You’ve decided it’s the right time to lose weight, and you’ve committed to a program to help you achieve your goals. You’re ready to start your weight loss journey! But even if you have all the tools you need to help you stick with it — knowledge, access to healthy foods, a support system — there’s one more critical thing you should do before you begin: find your “why.”
Knowing why you want to lose weight in the first place is an important initial step to starting your weight loss journey, as it helps guide you when you’re questioning how to stay motivated to lose weight. Without a clear vision of what’s motivating you to lose weight, it may be more difficult to follow (and stick to) a program.
Whether you’re just beginning your journey or have been following a plan for a while, discovering your weight loss “why” may help you reach your goals. Here are a few tips for finding your “why” and idea starters that can help you stick to your intentions when it comes to losing weight.
1. Start by writing down your reason for losing weight — and be specific.
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Identify all the reasons you want to lose weight that go beyond the scale. Of course, looking great in your clothes can be an added benefit, but try to pinpoint what’s really motivating you to lose weight: Is it for better health? Preventing a certain health condition, such as diabetes? To have more energy? To improve your self-confidence for an upcoming event? To be able to run around with your kids? Be as specific as you can when outlining your reason (or reasons), and write them down in a journal. Keep the journal handy (like by your bed or at your desk) to remind yourself any time you need a boost of motivation.
2. Understand what keeps you motivated.
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Are you motivated to wake up before dawn and hit the gym? If so, kudos to you! But if you’re not, that’s OK, too. Sometimes we engage in behaviors because they are personally rewarding, which is called intrinsic motivation. In this case, your goals come from within, because it’s fun, enjoyable and satisfying to do the activity. For some people, the feeling of getting in a workout before they begin the rest of their day is motivating, but for others, motivation might take the form of another extrinsic reward. Perhaps your motivation comes from buying an amazing new outfit, taking a relaxing day at the spa or going to see a new movie. It’s important to figure out what non-food rewards help you stay motivated and support your weight loss “why” (here are a few more great ideas).
3. Set realistic goals, and make a list.
Don’t put away that journal just yet — it’s time to make another list! Research shows that writing down your goals (and updating them regularly) makes you significantly more likely to achieve them.1 Again, it’s important to be specific here. So instead of simply writing “lose weight” as a goal, be as clear as possible about what you want to achieve. For example, if your weight loss “why” is being able to keep up with your kids, your goal might be to lose 16 pounds by the last day of school when summer begins. Not only will writing specific goals help you know exactly what you’re working toward, but it will also allow you to accurately assess your progress and set actionable steps for success.
4. Craft a plan.
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To achieve any goal, you must lay out the steps you need to reach it. When your goal is to lose weight, you might start by looking back to a time when you tried to lose weight, but weren’t as successful as you had hoped. Think about your possible missteps in that situation, and craft a plan to achieve your desired outcome this time. For example, a plan might include things like eating more mindfully (think: turning off the TV during mealtimes), stocking your fridge with healthy snacks each week, drinking more water, swapping soda for sparkling water, or committing to walking during your lunch break.
If you’re following Jenny Craig, your weight loss plan is laid out for you — plus, you have a personal consultant to guide you throughout your journey.
5. Have a support system in place.
Even the most motivated people need support to achieve their weight loss goals. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that individuals who followed structured weight loss programs with support not only were able to lose more weight, but also were more likely to maintain their weight loss.2 For that reason, comprehensive programs, such as Jenny Craig, are helpful for people who want to lose weight and learn how to keep it off. A personal consultant who provides one-on-one guidance, tailored meal plans and advice for addressing challenges — and who holds you accountable — may be the key to achieving your weight loss goals.
Having family members and friends who cheer you on is equally important in your weight loss journey. Research shows that people following weight loss programs were better able to stick to them when they had social support.3 Try sitting down with your inner circle to let them know how they can be most supportive of you and your goals in this journey. For example, using motivational phrases (“You can do it!”), offering to work out together and eating healthy meals together (especially important when you live in the same household) are all positive ways of showing support.
Are you ready to find your weight loss “why,” set goals and get the motivation you need to achieve them? Click here to set up a free appointment with a Jenny Craig weight loss consultant to get started!
Kelsey is a Chicago-based journalist specializing in wellness and travel who writes for publications like Shape, Cooking Light and The Wall Street Journal. When she's not working, she loves trying out new healthy recipes and traveling as much as possible.
Favorite healthy snack: plain Greek yogurt with a few chocolate chips
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
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