Your doctor warns your weight could become a serious health concern. Your partner insists you join a gym or start a weight loss program together. Odds are if you’ve had these kinds of thoughts, you’ve been unable to maintain consistent, long-lasting weight loss. Maybe you lost a little when you first started, saw a bit of a change in your physique, and even started to feel more determined about the journey. But after a few good days, you found yourself right back in the same old self-destructive routines. Wait! Wait! What happened?
Maybe you just didn’t try hard enough. So, you try again, telling yourself you will succeed this time. Maybe you recruit a support network—people to keep you motivated by consistently reminding you how much they believe in you. You chose a proven exercise routine and meal regimen, started working out, and put one hundred percent of your efforts into eating healthy. Maybe you even get a personal trainer to encourage you, but every day it seems to get harder and harder to push yourself, until, eventually, you find yourself in another slump!.
Experiencing dips in motivation is normal (and expected!) part of lifestyle change. Some days everything feels easy, other days you may struggle.
When you realise weight loss is not simply a steady decrease in weight, and accept that there are both ups and downs, you will focus on sticking with the program over time. The key thing is to not give up!
Psychologists have determined two types of motivation that explain our behaviours and how we pursue goals: intrinsic (from the inside) and extrinsic (from the outside).
This occurs when we are motivated to engage in an activity or perform a behaviour in order to earn a reward or avoid punishment. We’re not choosing to do the activity because we enjoy it or find it rewarding, but rather because we’ll earn something in return or avoid something unpleasant.
"If I lose 10 kilos, then I can buy a new wardrobe."
"If I workout during the week, then I can go out to eat on the weekend."
Extrinsic motivation can be a good thing when it is used for short-term motivation. Weight loss requires a lot of positive reinforcement. Extrinsic motivation becomes a bad thing whenever it is used as primary, long-term motivation.
While motivation from physical changes and approval from others can diminish in time, there is no denying its power in the early stages of weight loss.
This type of motivation involves engaging in behaviour or activity because we find it personally rewarding. Intrinsic motivation plays off our internal interests and values. It means we perform these tasks for our own sake, and are invested in the process, rather than the external reward. The behaviour itself provides us with a reward.
When it comes to long-term weight loss success, intrinsic motivation is a must. You see, intrinsic motivation induces a sense of self-satisfaction.
For short-term and quick bursts of motivation, external rewards such as losing five kilos or getting more attention from others can be extremely useful for keeping you accountable. However, using external rewards like impressing others or physically looking better as a primary source of motivation is often fleeting, and is typically unfulfilling in the end.
Regardless, with the best of motivation and intentions, motivation is not constant. Some days, you spring out of bed raring to start your morning workout. Other days, you have to force yourself off the couch just to get a bowl of popcorn. Sound familiar?
Regardless, it is very important to develop a plan to help you through times of low motivation and help you maintain progress.
Jump starting your motivation plan can take shape in 3 parts:
Consider what is causing a change in your motivation levels. Are you experiencing a busy time at work? Are you getting bored of eating the same meals? Are you frustrated with a lack of weight loss progress?
Consider what you can change to help address your low motivation. Could you offload some chores to reduce stress? Research new recipes that look exciting? Could you take body measurements to assess your progress rather than just using weight?
Perhaps you just need to remind yourself how much progress you’ve made. Pour out how much fat you’ve lost in water weight and consider how much progress you’ve made so far!
Or perhaps you can find an easier alternative. For example, iIf you can't motivate yourself to get to the gym or go for a run today, that's OK. Instead, stay home, put your favourite music on and dance around the house. Even 15 minutes of dancing will have a positive effect on your weight loss. You could go for a swim or a bike ride with the kids, or walk the dog around the block. It doesn't have to be formal exercise, as long as you show up (imperfectly).
As always, stay connected to your goal and keep a record of it and see it many times a day.
Consider who you need to reach out to to help you get back on track.
Thinking ahead to times we may feel low in motivation can help prepare us for the ups and downs that can come with making lifestyle changes.
Maintaining weight loss is difficult due to a range of biological mechanisms, including genetic factors, hormonal changes, adaptive thermogenesis (decreased resting metabolic rate), and neural factors. These multiple factors undermine weight loss and promote weight regain in individuals attempting even modest weight loss. In addition, factors like social support and psychological factors can both influence weight loss maintenance.
Medical weight management aims to promote:
A comprehensive approach should be taken which emphasises realistic weight loss to achieve a reduction in health risks.
At Rosemary Health, weight loss is a team effort. We’ve dedicated a team of qualified doctors, nurses and dietitians to track your health improvements, address any new barriers, and adjust medications as needed. If you’re looking for some extra support in your approach to weight loss, Learn more about our doctor-guided weight loss program here.