Weight loss is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one, and most of us will find at some point during our weight loss journey, our motivation begins to dwindle, causing progress to stall.
It's completely normal for motivation to come in ebbs and flows, but it's how we come back from the 'ebbs' that matters! If you're feeling less determined to reach your goals right now, here are 10 ways to reactivate your willpower and get back on track.
One of the biggest mistakes is setting a huge goal on day one. Your end point can seem so hard to attain, you feel as though you'll never get there. It's important to start with a realistic mindset and create a goal within reach. By setting a realistic goal you're more likely to feel like you’re progressing at a faster rate. And once you meet your goal, you can review your progress and set yourself a new goal.
When choosing your goals, detail is important. Set out exactly what you'd like to achieve to give yourself a clear picture of what success looks like. For example, a goal like 'I want to eat less sugar' is rather vague. Instead, be specific, along the lines of 'For the next four weeks, I will reduce my sugar intake by swapping the sugar in my tea for a sugar-free sweetener'.
Along the same lines, a long journey can be made to feel more manageable and motivating by breaking it into a series of milestones. By setting small, short-term goals, you can feel a sense of achievement more often. This can be a game-changer for keeping motivation levels high. Read more about goal setting here.
Trying to ignore hunger pangs and cutting out foods or food groups can only end badly. Denying your brain of foods you love will cause cravings to build up until you cave and binge on foods that are often high in fat, sugar and salt! Keep a bit of what you fancy in your diet to avoid cravings. At Nutracheck, we believe in the 80:20 approach – eat healthy 80% of the time and the other 20% of the time you can afford to be a little more flexible.
One of the best ways to stay on track is by being kept accountable. Find yourself a buddy or group who are also aiming to lose weight – you can then motivate and support each other when things start to feel challenging. That's why our member forums are so popular – they're a place for like-minded people to share tips and ask questions about their weight journey, whether that's losing, maintaining, or gaining. It's a great way to stay focused on your goals while being supported by a fantastic community of other people on similar journeys.
Perhaps you're finding that intermittent fasting doesn't work for your lifestyle, or maybe your lower fat diet isn't filling you up enough. In the same way you should regularly review your goals, you should also check that your dietary approach is still a good fit for you. If you aren't looking forward to your meals, or it's becoming more difficult to stick to your nutrient targets, consider trying a new one. Protein and fibre are the best nutrients for keeping us full, so our Higher Protein option could be good to try if you find yourself mindlessly snacking.
If there isn't any healthy food in the house, it can be all too easy to reach for your phone and order in. Whilst the occasional takeaway is absolutely fine, making it a regular habit can make weight loss challenging, as most classic takeaways are high in saturated fat, sugar and salt, and low in healthy fats, fibre and micronutrients. To remove temptation and excuses, prepping meals and keeping a stock of them in your fridge or freezer means you always have a calorie-counted, nutrient-rich meal on hand in minutes.
Meal prep doesn't have to mean plain chicken, rice and broccoli either! There are so many tasty meals you can prep – from a spicy chilli or fragrant curry with brown rice, to turkey meatballs or spaghetti bolognese with wholewheat pasta. Choose something you know you love, and you won't be tempted to veer off track. For more on this, check out my blog on the art of meal prepping.
In a world that revolves around social media, we can often find ourselves scrolling through pictures of other people and comparing their seemingly perfect bodies to our own. It's important to remember that every body is different, and even if you were to follow a strict diet and exercise intensely, your body probably still wouldn't look like 'that' body. Besides, photos are often heavily edited and airbrushed, and combined with good lighting and angles, it's likely the people you follow on social media don’t look like their pictures either! Consider unfollowing any accounts that make you feel insecure about your body and replace them with positive posts that make you feel good (or think about taking a break from social media all together). Remember, you're on this journey for you!
If boredom is the reason you're beginning to steer off course, now is the perfect time to switch things up. Add some fresh new recipes to your meal rotation, try a new exercise class, or perhaps start having a savoury breakfast instead of a sweet one (or vice versa). Trying new meals and exercises aren't just great for motivation – they might just be the boost your body needs if your progress has plateaued. Challenging new muscle groups can help to mitigate exercise adaptation, where your body begins to perform your regular exercises more efficiently and your improvement slows.
You can use your surroundings to give you a nudge in the right direction. Leave yourself a nice note on your mirror each evening for you to read the next morning. You can even use the Nutracheck app to send you reminders to log your meals to keep you in the habit. To do this in the app, tap ‘More’ > ‘Reminders’.
Let's be real – there will be some great days and some not-so-great days along the way to your goal weight. When we come to a bump in the road, we can feel guilty and despondent, letting negative thoughts take over that sap away our motivation. A great way to combat this is to change your thought patterns and choose to only focus on the positives. If you don't manage to stay within your calorie target, look at the other things you've achieved that day. Perhaps you met your 5-a-day, or you filled up your water tracker. Turn 'I failed to meet my calorie target' into 'I had a healthy breakfast today' – no matter how small the victory, make sure you celebrate it.
Nutritionist Amy Wood (ANutr), MSci BSc Nutrition has a keen interest in the relationship between diet and health. Having been published in the European Journal of Nutrition, Amy is passionate about making evidence-based nutrition accessible to everyone and helping others to adopt a food-focused approach to taking control of their health.