I’m going to tell you about a simple but important tool that will get you through the inevitable plateaus and reversals in your weight loss journey: your Defining Motivation.
Giving up is Easy
The world is designed to make you fat. Companies spend billions of dollars ensuring that the food they make is incredibly addictive. Billions more are spent on marketing to manipulate you into craving it. There are more and more office (and now home) based jobs where people sit in chairs all day, inactive. We work longer than ever before. We have an infinite amount of obligations (and distractions), reducing the time we have to exercise or cook healthily. If you’re overweight, I’m not surprised!
The things above are just some of the many reasons it is easy to give up on getting healthier. Why even bother trying in the first place?
For most of my life, that was certainly me. I was fat my entire life. Something would temporarily motivate me to “get in shape,” so I’d start exercising or counting a few calories. I’d occasionally lose a bit of weight.
Unfortunately, something new would enter my life that took away my focus from fitness, setting me back. Or after a couple of weeks of eating clean and losing weight, I’d eat a big meal. I’d weigh myself again and see the scale jump right back (by the way, the scale lies).
What the heck was the point of doing all this work?? Why??
Well guess what: that’s EXACTLY the question you need to ask yourself.
Why Comes Before Everything
Every weight loss journey is going to have its ups and downs. You are going to submit to temptation. You are going to hit plateaus. Life is going to throw wrenches your way and you’re going to have to deal with them somehow.
If we don’t know why we are trying to get healthier, our weight loss journey will be really hard. All of these wrenches and temptations will inevitably hijack our plan, delaying our progress. Worse, with enough frustration, we’re persuaded to just give up.
When we’re tempted to give up, we need to be reminded about why we’re trying to lose weight in the first place. I call this why your Defining Motivation.
Your Defining Motivation
A Defining Motivation is the biggest and most important reason why you want to lose weight, described to yourself in vivid detail. For me, I needed to lose weight because I was very unhealthy. With a heart condition history in my family, the odds of me getting a stroke or heart attack was high. However, even that wasn’t enough motivation for me; I found out about my extremely high blood pressure and was put on three different types of blood pressure medications months before I started my weight loss journey, but I STILL didn’t try to lose weight. It was only when I became a father when I started taking weight loss seriously. I connected my health (or lack of health) to the fact that if I passed away, my son would grow up without a dad.
Imagining myself dead strangely didn’t scare me that much, but imagining my child growing up without me did. That Defining Motivation was more important than a lot of short term temptations that exist in this world.
Describe Your Defining Motivation in Vivid Detail
Your Defining Motivation is personal to you. The more detailed, specific, vivid, and memorable it is, the better. If you can clearly visualize what would happen if you succeeded or failed on your Defining Motivation, even better. Paint a picture of what your life would look like if you achieved your goals. Paint a picture of what your life would look like if you did NOT achieve your goals. Write a paragraph of all the details if it helps you. Email me your defining motivation – sharing it can make it feel more real too.
Often a good Defining Motivation is connected to a larger goal or something greater than oneself, but it can be totally vain, selfish, evil, or whatever. I won’t judge you. It’s important to be honest with yourself about why you really want to lose weight, and the more you want it, the better.
Some Examples of Defining Motivations
Here are some examples people have shared with me:
- Becoming healthier for your children, grandchildren, family, or for something else you love.
- To resolve any health issues that may be holding you back from living your best life.
- The achievement of some sort of fitness goal (signing up for a race or competition can be a very strong motivator).
- To feel more attractive or to feel more accepted.
- To prove someone else wrong, like an ex or a toxic family member.
It is okay to change your Defining Motivation as you progress through your journey. It deserves repetition: it should be your Defining Motivation, not someone else’s, and only you can define this for yourself.
Having a Defining Motivation also does not mean you need to spend every living moment of your life dedicated to it. What it does mean is that given a choice between something that moves you closer to your goals versus something that moves you further away, more often than not you choose the action that moves you closer. You don’t need to be perfect.
Finding ways to constantly remind yourself that this Defining Motivation exists and is extremely important to you is critical. Making this connection is the key part of the mentality shift that will support success.
Constantly Remind Yourself
Immediate gratification is extremely powerful, and it is so easy to eat that extra snack (or two, or seven) rather than think about the long term impacts of that decision. Billions of dollars are spent to hijack your senses, after all. It does however get easier to resist these temptations when you’re reminded of the bigger rewards.
When I had my first child, I started to realize that if I did not lose weight, the risks of me not being around to see my son grow up were high. Connecting eating that second serving of dessert with the fact that eating it would increase the odds that I’d die before seeing my son grow up was pretty good motivation. You might think that sounds like a depressing way to live. If that sounds too morbid for you, I can rephrase: I started empowering myself to make healthier decisions because doing so increased my odds of having a wonderful life with my kids. Use whatever mindset shift you wish; the one connected to fear, the one connected to hope, or a mixture of both. This was just an example of how I kept my Defining Motivation a priority. Think of other ways that you would best do this.
Ideas to Remind Yourself of Your Defining Motivation
- Placing a few words or a photo representing your Defining Motivation by your kitchen pantry or car dash which will remind you about it before you take a snack out of the pantry or drive out to get food, and switching the words or photo regularly so you don’t easily ignore it.
- Setting up a reminder before mealtimes in your phone.
- Calculating the number of calories something is before eating it, and connecting that number of calories with how much equivalent weight gain that is.
- Weighing yourself in the morning to start the day to support your awareness of your weight as you go through the day.
My app, Luuze, is designed to supporting you with keeping your Defining Motivation in mind while you go through your entire journey:
- You can set your Defining Motivation right in the app, and have it prominently displayed.
- Daily reminders can be set up to ensure you eat mindfully during meal times.
- You can set up weigh-in reminders in the app.
- And there are plenty more features that will help you with your weight management journey!
Weak Defining Motivations
What if your Defining Motivation isn’t actually that big of a deal? What if you want to lose weight, but your life actually won’t be that different if you do lose weight? This is often a challenge for those that want to lose just a few pounds, or have recently had a child after being pregnant and are close to their pre-pregnancy weight but still can’t fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes. Because there’s not a huge motivation to lose weight, the temptations of having those snacks, or having that extra helping win out. It’s a bit harder to imagine how much different your life will be if you achieve your goals because the fact is, for some of you, your life might not actually be that different. If this is your situation, consider two options:
- Amplify your Defining Motivation by various methods. For example, you can publicly declare your intention to lose weight or achieve a fitness goal. You could make a bet with a friend that you will lose a certain number of pounds by a certain timeframe.
- Reflect on why you want to lose weight. If you are at a healthy weight (according to your doctor) and losing more weight won’t help you achieve better and greater things, consider removing the need to lose weight from your mental burden! For example, for those trying to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, literally donate your pre-maternity clothes and remove the mental burden of needing to fit in those clothes again. Seriously. Burn the bridges and accept your current weight. If you can’t accept your current weight and do this, then that implies that your desire to lose weight is greater than you think, because you can’t let go. Either find a way to let this mental burden go or turn that desire to not let go into a powerful motivation.
Start With Why
The key takeaway is that for any goal that you want, discovering that Defining Motivation is critical. Make your Defining Motivation detailed, remind yourself about it regularly, and make it yours. And when it comes to your health, don’t be naive. It’s more important than you can even imagine.
So, do you know what your Defining Motivation is? What can you do to ensure it stays on the top of your mind? What can you do to be reminded about it regularly?