It’s easy to feel motivated at the start of your diet: you’re taking steps towards better health, you’re enthusiastic about a new goal, maybe other people in the office are joining in … and the first few weeks go brilliantly.
But then, your weight loss slows down, life gets busier, and your diet and exercise routine become monotonous. Your motivation is disappearing almost as fast as the chocolate hobnobs in your desk drawer…
Here’s ten ways to keep up your motivation for your diet:
1. Give yourself a break
If you’re tempted to give up altogether, try taking a weekend off your diet instead. Don’t go completely mad, but eat whatever you fancy, and stop once you’re full. A couple of days of not dieting won’t make much difference to your long-term weight loss … but it could well save your diet.
2. Look at how far you’ve come
Do you have a photo from “before” you started dieting? Dig one out, and remind yourself how well you’ve done so far – whether you’ve lost three pounds or three stone. If you recorded your starting weight, then think how much you’ve lost. Or look at your diet diary and see how much healthier your choices are today compared with a few months ago.
3. Pick a challenge, target or deadline
Some people (myself included!) find it hard to get motivated without some sort of challenge, deadline or competition. How about challenging yourself to give up alcohol for a fortnight, or chocolate for a month? Why not look for a sporting event to enter – perhaps a sponsored walk or a fun run? Or, pick a date on the calendar (your birthday, Christmas, a family get-together) and set a target weight to achieve by then.
4. Hire a coach or personal trainer
Many personal trainers or coaches will offer a free “taster” session so you can see if you get on well with their style. A good trainer or coach is expensive, but the occasional session (maybe once a month) can be a great boost to your motivation. Don’t just think sports – there are coaches for all sorts of areas, and you might find that tackling a problem such as time management, stress or your life goals also helps get your diet back on track.
5. Read some great quotes
Some writers and speakers have the knack of giving pithy, uplifting, or funny quotes which can distract us from thinking about what’s in the fridge. I’ve listed some motivational quotes before, and they’re worth pinning to your noticeboard or using as your screensaver.
6. Talk or write about your feelings
Bottling up your thoughts, worries and frustrations about your diet and exercise won’t help you to stay motivated. Talk things through with a trusted friend or relative – or, if you don’t have anyone you can chat to, try writing in a journal about how you feel.
7. Treat yourself to something nice
When you’ve worked hard, it’s good to reward yourself. Give yourself a little present for how well you’ve done with your healthy living plans so far – it doesn’t matter if you’ve not even lost a pound, so long as you’ve made changes to your lifestyle. How about buying a novel by one of your favourite authors, enjoying a long soak in the bath, going to the cinema, or buying some new clothes to show off your improved figure?
8. Try a couple of naturally low-fat foods you don’t usually eat
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with your diet, but it’s not a good idea to survive on the same breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. If you’ve reduced the range of different meals you eat to cut out high-fat options, start looking for some new low-fat foods. Some of my favourites that I only “discovered” after starting to diet (I used to be a very picky eater) include mushrooms, cottage cheese, and prawns.
9. Have a go at a new exercise or sport
Many of us are even more prone to stagnating in our exercise routine than with our diet. Trying out a couple of difference machines in the gym (get one of the staff to demonstrate first), or having a go at a new class, can be all you need to get enthused about exercise again.
10. Subscribe to blogs which you enjoy, so you get frequent updates
This is one of my favourite ways to keep my motivation up, to stay focused on healthy living and to keep learning more about good nutrition and exercise practices: read blogs. If you use an feed (RSS) reader such as Google Reader, you can subscribe to your favourite blogs – meaning you’ll get updates from each straight into your feed reader’s inbox, as soon as they’re published.
Google Reader is pretty good at finding the feed if you just type in the address of the blog, but in case you’re struggling, here’s some I’m subscribed to: