How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight

Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Reviewed by Craig Primack, MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA

Written by Lauren Panoff

Published 04/29/2024

We’ve all been there — you’re feeling super inspired about a new weight loss diet or workout routine. You’re crushing it day after day. Then one morning, you wake up to find the wind’s gone out of your sails.

It’s normal for motivation to wax and wane as you progress along your weight loss journey. It might even be a good thing. Pushing yourself too hard leads to burnout and weight (re)gain. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to set yourself up for continued success, even when you face those inevitable days when it’s harder to get moving.

We rounded up 16 weight loss motivation tips to help you stay the course, even when the course is jagged and full of potholes.

Before you jump headfirst into your weight loss journey, make sure you have a clear purpose to fuel your steps. What’s your “why”?

Everyone has a greater purpose behind the things they do every day, whether that looks like rising before the rest of the family, getting help to stop smoking, or committing to an early-morning workout habit.

When you’re fueled by a bigger purpose, you can turn to that motivator whenever you feel adrift.

Consider these questions to help you find your purpose:

  • Why do I want to lose weight?

  • How will losing this weight enhance my life?

  • How will I feel once I’ve reached my weight loss goal?

Research shows that focusing on weight as your only measure of success can be problematic. Instead, consider a holistic approach to weight management.

Your goal may be to lose weight, but you also want to feel stronger, move more easily, and improve your mood — metrics you won’t see on any bathroom scale (not even those fancy, talking ones).

Once you determine your “why”, we encourage you to write it down and keep it somewhere accessible. Pull it out whenever you need a little extra motivation.

When you don’t have a clear set of goals laid out in front of you, it’s easier to lose sight of your “why.” And to lose motivation when obstacles arise.

A great way to approach this is to create SMART goals. This is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific: Clear and well-defined, focusing on a specific area for improvement or accomplishment.

  • Measurable: Quantifiable, allowing you to track progress and determine when goals have been achieved.

  • Achievable: Realistic and attainable, considering your resources, skills, and circumstances.

  • Relevant: In alignment with your broader objectives and aspirations, ensuring they’re meaningful and worthwhile.

  • Time-bound: Have a defined timeline or deadline, providing a sense of urgency and accountability to work towards completion.

Here are some examples of weight loss goals you could use as a framework:

  • Reduce my daily calorie intake by 500 calories.

  • Aim to lose two pounds per week.

  • Gradually increase my physical activity to at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.

  • Prioritize nutritious, whole foods and limit ultra-processed and high-calorie snacks.

  • Lose 10 pounds in the next eight weeks, leading up to my friend's wedding.

Excitement is wonderful. It’s also important to make sure you’re setting realistic goals to preserve your motivation.

You can realistically expect to lose one or two pounds per week, as long as you’re maintaining a calorie deficit — burning more calories than you eat. But don’t expect to drop 30 pounds in one month. Even if that were possible, it would be incredibly unhealthy, even dangerous.

Weight loss can sometimes be faster at the beginning of your weight loss journey because you’re shedding excess water weight, but it slows to a more gradual pace.

If you approach weight loss with unrealistic expectations, you’re likely to end up frustrated, disappointed, and perhaps even give up altogether.

We all have days when it’s hard to maintain a positive mindset, but pursuing positivity can make a huge difference in your stress levels, coping skills, and overall mental health.

Positive thinking can be fruitful for people facing all sorts of challenges, including weight loss.

One study among overweight adults looking to lose weight found that negative emotions predicted the intake of unhealthy food, while positive emotions predicted intentional physical activity.

Here are some examples of how to get motivated to lose weight when you’re depressed or stuck in a negative thought spiral.

Thinking This?

Try This Instead

I can't resist junk food. I have no willpower.
I am in control of my choices. I can choose nourishing foods that make me feel good about myself.
I'll never lose weight; this plan is bound to fail.
Every healthy choice I make brings me closer to my goals.
I’m so out of shape; I hate exercising.
I don’t need to be in shape to exercise. I can find enjoyable activities that make me feel energized and alive.
I have no time; how can I possibly fit physical activity into my day?
I can fit a 15-minute workout in before my shower. Any movement is a win.

Self-love is crucial for weight loss because it fosters a positive mindset and encourages healthy habits. When we love and respect ourselves, we prioritize self-care.

When you love your body — when you’re grateful for all the amazing things it can do — you treat it better. Maybe you cook it a healthy dinner. Maybe you stretch it out after a long day at the office. Maybe you straight-up self love it.

These activities can jumpstart a positive feedback loop that will help support long-term weight management.

Self-love also helps combat negative self-talk and promotes resilience, empowering us to navigate setbacks and stay committed to our weight loss goals.

Does anxiety send you straight to the freezer for ice cream? When you’re feeling overwhelmed at home, do you skip the workout, retreat to the bedroom, and start scrolling? When your stress levels spike, are you more likely to have an extra glass of wine or two?

These are triggers, and we all have them. What’s important is being aware of yours and how they might hinder your weight loss efforts if you don’t have a plan to deal with them.

Knowing your triggers helps you identify the underlying emotional and situational factors that lead you to eat more than you want to, skip the gym, and fall back into unhealthy habits.

By recognizing these triggers, you can develop strategies to manage them effectively and prevent your motivation from waning.

Seeing your progress over time can help you stay accountable to the goals you committed to. According to research, tracking your progress is associated with more consistent weight loss success.

You could track how many minutes you work out each week, any emotional ups and downs that contributed to your food choices, or exercise routines you found particularly satisfying (or not).

Some people prefer writing things in a weight loss journal or food diary, while others like to record metrics and habits in health-tracking apps.

We’re better together. It’s true in many aspects of life, including achieving weight loss goals.

A solid social support system provides encouragement and accountability. When you bond with people going through similar things, like trying to lose weight, that mutual understanding can be a powerful motivator.

Motivation is more likely to stay high when you have others to work out with, prep meals with, and share recipe ideas with. Remember, you’re not limited to your current cadre of friends and family. You can find a new crew to support you at your local CrossFit or yoga studio.

Look into online support groups on Facebook or elsewhere. A funny meme in a group chat poking fun at how none of you want to go to the gym can be all the motivation you need to get your butt over there.

Overall, sharing your journey with supportive individuals is invaluable for staying motivated.

Professional support can help, too. The weight loss program at Hers involves regular check-ins with our licensed healthcare providers to support you throughout your process.

Prescribed online

Weight loss treatment that puts you first

Weight loss and “fun” may not seem like two things that go together, but you have the power to change that.

When your weight loss efforts start to feel like a chore, it’s easy to lose motivation. Fun is key to staying motivated to lose weight.

But how do you do that? Here are some ideas:

  • Incorporate variety into your workouts by trying new activities like dance classes, hiking, or martial arts.

  • Experiment with flavorful recipes of various cuisines.

  • Send pictures of your food prep strategies to your friends or support group.

  • Get a dog or borrow a friend’s (they’re always up for a walk or run!).

Research shows that those who exercise most regularly also experience the most consistent motivation, so you might as well make it enjoyable.

We all need a little acknowledgment of the work we’re putting in.

You probably have a long-term weight loss goal, but chunking it down into smaller milestones provides more opportunities to celebrate progress. Small milestones add up and are worth recognizing.

For instance, you might celebrate losing the next ten pounds, getting 15 workouts in this month, or making healthy food choices for two weeks straight.

There’s no shortage of fad diets out there. You might be getting bombarded with ads telling you you’ll lose weight if you just follow this one diet plan or purchase this one supplement.

Rapid weight loss can result from fad diets, but this weight loss hardly ever lasts. These approaches often have no scientific evidence to support them. And they don’t translate into sustainable habits.

This is an important time to remind yourself of your “why” and look toward your long-term goals — which likely include sustainable weight loss and healthier habits, things you won’t obtain from fad diets.

Teddy Roosevelt is believed to have coined the phrase, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

It’s almost like he predicted Instagram!

We’re talking about focusing too much on what others appear to have achieved. When this happens, we tend to overlook our own accomplishments and hone in on our perceived shortcomings. This is a straight shot to negative self-talk.

All you have to do to experience the comparison trap is open your social media app.

Weight loss is personal and your journey to healthier habits is your own — nobody else’s.

Instead of fixating on other people, channel your energy into setting and achieving your unique goals and aspirations.

Hydration is essential for life and a key component of healthy weight loss.

Drinking water helps with all of the following:

  • Flushing out toxins

  • Replenishing fluids lost during workouts

  • Supporting fat burning

  • Helping you feel full between meals.

Sometimes dehydration can be mistaken for hunger, so having a reusable water bottle available can take the edge off and prevent mindless eating.

Sick of plain water? Try unsweetened seltzer, herbal teas, or water flavored with lemon, berries, or cucumber slices to sip on throughout the day.

Making healthier meals and snacks is about more than just supporting your weight loss goals.

Fueling your body with nutrient-dense foods improves mental and emotional well-being too. This can help keep your head clear and your motivation high.

Experimenting with new foods and healthier meals can boost your confidence and remind you that you’re in control of what you’re putting in your body.

Plus, when your nutrition is optimal, you have more energy to engage in physical activity.

Finding a role model can be helpful for boosting your motivation for weight loss, as they can inspire and guide you through the strategies that worked for them.

How do you choose one? Look for someone whose journey resonates with you and whose healthy habits you admire, whether it's a friend, family member, or public figure you can follow online.

Observing and learning from their experiences can provide valuable insights and motivation to stay committed to your own lifestyle changes.

You can’t be an expert in every aspect of life — we’re looking at you, DIY electricians — sometimes you need professional support.

It’s okay to ask for help. In fact, getting help from people who are experts in things like weight loss can help you get from A to Z faster and more efficiently.

If you could use some personalized guidance on your journey, consider speaking with a registered dietitian regarding nutrition, a personal trainer for your fitness plan, or a licensed provider at Hers to explore weight loss medication options to add to your routine.

Staying motivated is easier said than done, especially when you lead a busy life that pulls you in every direction. When it comes to how to stay on track with weight loss, keep these points in mind:

  • You’re not alone. There are countless others right now who are pursuing weight loss goals and also struggling with motivation. Find support in peers on a similar journey.

  • It’s a long game. Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, which is why it’s critical to remember your “why”. Putting one foot in front of the other and staying positive will help you keep your eyes on the prize.

  • It’s worth celebrating. Find small milestones to celebrate and remember that your health is worth prioritizing. You’ve got this!

If you’re interested in checking out the Hers weight loss program, start by taking our free assessment.

12 Sources

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