By Brandy Vickery, Contributing blogger
Staying committed to your fitness goals can be very discouraging when you’re eating healthy and working out regularly but not losing weight. You are not alone. As a matter of fact, the Boston Medical Center reports, “an estimated 45 million Americans go on a diet each year, and Americans spend €33 billion each year on weight loss products. Yet, nearly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.”
Given this discouragement, you might be tempted to stop your healthy regimen. However, your body is changing due to healthier choices; healthy foods and exercise reduce your risk of medical conditions, improves brain function, and benefits your body in many other ways. Not to mention, consistency is the key to losing weight and keeping it off.
In this article, we offer five ways you can stay motivated to eat healthy and exercise regularly even when you’re not losing weight.
Refocus Your Goals
Many factors contribute to weight loss and weight gain such as age, gender, genetics, and medical conditions. In addition, your weight can fluctuate depending on the time of day, what you’ve eaten recently, your activity, and so forth. For instance, sodium intake can cause you to retain water, and for women, their monthly cycle can cause them to gain up to 5 lbs for about a week.
Moreover, focusing solely on weight loss means you will measure your success and failure according to how much you lose. Therefore, fluctuations in your weight may cause you to give up on your health and fitness goals.
Instead of focusing on weight loss, set goals for yourself that direct you to eat healthier and be active daily, such as:
Daily exercise and healthy eating goals:
“I will eat vegetables with all of my meals today.”
“I will walk for 30 minutes today”
“I will not eat refined carbs today.”
“I will go for a swim today.”
Goals centered on strength and fitness:
“I will be able to squat 40 lbs by August 30th.”
“I will be able to run a 5k by August 30th.”
“I will train for and complete the Warrior Dash next year.”
Goals centered on eating healthy:
“I will eat two fruits a day.”
“I will eat smaller portions for dinner.”
“I will not eat XXX.”
As you achieve these goals, your body will strengthen, you’ll feel good about making healthier choices, and you will be motivated to continue your fitness journey. Imagine working with weights or training to run for a few weeks and seeing what your body can do then compared to what it can do now.
Find a Fitness Buddy
One of the reasons we give up on fitness and health is because it’s easy to give up on ourselves. If you don’t want to go to the gym that day, you just make up excuses as to why you don’t have the time or energy. If you want to eat a bag of cookies and watch Netflix, it’s not hard to convince yourself to do such.
However, if you have someone else who is depending on you to stick with your goals, it’s harder to give up. You don’t want to be the person who breaks the pact between you and a friend, and you feel like your friend is depending on you.
You and a friend can agree to go to the gym together or make some of the goals mentioned above together. If your friends or family members are too far away from you to complete these activities together, make agreements long distance. You can still follow the goals we mentioned in the previous section, but you’ll have to email or call each other to make sure you follow them.
Join a Gym Membership or Buy Fitness Gear
Joining a gym or fitness class can be daunting, especially if you’re overweight or out of shape, but you’ll have a lot of fun and meet people who feel just like you do. Gym members will also help you by encouraging you to come back and even supporting you through your workout. Not to mention, if you’re paying for the gym or class you’ll want to go so you don’t waste your money.
Buying fitness gear seems like a simple motivation, but new fitness equipment and clothing tempts us to go to the gym. You’ll want to try out the new fitness watch, your new sports bra, jogging pants, or even new ear buds. You can also buy bands, weights, or yoga balls which will tempt you to try them out.
The key is to keep yourself excited and having fun so you want to stay active.
Create a Non Food-Based Reward System
One of the most sabotaging things we do during our health and fitness journey is setting a food-based reward system. We think, I lost 10 lbs I deserve an ice cream. Unfortunately, this reverts us back to making unhealthy choices.
We’re not saying an indulgence every now and then isn’t okay, everything in moderation. However, rewarding yourself with food is not a good strategy when you’re trying to lose weight. It teaches you to associate food with happiness which can lead to overeating.
A better plan is a reward system that utilizes things that are not food. You want a new book, buy it when you reach one of your goals. If you’ve been eyeing a pair of sneakers, give them to yourself when you can run for five minutes. When you reach a big goal, buy something big like the fitness watch you want.
Assess Your Mentality Toward Food and Exercise
In the previous section, we mentioned that rewarding yourself with food associates food with happiness. Our mentality towards food is a big reason we do not lose weight. Some people eat to cope with depression or stress and others just feel good when they eat.
“When we overeat, dopamine works to reward us by releasing feelings of pleasure and euphoria when overeating.” - Eating Disorder Hope
This reward system motivates us to continue unhealthy eating habits and is the reason many people stress eat.
Being aware of your eating habits and what motivates you to make poor food choices allows you to address your behavior. Whether it’s developing the discipline to deny your cravings or seeking professional help to learn positive coping methods.
On the other hand, we tend to think of exercising and eating healthy as a burden. Instead, teach yourself to enjoy working out and making healthy choices. If you want to watch a movie with snacks, eat fruits or vegetables with your movie.
At reindeerteam, we believe strong and healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that health and fitness should be a lifelong journey. With this in mind, we encourage everyone to focus on making healthier food choices and staying active versus centering their goals on losing weight.
Boston Medical Center: Weight Management
Eating Disorder Hope: Eating Makes Me Happy