How to keep motivated when losing weight?
Do you sometimes get unmotivated when you are trying to achieve your goal weight?
Do you sometimes feel stuck without seeing any progress?
Does it sometimes feel like all you are doing is simply not working?
Or are you just really tired and need some new motivation?
I have been there! I think everyone who was in a calorie deficit for some time will know how this feels. Dieting and losing weight can sometimes get challenging and that is absolutely normal. You are in a deficit. You are literally undernourishing your body and forcing it to take the energy from the fat and ‘burn’ it. It is normal to get stuck and to need a new signal or motivation or more support.
And this is what we will be talking about in this article.
If you need to know more about How to count your calories & macros, I have it covered HERE and How to lose weight is covered HERE.
Firstly, if you are in a deficit, make sure you are not dieting for too long. Are you in a deficit for several months now? No wonder you are tired and demotivated! Is it not recommended to be in a deficit for way too long. Try not to be in a deficit for longer than 20 weeks in a row. If this is the case, get out of the deficit to at least your maintenance calories for at least 12 weeks. Your body deserves a rest a will return this to you in so many ways.
Secondly, make sure you are not expecting way too much from yourself. If you expect your body to lose 1kg of weight every single week without any rest, without any weight fluctuation, that is unrealistic. Make sure your goals and expectations are realistic.
Now we have established this, let’s dive in!
IS YOUR GOAL REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU AND IS YOUR ‘WHY’ MEANINGFUL?
Make sure you set yourself a goal at the beginning of your weight loss journey. However, the goal should really be important to you, it should make sense to you and your ‘why’ should be meaningful. By saying that, everyone’s ‘meaningful why’ will sound different.
Some want to lose weight to improve their health.
Some want to lose weight to fit into their dreamy wedding dress.
Some want to lose weight because they do not like the way their body looks and how they feel in their body.
Some want to lose weight to see better muscle definition.
Everyone’s reasons will be different. What might seem meaningless to some, will be someone else’s biggest driving motor.
Why should your goal and ‘why’ be meaningful? Because you might get stuck and unmotivated at some point. And if your goal is not important enough to you, it might be much more difficult for you to get back on track.
When creating a goal, it is great to ask yourself S.M.A.R.T questions. (Something PT’s and coaches are so much familiar with, haha)
What does it stand for?
Specific - what is your goal and your main 'why'?
I want to lose weight because I do not feel good in my body right now.
Measurable - what number can you put against your goal?
I want to lose 5 kilos in 3 months now and then I will see how I feel.
Attainable - Is it possible based on current personal circumstances/motivation and time frame?
Yes, I am very motivated, I have a great work/life balance so I will be able to hold on to my gym and eating schedule.
Realistic - Is it realistic to achieve your goal?
Yes, I do not expect my body to lose 20kilos in 2 months.
Time-bound - What is the realistic time frame in which you want to achieve your goal?
I want to lose 5 kilos in the next 3 months.
Answer all those questions and write them down in your planner or diary so you can always refer to them and remind yourself why you started.
KEEP A WEEKLY PLANNER AND UPDATE IT REGULARLY
Now you have your goal written down, break it down into smaller chunks and separate weeks. As I mentioned before, (and I will probably mention it another hundred times, because IT IS IMPORTANT), you should not be in a deficit for too long.
Write down how long you are now planning on being in a deficit. Just remember – you can always stop your deficit sooner, if you achieve your goal quicker or if you will feel like you need a longer rest from a deficit.
An example could be:
Your current body weight is 80kg.
You want to lose 10kg of weight, to get to 70kg.
You want to be in a deficit for a maximum of 16 weeks.
By seeing this you know you will need to lose about 0.6kg each week. That is achievable and sustainable.
However, it is important to realise that our bodies are not machines. Weight fluctuates and weight loss is not linear. There might be weeks where you will see no progress, there will be weeks where the progress will be much bigger.
Now create a weekly log where you can measure your progress.
At the beginning of your weight loss journey, take photos of your body (best is in underwear or swimsuit), measure yourself and weigh yourself.
Now you can repeat this every week and log your measurements in a log you have created.
I would not recommend weighing yourself just once a week though. I think it is best to weigh yourself at the same time and situation every day or at least several times a week and then average your weight for a week. With that, you will see much precise weight.
Why is that? As I said, your weight fluctuates all the time and if you would weigh yourself just once a week and it would be the day when your weight is up (maybe because you had a really hard training session the previous day and your muscles are holding a lot of water) it can easily demotivate you.
However, if you have more data from the week, you will see that it is just one day and easily realise the reason why that happened.
By keeping a weekly log with your measurements, photos and weight averages you can clearly see how you are progressing with your weight loss. So then even if you will feel like nothing is happening, you will see that actually, you are making a progress. Sometimes our eyes and emotions can fool us when we are concentrating on achieving something.
With the weekly log, you can also see in what phase of a diet you are. You can see that for example, you are now struggling with motivation, but it already is week 11 of your diet and you know that you have the last 5 weeks to go. You can also see that you have achieved so much in those 11 weeks and how much you can achieve in the next 5 weeks.
DO NOT OVERREACT WHEN YOUR WEIGHT FLUCTUATES
Now you have a weekly log that you keep updating but last week has been a disaster, your weight and measurements are up, and photos look horrible when compared to the previous week.
And that is also absolutely normal. I promise it is.
We are only humans, and our bodies will not be the same every single week. Our body weight fluctuates and sometimes your weight will not move at all, sometimes it will go up and sometimes it will drastically drop down out of nowhere.
What is affecting your body weight?
Water retention – that is just us being human beings and water retention can be caused by several following things:
Previous night sleep – did you sleep enough? Or are you tired after rubbish night? If you had a bad sleep and your body did not have enough time to digest all your food, it can reflect on your weight
Did you have a bigger dinner? – Maybe you did not have enough time to eat during the day and you ate a large dinner. That is not wrong but can affect your weight the next morning. But that is not fat, that is just food in your bowels.
Did you use the toilet before weighing yourself? – I don’t think I need to say anything more here.
Did you have a hard training session the previous day and are your muscles sore now? – If this is the case, your muscles are probably just holding water to recover from your training session. Nothing to worry about, that is actually a really good thing. Your muscles need all this water to recover properly and grow. So they are doing exactly what we want them to do, they just need water to do so.
In what phase of your cycle are you? – Ladies, your cycles can affect our body weight so much. Your weight might be different in each phase of your cycle. Naturally, our bowels work better during our period and in a follicular phase. After ovulation and before our period, in the luteal phase, our bowels get a little bit lazy, and you can notice some bloat or feel a little bit uncomfortable. That is just us women being the amazing creatures we are. If you will keep your log updated, you will soon notice how your weight fluctuates during your whole month and will not be surprised if your weight maybe pops up a little bit or stays the same for some time at a certain time of the month.
Did you eat some food that you are sensitive to or did you eat a lot of fibre the previous day? – I am gluten intolerant. If I have a large amount of gluten, I will for sure feel very bloated and uncomfortable even for the next few days. You might just be sensitive to certain food groups or certain ingredients.
If you ate loads of fibre the previous day (and I mean UNUSUALLY lot of fibre) it might affect your body weight too.
There are so many other things that can, and will, affect your body weight, the way your body looks and the way you feel. Our body changes every day.
If your body weight suddenly changed from one day to another, it will for sure not be fat. Give your body a time, it will come back to what feels like normal to you.
I know it is demotivating - not seeing the number on the scale that you would want and expect because you are putting so much hard work into it. But by breaking your diet excessively, getting depressed from it and being upset you will solve nothing. Just have a rest, try to calm your mind, and find a way how not to think about it. It will only get better, and you will soon see your results.
MAKE A JOURNAL AND TALK ABOUT YOUR EMOTIONS
Journaling your emotions can help so much! You can write down how you feel, you can then in writing remind yourself why you are doing this and then you can write down supportive sentences where you talk nicely to yourself. Or you can just go with a flow, let your emotions and thoughts fly by and write it all out. Everyone’s journaling will be different.
Then if you will ever feel down again you can just refer to your journal a read what you wrote before.
If you are not a fan of journaling and writing, talk. Talk about your current emotions and goals with someone you trust. Tell them how you feel, talk with them about your goals and ‘why’ and then accept all their support.
Or if you do not feel like having a conversation with anyone, talk to yourself. Have a 1-to-1 conversation with your thoughts. If you will start feeling lost, try to put on your favourite music that puts you in a better move, sing, dance, do whatever will get you in a better mood.
REMIND YOURSELF OF YOUR GOALS AND YOUR ‘WHY’ IF YOU FEEL STUCK
If you wrote down your goal and your ‘why’ as I recommended above, you can always refer to it if you feel stuck. Your ‘why’ does not have to be just one sentence. You can write down several ‘whys’ and several ‘because’. You can always have a look in your weekly log and compare where you started vs. where you are now. You can always refer to your journal and read all the nice things you want to say to yourself.
I know it sometimes gets overwhelming, you can get hungry and your goal might not seem important enough to you anymore. But that is just a phase, you will get back on track soon.
What also helps, if you feel really down, is taking a rest from dieting. Recharging your batteries and finding a second breath. How to do it?
INCLUDE A DELOAD WEEK OR A REFEED DAY
Let’s clear out the terminology first.
Deload week is a week where you can either increase your calories (the majority of the time you will increase your carbs) or decrease your training intensity. Or you can do both. Every situation is different.
Refeed day is (majority of the time) just one day where you have a rest and increase your calories just for one day. Again, the majority of the calories are mostly from carbs.
What is better? Neither. It all depends on the situation.
But both can help you catch a second breath if you feel exhausted. I sometimes must use them myself when I am in a deficit.
When do you decide you need a deload or a refeed?
You might stop progressing in training
Your recovery is very slow and although you are doing your best for your body to recover, it is not happening
You are constantly hungry and exhausted and need some rest
Your mental health is getting worse, and it is because you are demotivated
You are not enjoying your training anymore, feeling depressed going to the gym even though you normally love it
You are going away and do not want to (or cannot) track calories for some time now
You are going away and will not be able to do your regular training / your activity level will change
As I said before, it all depends, every situation is different so some might have a completely different but reasonable reason why to include deload week or refeed day.
REWARD YOURSELF IF YOU HAD A DIFFICULT WEEK OR DAY (NOT WITH FOOD THOUGH)
If you made it through a difficult day or week and you are proud of yourself – get yourself a little reward!
And by reward, I do not mean a cake or massive takeaway or any other type of food.
Everyone is different so everyone’s ‘reward’ might be different.
Some might enjoy going to the cinema
Some might enjoy some new clothes
Some might enjoy new accessory
Some might enjoy a new book
Some might enjoy investing more time into their hobby
Some might enjoy relaxing massage or pedicure or any other beauty appointment
Just invest more time in yourself and in what pleases you. Make sure you let your body and mind rest and recharge.
REST MORE AND BOOK YOURSELF A RELAXING MASSAGE
By saying that, the other reason why you might feel stuck or demotivated is that you are not allowing your body to rest. Your body needs a rest. Your mind needs a rest.
Make sure you are having enough rest during the day and letting your body recover. If you are in a deficit for longer now, your body definitely needs more rest than when you are on your maintenance calories.
A great way to relax is to book a relaxing massage – or any other massage that you enjoy and like.
TRY NEW ACTIVITY
Are you fed up with your current activity? Even that can happen and you might start feeling annoyed practising a sport that you usually really like.
There is nothing wrong with that either.
Take a break for a couple of weeks and try new activities. Maybe you will find a new hobby and you will see for yourself when you will start missing your old activity. It will always be there, you can always return to it later.
If you do not enjoy gym anymore, try running or Crossfit instead. You might just need a few weeks away and you will happily return there.
KEEP YOURSELF BUSY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY – KEEP YOUR MIND BUSY
If you are just sitting at home and thinking about how hungry you are, how you are not making any progress and how badly you want this to happen – it does not help anything and most importantly, it does not help you at all.
Try to keep busy to avoid situations like that. And by that I do not mean that you constantly need to be doing something, it can be something very relaxing that will take your mind away from the frustration or demotivation you are in.
Read a book, learn a new skill, play an instrument, have a chat with your friend over the phone, watch a favourite movie.
UNFOLLOW FOOD CONTENT ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA THAT COULD TRIGGER YOU TO OVEREAT
This is very important. If you are on social media and there are ten photos in a row of food and sweets and other food-related content it can trigger you easily. I understand there might be accounts on social media that are creating very interesting and very educating content and you want to support them.
But if you know that now it is triggering you and keeping you away from your goal – why not unfollow them for a while? Save their profiles and follow them & support them again when the content will be fine for you.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PLENTY OF PROTEIN AND FIBRE IN YOUR DIET AND THAT MAJORITY OF YOUR DAILY CALORIES COME FROM NUTRITION-RICH FOOD
If you are really hungry in a calorie deficit make sure you are eating enough fibre and enough protein every day. Both fibre and protein keeps you fuller for longer and has other great benefits.
Protein will also help you not to lose any of your muscles.
Fibre will help your bowels to work better.
So if you are hungry I would first check that. If that is all sorted, maybe your calories are way too low?
Also, it is not just about eating enough protein and fibre. Are the majority of your calories from nutrition-rich food or are you eating just calorie-dense feed? Volume matters, if you are in a calorie deficit. Make sure you include something little you like and perhaps is more calorie-dense every day, but the vast majority of your calories should be from nutrition-rich food.
REALISE THAT THIS IS JUST A FEW WEEKS, JUST A SHORT PHASE TO GET YOU TO THE DESTINATION YOU WANT, NOT A NEW LIFESTYLE
All of the above covers this one point. This is just a short phase. You are now in place A and you need a train to take to place B (which would be your goal and your ‘why’). And the train to take you there is activity, calorie deficit, enough sleep, mental health, determination, and discipline.
And yes, sometimes the journey will be easy and sunny, sometimes there will be thunderstorms and sometimes the road will go uphill with stones on the train tracks. But you have a plan – you have a schedule you know that this process is just for a certain amount of weeks/months. Then you will get to your destination and can start a new journey (that will not include a deficit).
This is why I think it is so important to keep a track of how many weeks you want to be in a deficit – it will help you keep going. It will help you feel motivated. And if the journey will get hard you know you have just another few weeks left.
Every time you are trying to achieve something you need to step out of your comfort zone. You need to introduce yourself to determination and discipline. After that, results will come for sure.
What helps you the most when you get demotivated sometimes?
What is your the most favourite type of rest?