Pave the Way for Persistence

When it comes to permanent weight loss, persistence is where the tire meets the road. There will be many ups and downs along this road, and you'll have to keep yourself going even when things get tough. If you’ve been working the previous eight steps in this plan, you have already done much of the preparation necessary to cultivate and support persistence. You’ve developed some knowledge and skills to help you overcome common stumbling blocks. And you’ve articulated your vision, found your inspiration, chosen your direction, designed some specific goals and strategies, and given your beliefs and attitudes a good reality check.

The next step is practice—developing a set of daily practices or situations that promote persistence. Here are some key elements you’ll want to include in your daily practice:

Surround yourself with excellence.
  • Find success stories that inspire you and read them often.
  • Associate yourself with people who are actively pursuing positive goals similar to yours.
  • Share your Vision Statement with a few people you can trust to be supportive, and ask them to give you a good kick in the butt when they think you need it.
  • Give yourself permission to demote non-supportive friends to “I’ll check in with you later” status.
Give your physical environment a persistence-building makeover.
The old cliché “out of sight, out of mind” is really true for human beings, as is its opposite, “in sight, in mind.” Your ability to persist to your final weight-loss goal will be much greater when you make sure that the places you spend most of your time are full of positive cues, such as objects, photos, inspiring quotes, and other visual reminders of your vision and your goals. You can also spare yourself a lot of grief by having several “go-to” strategies and tools for handling stress readily available: music to soothe the emotional eating beast, meditation, a journal to write in, candles, oils and scents for a relaxing hot bath, and so on.

Finally, make sure you eliminate as many negative cues and triggers as you can. Don’t keep foods you don’t want to eat in plain sight, put the exercise bike right in front of the TV so you have to sit on it to see the TV, etc. You get the idea.

Go public.
The more people who know about your goals, the more support you’ll get, and the harder it will be to find places where you feel comfortable NOT doing what you’ve said you want to do. Sometimes, embarrassment and peer pressure can be your friends.

Reward success, but don't punish yourself for failures.
Find small, enjoyable rewards for yourself when you do well. And keep in mind that doing well means doing your part well—healthy eating, exercise and self-care—not just seeing a change on the scale. When you don’t do so well, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of beating yourself up. Just get back on track. Find someone else who’s having a bad day and see if there’s something you can say or do to help them out. That works like a charm for getting yourself out of your own negative state of mind when all else fails.

For more persistence-building ideas, see:

Sharing Is Achieving
Goal Buddies Are Golden
Weight Loss Journals: Hands-On Inspiration

This article is Step 9 in SparkPeople's Mind Over Body series, a 10-step program to ending emotional eating and creating a permanent healthy lifestyle. View the full series here or continue to the next step.