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Remember when you committed to a weight-loss game plan, and your enthusiasm and motivation were through the roof?
“Sunday meal prep? DIY cauliflower rice? 5 a.m. workout? F*** yeah!”
But then several weeks or months in, you start to notice more takeout orders creeping in. Or, despite a difficult breakup with sugar, you find yourself eating ice cream standing in front of the freezer. Those morning workouts? Not happening—and you haven’t really found another way to fit exercise into your daily routine. (Shaun T calls this motivation plateau an “implementation dip.”)
It’s so frustrating to hit a plateau when you’re working toward a weight-loss goal—especially when you still have a ways to go and feel like you’ll never hit that magic number. You blame yourself instead of acknowledging that stagnation is 100 percent normal while your body adjusts to having less weight to carry around.
While it’s tempting to give up on yourself and your weight-loss goal, this is a great time to check in and reconnect with your intentions. These tips to rekindle your weight-loss motivation should help.
1. Revisit your goal.
When you feel yourself losing sight of why you started this process in the first place, tune in to the “why” behind your goal.
- What inspired you?
- If you’re working toward a particular number, how did you come up with that number? Is that a healthy goal for your body?
- Beyond a number on the scale, what does success look like to you? How does it feel?
- What will your life be like when you’ve achieved your goal?
Don’t be afraid to spend some time journaling and really thinking about what you want to gain by losing weight. Get excited about it. (It helps to reshape your mindset. Design thinking can help you find your “why.”)
2. Set a short-term goal.
Sometimes having a goal that seems far away can be daunting and overwhelming. Instead, break it goal into smaller, short-term goals. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, instead, focus on losing one pound in a week or two weeks, and keep going with that until you’re at your long-term goal. If you’ve hit a weight-loss plateau, take the focus off the scale and make some behavior-related goals that’ll pay off in the long run, like eating an extra serving of veggies at every meal or hitting 10,000 steps each day.
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3. Track other things besides your weight.
The number on the scale isn’t the only thing that matters. For example, if you’ve been working out, measure your waist, hips, arms, and thighs monthly to track progress. Pick a piece of clothing and keep track of how it fits to notice progress along the way.
It’s also important to remember that making lifestyle changes impacts your mental and emotional health as well. Take note of how much more confident you’re feeling or if you’ve noticed any changes in your anxiety level. Have you noticed changes in your sleep and energy? (FYI, tuning into non-scale victories isn’t just a way to achieve your goals, but also key to making your health or fitness transformation last long after.)
4. Touch base with an expert.
If you’re hitting a plateau and are not sure how to progress, call in expert help. A trainer or a dietitian can be a great resource—even if you think you know what you’re doing. They can help you make tweaks to optimize the good habits you already have in place and introduce some new tips and tricks to get you moving in the direction you want.
An expert can also provide a much-needed reality check after you’ve been down the social media compare-a-thon rabbit hole. (Seriously, comparing yourself to others will not help your goal.) If you find that working on your body is kicking up uncomfortable emotions, a therapist can offer the support you need to move forward mindfully.
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5. Get an accountability buddy.
You don’t have to go it alone. Some people find that having an accountability buddy to check in with periodically can be motivating. (Here’s exactly how the buddy system can help you.) You can cheer each other on, share your struggles, and trade tips. Just be careful: If you catch yourself slipping into a competitive mindset or getting down on yourself when your partner does “better” than you, you might be better off without them. (Learn more about how joining an online support group could help you finally meet your goals.)
6. Post a happy picture.
Many people recommend posting a picture—either of yourself at your goal weight or, on the flip side, at your heaviest—where you’ll see it often to motivate yourself to lose weight. Instead, try posting a photo where you look really happy. It’s a subtle way of cultivating a feel-good mindset that can trickle over into all areas of your life. Totally worth a try!
7. Set a new goal.
If you get to a place where thinking about your original goal makes you feel icky, it’s okay to change gears. (Here’s proof: When It’s OK to Give Up On Your Goals) Do some soul-searching and think about what you really want to accomplish (as opposed to what you think you should want) and get excited and SMART AF about it. Make that goal specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely, and fun. Being healthy is as much (okay, much more) about feeling great as it is about looking great. (Also see: Your Complete Guide to Conquering Any and Every Goal)