My quest to get healthy remains happily on track. Inches are coming off, butt is shrinking and muscles are forming. All wonderful, great things that make me strut around my apartment like I’m the Queen of the World. Ain’t no mountain high enough! This get healthy lifestyle is so easy …. or not. I do strut around feeling proud of my progress and I also stare longingly into the fridge and whine about being hungry. I regularly want to quit because size ain’t nuthin’ but a number. And on and on it goes.
Some people may never struggle with their weight; some may lose weight with ease and never want to quit their new healthy lifestyle. I am not that person. I want to quit. All. The. Time. I want to stuff my face with everything naughty and forbidden. I want to flip the stairs and the pool the bird and sit on the sofa instead of working out. But I don’t.
How I Stay Motivated When I Want to Be Bad
Wanting to quit is normal. It does not make you bad or wrong for having those thoughts. Some days, for no particular reason, you just don’t feel like “being healthy”. It could be another day of baked salmon and steamed veggies makes you want to stuff fistfuls of potato chips in your mouth. Perhaps, the scale didn’t budge after a week of intense workouts and clean eating. Or worse, crept up a pound or two. Maybe, you’re just in a bad mood, period. The trick is to have a strong line of defense to handle those thoughts so you don’t actually quit when the prize of good health is within grasp.
Keep Your Largest Size Pants and Top
This is my go-to move whenever I start having doubts or want to quit. I put on my largest size pants and top and marvel over how much I’ve accomplished. I watch my pants fall off me when I let go of the waistband. My top feels heavy on me because there is so much excess material. This was my reality not that long ago. Once I see firsthand what I have achieved, my motivation returns full-force the majority of the time. I don’t want to go back to what I was: The fat person I didn’t recognize in the mirror and hated.
Thus, I strongly recommend keeping your largest pants and top until you reach your weight goal. While logically my brain knows I lost weight, it doesn’t always feel that way. I can’t see it, nor feel it. However, wearing those old clothes makes everything crystal clear. I cannot deny what my eyes can see. Now I face a clear choice: to go back to my fat clothes or dig deep and keep pushing forward because I am seeing results.
But that’s not all I do either …
My 4-Step Plan to Stay Motivated
Seeing my progress generally puts me back on track, but I don’t stop there because there is also typically an underlying cause to my wanting to quit that needs to be addressed.
1. Acknowledge Achievement and Keep Going
We tend to be so hard on ourselves and focus on what we’re doing wrong versus what we have achieved. I have been overweight for a long time and seeing my progress is always emotional for me. It’s amazing to see shades of me in the mirror again. For a long time, I never really thought this was possible, so I make a point to be both grateful for what I have achieved and recommit to getting healthy. I have come so far and my work is not over.
It’s important for me to acknowledge both progress and the work that still needs to be done. I have lost weight many times but have never achieved my weight goal because I quit too soon. I was “close enough” (not really) and that was “good enough (it wasn’t). I refuse to make that mistake or compromise again.
2. Reassess and Make Adjustments
If my weight loss has plateaued or crept back up, then I spend some time with this step. One of my biggest problems areas is portion sizes. I spent years eating out every meal and grew accustomed to super-sized portions. Now I measure and weigh my food. It’s super annoying but it works. However, sometimes I get lazy and stop doing it because I’m an adult, dammit, who can decide how much to eat on her own. Except, I can’t. Not yet. I still tend to be a bit generous, which means I need to once again measure and weigh my food until I can portion correctly without the scale/measuring cups.
If I have been diligent with portion sizes and this is the first week of a plateau, I try not to freak out and just carry on. Weight is weird. It fluctuates greatly, even in one day. If the problem still exists next week, then I may need to dig deeper. I also track inches lost because sometimes weight loss doesn’t show up quickly on the scale because you are replacing fat with muscle. In other words, the scale may show little progress but your pants have major droopy ass going on.
3. Add New Recipes to the Mix
I repeat the same dishes over and over because I know that certain meals pair well together and stay within my limits in regards to calories, fat, protein and carbs. (Yes, I’m tracking all of them. Yes, I hate it. Yes, it is helping.) But it can get a bit boring. Real boring. And a bored Tanya is a dangerous Tanya. She is liable to say screw it and decide to give herself a break for the day, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Breaks can provide much needed balance. However, when done spur of the moment, it rarely goes well either. Ask me how I know this! So when I’m getting tired of repeating the same dishes, it’s time to pull-up Pinterest and find a couple new dishes to add to the menu.
Success Tip: I’ve learned the hard way to also calculate the nutrition information in advance to see how it fits with the rest of my planned meals. Sometimes what sounds healthy really isn’t and you want to know that before you make it. Also beware that some recipes that look like nutrition winners have very tiny portions. It’s okay to have a small portion of something indulgent and pair it with some healthy sides but know that in advance. So you prepare those healthy sides and also don’t eat what you assumed was one portion to find out that it was 2-3 portions.
4. Plan for a Mindful Indulgence
People react differently to indulgences or cheats or whatever you want to call them so it’s important you do you. I need them but I cannot do them on a whim. As an emotional eater who has a complicated relationship with food, I have to be extra careful. Denying myself something I want isn’t necessarily the best decision because it leads to binging, nor is feeding every craving. So I try to find that balance. If I’m really struggling, I plan for an indulgence but there are some rules I follow to help me maintain control.
- The indulgence is one item versus a whole cheat meal or day.
- The indulgence is scheduled a minimum of 48 hours in advance.
- The indulgence should generally not occur on Sunday.
Why These Rules?
A cheat meal or day is too much for me at this point. I tend to go overboard and struggle to get back on track the next day. A 48 hour advance allows me to make sure my preceding and subsequent meals are very, very healthy to balance out the indulgence. Time also helps ease the urgency of my craving, so I eat less of whatever indulgence I choose. And finally I avoid Sundays because I don’t exercise on Sundays. There are more rules and stipulations I follow for cheats but that would take another post. If you’re interested in learning more, let me know in the comments and I’ll write a separate post.
Who’s in Control? I am!
My best advice to anyone on a get healthy journey is to do you. What works for me may or may not work for you. And that’s okay. What I do know is that there will be days (sometimes many days) where you want to give-up and having a go-to defense will help minimize slip-ups. I regularly fell off the wagon on my past quests to get healthy because I had no defense to fight those feeling. But seeing my progress almost always helps me regain perspective. I still had one bad day where I ate everything in sight but that’s okay. I’m not going to beat myself up over it or quit. I’m going to learn and move forward.
As I look back at the past year, I sometimes feel ashamed for allowing myself to get so overweight. Other times I feel great joy for what I’ve achieved. But what makes me the happiest is realizing that I am finally taking back control. Food still has much power over me but I am wresting back control. I decide. Me. This makes me very emotional and honestly I had a good cry over it. But no worries — I no longer eat tears away.
What’s your go-to move when you want to quit a goal?