When you first start a diet, your motivation is naturally high, and this is the best time to lose weight. Later, your weight begins to plateau, and it gets harder to lose weight as quickly because your metabolism has adjusted to the diet. That’s when you have to keep on track and find additional strategies to lose weight, which may have more to do with the psychological battle than the physical one.
Additional strategies to help you stick to your diet plan include:
- Getting involved in a weight loss group
- Getting your family involved
- Finding diet or exercise partners
- Hiring a professional coach
- Virtual support
- Rewarding yourself for accomplishments
- Visualizing positive results
- Pampering your sense of well-being
- Social interactions
- Diet maintenance
There are several other strategies to lose weight, including hypnosis and medical treatments such as gastric bypass. These are not for everyone, and some are used only in extreme cases when weight gain reaches life threatening levels due to medical reasons.
I. Don’t Go It Alone
Clearly, one of the best strategies to stay on a diet and fitness program is to have social support. Whether it is a weight loss group, a fitness and diet partner, a professional coach, or even an online virtual partner, it doesn’t matter. What is important is that you have someone to talk to when the going gets tough and someone to motivate you when you don’t feel like sticking to your program.
Weight Loss Groups
The support you get from a group can be very beneficial in reaching your goals. In addition to having someone who understands what you are going through, you may discover additional strategies to help you stick to your program. If you choose to walk with someone at lunchtime, then it becomes harder to back out because someone else is counting on you.
Weight Watchers is the best-known program for offering group support and goal tracking. There are Weight Watchers groups all over the United States. They can offer helpful suggestions to inspire you to keep working towards your goals. They provide positive feedback when you reach a goal, however they can also be a bit demoralizing if you aren’t keeping to the diet. There is usually a screen to block the weighing process, but many people still find the procedure invasive. Others find it highly motivating.
For those people who don’t like the public group, Weight Watchers also offers online forums. These hold to the same principles of the face-to-face discussion groups and can be easier for sensitive people to handle the process emotionally. While any kind of participation in a diet program which offers group counseling will be more expensive, the benefits of having people to bounce off their successes and failures can make all the difference in a diet.
If your family members are involved in the diet, they can be a great source of support. Especially, if your diet is necessary to keep you healthy, your family can provide the best support you can find. If they are aware that helping you stick to your diet will contribute to your health for many more years to come, they can be your best allies.
Many families go on a heart-healthy diet when one of the members has a heart problem. This doesn’t mean that they can’t go out to eat with their friends, but at home they can follow your diet guidelines by modifying their lifestyles. Having someone in the family who supports your goals and is also undergoing the same diet can be very important to keep things in perspective.
Many heart-healthy diets are also great for losing weight. If that is an issue with the entire family, then you can all band together and make it a contest of sorts. If they want to be more involved, each person can also have a day to cook a recipe of his/her choosing. Encourage them to be creative and get them to understand how the diet helps them as well as you. Remember, when one person starts to lose weight or lowers his/her cholesterol level, the whole family can be motivated to stick with the program.
Family time can include doing fun outdoor activities during summer or adopting new activities such as biking and nature trail walks. Even the pets can be an excuse to add exercise into your daily routine. Instead of focusing on exercise as a chore, look at it as a way to spend quality time with your family and store some memories for the future. This positive outlook can help you to stay on your program, while including those you love in your plans too. All these activities can build family bonding time and even improve the family dynamics.
Fitness or Diet Partners
If you’ve failed to convince your family to join you, the next best thing is to get a fitness or diet partner. It can be a neighbor, a co-worker or even a fitness instructor at the local gym. Just having someone who understands your diet or fitness program and can be there for you when things gets tough can be a real boon.
If you pick a neighbor, they can be instrumental in getting you to exercise on the weekends. You have someone to go to other activities together like a sporting event, a social dance, or even a gym. You can trade recipes and help each other to remain enthusiastic about the program by keeping up with each other’s progress.
A co-worker can also be a great diet or fitness partner. If you start losing weight and others in the office notice your progress, they may be motivated to try the same program. This can be one way to avoid being invited to restaurants at lunchtime, which is sure to blow your diet. If you have a co-worker who knows that fast food is out of the question, you can eat together or schedule healthier outings where the menus fit the diet. In addition, co-workers make great fitness partners, particularly if your job offers fitness perks.
You can join a gym together and meet before or after work. It’s much harder to skip the gym if someone else is also going with you. If your work doesn’t offer fitness perks like gym memberships at a discount, you can still schedule time during lunch for a brisk walk. If you have a walking partner, it helps you keep fit while strengthening your connections at work. Considering that most people spend the majority of their time at work or socialize with people from their workplace, having a diet partner who is also a co-worker can be a win-win situation.
If you can’t stand weight loss groups, your family isn’t very supportive, or you just want someone who is available and knowledgeable, hiring a professional coach can be the key to success. You will want a fitness coach, a diet coach, or a life coach if you are having psychological or behavioral problems. They will be trained in ways to motivate you to work towards your goals regardless of your hesitation.
Don’t expect any of these coaches to be your friends. They can be! But being a coach can often mean changing erratic patterns of behavior which are hampering your success. They will be harder on you than you might be on yourself. They will be creative about getting you around your mental blocks that keep you from reaching your goals. With the right attitude, a coach can be extremely helpful when you can’t even understand the issues that might be sabotaging your success. But they won’t do the work for you. They will only point the right way and try to put you on the right track to success.
You can find private fitness coaches at your local gym. They will show you how to do strength training and how to use the gym equipment. Their first consultation may be included in the price of your membership. If you want more individual instruction after that, you will have to pay for it. It’s important to understand that getting individualized attention can help you reach your goals faster.
You should pick a coach who can complement your weaknesses and understands your psychology. If you find that you get around your coach’s instructions and aren’t showing much progress, it might be time to find a new coach who can push you to succeed. If you are not the type of person who can take guidance or advice from someone else, then you might not want to consider a coach.
When dealing with weight loss issues, face-to-face interaction with your support system is highly recommended. There are also virtual groups and coaches that you can choose. However, if you are the type of person who will lie about your progress, it may be hard for a virtual coach to tell the difference. On the other hand, someone who knows you personally can gauge your progress simply by looking at you.
If your problems stem from a lack of self-esteem, poor body image, or bad habits that sabotage your success, then a virtual coach can be just as good as a personal coach. If your problems are actually showing up in a gym session, then a personal trainer who is waiting for you at the gym can be immensely helpful. It all depends on what issues you are having and which type of support can work best for you.
II. Reward Yourself
When you reach a goal, don’t forget to reward yourself with positive reinforcement. Having something to look forward to can motivate you and keep your mind away from negative feelings you may be having about the diet. Diets like Weight Watchers show how you can exercise more and exchange the calories you burn with something fattening. This may help you to maintain your diet if you are addicted to certain types of food. However, the best and the fastest way to lose weight is to burn calories and not replace them.
The size of the reward should be proportional to the size of the accomplishment. Don’t buy a new wardrobe just because you managed to add five minutes to your exercise schedule. Don’t ignore your accomplishments, but don’t exaggerate them either. It’s important to recognize your achievements so you can celebrate the pluses and not focus as much on the minuses.
Remember to keep track of your accomplishments as well as your failures in your diet and fitness journal. If you have an accomplishment with a failure on the same day, forget the reward. However, if you’ve managed to not only meet but also exceed your goals for the day, you deserve a reward no matter how small.
You can decide whether you want daily rewards, weekly rewards, or rewards based on measurable achievements. For instance, the small rewards can be daily, the large ones can be weekly, if you’ve had a stellar week and reached a specific goal of losing 10 pounds, you can have one reward just for that occasion. How and when you reward yourself depends on how much motivation you need and whether you’d rather shoot for small rewards or aim for big ones. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s totally up to you!
Create a list of rewards that you can carry with you. They should be categorized into small rewards and big rewards. Let your imagination and desires guide you. You can even get creative and include rewards that your family can give you for meeting your goals like a back massage for walking two miles instead of one.
If you’ve gone just a little bit further than what you aimed for the day, take out your list of small rewards and pick one. The list can include things like:
- Buying flowers
- Buying a book
- Buying a music CD
- Going to a museum
- Visiting an art gallery
Large rewards can be for a series of cumulative small accomplishments or for an above-average effort to meet a goal. The bigger the effort, the larger the reward can be. Some good examples of large rewards can include:
- Going to a concert
- A spa outing
- Going on a weekend trip
- Buying clothing
- Buying a pair of shoes
Whether you are a highly competitive person or not, a group reward can be an effective motivator to attain a goal. Having a group of people who are competing for a specific reward can add oomph to your diet or fitness program. For example, you can set up a weight loss lottery at work where everyone pitches in money and the one who loses the most weight by a certain date gets the pot of money. Or, you can put your money on the line by offering to pay for a specific outing at the end of the diet if you show less of a weight loss than your diet or fitness partners. Having a little competition in a diet is not a bad thing, just don’t let it get in the way of friendships and work relationships.
III. Visualize It!
Visualizing positive results can bring in the power of the subconscious mind to help you realize your goals. It can also affect the way you see yourself and give you more motivation to continue with the diet. Visualization can take the form of active daydreaming and self-encouragement by imagining all the positive effects a diet and fitness plan can do for you. If you are not good at visualizing end results, you can also use props like dresses a size smaller than you are to help you tune into what a “new you” could look like. The subconscious mind has a way of pushing the conscious mind to fulfill the desires we concentrate on.
Some people are better than others in visualizing their desires. Those who aren’t may need a little help by using props and memory cues to help the visualization seem real. For example, you may try to evoke how healthy you might feel or the compliments you expect to hear from others when you are in great shape. The idea is to get your imagination to believe that what you desire is not only possible but it’s already happening. The mind can’t tell the difference between a real memory and a false one. If you tweak your mind to accept your goals as a reality, it can help you achieve them with less effort.
To visualize your goals, first sit in a comfortable chair with your body in a relaxed state. Try to release any tension that you may notice in your body and calm your mind before you start. When you are feeling calmer and more relaxed, attempt to visualize a specific scene you may have pre-programmed to use.
You can use a beach scene to help you re-program your mind. You can see yourself getting ready to go to the beach and putting on a new swimsuit, which fits you perfectly. Admire yourself in the mirror. Imagine you are toned and thinner. You may even be radiating a healthy glow. Then, get dressed to head out to the beach. As you take off your overclothes to get ready to sunbathe or swim, imagine someone telling you how wonderful you look. Imagine you go walking on the beach or swimming and feel how the lightness of your body makes you feel energized and healthy. This is just one scene you can program your mind to accept the fact that you are getting in shape now. You can use any setting for the same purpose.
Pick a scene or desire that your current weigh may not allow you to experience and then experience it in your mind. Maybe you want to imagine you are dancing and enjoying yourself while others are admiring your dress or your stamina at dancing. Athletes often use visualizations to help program their minds to win and not to lose. You are now going to use it to see yourself with a positive body image and reprogram all the negative chatter about dieting and weight loss that you may have had in the past.
Using Props for Visualizations
If you still have difficulty with this exercise, you can try visualizations with props. In order to do that, you will need to get an outfit which is a smaller size than your current size. You will then use that outfit to help you with your visualization. Don’t put it on. Just keep it on a hanger in front of you and try to imagine yourself in it. This way, you have a physical object in front of you that your mind can copy. You can imagine how well it fits you and the number of compliments you receive on it. You can even accessorize it in your imagination and see how that works out.
IV. Finding Other Sources Of Comfort
Other sources of comfort can come from your own spiritual perspective, affirmations, self-pampering and social interactions that lead to a change in your daily routines. Many people find that when food loses its comfort value in their life that they need to start finding new ways to achieve a sense of well being. That can mean anything from finding new hobbies to opening up to whole new lifestyle choices that might have previously been ignored or limited.
Spiritual Strength and Meditation
You don’t have to be religious to take comfort in spirituality. Many of the practices that other spiritual traditions use can be a source of comfort without aligning yourself with their belief systems. Meditation is one such practice that has been brought over from the East to the West, which has been proven to improve a sense of well being. If you’ve never thought about spending a little time doing some meditation, now might be the time to try. There are different types of meditation that can be learned and practiced that can be effective in stabilizing the mind.
Monks have used the practice of meditation for centuries to reduce the cravings of the mind. You can easily learn meditation through self-help aids and use it to help you calm your own anxieties and worries. It doesn’t require an instructor, but it can be helpful to have one. There are many non-denominational groups that include meditation as a mind practice avoiding its religious overtones. The Silva Method has used meditation for a long time to help manage weight loss and reduce stress. As with all forms of psychological techniques, they should not be overdone. Simply opt for moderation, and anyone can use these methods safely.
Affirmations are used by some people to help them calm their fears that they aren’t getting what they want. In this case, it is weight loss. You can create your own affirmations to help you bypass mental obstacles. They can be done easily in groups of 10 to 20 repetitions daily. Some examples of good weight loss affirmations are:
- I’m losing weight as I speak.
- I am feeling lighter today.
- I feel good and thinner.
- My body is getting stronger and leaner.
- I love foods that keep me thin.
- Losing weight comes effortlessly to me.
- I am experiencing radiant health.
- Progress on this diet is quick and effective.
- I am getting closer to my ideal weight every day
- I love the way I feel right now.
You can make up your own affirmations, but it has to be an affirmation of positive results, whether they are actually materializing in reality at present or not. You expect that they will happen, and the affirmation says they are happening.
Pampering Your Sense of Well-Being
Don’t expect other people to comfort you while you are dieting. Part of learning to diet successfully is learning how to pamper your sense of well-being. External rewards in the form of compliments and positive social reinforcements are great, but they are not typically the norm. Instead, focus on making yourself feel better, get healthier, and lose weight.
When you are feeling down, stay away from situations that might tempt you to kick the diet. Don’t go grocery shopping while you are hungry or feeling deprived. Don’t go out to eat at a restaurant, if you’ve had a bad week thinking that you can eat a salad to feel better. Your emotions will most likely get the better of you. Mood management can be important to keep you positively focused when you are on a diet. The routines you set up should be used to pamper yourself into a good mood while avoiding temptation. Only you know what things soothe your soul and make you feel good. It’s different for everyone.
When the problem is emotional, try to come up with something to address the problem. If you are depressed, you can sometimes focus on all the other people in the world who are dieting and are much worse off than you. Maybe you can be grateful that you have the money to buy a diet plan. Maybe you can be grateful that you have to diet for losing weight instead of a medical emergency. This approach can help you feel pampered by comparing yourself to people who are less well off than you. Find out what things you can say to yourself that will pamper your sense of well-being.
If your circle of friends has consisted of people who enjoy eating out all the time, it’s time to change that circle. You can open yourself to new lifestyle choices when you meet new friends who enjoy the same activities. Some people take up dancing for fun and find it a great way to lose weight. You meet new people, you have some fun, and at the same time you may not even notice you are exercising. Much of that sense of comfort has to do with the fact that dancing is a very social interaction.
In today’s society, we often lead isolated lives and depend on the nuclear family to meet our social needs. In the past, the family had extensive relationships from cousins to grandparents. Social interaction is important to keep us happy and healthy. People can get more depressed and be prone to weight gain when their circle of friends becomes smaller and less fulfilling.
There are ways to counteract that but it will take some effort on your part. You need to look into groups in your area that you are interested in and then show up. It can be hard at first. But the reward is a sense of comfort as your circle of friends gets wider and social opportunities increase. What may have been initially uncomfortable can be a source of great comfort, if you stick with it. If you are gaining weight because you are isolated and bored, think about getting out a little more and discovering new events that include others.
If you are retired and find your activity level and friendship circle dwindling, think about going back to school. Universities now have a variety of programs for elders in continuing education that can get them involved in their communities. Similarly, you can take a cooking class that deals with your specific diet and enjoy meeting new people while strengthening your resolve to stay on the diet. Taking a class or a seminar at a local university is a great way to widen your social interactions with like-minded people.
V. Diet Maintenance
A diet isn’t forever, but a healthy lifestyle is a life-long choice. Most diets come with a life maintenance plan that is less restrictive than the original diet. You can use their recommendations to maintain that lifestyle or enrich it with your own choices. If you’ve made significant changes in your lifestyle to support more physical activity and less food intake, you don’t have to be as strict about following a particular diet plan. You may have already developed a life plan just by watching your preferences, your stress triggers, your food choices and your waistline.
Life maintenance plans usually aim at keeping the weight off and maintaining healthy food and fitness habits. The key to the life maintenance plan is to understand that your old food and fitness habits were what caused you to become overweight in the first place. If you go back to those same habits, just because the diet is over, you will start gaining weight again. This leads to a situation of yo-yo dieting which is not desirable at all. One has to come to the realization that in order to maintain a particular weight and fitness level, one has to keep to a certain lifestyle forever. Sedentary habits and binge eating make people gain weight. If you have taken the time to cultivate good habits and stress coping techniques, hopefully you won’t find yourself in the same situation again. But only time will tell that.
One way to motivate yourself to stay on a less restrictive maintenance plan is to get rid of all your old clothing. You should have already lost some weight on the diet, and your clothing will undoubtedly not fit you as well. If that’s the case, take the opportunity to get a new wardrobe and donate your old clothes to a charity. This way, as you stay on the life maintenance plan, the clothes themselves will clue you into how well you are doing. If your clothing becomes tight, you will have the unpleasant option of going out to buy more clothing for a “bigger you” or to readjust your eating and exercise habits again.
As years go by and you find yourself maintaining a good weight, you can congratulate yourself for avoiding some of the major disease triggers like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and more. As you get older, weight issues contribute more and more to the appearance of these diseases, and you can be happy knowing that your life maintenance plan has kept you living healthier for longer. The biggest reward for your diligence and hard work is being able to see your children get married, have kids of their own, and realizing that your diet and lifestyle had a lot to do with that. Be happy and enjoy your life. You deserve it!
Losing weight is a short-term goal.
Keeping it off is a lifetime commitment.
“The Ultimate Guide To Healthy Dieting”
- What Type Of Diet Should You Choose For Your Body Type To Lose Weight?
- Factors To Consider For A Healthy and Balanced Diet
- How To Develop Good Habits When You Are On A Diet
- The Best Methods To Measure Your Body Fat Percentage
- Keeping Track Of Your Diet and Fitness Progress
- Strategies To Help You Stay On Your Diet Plan