5 Tips for How to Stay Motivated When the Scale Won't Budge

Written by Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN

Q: I have been making changes to my diet and lifestyle, but I am seeing few results. It’s hard to stay on track when I feel like nothing I do makes any difference.

A: Staying motivated to eat healthy and follow-thru on exercise and monitoring your A1C levels can be challenging, to say the least. Add on the fact that your efforts aren't producing the results you'd hoped for, and it's easy to want to throw your hands up and yell "I give up!"  Instead, arm yourself with these proven tips for how to stay focused and determined.

1. Be Realstic About Your Goals

If you are trying to lose weight, are you aiming for a goal that may be too fast or too large to achieve in a short period of time? For example, let’s say you have set a goal to lose 100 pounds. Although this is obtainable, it will take some time to achieve. When you set a goal that will take a long time to achieve, it is very easy to lose motivation along the way since one or two pounds lost on the scale feels like you have made very little progress.

2. Set Mini-Goals

Rather than setting a large goal of 100 pounds, try setting a small goal of 5 or10 pounds. Once you reach your goal set another goal of 10 pounds. If you are able to reach these mini goals quickly, you might have an easier time of maintaining your focus and determination.

3. Show Yourself Some Love

 Are you focusing only on the areas you have not improved upon, instead of the ones you have? If so, make a change to focus only on the positive. If you fall off track with your meal plan or exercise routine, get right back on the next day or at the next meal. Instead of focusing on the negative, find a positive behavior you achieved and highlight this instead. Even if you overindulged at a meal, maybe you still kept up with your food records or were consistent with your exercise routine. Focus on what you did right rather than what you did wrong. But you can still use every slip up as a learning experience. Why did you overeat? What triggered you to overeat? Did you wait too long in between meals? Did a lack of planning lead to this overeating? Whatever the reason, this reflection will help you to notice habits or impluses that you can try to avoid in the future.

4. Track Your Food and Blood Sugar Levels

When you are trying to improve your blood sugar levels or lose weight, tracking is key to helping you identify what is and isn’t working for you. Try writing down everything you eat and drink during the day along with every blood sugar reading. Review your journal at the end of each day and see how you have done and where there may be room for improvement. Look over your records to see why slip-ups or craving occurred and correct the problem areas the next day. The only way to prevent mistakes from re-occurring is to learn from them the first time. Tracking is also a great way to discover small behaviors that may be slowing your progress that you may have otherwised not noticed. For instance, maybe you didn’t realize just how much that handful of candy at the office each day was really adding up. Once you see exactly what you are doing in black and white, it can be easy to identify areas that need small improvements to speed your results.

5. Sing Your Own Praises

Don’t forget to take time to remind yourself how far you have come and all you have already achieved. It can be easy to focus only on your long term goal and feel like you have not achieved anything at all. However, in reality, you have already made many positive changes to benefit your health. End each day by writing down one accomplishment you've achieved. For instance, maybe  you walked for 10 minutes today. Or perhaps you made a point to check your blood sugar after dinner, when in the past you never bothered. Whatever the achievement, no matter how small, write it down and remember it. When you see all that you have achieved over a period of time, you will be amazed at how motivated you begin to feel!
 

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