Have you made a vow to lose weight this year? If, after a few weeks (or even days) your diet gets as stale as old rice cakes, try these ways to shake it up, remotivate yourself and help you keep your eye on the prize.
Review your goals. “Ask yourself, ‘Why did I start this in the first place?’” suggests Kate Larsen, a nationally recognized life and fitness coach and owner of Winning Lifestyles, Inc., in Eden Prairie, Minn. Your initial goal may have been to get into a smaller pants size, or to feel better, but those goals can become stale and not enough to keep you going. "So ask yourself, 'What else would I like to be able to say is true to want to continue?'" Larsen suggests. "Can you find something that is exciting and meaningful?" That's an important motivator. “People diet not because they like the process or the effort but to achieve something meaningful or important on the other side.” The trick is to come up with good reasons to continue, and to keep re-evaluating what you are aspiring toward as you move forward.
Reframe failure. If your diet hasn’t been going well, and you feel discouraged, think of it this way, Larsen says: “It is not about failing, it is about learning what works and what doesn’t work for you. I tell people not everything will work. It is trial-and-correction, not trial-and-error. Figure something else out.” Reflecting and writing down daily successes in a journal is one of the best ways to learn and remember, she says. “Have the mindset that everything is inching forward, some things are going to work and some aren’t, and that’s OK.” Notice how often you judge yourself. “We all have that gremlin in our heads, so hear it and challenge what it is saying,” Larsen says. “You don’t have to be perfect to be successful.”
Have a Plan B. If life seems to get in the way of your diet goals, have a Plan B ready to go, even before you need it. That’s an alternative way to stay consistent with exercise or eating goals when your regular routine is disrupted. You can identify what needs to be addressed in Plan B by noting what works and what doesn’t. Often there are regular disruptions, like having to work late or having a sick child. On a practical side: Have healthy frozen meals ready to grab from the freezer, keep healthy foods at work and keep a gym bag at work or in your car, so you can grab a walk or run when you have time. Plan ahead and you won’t have to think much or make excuses when your usual plans are sidetracked.
Factor in fun. Trying to lose weight is torture for many people. Finding other people who can encourage you and who are also weight-conscious can go a long way toward improving that attitude, Larsen says. Find an exercise or cooking buddy who really enjoys doing that stuff. Get involved in a cycling group or a class at the gym. “This is called ‘coaching your environment’ and it can make a world of difference in what you end up doing,” Larsen says.
Find some balance and contentment. Sometimes people get to a place where there doesn’t seem to be any next step at the moment, Larsen says. Some big goal, like losing weight for a son’s wedding or school reunion has passed, and it’s back to the usual grind. “This may be the time to be content with where you are now,” she says. “Enjoy your accomplishments and new changes. Focus on maintaining the healthier habits you employed to lose the weight. That may be enough for now," she says. “You may not have a `big next thing’ right now, but you’ll have one in due time.”