No one ever said losing weight was easy. But no matter how prepared you think you are for an entire lifestyle overhaul, there are some things that can catch you totally by surprise that can make you second guess your weight-loss motivation in the first place.
First things first: Most people have their fair share of ups and downs while losing weight. But I get it, it’s discouraging AF.
Here’s how these 15 women stayed motivated when things got tough on their weight-loss journeys.
‘I think about how far I’ve come.’
“Whenever I feel like giving up—trust me, I still do sometimes—I just remind myself of the girl in those pictures and how unhappy she was. I just never want to look in the mirror and see her again. That keeps me motivated. I’ve come too far to let a plateau hold me back.” —Cortland West, 24, lost 80 pounds
‘I remember my motivation to start this journey.’
“It sounds cheesy, but you really have to find your ‘why.’ Last summer I realized that this year I would turn 45, celebrate my 20th wedding anniversary, and go on a mission trip to Peru. I knew I had a year to get my act together for myself for the first time since I had kids.
“I didn’t want to be overweight for those milestones and I didn’t want to struggle with dragging my overweight body around the mountains of Peru when I wanted to be there to make a difference in the lives of others. So, along the way, when my weight loss stalled, I’ve focused on that ‘why’ and it has helped me push through.” —Vivian Wolf, 44, lost 40 pounds
‘I focus on getting stronger in the gym.’
“The process of weight loss takes time, and to pass the time waiting for a break in a plateau, I shift my focus to getting stronger.
“For example, a better, stronger squat means healthier glutes. I believe it’s much more difficult to care about a plateau when you understand that mentally prioritizing performance is still contributing to your health.” —Jessica Hudson, 29, lost 38 pounds
‘I remind myself how much better I feel when I eat healthy.’
“I reignite the flame by repeatedly telling myself how amazing I feel when I do work out, or how much healthier I feel when I eat things that bring me fuel and energy.
“Positive self-talk is something that has helped me through this whole journey, and sometimes you just have to say these things out loud to yourself in the mirror.” —Kenzie Pittman, 26, lost 45 pounds
‘I prioritize making my workouts fun.’
“After about four months of tracking calories and losing weight, my weight loss stalled. I needed to up my physical activity, but I dreaded the idea of setting foot into a gym. Then I discovered hula-hoop fitness and it became my passion. In the months that followed, I fought through the plateau period by reigniting my original desire to lose weight, but this time, I focused on fun.
“Finding the ‘fun’ helped me stick with my diet and exercise routine, even when the weight loss stalled. It reminded me that physical activity really can feel more like childhood recess and less like a chore. It’s impossible to not smile while hula hooping!
“I also put ‘fun’ back into my diet and focused on trying new things instead of limiting myself to eating the same foods every day. The weight started coming off again and I have maintained my weight loss for three months now.” —Cori Magnotta, 34, lost 85 pounds
‘I treat plateaus like any other test of perseverance.’
“I have a love-hate relationship with plateaus. I’ve learned to think of them as a way to teach me patience and perseverance. Most of us, however, will have an initial reaction to throw in the towel.
“Instead, I try to use the towel to wipe off the sweat off my face from an awesome workout. I let plateaus inspire me to dig deeper, find my internal motivation, and realize that it is part of the process.” —Leandie Williams, 33, lost 99 pounds
‘I focus on non-scale victories.’
“It can be disappointing when you do everything ‘right’ and you don’t get the results you want. But this is about being patient.
“When I need weight-loss motivation to break through plateaus, I focus on non-scale victories. Are your clothes getting looser? Are you able to control what you eat? Are you feeling better!? If yes, then you’re still progressing.” —Joanna Wilcox, 33, lost 61 pounds
‘I celebrate every single healthy choice as a success.’
“I had a plateau that lasted a month and a half, and it was so frustrating. I had to keep reminding myself that I had to stick with it and be patient.
“Weight loss is not an overnight, quick fix. You just have to remember that every healthy choice you make is the right one. Just because the scale may not reflect it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it. Weight loss has a lot of ups and downs, but nothing worth it comes easy. Stick with it and you’ll break through!” –Emily Powers, 24, lost 120 pounds
‘I continue to set small, manageable goals for myself.’
“Losing weight was a slow process for me, learning and growing little by little. I’ve set small, attainable goals, met them, and then challenged myself by moving onto new ones. I’m also a fan of flexible dieting, meaning I eat good most of the time and let myself have some treats, too.” –Shannon Collins, 40, lost 40 pounds
‘I remind myself how much progress I’ve made already.’
“My journey to health is about so much more than weight loss. In July of 2016, I was diagnosed with type one diabetes and spent the next year fighting to regulate my blood sugars before discovering the keto diet. It flipped my life upside down in the best way possible, giving me a renewed sense of joy and purpose.
“When I feel like quitting, I remind myself of all this journey has given me. I think about how much my mood, quality of life, and health have improved. I also look at before-and-after pictures to show myself how much progress I’ve made. Remembering that I made my own transformation happen empowers me to keep making positive choices.” –Promise Sharples, 23, lost 68 pounds
‘I actually look forward to the hard days.’
“When I feel discouraged about my progress, I remind myself how far I’ve come. Not every single day, week, or month is going to be perfect, and there will always be ups and downs.
“I also remind myself that I have to push through the hard days because they’re all part of the process. The hard days are the ones that really matter when it comes to creating healthy habits.” –Melissa LeBlanc, 29, lost 90 pounds
‘I work on changing my body and my mind.’
“When I look at old photos of myself, it reminds me that I don’t want to be that person again. Physical change is amazing, but transformation of the mind is even greater.
I’ve learned how to love myself and I’ve developed a good relationship with food, which seemed like something I could only ever dream of. It’s about changing your mindset and focusing on health, not just changing your body to look good.” –Irina Kostenko, 36, lost 118 pounds
‘I focus on feeling confident and capable in my own skin.’
“My motivation doesn’t come from things getting easier, but from knowing that I just keep getting stronger mentally and physically. Every gym session, healthy meal, and mindful decision toward my health lays a foundation of confidence that makes me feel capable. Now more than ever, I wake up feeling like I’m capable of accomplishing whatever I set out to do and that’s where my motivation comes from.” –Charity Nelms, 28, lost 87 pounds
‘I remember that I’m striving for a new lifestyle—not just weight loss.’
“In the past, I would eat a bunch of things I hated just to lose weight quickly, and I couldn’t wait to go back to eating normally. But after joining Weight Watchers, I viewed healthy eating as a forever lifestyle.
“I made myself a promise that I wasn’t going to eat anything during weight loss that I wouldn’t want to eat at goal weight. I made a big list of foods I wouldn’t want to live without, then scoured the internet for healthier versions of those things. I revisit this list every so often and it keeps me motivated! By doing this, quitting isn’t an option because there’s nothing to quit. It’s just how I live my life now.” –Ashley Vogler, 34, lost 120 pounds
‘I don’t let mistakes totally derail my efforts.’
“My biggest lesson in terms of staying motivated has been to think of diet slip-ups as learning opportunities. There’s no such thing as ‘blowing it for the day,’ and telling yourself you’ll start over again tomorrow, or Monday morning.
“For me, each meal or snack is another opportunity to make a healthier choice, and I try not to let the whole train derail because of one less-than-stellar decision.” –Tanisha Commodore, 34, lost 80 pounds