You can be motivated by negative feelings like fear or envy, but much more powerful to motivate you are positive feelings, which will feed your determination. Looking forward to something (joyful anticipation) will help you lose weight. You can look forward to being healthy, good-looking, fit and youthful. Thoughts precede feelings and actions, and it is possible to choose the way we feel about almost everything.
Motivation is a desire to do something, a willingness to achieve our goal. It takes a lot of courage to change, and we begin by ridding ourselves of our doubts and fears. We are capable of losing weight, and we can remain confident, even though we know we will encounter many obstacles and suffer many setbacks. Losing weight takes time. After a while, we will notice a positive change in our attitude towards food and towards ourselves, but this change doesn't happen instantly. It is the result of days, weeks, months of positive feedback from a new way of eating and a new lifestyle. Remembering all the things we're grateful for will strengthen our resolve:
- I feel better and lighter;
- I have more energy,
- In the morning, I wake up refreshed;
- I feel less bloated;
- My ankles don't swell up any more;
- My eyes are brighter and my skin looks clearer;
- My mood and my self-esteem are improving;
- I take care of myself and eat healthy food;
- I spend less money on junk food;
- My partner enjoys my low-fat cuisine...
When I was losing weight, I found that a calendar and a diary were valuable tools to keep me going. I wanted to feel better, as fatigue had always been a problem for me. At one stage, I even thought I suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome, but the truth was my excess weight was robbing me of my energy. I had to be honest with myself and accept myself with all my strengths and weaknesses (I knew I could never give up chocolate!), and I had to cultivate motivation like a delicate plant. Progress was encouraging, so I kept track of my weight loss on a chart, and looked at this diagram whenever I felt low or fed-up.
Ask someone to take a picture of you now and again. Stick these photos on your fridge, and they will act as a visual reminder, the best proof that you are making progress and are getting closer to your goal. It will also remind you not to become complacent, once you've reached your objective.
You can lose weight little by little, one kilogram (about two and a half pounds) per month, for example. Make it your short-term goal and concentrate on it, without trying to tackle all your excess weight at once. You may not be able to lose five kilograms (eleven pounds), but you can lose one kilogram.
If you were to show a student all the books he would have to study during the years ahead, in one big pile, he would probably decide not to study after all. The same applies to weight loss: if you look at the total amount of weight you have to lose, you will get discouraged and never get started.
Success is like a staircase: you climb it step by step, one step at a time. To make a house, you have to lay the first brick, then the second brick, and so on. Losing weight can be hard work, but you can do it a day at a time. Everything counts: every little step, every little effort to change your eating habits.
No one is perfect, and we will always make mistakes, so if we overeat from time to time, it's not the end of the world. A lot of us fail at dieting because we want to do it "by the book"; and we want to do it perfectly, 100% of the time, or not at all. This "all or nothing" attitude is detrimental, as we end up punishing ourselves and eating even more ("I broke my diet, so I might as well eat as much junk-food as I possibly can today, and start again tomorrow"). We follow our diet again until we fail again, which leads to another binge, and so on. Not only is this kind of thinking harmful, but repeated failure is very depressing.
Instead of helping you to think for yourself, most traditional diets make all the decisions for you, and day after day you have to submit to an external control instance. A practical, sensible way to eat is not about control but about freedom, choice and responsibility.
Feeling guilt and shame after a binge is counter-productive. When I make a mistake, I have to remind myself there is nothing I can do to change the past, and worrying about the future won't help me either. I only have today, so I have to stop saying: "Tomorrow, I'm going on a diet". Instead, I could say to myself:
"From now on, I will eat a healthily, one day at a time, and I trust myself that I can do it. Every time I am about to eat, I have a choice. I don't have to be perfect. If I overeat, I won't punish myself; instead I will be good to myself..."
Every day, you can choose what you want to eat and how much of it. Instead of having biscuits, you can decide to have some fruit. I never used to believe fruit was enough to satisfy hunger between meals, until I tried it, and it worked!
You don't have to be perfect at everything you do. Do something just because you want to do it and you will lose weight, because it is what you want!
- Use positive thoughts to motivate you;
- Write a list of things you are grateful for;
- Monitor you progress with diaries and photos;
- Set yourself short-term goals and lose weight little by little;
- Stop being a perfectionist: mistakes are normal;
- Stop punishing yourself;
- Banish guilt and shame;
- Eat a healthy diet, one day at a time;
- Remember: you have a choice every time you are about to eat.
by Isabell Kratz.
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