You’ve been so disciplined with your weight loss regimen - hired a personal trainer, triumphantly threw out the ice cream, piously refused the donuts at work and, a couple of weeks into it, you are starting to lose your will. Will you be able to push through tough times? Or have you unwittingly set yourself up for failure?
Losing weight and keeping it off relies heavily on what you eat, a little bit on your physical activity and most importantly -- your attitude! Lasting weight loss can be slow and frustrating -- and it's all too easy to give up before you reach your goal. With the right mental tools your chances of diet success can be greatly improved.
Struggling to lose weight? We are here to help…Try these 5 tips for weight-loss success.
Before you cut a single calorie it’s important to prepare well so that you can be successful. It's called S.M.A.R.T goal setting-- and it really works! In fact, one of the strongest predictors of long-term diet success lies in setting the right goal at the start. If you decide you will lose 30 pounds in 2 months you may be setting yourself up for failure.
So how do you know what the right goal is? Start by making a SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC and TIME-LINED goal. This means setting a reasonable but specific, attainable benchmark, like losing 6 pounds or a single dress size, in a month. This will give you the confidence and motivation to proceed.
Weight-loss happens when you make real lifestyle changes. Realize that it takes time for new habits to stick. Keep in mind that optimal weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds a week and you have a better chance at keeping the weight off if you lose it at a healthy rate. If you cut too many calories too fast it’s easy to get irritable, feel like you are starving and quit. But if you start slowly by cutting 200 calories a day, for instance, you won’t suffer and the weight will come off and stay off.
Temptation is everywhere. If you expect to adhere to your new diet perfectly, every slip up will seem like a disaster. So what do you do if your boss brings in cupcakes and insists that you have one? There are certain social situations that dictate a little cheating.
The danger isn't a single splurge but letting it become an excuse for an all-out binge. You know the feeling, “I’m a failure so I may as well give up.” Reframe that thought -- “that was tasty, now it’s time to get back on the wagon.” Bottom line, forgive yourself and move on.
Why do it alone? There are tools that can help with everything from sending you reminders to drink water to improving your workouts in the gym. Take advantage of all the resources available for reaching your goal. If you have dieted in the past you are aware of some of the challenges you may face. Think ahead about the tools you will need to succeed.
If you have a diet saboteur in your life, find a way to let them know that you need their support. Also, finding other people with similar goals, perhaps at the gym, can greatly improve yours odds of diet success. It really helps to have someone to call when your willpower collapses.
There are also many gadgets that can help. Meal trackers are a must when freshly starting a diet. Knowing your calorie budget and sticking with that budget is the only proven way to lose weight and keep it off. By tracking your meals, you will become familiar with how much of your favorite foods you can have without sabotaging your diet. After tracking for a while, choosing the right portions will become second nature. If you find that you have stopped tracking and hit a weight-loss plateau, you can always reenlist your trackers to see where you are going wrong.
Still can’t choose the right foods or just don’t have the time? Try a pre-made calorie-controlled meal plan. These plans are low maintenance and make tracking calories extremely easy and efficient.
If we aren't achieving our goals (yet) it can be easy to focus on anything and everything that isn't going right. This can especially be a problem if our goals are too broad, take too long to achieve, are intangible, or are simply unreasonable in the first place. But even when we set S.M.A.R.T goals, it can still be a challenge to push through to reach them.
During times of wavering will, when you feel "nothing is happening," take a step back and see if that really is the case. Many times we are making great progress, we just aren't paying proper attention to it.
You may not have lost the percentage of body fat you had desired, but can you do more push-ups than you could before? Are you able to run longer without stopping? Are you less hungry or sneaking less snacks? These examples are all positive results of your hard work!
If you set great goals, and monitor your progress in many incremental ways, you'll find that you are mentally and physically a stronger version of yourself than when you started. Consider ending each day by listing three things in your diet journal that you can be proud of about your progress (no matter how small they may seem). You'll be amazed at all the wonderful changes happening each and every day. Plus, a little daily positivity goes a long way towards establishing a mental state that is primed for success!
Tip #6: Reward Yourself
Dieting is hard work and, frankly, not that much fun. Celebrating your diet success will fortify your resolve to continue on the right path. Now we’re not talking about rewarding yourself with a pint of ice cream after you have lost five pounds but recognizing small milestones with non-food rewards. Think about how you will reward yourself as you set your S.M.A.R.T goals. Perhaps you will purchase a new pair of shoes or a charm bracelet and add a charm for every 5 pounds you lose.
Make sure the reward is proportionate to the milestone. After losing 20 pounds, a spa day is certainly in order. After losing 30 pounds a shopping spree or that vacation you’ve been dreaming of for years. By connecting your weight-loss success to a tangible, memorable reward, you will be that much more appreciative of yourself for putting in the hard work.
If you need more motivation to stay focused. Check out the Diet-to-Go Daily Dish forum.
Author: Brandi Redo
Brandi is a Certified Health Coach at Diet-to-Go, based in Lorton, VA. Balance is the number one mission in Brandi’s life. In her spare time she loves to bike, do Zumba and play tennis, but hates gym exercise. She is an amateur gardener and nature walker, who is on the constant look out for interesting insects and small animals. Brandi encourages people to “find the sweetness in life.”