1. Keep your eyes on the prize. Whether your aim is to fit into those jeans you bought two seasons ago, decrease your risk of heart disease or climb a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing, you need to keep your end goal in sight. Track your weight loss progress: Keep a daily diet and exercise journal, even if it’s just a note or two summing up what you ate, how long you worked out, and how you felt afterward. This simple strategy makes it easy to look back and see how far you’ve come, which can be a big motivation booster when you’re feeling like your progress has stagnated. Kulze offers another tip: “Wear your tight clothes to remind you of the need to continue.”
2. Plan for progress. Many a weight loss plan has derailed because of simple boredom. Avoid this by allowing yours to be organic, changing as your needs change. If your walking program has become dull, for instance, find a new route. If you put in your 30 minutes and find yourself with energy to spare, tack on 15 more. Tired of the same old salads? Log on to Spry’s Healthy Recipe project and gather some new, light and healthy dishes to add to your dinner rotation.
3. Go for the goal. “Set reasonable goals—slow and steady always wins the race when it comes to permanent weight loss success,” Kulze says. Working toward a goal keeps you focused and motivated, as long as those goals are achievable. If you’ve just started jogging, for example, don’t get carried away and sign up for a marathon. Start small (a 5K or 1-mile fun run) and build up your confidence; this will inspire you to aim higher gradually.
4. Cut yourself some slack. If you miss a workout or indulge a cheeseburger craving, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all slip up from time to time, and one misstep is not going to undo your progress. Rules that don’t bend pave the way for discouragement, a surefire way to lose sight of your goals. If that happens, take out that journal you’ve been keeping and remind yourself of how far you’ve come.
5. Make it a group effort. Enlist a friend or family member (or several of each) to join you in your weight loss journey. Not only does it help to have company on your walks or moral support at the gym, but you’re less likely to bail if someone else is counting on you to help keep them on track. Not a people person? Do it for your dog. A daily walk in the park is a treat for him and a workout for you.
6. Reap the rewards. Remember when getting a gold star from your teacher or a lollipop at the doctor’s office made the effort worth it all? That doesn’t change when you grow up. Rewarding yourself for a job well done reinforces your successes—even the small ones like your first full week of consecutive workouts. Better yet, make your reward count: Buy that pair of walking shoes you’ve been wanting, or upload some new energizing exercise songs to your MP3 player. Just make sure, Kulze cautions, that you don’t use food as a reward.
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