Imagine this: showing up at a party and you're the only person wearing a bikini. Now, I want you to imagine doing this EVERY month. Why would anyone agree to do this? Maybe to keep themselves motivated to lose weight...?
Yes! A fabulous client of mine, Erica, just told me one of the craziest things she's done to motivate herself to stay on a diet so she could lose weight. She promised her friends that, if she didn't lose at least 4 pounds a month, she would come to a party every month in a bikini.
It worked for a little while, then it started to become exhausting and after 4 months she just couldn't do it anymore.
The dieting mindset can make you agree to some crazy things…things you'd never thought you would ever do. I'm guilty of it, and you probably are too. When people are trying to lose weight and keep it off, they'll do almost ANYTHING to be successful, including getting your jaws wired shut, turning to an all-liquid diet, and even getting your stomach stapled.
If you have to resort to "motivation" that results in humiliation, exhaustion, or can endanger your health, you are NOT eating healthy…YOU ARE ON A DIET.
So, how do you stay motivated when temptation is everywhere??
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. Different things motivate different people to maintain a healthy lifestyle for the long-term. External motivators like positive feedback from family/friends, motivational quotes/books/pictures, and a strong support system of like-minded people can be very helpful.
But what happens when those things don't work??
That's when your internal motivation needs to kick in. Here's what I do: I ask myself how I want to feel everyday. Yes, I know I've mentioned this a million times before, but I keep talking about it because it works! The words I've chosen for myself (energy, abundance, pleasure, aliveness, freedom) guide my actions during the day, including my eating. When I come face to face with a tray of chocolate chip cookies, willpower and motivational quotes don't work for me. Instead, I remind myself that I want to feel energized, and eating 6 or 7 cookies will put me into a sugar coma. This little mindset shift allows me to pass altogether on the cookies or just have 1 or 2. Because I'm motivated by how I want to feel, I can make an empowered choice, instead of feeling like I'm denying myself something good.
Here's what you can do: take 10-15 minutes to jot down how you'd like to feel, then choose 4 or 5 that best describe how you want to feel. Decide what activities you can do each day to get those feelings.
Why is it so important to know how you want to feel??
When I do this exercise with people, words like "energized", "happy", "joyful", and "free" always come up.
But, when you start a diet or some type of weight loss plan, these are NOT the feelings you get. Instead you start to feel: deprived, hungry, confused, irritable, exhausted. No one sets out to feel that way, but that’s usually what happens.
Like any new behavior, refining your internal motivation will take practice. YOU MUST DO IT EVERY DAY.
The ultimate goal is to behave differently without having to think about it. You will get there.
You just have to DECIDE that you want it and TRUST that it is possible. Ask for help if you need it.
What's the craziest thing you've ever done to motivate yourself to lose weight? If you can top Erica's story, I'd love to hear it. Just leave your story in the comments section below.
Here's to losing weight with sanity in 2014!!