By Rachel Vincent, Clinical Nutrition Educator
MOTIVATION! When we have it, we can accomplish amazing things. It can be disheartening when we lose it. Before we dive into some ways to avoid getting discouraged with weight loss, let’s debunk two myths about motivation.
Myth No. 1: Motivation is energy and passion.
Often times, when we think about motivation, we imagine people with “limitless energy and excitement” (think Olympic athletes). We often believe that if we have motivation, we will be excited about doing something. At times, we even wait patiently for the motivation to arrive and propel us into action. We have all uttered the phrase “I am waiting for the motivation” when it comes to starting certain tasks or goals in our lives. We can also attest to the fact that it rarely arrives.
The truth is… flip myth No. 1 on its head and we get a more accurate portrayal of motivation. Typically, when we take action FIRST, motivation follows. When we do something healthy to lose weight, that action creates momentum for us to do more things to lose weight. For example, when we exercise in the morning, we tend to eat healthier during the day.
Myth No. 2: When our motivation diminishes, it is a sign of weakness or an indicator that we don’t really want to achieve our goal.
The truth is… motivation is not a fixed commodity that we either have or don’t have. When folks first begin their weight-loss journey, they are usually acutely aware of their motivations, or reasons for, their weight loss. But somewhere along the way, an unexpected thing happens that is often overlooked. The reasons for starting the weight-loss journey stop being an issue as a person loses weight and gets healthier. For example, if someone’s primary motivation for weight loss is to stop their knees from hurting and get off certain medications, at a certain point in their journey, their knees are going to stop hurting and they are going to be taken off some medications. What happens then? This is where folks face a motivation lull and mistakenly see it as a failure. When motivation fizzles out, there is a great opportunity to ask, “Why do I want to continue to lose weight?” Answering this question is harder than many people think. The answer has to really mean something and have value to the person in order to impact behavior.
So how can we avoid getting discouraged? First, fully embrace the belief that healthy weight loss is never easy. Those people who think it is easy, don’t get it. Those people who appreciate how hard it is, often believe they are the problem – they aren’t. Healthy weight loss is HARD, for everyone.
A final thought – keep in mind that simply knowing how to lose weight is not enough – many folks who want to lose weight could write a book on it but knowledge alone is not enough.
To avoiding getting discouraged, stay connected with other folks who are working on weight loss and who are dedicated to a healthy lifestyle. Like other journeys, sometimes the path is smooth and other times it is rocky. For the rocky times, or times when an avalanche wipes out the path entirely, it is invaluable to have a support network to help find your way back to the path. Also like any other journey, with weight loss, we learn a lot about ourselves and can potentially be amazed to see what we can do!
Rachel Vincent, RD, is a Clinical Nutrition Educator at Mission Weight Management.