10 Tips for Staying Motivated All Year Long: Tip No. 1

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Ask any veteran of the weight loss wars and they’ll tell you that success depends just as much on exercising your mind as on exercising your body and changing your diet.

Let’s face it. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how to eat and exercise if you want to lose weight. Sure, there are lots of things it’s very helpful to know, especially if you want to avoid wasting your time and money on some “you can lose 30 pounds in 2 weeks” scam, or on one of the dozens of ineffective fad diets that hit the book stores and magazine racks every January. But the basics are pretty simple: eat a little less, choose healthy foods, move your body more.

If you’re like me, though, the real challenge is actually getting yourself to consistently do what you know you need to do. This is the first in a series of 10 weekly blogs where I’ll share some “attitude adjustment” tips that helped me lose 150 pounds and keep it off for five years.

Read on for Tip No. 1:

In my 60 years on this planet, I’ve gained, lost, and regained way more weight than most people will ever weigh. I lost more than 90 pounds twice, over 60 pounds two other times, and 10-25 pounds more times than I can remember. I’ve known how to lose weight since I was 14. But despite all that losing, I also managed to get myself up to my highest weight of over 370 pounds by the age of 50. I should have been the poster boy for yo-yo dieters.

Right now, I’m about 150 pounds lighter than my heaviest weight, and for the first time, I’ve managed to keep my weight fluctuations within about 10 pounds of my goal weight for almost five years. On my 50th birthday, I could barely walk 2 blocks, and if the elevator went out in my 3-story apartment building, I was grounded. This week, I spent my day off enjoying a 30-mile bike ride through a redwood forest and a couple hours of hiking up and down the side of a mountain to explore a very beautiful beach. It wasn’t work or “exercise”—it was fun.

The difference this time is all in my head. This time, I learned a little about how to manage my attitude, not just how to lose weight. Here’s “attitude adjustment” exercise No. 1:

Tip No.1. Put your goals and strategies in positive terms.

One mistake I kept making over and over again was setting up my weight loss plans in negative terms. I made lists of foods I didn’t want to eat, figured out which behaviors I had to stop doing, and set up rewards and incentives for losing a certain amount of weight by a given date. This usually worked for a little while, but sooner or later, I always started feeling so guilty when I broke my diet or exercise “rules,” or so deprived and resentful about not being able to eat what, when, and how much I wanted, that I would either go on a binge, or chuck the diet out the window completely. Likewise, every time the scale didn’t cooperate with my weight loss goal for the week, even though I’d been sticking to my plan pretty well, I’d get frustrated and start wondering if all my effort was really worth it.

This time around, I’ve been able to minimize these problems by putting my goals in positive terms. My overall goal wasn’t to “lose weight”—it was to get healthy and be able to do the things I wanted, and feel good about being in my own skin. My strategies focused on finding healthy foods I like to eat, eating them in moderation, and finding physical activities I enjoy doing. I rewarded myself for sticking to these plans, even if my scale weight didn’t budge or moved a little in the wrong direction.

So, here’s my suggestion. If you haven’t done it already, write down your weight loss, fitness, and/or health goals for this year, including what you plan to do to make those goals happen. Then, go through your list carefully, looking for negative language—don’t, won’t, stop, avoid, lose, quit, never, etc. Wherever you see something expressed in negative terms, see if you can change the wording so it expresses what you do want to do, instead of what you don’t want to do. Plan rewards for sticking to your performance goals pretty well over a certain length of time, like 2 weeks or a month (but don’t expect yourself to be perfect—if you stick to your plan 80 to 90% of the time, you’ll do fine).

You can read a little more about this here.

Are your goals and strategies for 2009 in positive or negative terms? Which approach do you think works better for you?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


YMWONG22 8/29/2020
Thanks. Report
CHERYLHURT 8/20/2020
Great Report
I agree with putting goals in positive terms. I gave up drinking soda without trying. My goal was to drink 8 glasses of water a day. I never made giving up soda a goal, but it happened anyway because I was focused on enjoying water. Report
EVIE4NOW 7/20/2020
Good advice. Thanks Report
First tip is best tip. Report
SPARKNB 3/12/2020
Yes, we can! Report
SUNSET09 2/11/2020
We can do it, SparkFriends. Oh, yeah Report
Great advice. Thinking positive makes the journey easier. It is more fun to run towards something than to run from something. Report
Thanks Report
so, I'm late to this party but I really enjoyed this blog. I have never stuck with any program as long as I have this time and I KNOW it's my attitude. The positive reinforcement from my Spark Teams make all the difference. Report
Thanks, I sooooo can use tips from time to time LOL Report
SUPER advice from Dean, as always! Adding more fruit is sooooo much more effective than taking away muffins, cookies, cakes, for example, and if you really do add more fruit, those empty carbs are way less appealing and fade into the background by themselves. Woo hoo! Report
Yes!!! I aim to start my goal sentences with these words:
I am
I will continue
I choose

Awesome blog coach dean, also I am continuing to REWARD myself.
This month I am alcohol free (and loving the challenge) plus Tracking everything that passes my Lovely lips. Report
I'm definitely putting my goals in the positive this time which will be the time I reach my goal & stay there! No food is off limits, exercise is enjoyable, and lots of posting on SP! Report
wonderful accomplishments! great suggestions, especially about the negative wording and rewarding the effort rather than the specific weight or activity! Report
I found this article at a good time, as this weekend I have planned to sit down and assess how last year went, and write out all my goals for next year. Thanks for the good advice! Report
I guess the negative terms, such as "I don't want to eat lots of chocolate" sort of a challenge, a trigger to do the opposite. It's like when someone say no to you for something, you will want more of that something. Maybe that's why when we strictly denied ourselves with our favourite foods, the cravings are getting worse than before we started the restriction. Good tip, I'll refer back to my list and make the negative to positive terms :D Report
The power of Positive thinking is a reality and needed to lose the weight and keep it off!!!
Great suggestion, keeping the negative words away from my goals! Thanks Report
YES! I want to look and feel healthy. Be proud of myself and boost my self confidence.

Here's a 2010 goal with "negative" language, but I have a feeling this one can slide: I want to quit smoking for good in 2010. Report
This is a great tip and often our biggest challenge--reframing our thoughts from the possibility of failure to the potential for success. Thank you for sharing your story and your insight... you remain an inspiration and an asset to the SP community! Report
I plan on being more connected in calling my friends and returning calls when expected. Some of my people think I don't return calls within the "required" time limit! Report
Thanks for the inspiration right when I needed it! I have been pretty discouraged lately, and just joined SP last night. I've been reading lot on the site, and your blog really helped me! I love you positive thinking : ) Report
Thanks for the inspiration. This really gave me something to think about. I'm glad to have read this and have a feeling it will have a positive influence on me :o) Report
What about double negatives? I won't never be big again. Report
I've think I've written my goals in positive terms, but I think I'll double check, and review them! Thanks for the tips! Report
This is so great. I have had such a bad vibe about exercise that i dread doing it. after reading this article i think i'm going to walk to the beach and have a swim. i love to swim. Report
Thanks for the good suggestion. It is always good to hear from someone who has actually had to work to lose weight and understands what we are facing. Most people who have never had a weight issue never really understand. Report
I love this, I will revise my goals Report
I can't wait to read all 10 tips! Report
I have a combination of both. There are some things I want to avoid eating so I put those negative.
But my fitness goals and some of my nutrition goals are positive - it's easier to say I will run 3 days a week than to say I won't sit around 3 days a week ;-) Report
Thanks so much for this article. It is motivating! Report
I think that my goals are in fairly positive terms, but I'm certainly going to go over them again after reading this. Report
I like having links to articles in the blog. It gives me a theme to follow today. Report
I POSITIVELY agree!!! Coach Dean, you're absolutely right!! I have lost 109 pounds by focusing on positive, not negative; by developing a healthy lifestyle, not dieting; by being active everyday, not sitting in the recliner!!!! Am not done yet, but am POSITIVE I'll get there!! Report
Thank you very much for writing this article. Your story is my story. And in a very concise manner, you have written what I have just figured out after fifty-four years!
I am looking forward to the future now with positive goals and sensible strategies.
Thank you. Report
That is a great idea and very motivating. Report
Coach Dean, I really like your approach in the articles you right about taking ownership of your attitudes. I've read several of your blogs and articles that emphasize this (one of my favorites is the one about "shutting up for a minute before talking yourself out of exercising"), and I think that type of personal responsibility is just remarkable. Let's face it, deep down we all know what we need to do to lose weight effectively....the "knowing" isn't the problem, it's the "doing". But having the right attitiude approach can make a big difference in your success. Being kinder to ourselves while holding ourselves accountable is a great "meeting in the middle". Thanks so much for this blog and I look so forward to reading the next installments as the weeks come up.
Shannon Report
Thanks Dean
Very good strategy, not just for healthy living but all aspects of life. Report
I think looking at things from a different angle is a must. Losing the weight is more than just what your scale says. A few years ago when I started this journey, I started listing things to remind myself what it was that I didn't like about being overweight. Like, not fitting into a plastic lawn chair, my wedding ring was too tight to wear. The scale is only one way to measure it. Report
Great article and very timely, too. I've lost 80 pounds without 'too' much yo yoing over the past two years and have another 50 to go this year. Thanks for reminding me to keep my focus on the positive and making the right choices for me. KUDOS to you on your weight loss, too. Report
Great article. I have a lot of goals and I have failed in previous attempts so today I say "I will eat healthier" Report
Good article!!! I needed some help with motivation. Report
Thanks! This was helpful info. I'm going to review my goals to make sure I don't have any negative expressions. :o) Report
Awesome aricle =)) Report
Very good article, great job on keeping the weight off.J~ Report
good article...i look forward to the rest of your series. oh and congrats on keeping off the weight for so long! Report
A fantastic blog entry - I wish I could make it a favorite! Report
thank you, great article. Report
Great article, thanks for sharing
looking forward to the next one.
Oh the power of Positive thinging. Report