7 February 2017Keep Your Motivation Tank From Dipping Too Low

"The key to staying motivated to lose weight is similar to the [amount of] fuel in a car—you don't need the motivation tank to be full to drive, you just need to prevent it from running empty," says Joshua C. Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of Living SMART: 5 Essential Skills to Change Your Health Habits Forever.

Here are 5 tips to keep your motivation tank from running too low:

1. Take a minute to pause and reflect back on how far you’ve come

If you are currently experiencing a weight loss plateau, this is especially important. Often times we get so caught up in meeting our scale goals that we forget to stop and reflect on our overall progress. This is especially important if you have a lot of weight to lose. I encourage folks to take note of the large and small shifts they notice as a result of weight loss. Is it easier to walk from your car into the office in the morning? Do you have a bit more energy in the afternoon to tackle preparing a healthy meal? Taking time to reflect reminds us that weight loss is a process with milestones along the way. Notice the milestones, pat yourself on the back and reward yourself for your efforts.

2. Track your health behaviors

I have been experimenting with various ways to track key behaviors that contribute to weight loss success. Here are two easy ways that work for me to set my intention for the day/week and track my progress. Set your intention in the Daily Notes section of MND.I like to use this section for intentions: For example if my intention is to eat smaller portions at supper or avoid second helpings - I will cut and paste this into the daily notes section for each day to remind myself of my goal. As I am entering my food for dinner I can track my progress for my set intention. Another way, which requires less copying and pasting, is to create a custom tracker. This feature is available with the Maximum membership. You can locate the custom tracker feature under the Diabetes tab. I like the custom tracker because you can track anything! I am also a big fan of the corresponding Notes section where I can type in a successful scenario: “I refrained from eating a second helping at supper.” I can then scroll back and check over my progress quickly. I find it motivating to see successes as well as times when I dogged temptation.

3. Rest or meditate

Many folks find that their motivation and willpower levels are highest in the morning. Choosing a healthy and nutritious breakfast is easier than avoiding after dinner snacking. Why is this? As we move through the day we make numerous decisions regarding what to eat/what to avoid and how to do it. Willpower is just like a muscle that gets fatigued from use and willpower muscles fatigue from being used throughout the day. If your willpower or motivation levels dip in the afternoon try taking a nap or meditating. Although napping at your desk is easier said than done! I am not able to curl up and catch some zz’s at my desk, however I am able to grab my headphones and listen to a 14 minute affirmation or guided meditation. Lately I have been really into the stress reduction affirmation series offered at www.healthjourneys.com. Affirmations require less focus and attention than guided imagery meditation. Which makes them great for listening to at the office, while riding public transportation or taking a walk. They help recharge and refocus which prevents my motivation tank from taking a dip in the early afternoon.

4. Reward yourself

We have all heard about rewarding ourselves for our weight loss efforts yet how many people routinely follow through on this? Rewards can keep the motivation tank full if used wisely. A wise use of a reward would be to reward a behavior in an effort to reinforce its continuation. Many folks get really caught up in pounds lost. Instead try rewarding the primary behavior or habit that contributed to the weight loss success. For example, try rewarding yourself with a new workout shirt after you make it to the gym six times in two weeks.

5. Be your own best friend

What advice would you give a friend who shared she’d fallen off track over the weekend with her eating habits and gained two pounds? Chances are you would offer support and encourage her to get back into her routine Monday morning. Showing support and compassion towards yourself is equally important. Unfortunately many people rely on negative self judgement as a way of staying motivated. And in doing so fail to learn from their mistakes. If you can get back on course after an indulgent weekend you will prevent your motivation tank from taking a big hit.

Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDE

Joanna Kriehn is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator. She is passionate about supporting healthy lifestyles. You can learn more about Joanna by visiting her LinkedIn page.

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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

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