I truly believe that most (well at least a lot) of people know the basics to healthy eating – plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, dairy and beans and legumes while limiting the amount of highly processed foods, ‘junk’ food and foods full of added sugars. And most people would know that regular exercise is great for health. I even have people come to see me who want to lose weight and say ‘I know what I need to do and I know what I’m doing wrong’. If so many people know ‘what they are doing wrong’ why don’t they just do things right? Why can’t people just put what they know into action? Unfortunately knowledge doesn’t equal change. Even if you know what the right thing to do is, you may not know how to put it into action. Putting knowledge into action takes skills, drive and motivation. So how can you stay motivated to put your healthy eating and weight loss knowledge into action?
Make realistic goals – Setting unachievable goals such as ‘I want to lose 10kg by the end of the month’ is setting yourself up for failure and failing is certainly not motivating. Success is motivating. Setting realistic goals, even if they are small, can help you stay on track. Better yet set goals that are not related to a number on the scales. You can’t control the number on the scale. You can certainly do things to help the number go down but ultimately it’s your body that determines what the number will be. Goals that are in your control may be to eat 5 serves of vegetables every day, to only drink water, to take your lunch to work at least 3 days a week…
Go slow and small – you didn’t gain 10 kg in a month so don’t expect to lose 10kg in a month. Eating healthy and losing weight is about making long lasting lifestyle changes. Going on a 5 day soup diet isn’t making lifestyle changes, it’s not sustainable and it’s not going to work in the long term. Losing weight slowly by making small lifestyle changes is more sustainable. Stop having that regular latte each afternoon and you save yourself 200 calories a day, by the end of the week you have said goodbye to 1,400 calories…did you even miss it? Probably not.
Be aware of set backs – no one is perfect. Sure you will have some days better than others, and even some weeks where you lack motivation but don’t give up. Don’t linger over any setbacks use them as motivation to start fresh. If you have had a day of over indulging get back on track the next day.
Reward yourself – rewarding yourself once you achieve your (realistic and achievable) goals is a great way to stay motivated. If you buy your lunch every day start taking your lunch and save the money you would have spent on a (non food related) reward – a massage, new clothes, hair cut, manicure, trip to the movies…
Get support – tell your friends, family, work colleagues about your goals. Good friends and family will help motivate you and keep you on track. If your goal is to lose weight and your friends know about it they won’t (hopefully!) drop by with a homemade cake or your work colleagues won’t pressure you to try the chocolate cookies the brought in for morning tea and your family can help motivate you by getting up early with you for a morning workout. Find people with similar goals so you can motivate each other.
Re evaluate every few weeks – At the start of every month look back at what you have achieved and be proud of yourself. Look at any setbacks you may have had and think about why they may have occurred and strategies you can use to overcome them in the future. Write down your new goals for the month, how you will achieve them, what barriers stand in your way and how you can overcome those barriers.
Practice makes perfect – This is my favourite tip! Practice makes perfect. Think about the first time you drove a car. You may have been thinking ‘I’m never going to get the hang of this’, but now you do it automatically without thinking about it because you practised practised practised. The more you do things the easier it gets. Getting up 30 minutes earlier to go for a jog may seem like hell to begin with but practice makes perfect, the more you do it the easier it will get. The more you pass on having dessert after dinner the easier it will get. The more you stop having a biscuit with your coffee the easier it will get. The more you start taking the stairs the easier it will get. The more you swap soft drink for water the easier it will get….