It’s Tuesday, so we’ve got another Top 10! And since it’s the last Tuesday in January, I thought I’d talk about how to stay motivated to lose weight. A lot of you probably made that resolution for this year a few weeks ago, and now it’s fallen by the wayside. But don’t worry–it’s not going to be one of those posts that makes you feel all bad about yourself. Quite the contrary! I want to write about how to keep the motivation to lose weight going.
And so I’d like to share a bit about what I’m going through, and what’s working for me.
On December 20 I had my last Diet Pepsi. I’ve been trying to quit for years, and I finally did it! And I also did a lot more baking for Christmas this year, because I was determined to get into the spirit of things.
So since December 10 I’ve gained 8 pounds.
That may not seem like a lot, but I’ve always thought of myself as “the thin one”. And so to see the scale start creeping up was quite humbling. I don’t want to get onto a downward spiral where I gain 10 or 15 pounds a year, because over a decade that really adds up!
But at the same time, I’m quite sure that most “losing weight” schemes don’t succeed because we’re just simply too hard on ourselves. We double down, grit our teeth, and determine that We Will Not Let This Defeat Us. We Will Conquer Our Bodies!
That sounds awfully depressing. First, it’s seeing your body as your enemy.
And I firmly believe that you can’t lose weight if you absolutely hate your body.
And second, it’s going so much on will power that I think you’ll have this boost at the beginning but it won’t be sustainable.
So here are some things that I’ve been thinking of to help with the lose weight/healthy living quest, that don’t make you have all kinds of self-control or visualize yourself as something “sexy” (as though you aren’t anymore!). And before you read them, remember the philosophy of Top 10 Tuesdays:
I’m throwing out ten ideas about something. Choose 1-3 that you think could really help you. Do 1 at a time. Write it on your fridge! But don’t feel like you have to do all ten. We’re all different, with different personalities and different lives. I’m giving a bunch of ideas, in the hopes that a few will be just what you need. Remember: Small changes, done consistently over a long period of time, add up to big changes!
10 Ways to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight
1. Wear Clothes That Fit that You Feel Good In
We’re supposed to lose weight, but I want you to find clothes that fit? That you feel good in?
Here’s why: many of us are sure we won’t feel good in our bodies until we lose the weight. But once we’ve gained weight nothing really fits anymore. We don’t want to go out and buy clothes because that would be like giving in–like admitting that we’re not going to lose. And so we put on the yoga pants and the sweat pants and we feel horrible about ourselves but we feel like we deserve it.
No. You deserve to feel wonderful! God gave you your body and He judges the inside, not the outside. He loves you; you’re allowed to love yourself, too! And I’m convinced that women who love their bodies and that feel wonderful will have an easier time losing weight and exercising than those who try to punish themselves.
My jeans don’t fit comfortably anymore. I need to lose about 5 pounds to get into them. But I do have some cords that fit. The problem is they look kind of frumpy.
So I’ve been wearing dress pants around the house lately. They still fit! And there’s another bonus: When you “dress up”, even if it’s just trying to look good, you don’t feel like a schlump. And that means that you’re more likely to be productive and move faster, which makes you lose weight anyway.
2. Pamper Your Body
After a shower, rub lotion into your legs and other dry areas. Let your body feel good.
If you like perfume, spray a little on yourself in the morning. Accessorize. Put on some lipstick and a bit of makeup! Make the effort to take pride in your body AS IT IS. The more we treat our bodies well, the less ashamed we’ll be. And ashamed people rarely stay motivated to get healthy!
3. Pretend You’re at a Job (If You’re Not)
Why do we gain weight? Because we take in more calories than we use on a daily basis. Sure, there’s a little more to it than that, but in general, it’s that simple.
So if you want to get to a healthy weight, you need to use more calories.
For me, that means not just sitting around as much. Once you start to gain weight it isn’t just food that’s affected. It’s often your whole attitude about life. You want to sit more. You want to relax more. You want to do less.
I’ve decided to think of myself as at work, even when I’m at home. Things need to be done. Laundry needs to get on. Dinner needs to be made. My storage room needs to be cleaned out! There are always things to do, and if I see myself as purposeful, with a job to do, then that affects not just my calorie burning but also my whole outlook on life. I’m capable. I’m accomplishing something. And that’s important, because it’s that mindset that will help you get healthy.
4. Do Things Faster
One thing I’ve noticed lately is that I’m doing everything a bit more slowly. As we get increasingly out of shape, we tend to move slowly.
Look at children: ever notice how they’re always moving? Movement is natural! Our bodies were made to move.
So whenever you’re doing something, try to do it a little bit faster. Run down the stairs. Drying yourself off after a shower? Really rub that towel! Whipping an egg? Put some muscle into it! I don’t like exercise very much, but what I’ve realized is that if I do everything else in my life just a little bit faster, I can burn calories in my everyday life. And again–when I’m moving fast, I’m purposeful. That makes me feel better about myself, and it’s all part of getting back on the healthy train.
5. Stand More
Did you know that simply standing burns more calories than sitting?
I sit at work because I write. Often I’ll spend hours sitting everyday! So recently I set up a makeshift “standing desk” at the island in my kitchen. I put the timer on for 20 minutes, and I stand while typing for 20 minutes. Then I sit for 30 minutes. And so on, and so on. I also make myself drink a glass of water during that 20 minutes.
With this one small change, and doing nothing else, I lost two pounds in the first week.
Another benefit: I don’t slouch as much. I slouch horribly, and I get major back problems because of it. Even if I’m slouching when I’m standing, I’m slouching in a different way than when I’m sitting. Changing up the position during the day is so important. If you can find a way to do this at your job, too, try it!
6. Identify ONE big change you can make
When we want to lose weight we have a huge list of things we have to do: I have to exercise, cut out sugar, reduce my portion size, cut out salt and chips, totally change my diet. That’s a lot to do all at once. That’s a big jolt on your system, because your body craves certain foods. And if you try to do that all at once, you may not make it.
Instead, try focusing on ONE thing. Make that your main focus for 3 weeks (that’s the amount of time it takes a habit to form). Then, after that three weeks, add an additional thing.
Instead of trying to exercise and cut out sugar and cut your portion size and and and….Just do one.
I’m starting with cutting sugar, because that’s my big weakness. I’ll focus more on the others after I’ve mastered that one. But if we try it all at once we’ll often just get mad at ourselves for messing up. It’s too much.
Remember, this has to be a lifestyle change you can sustain in the long run, not a sprint to lose the weight.
7. Set a Reward
Do you have a goal? I do. I have a certain weight I want to be at my birthday in May. And I’ve decided to give myself a reward–something I would never normally do. If I reach that goal, I’m taking a week off of the computer and I’m just going to let myself knit! I had such fun doing that over the Christmas holidays, I think I need it again. But I’m such a workaholic I don’t let myself do that often. So that’s my reward! And I’m looking forward to it.
Maybe exercise is hard for you, but try to stretch everyday. Why? It makes your body feel delicious. And the more delicious your body feels, the more you’ll be invigorated to treat it well!
9. Make Love
And we do need our bodies to feel delicious! So while you’re trying to lose the weight, keep making love to your husband. Make sex feel wonderful! Concentrate on learning how to make your body respond. Our bodies are our friends, not our enemies. If you think your body is your enemy, getting healthy will be so much harder, because will power alone can’t do it.
10. Focus on the Long Haul
This isn’t about getting into a bikini by a certain date. This isn’t about looking like you’re twenty again. This is just about staying healthy. If I gain 10 pounds a year, and keep that up, I’ve gained 100 pounds in a decade. Not good. If, on the other hand, I simply stop the weight gain I’m doing well. If I reverse it I’m doing even better.
So don’t do anything drastic! Think losing 2-4 pounds a month. That’s quite attainable if you simply make little lifestyle changes–like moving more around the house, or standing more.
And if 48 pounds over a year doesn’t seem like enough to you, think about it this way: if you were gaining 10 pounds a year, and you lose 48 pounds in a year, you’ve actually lost 58 pounds. That’s a big change!
I want to leave you with this great post by my friend Julie from Intimacy in Marriage, about how she’s come to peace with her body.
Don’t hate your body! Love what it is and what it can do. And then start making little healthy changes. That’s really all it’s about.