Top 10 Ways to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight

10 Ways to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight--without needing a ton of will power or self-controlIt’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!

Ready? Here we go:
Top Ten Tuesday

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.

Stand at the computer! It helps you burn more calories

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.

8. Stretch

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.

A number of small businesswomen who support this site provide products that help you in your quest to get healthier. Check out


  1. Great tips, Sheila. I’m focusing, too on living more healthily. I’m eating & sleeping better &.exercising 6 days /week. Sunday is rest day. Being disabled, I have had to find ways to exercise that work for me. I’ve lost almost 20 lbs in 2 months and weight loss is not my focus. A healthy lifestyle is my focus. And I feel great.

    • That’s awesome!

    • That’s good to hear and well done Lisa! A lot of people really do seem to become obsessed with weight loss and end up using fad diets or over exercising. What we all should be focusing on is developing habits that promote an overall healthy lifestyle. After all, weight loss is simply a side effect of being healthy. This perspective is what separates successful weight loss strategies from those destined to fail. In fact, the following article does a wonderful job of breaking down the key factors in an effective, long-term weight loss strategy:

  2. Love these suggestions! I work out with a trainer twice a week and during the spring, summer and fall do alot of walking and hiking. However, in the winter it is difficult to get that extra exercise in during the work week. So a couple weeks ago I started doing 10 reps of an exercise everytime I went to the bathroom while I am at work. Since I tend to go the bathroom alot this ends up being a good amount of exercise by the time I leave work. I do squats, modified jumping jacks (I’m in heels), standing mountain climbers, boxing punches and skaters. All doable in the bathroom and in my heels. It’s just a little thing to add more exercise into my life.

  3. I am not focused on losing weight right now (growing a baby – so I might be soonish :) ) but I just wanted to tell you how much I find these suggestions awesome and life-affirming. They are good things to do anyway, sustainable, and don’t come from a place of “well, when my body is okay, then I can love it.” I agree with you so much that we shouldn’t withhold love and acceptance from our bodies until we have somehow whipped them into shape. And also, that that approach doesn’t really work anyhow…

    So, all that to say, yay! Good work.

  4. Thank you Sheila. I agree with you 100%. After many years of yo-yo dieting I’m more simply focusing on getting better. Thank you for sharing these.

  5. Great tips! I was once a diet soda addict and I never believed all the people that told me how bad it was for me. Well, I finally decided to kick the habit and I’m amazed at how much better that one thing made me feel. I sleep better, I don’t have stomach issues anymore, I lost a few pounds and my skin has even improved.

    I agree! Do one thing at a time until that becomes a lifestyle change and then move on to the next. It’s all about being healthy.

  6. These are great tips! I cut out breads (pasta, rice, and cereal) and sugar on January 1st and I’ve lost the 10 lbs of holiday weight I’ve gained. I’m also losing “new” weight after going up and down with dieting over the past several years. (At my highest, I was almost 200 lbs and I’ve lost almost 50 – I’m pretty stoked about that!)

    I have to say what struck me most about your Top 10 was they were all based on a truth that I recently discovered: love your body. Right now. Right as it is. Because unless you’re not breathing, seeing, smelling, hearing, and embracing life – your body is pretty awesome just as it is. God gave it to you, after all!

    I also love how you focus on health instead of the “societal slim”. I’m 37 years old and have two children. Things are sagging and no amount of healthy eating or exercise is going to bring it back to how it was when I was 20. But you know what? I am so much *happier* now than I was at 20. I love the skin I’m in. I’ve embraced what my body has allowed me to do over the years (I’ve been amazed at what my body has done to keep me functioning, even when I wasn’t giving it what it needed!)

    I would add one other thing: change in attitude. (I admit I’ve borrowed this one from Jon Gordon) – when changing your way of eating, think of it in terms of “I get to” rather than “I have to”. For example, I get to eat fresh fruits and vegetables in order to give my body the good fuel it needs to [fill in the blank], rather than “I can’t have the ice cream. I have to eat these carrot sticks, instead.”
    Iva recently posted…The Faithful One {Book Review}My Profile

  7. I will offer what I think is the most important way to stay motivated to stay in shape, and that is to have a partner who holds you accountable. Both my wife and my best friend hold me accountable, and I hold them accountable. We have set weight limits above which we may go.

    I think all newly married couples should set a pact for a weight maximum, and then allow for the circumstances of pregnancy, and a small increase over time, to keep a reasonable weight. We actually have consequences when we go over our weight limit and stay there longer than a week. I hit my weight limit often, y wife rarely hits hers, and that is because of eating out when traveling. So because of the accountability I do things for myself that my natural self-discipline would not do.

    So make a pact with a friend or spouse and tell them to make you stick to it or you are doing the dishes by yourself every night until you lose the weight, or some other creative consequences. It works because of the competitive nature, but also the best way to fight the flesh is pain and pleasure. I hate doing dishes! or any of the other consequences so you just start thinking twice if that extra piece of pie is worth it.

  8. Agreeing with what Iva said, although it took me about two years from start to finish, I lost 30 lb. after cutting way back on sugar and carbs. There’s an excellent video by Gary Taubes (well-known research journalist) called “Big Fat Lies” who took an in-depth look at the raw facts of weight loss compared to what the medical industry often tells us–it’s well worth watching!

  9. Love these! Even if you are not in need to lose some weight they are great suggestions to just feel better about yourself! (Which does help to motivate us to lose weight anyways!) I’m a nursing mama so I totally understand what it is like to sit for large chunks of the day. Great ideas!! :)

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  1. […] breaks a bit of a sweat.  And some of it should simply be moving your body throughout the day – getting up from your desk, off the couch and out of the car and just moving.  That combination – planned exercise plus […]

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