and a tough-to-follow workout schedule. When you’re developing your weight-loss game plan, make sure that you pencil in time for breaks. Take a diet timeout to enjoy a slice of cake at friend’s birthday party. Schedule a relaxing soak in the tub on your day off from the gym. Be sure that your weight-loss rules include moderation and flexibility for you to spend some time (and calories) on the things you love in life. This will help you stay on track longer and reach lasting weight-loss success.
Winners Are Proud of Themselves
Publicly stating your goals and achievements has been proven to help people make steady progress. Everyone needs some support and accountability, so it’s important to let people around you know that you’re working on your weight loss and fitness. Plus, the more pride you show in your new skills, the more likely you’ll be to keep practicing them over time. Bring healthy snacks to family gatherings and share the recipe. Challenge your gym buddy to step up to a higher pace on the treadmill. Dare a co-worker to stay away from desserts for one whole week along with you. Letting others in on your goals will make you feel like a champion and can help you take your game to the next level.
Winners Take On New Challenges
Starting out with small, achievable goals is important for boosting your ego and scoring you some points early in the game. But be ever-mindful of the dreaded boredom that can set in as you adapt to your exercise and diet routines. Challenge creates change! So, when your yoga lessons seem stale, your salads are in a slump, or your local bike trail stops calling your name, you know it’s time to mix things up. As you start winning at weight loss, it will be crucial to keep assessing your emotional state and mental focus.  Make a habit of stepping out of your comfort zone and stepping up to new challenges. 
Winners Keep Score
How do you know how well you're doing if you're not keeping score? While "pounds lost" isn’t the only important digit to tally, it's important to track your progress in as many ways as possible. Start recording each move in the right direction: how much water you drink each day, how many servings of veggies you eat in a week, how many minutes of exercise you log, and more. Keeping track of more than just the numbers on the scale will help you realize progress when it happens, and this will motivate you to stay on course.
Winners Are Part of a Team
There is no "I" in "success." We often think of weight loss in terms of individual goals and meal plans. But many others currently share in your same struggle.  If we really want to reverse the obesity epidemic, we need to start thinking of weight loss and healthy living as a team sport. And with all the resources available today, from in-person support groups to online forums to workplace wellness committees, no dieter or fitness newbie should feel they have to go it alone. One winning strategy is to reach out within your office, your school, your family, your community and get others psyched up to slim down. The more team members you can recruit to join your weight-loss challenge, the more likely you and your team will rise to victory!
Winners Make It Fun
What do parents tell their kids the first time they try a new game or sport? "It isn’t about whether you win or lose. Just have fun playing the game!" The same advice applies to weight loss. Worrying too much about your waistline can actually cause you to engage in stress eating or become too depressed to work out.  When you’re trying hard to stick to your game plan, it is easy to underestimate the joy of the process. Do whatever you can to make healthy choices more fun. Whether you’ve discovered a new dog park near home, convinced a neighbor to start a vegetable garden, or counseled a walking buddy through a tough time, getting healthy has likely brought some great experiences your way. Step back every so often and remind yourself to enjoy the game and appreciate the important lessons you’re learning along the way!

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Member Comments

  • Different people need to do different things to be successful at weight loss. We aren't one size fits all.
  • Good points in this article, but I think you are doing many people a disservice by trying to make them believe that you need a team to lose weight. I enjoy articles on SP, and have learned many things, but I am not an overly social person, I value my privacy. I am proud of my weight loss, but that does not mean I need to announce it to the world, I prefer my privacy from coworkers, we are there to work not socialize, most of these people don't realize how tiring it is to hear them constantly going on about their husband, kids, mother in law or what ever the problem is today, or the TV programs they watched blow by blow, I don't even have a TV.

    Socializing every aspect of your life is a personal choice, not a necessity before you can lose weight!
  • I like this article. I am in the middle of a huge struggle and having the spark articles and blogs makes a huge difference. I have been 3 months now trying to take off weight. Problem is as hard as I try to eat right , every meal is a challenge. My colostomy surgeries put me in a position of not being able to eat many foods. Especially the ones I love most. I love my broccoli, my beans, my cauliflower. My go to snack was always first and foremost nuts. Now I try to plan and portion my meals eating proper foods. A tomato sandwhich...oh wait, I cannot have tomatoes, I want that sandwhich on a beautiful , fresh slice of whole wheat bread, oh nope, can only have white bread, the stuff I was taught years ago was poison. I cannot every again in my life have a handful of almonds, but I can have as many donuts as my little heart desires! The list goes on and on. Nothing can be more discouraging except that in 3 months I have not lost any weight but the good news is I have been able to maintain and not gain a single pound and at the end of the day when I am hungry and cranky, I come read my spark mail. That helps so, so much. I always find something that makes me look forward to trying again tomorrow. Thank you for that!
  • I think the group keeps me accountable and provides me with new ideas. Several people said it didn't take a group to gain the weight but I disagree, we are all surrounded by peop[le who encourage us to eat, or who bring "treats" to reward us. One of the hardest things about trying to enjoy healthy eating at work are all temptations provided by well meaning co-workers and supervisors.
  • Quite a few things in this article are valid for me, and good reminders. I also do not agree with the "there is no I in success" concept. People are very different in terms of what kind of structure and support works best for them. There is a lot of oversharing on social media in our culture right now, which makes some people think that nothing is real unless you connect about it with large numbers of people who you don't actually know. In the end you DO have to do it yourself, by each day to day decision you make. Some people lose weight with support on sites like this; some people socialize a lot on the same sites and don't lose that much weight. Some people lose weight without participating in a "weight loss team" but still might get much else from SparkPeople. You have to do what actually works for you.
  • I love excercising. I've tried Tabata this year and have done HIIT 3x this year. When my ankle heals up I'm going to sign up for more HIIT classes. Even though I lose weight super slow, I still enjoy excercising. My main reason for excercising is to loose weight and its frustrating to see my weight stagnant. But I wont stop having fun and I won't give up.
    Very good article. I have been "watching" my wt since I was a teenager, and have always tried to be healthy while losing. It has taken me a very long time to learn all of what was in this article. The most important thing I have learned is persistence. Never give up!
  • KJAZZ185
    I think it is important to build in breaks. That's the best part of this article. So many people who struggle with weight deal with the "all or nothing" mentality. If you don't give yourself "permission" to let go once in a while, it can turn into a downward spiral. If you maintain some of your program for the day - say keep your workout schedule, but then go out with the family and eat what you want that night, it help to keep you grounded (vs. just leaving it all behind for a day or two).
    Thanks for this article.
  • I think that the focus on the team part in the comments is misunderstanding it a bit.

    I've lost a considerable amount of weight, and have started getting muscle definition for the first time. I have friends, family, and co-workers who are now talking to me about what I've done and how I've done it. We compare notes and discuss what's been hard and how to overcome those difficulties. And I feel more motivated to keep going on the right path so that I don't let them down. I think this is more what is meant.
    Sorry, but weight loss is not a sport. There is no room for competition in weight loss - some people lose quicker than others. The goal is not to be the fast loser, but the person who hangs in there and loses for the long term, learns how to eat and exercise for better health. The person who is losing 1/2 pound every 2 weeks can become frustrated and give up if they are constantly compared to someone who is losing faster. That is not healthy.

    Reality is not "The Biggest Loser." No one should be shamed if they let their "team" down.

    Whatever happened to personal accountability? I can be just as successful, even more so, when I focus on my needs, rather than my contribution to the team's success.
  • Like others, I'm not big on the "team" one. I am perfectly happy to keep my fitness and weight private, thank you! The last thing I want is anyone comparing and judging me!

    However, I wholeheartedly agree with taking timeouts/breaks. So many articles and advice on this website stresses how to keep going even when you're not in the mood, but the truth, for me, is that when I try to struggle through it, I end up quitting for long periods of time. However, if I take a day to just relax & eat how I wanna eat, I am usually back on track by the next day.
    I do fine all day but when at work and when I first get home. I have fibromyalgia, restless legs and muscle spasms, so I am up alot at night in pain and I graze all night long. I t has cost me gaining over 70 lbs and I am trying to get back on track. I just don't know what to do I have to get control. I had lost 154 lbs and slowly am gaining it all back. I have depression anyway and this does not help.
  • A few comments disagree with the need for a "team" Maybe I don't need a competitive team, but having a supportive, encouraging team sure helps. I was able to take off the weight while being a "spark hermit" using the resources and never interacting with anyone. But I don't think I could have maintained for nearly 5 years without this community. There are so many yo-yo stories out there, each very individual. I want to learn from them and stay exactly where I am.
  • Nothing is a fit all,for me I find myself slipping if I do not meet with my
    TOPS group and weigh in. Accountability is important for the long haul on my journey.
    Self discipline is one of my always projects.

About The Author

Megan Coatley Megan Coatley
Megan is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with a masterís degree in applied behavior analysis from Western Michigan University. As a health and wellness coach, she combines her passion for nutrition and fitness with her professional talents to help others creative positive, lasting change and live healthier lives.

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