Happy New Year everyone!
As we know, a lot of people like to set New Year’s Resolutions, and weight loss is a big one. This time of year, people have vigor and vitality behind their motivation to lose weight as a resolution; but, more often than not, it doesn’t quite work out. Maybe you go a few weeks, or even a couple months following healthier routines, and then the wheels fall off the bus.
Setting a goal and not reaching it particularly when it comes to weight loss is very common problem, so it’s important to understand the mistakes people make that contribute to not reaching their goals. This month, I’m going to focus on talking about the four most common mistakes people make when they’re trying to lose weight, whether through a traditional approach or by an intermittent fasting program.
Mistake #1: Lack of Sustainable Motivation
Today I will start by talking about the first common mistake, which I would say is the most important: the lack of sustainable motivation. Now, it’s important to recognize that I’m talking about sustainable motivation. Many people, initially, have a lot of excitement that drives their motivation. But, what often happens is that people lose steam after time … a couple of days, weeks or months all because they were lacking sustainable motivation. What does this lack of sustainable motivation look like? Do any of the examples below sound familiar?
- Some get excited about their early weight loss and they start celebrating with food. Ooops!!
- Some people simply get bored of their new routines. Ho Hum Yawn!!
- The initial weight loss is rapid which leads to immediate gratification, but then it slows down, maybe hits a plateau and then stopts, which isn’t as fulfilling. So Frustrating!!
- Falling off track for a day or two leads to feelings of guilt and shame for not sticking to it, which causes someone to give up all together. Feeling Guilty!!!
People experience these various setbacks which causes them to give up over time, as old habits, cravings, and behavioral challenges start coming back. Initially, your motivation may be strong enough to override this, but eventually you get tired and revert back to your old habits. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about. The bottom line is, the initial excitement and motivation often dwindles over time.
You need to have a strong and more meaningful reason as to why you want to lose weight. By “strong”, I don’t mean just initially exciting – you need to have a more value-based internally driven reason as to why you want to lose weight. If that’s not in place, then your motivation is going to dwindle pretty quickly.
Why Do I Need Sustainable Motivation?
Having a very deep-seated, intrinsic, value-driven purpose as to why you want to lose weight, provides sustainable motivation which will help carry you through any plateaus, setbacks, or boredom. I like to use an analogy to represent the significance of meaningful motivation, or your “why”, in weight loss. Try to imagine that you’re on a little island, and you’re thinking you want to move to a different island. This new island represents your life after losing weight including: your goals, why you want to lose weight, how it will impact you and your life. In order to get to this new island you need something to guide you there and in this case it is a lighthouse. This lighthouse shines brightly and keeps you focused and moving in the right direction.
Well, having a really strong “why” is like having a bright shining lighthouse. If you fall off course, you just need to find the lighthouse and it will guide you back on track. Sometimes a fog bank will roll in such as temptations, distractions, demands of life getting in the way. If you’ve got a really bright light in that lighthouse, it’s going to keep you focused and will cut through the fog. You’re going to be able to ride through those distractions and keep going.
If you look at other areas in your life, I’m sure you’ll find areas where you have achieved a goal and success. Maybe it’s in your career, sports, family life, hobbies, and so on. If you think about this you will likely come to realize that your reason for doing what you needed to do in order to achieve that goal or level of success was something that was very important to you and you had deep-seated motivation. For that reason, you were able to maybe make sacrifices, hold the course, and keep moving in the right direction to achieve that success. Now you just need to tap into this value driven motivation as it relates to weight loss.
I’m sure you can agree that having a very intrinsic, value driven “why” is definitely something that helps you draw upon to keep your motivation more sustainable. Now, how do you find that?
How to Create Sustainable Motivation
There are a couple of different ways to find your meaningful motivation as to why you want to lose weight. When doing initial consultations with people interested in my program, one of my questions is: why do you want to lose weight? Often, we will go through the first layer of their reasons, such as fitting into favourite clothes, getting ready for a beach holiday, feeling less tired and achy. This first layer of reasons is great but, you want to go deeper than that.
Here is an exercise you can do: Layers of WHY
- Ask yourself why do I want to lose weight then write down your list of answers.
- After each answer you give, ask yourself again: why is that reason important to you?
- Do the same thing with this 2nd layer of Why responses.
- Ideally repeat this for at least 5 – 7 times until you get to the major underlying reasons. Often at this point you will feel the importance and it won’t just be an answer from your head, it will be more heart-felt.
Another method for determining your “why” is to determine what your core values are and then connect the impact that losing weight will have on what you value most in your life. Basically, there are seven categories of values in our lives.
The main categories are:
- physical well-being,
- spiritual well-being, and
There is a hierarchy of these categories based upon importance for each person. Take some time and think about your life and see if you can determine your top two or three value categories. If it is not obvious just ask yourself these questions: Where do you prioritize your time? Where do you spend more of your mental time/energy? How do you prioritize making decisions? Where do you spend your money or for what areas do you have no problem saving money? These questions will start to highlight your hierarchy of values. This is important to know, because when your goals are aligned to your values, the likelihood of you following through and achieving those goals is much higher.
Once you have determined your top 2-3 values, then you need to determine how weight loss will impact your highest values. Take some time to write down all the ways losing weight will positively support your top values. When you connect these dots then your motivation to lose weight will have much deeper meaning to it and it will become sustainable.
The other benefit of doing this exercise is that you can also see if somehow the process of losing weight will be in conflict with your top values. If you find this is the case, then you need to determine how to reframe your point of view in a way that weight loss is supporting your values. For example, I had one client who had struggled with her weight for a long time. In her case family was her number one value but we realized that a lot of her meaningful family experiences were around food: going out for ice cream, ordering takeout, having snacks for movie night, and so on. With this values exercise she could see that for her, trying to follow a weight loss plan seemed to conflict with her values because she believed it meant that she couldn’t take part in these family experiences. Together we decided to look at what else went on in the family since this is her number one value category. For her to commit to her weight loss journey and stay motivated she would have to be able to see how weight loss was going to support this value and not in conflict with it.
She explained that her kids were becoming very active in different sports: biking, swimming, and tubing, skiing but most of things she couldn’t easily participate in because of her weight. She was able to reframe her thoughts around weight loss to see that even though she would need to make modifications for family activities surrounding food, losing weight would ultimately mean she would be able to participate in many more physical activities with her family. The idea of creating amazing family experiences around activities was more exciting and meaningful for her. Simply reframing that perspective allowed her to realize that weight loss could actually support her values and as a result she had sustainable motivation and was able to follow through with her goals and lose 69 pounds!
I encourage you all to give this topic some thought. Especially entering the New Year, we’re all excited to get going with our resolutions, but it’s important to take the time to figure this out, and set yourself up for true, sustainable success. Come back next week and throughout this month to hear about the other three most common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight. I hope this information will help you in your own journey so that you are able to reach your goals in 2021. If you want to learn more:
- You can book a complimentary call, and discuss your challenges, and obstacles, and together we can determine if my program is right for you.
- You can also go to my Facebook page, @DrSherBovay, where you can find and join my Private Facebook group, The FastLane Mind Body Reset Mastery Group. Here, I host Facebook lives and frequent posts where you can engage and learn more.
Best wishes for a healthy safe 2021!