The weight loss experience is full of regular disappointment. The scale never moves fast enough, and sometimes doesn’t move at all – or worse, moves in the wrong direction! The mental strength, perseverance, and pushing through challenges is exhausting, and the potential to want to give up is high. The trick to consistent weight loss and creating an actual lifestyle change is to learn to navigate through these disappointments without getting off track.
Tips to persevere…
- Be Kind to Yourself. When you wake up in the morning and the scale has gone up, or you are mad at yourself for overeating or not exercising the day before, bullying yourself is not the answer. When we talk down to ourselves, we will treat ourselves in the same negative way.
- Example: Looking in the mirror you say… “I am so fat, I hate myself for the way I ate yesterday, I will never be able to lose this weight, I am disgusting and awful. But, today is a new day, and today is the day I am going to change.” Yet, at the first sign of weakness in the day you give in and treat yourself like that person you hate who you talked to in the mirror this morning.
- The better way: “I am unhappy with my weight this morning, and I do not feel well after eating the way I ate yesterday. I know if I keep working hard the weight will come off. I am learning to pay attention to my body and this week will be better. I know I don’t feel good when I don’t exercise, so I know I will learn to do this regularly. Today is going to be a better day. I am strong, I can do this. Everyone has setbacks, and that in no way means I cannot succeed.”
- See the Difference??!!
- Remember how far you’ve come. As we lose weight, it becomes hard to remember how far we’ve come. You may have lost 20 pounds (amazing success!), but now all you can see is the next 40 pounds you have to lose. This is another way to feel down, talk unkindly to yourself, and not appreciate how hard you have worked thus far.
- Take a before picture and monthly pictures along the way, and put on a vision board or post somewhere you can see. Even if you don’t have a specific before picture, go back and look at old photos and really pay attention to the differences you see. Look at these when you’re feeling like giving up!
- Use a piece of paper to make a line graph of your weight. I used simple white paper, made a dot every week, and began to connect the lines (with several sheets of paper connected by the end). Some weeks the line did not move (sometimes for several weeks during a plateau), and sometimes it moved up, but being able to see that over the months it had most certainly moved down was intensely motivating! This helped me to stay on track despite what the scale said.
- Track your measurements. Sometimes the scale isn’t moving, but the inches off your hips, waist, and thighs are! Track this monthly to watch the changes. And pay attention to how your clothes fit, losing sizes is way more fun than losing pounds!
- Look back in your journal, if you keep one, to see all of the hard work. I use free printable calendars online to log weekly weight, monthly measurements, daily exercise, and a star if I was on track with my eating. It helps to look back and see how dedicated I’ve been – or to help see why I may have been gaining weight.
- Use planning as a coping mechanism. Often when we turn to food or bad habits it is to cope with some sort of emotion, even if that emotion is boredom. Learning to fill your time with healthy activities is important for overall wellbeing, and can be a great strategy for weight loss.
- Rather than sitting in front of the TV/mindlessly eating/binging on social media, take some time to read a healthy article, plan your meals for the next day or week, prepare healthy foods to have for ease, plan your exercise routine, and/or plan your upcoming day or week (work, family, exercise, meal prep, downtime, errands, etc). Having a plan is so important in making this lifestyle work. Planning takes the stress out of having to think so intensely about the process of losing weight and makes the process easier and less taxing. And when you feel like you don’t have the time to plan, take a look at how many mindless moments and activities take up the day.
- Give yourself a break. NO, I don’t mean give up! Sometimes when we try and try and try and our efforts just seem to go nowhere, what we really need is a break. Whether stress, not eating enough, not sleeping enough, exercising too hard, feeling overwhelmed, never feeling satisfied, something isn’t right when you know you’re working hard but the effort just isn’t showing. Sometimes giving yourself one yummy treat, or skipping exercise for today, or saying no to that work or family event – or agreeing to attend, is the key to getting the scale to move again. Stress really does hold fat, so give yourself a break; setting limits with the intensity, as well as allowing yourself to have some fun, is hugely important in the psychology of weight loss! And always remember slow is the way to go, losing weight slowly increases the chances of keeping the weight off and looking and feeling better as you lose.
The unfortunate fact about weight loss is it can feel like a high cost endeavor in terms of giving up the foods we love, working to better manage our time, changing the situations or people we spend time with, exercising when we don’t feel like it, and learning new habits. Getting to that point takes patience and continually reminding ourselves the reward will come. Remember that creating those healthy habits is just as rewarding as losing the weight, so it is all worth the effort! When the process feels tough and you want to give up, be sure to have some of these (or other) strategies in place to get you through. Keeping on the healthy path will surely be more rewarding than giving up and going back.
You can do it!