How To Motivate Yourself To Lose Weight

by Ahmed Zayed, MD on May 1, 2019
Last updated on May 23, 2021

More than 54% of the American populations are on a diet right now (1), yet the majority of these people will end up failing. A large percentage of these people will also regain the lost weight once they get discouraged and stop following their current diet – with some gaining even more weight than they initially lost through their diet program.

a laptop, a headphone, and a blackboard with the text 'you've got this'

While all of these statistics can be somewhat discouraging, there are many people losing weight successfully and keeping their lost weight off.

The key is to implement the right strategies and to know how to keep yourself motivated – through these two elements, weight loss will be easier to achieve, and long-term health benefits will be sure to follow.

Let’s consider some of the best strategies on how to motivate yourself to lose weight – from simple tricks you can implement into your life toward more advanced techniques that will guarantee long-term success.

1. Don’t Focus Too Much On A Specific Diet

A study published by the UCLA Science and Technology Department (2) found that dieting is not the most effective way to lose weight successfully. The study describes that you can lose about 10% of body weight with different types of diets out there, but in most cases, the weight will simply come back once you decide to stop dieting. Too many people become obsessed with following one fad diet after the next fad diet – and once they stop dieting, they end up with a total body weight that is higher than what it was before they journeyed through all of those fad diets.

Losing weight should be a long-term goal – not something you want to achieve within the next three months and then not have to worry about your body weight anymore. Instead, you should rather consider changing the way you eat for the long run, instead of following a short diet program that will only help you lose weight for a couple of weeks.

2. Be Realistic When Setting Goals

Another common problem that people face is unrealistic goals. There are so many diet programs on the market that promises you will lose quite a significant amount of weight in just a week or two. While cutting down on calories and starving yourself might help you lose weight faster, this paves the way toward nutritional deficiencies and other potential complications.

You need to be realistic when you set weight loss goals for yourself. Don’t expect to lose weight too fast – this will likely not happen, and when you are unable to achieve your goals, your motivation will quickly start to walk out the door.

The National Institutes of Health recommends (3) keeping weight loss goals realistic by setting small goals. Aim to lose a maximum of about two pounds on a weekly basis. This is not only realistic but will also ensure you lose weight in a safer way, reducing the risk of complications like dehydration and malnutrition.

3. Keep Track Of Your Progress

In one study (4), a group of scientists found that people who tend to monitor their intake and keep track of their weight loss progress tend to experience far superior results compared to those with no tracking mechanisms put into place. This makes it essential to keep track of how well you are doing in terms of your weight loss program – and to ensure you can monitor your level of success at any given time.

Get a journal that is specifically for your weight loss journey. Write your starting weight in the front of the journal, and then each day you will record what you eat, as well as the activities you participate in. You can even go as far as to write down the calories you eat – then get a fitness tracker and write down the number of calories you have burnt during the day.

Have a weekly weigh-in session and record your progress in the journal. This will not only ensure you understand what foods are causing you to binge eat and gain more weight but can help you remain motivated throughout the entire journey.

4. Understand Your Goals

A lot of people are looking to lose weight because they were told to do so by a physician, or perhaps they were told that their weight is becoming an issue by a friend, or perhaps even a partner. This type of reason holds no personal value for most people, which can be discouraging.

You need to understand why you want to lose weight – determine your inner reasons for wanting to drop those extra pounds that you have gained over the last couple of years. Write down the reasons you want to lose weight. They can be as simple as wanting to experience a better self-confidence, or perhaps wanting to fit into a “sexy” pair of jeans, which you are unable to do at the moment.

There are many health-related reasons as well. Perhaps you were told that you have insulin resistance and that you are at risk of diabetes in the recent past. When this is the case, you are ultimately setting a goal to improve your own personal health – you have a reason to lose weight for yourself.

5. Set SMART Goals

The SMART goal system was designed to help people set personal goals and to make them more achievable. The model has become so popular that even corporate professionals are using the SMART method on a daily basis to help them reach their goals in a corporate environment.

You can use SMART goal setting with your weight loss journey too. The “SMART” in the SMART goal setting stands for the following:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-based

Your goals need to be specific, and they need to be set up in such a way that they can be measured – or tracked. They should also be realistic and achievable – there is really no use in setting goals that will be impossible for you to achieve. Furthermore, you should be able to set up a time period in which you need to reach the goal.

Your ultimate goal will be to lose a certain amount of weight – this goal should then be broken down into smaller pieces. Start with simple things – take a brisk walk every day, use smaller plates when dishing up for yourself, add more vegetables to your plate, avoid sodas for an entire week. These are all goals that can perfectly fit into the SMART goal setting model.

6. Understand That Obstacles Will Lie In Your Way To Success

No matter what type of goal you are planning to reach toward, there are obstacles in the road 99% of the time. This is why you should be prepared when it comes to trying to lose weight. You need to understand that things are not going to happen overnight – many people need to spend over a year carefully following a new health plan that includes a daily meal plan, along with an exercise program, before they are able to reach their weight loss goals.

Between now and that day where you finally reach your goal, there might be obstacles down the road. You should not only understand that obstacles will be ahead, but you should also know how to deal with the challenges that you will be facing in the next few months.

One particularly important type of challenge or obstacle that you will be facing is the temptation. Perhaps when attending a wedding, or when your sibling has a birthday event coming up – the foods served will likely not be the healthiest you can opt for. It might be tempting to stuff yourself and consider the event an exemption where you can eat as much as you want – unfortunately, this will interfere with your weight loss program.

If you feel that you have to indulge in the foods served at the event, limit yourself – try to opt for the healthiest options on the table and then be restrictive when it comes to adding food to your plate. This way, you can still enjoy a couple of bites, without gaining back the pounds you have worked so hard to lose over the last few months.

7. Know How To Deal With Stress

For many people, stress can be a trigger to fall back into binge eating. Stress continues to pile up, and before you know it, you have a donut in one hand and a soda in the other hand. This will not only add back some of the pounds you have lost but will certainly eat away from your motivation as well. This makes it important to understand how you can effectively deal with stress to avoid binge eating the moment things get too tough.

Exercise is known to be a good method for dealing with stress. Deep breathing exercises can also be helpful, along with the possibility of performing a couple of yoga poses. You may also decide to go outdoors for a few moments, get some fresh air, breathe deeply, and then get back to dealing with your situation. Some people enjoy taking a bath with a few drops of their favorite essential oils – this can help to reduce stress and induce a state of relaxation.

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Support And Help

There will most likely be times when things get really tough – you don’t know how you are going to last for another month without getting the opportunity to binge on your favorite foods. The changes in your diet and the addition of more physical activity can seem overwhelming. This does not mean you should give up and quit, however.

A lot of people try to go through these difficult situations on their own – and this may be one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Don’t be afraid to reach out – to a family member, a friend, or someone you truly trust. Tell them about the goals you have set up for yourself, inform them of your struggle with keeping to your weight loss program.

Sometimes, simply talking about the issues you are facing can help to build up your confidence and motivation again – allowing you to get back into your journey without falling for the temptations out there. Other times, you may have to ask your family members to start playing a more active role in your weight loss program – ask them to keep sodas and other sugary foods out of your way, for example.


With the right type of diet program, along with appropriate exercise, millions of both men and women have achieved success in terms of losing weight over the long run. Unfortunately, many people who do endeavor on a new diet program quickly lose their motivation and ends up quitting, paving the way to the weight crawling back. With the strategies we discussed here, you can keep yourself motivated to continue pushing through with your weight loss plan to assure your success.


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