How can I stay positive in order to achieve my weight loss goal?

Kirsi Bhasin
Nutrition & Dietetics

Staying positive during your weight loss journey is one of the most important parts of achieving your goals. There is, after all, a great deal of truth in the phrase “healthy mind, healthy body.” Staying optimistic will help keep you motivated and keep you on track. But often, staying positive can be difficult, especially when it seems like all your favorite junk foods are following you everywhere, and your workouts start to seem like a chore.

The first thing you can do to ensure that you stay positive during your weight loss journey is making sure you set positive, realistic goals. Do your best to eat healthy and exercise and get enough sleep, but don’t aim to lose five pounds a week. Healthy, lasting weight loss is a slow process and as such you should aim to lose one or two pounds a week. If you lose more (which can sometimes happen) you’ll feel incredible to have exceeded your goal, and if you meet your goal, you’ll still feel great to have met it. Being realistic about what your body can actually do is an important part of staying positive while losing weight. And if you don't lose any weight one week, or you slip up on your diet or workout, go easy on yourself. Beating yourself up is no way to go about living healthily.

Support is another important part of staying motivated to lose weight. Talk to your friends, family, loved ones, anyone you go to for advice about your weight loss goals. Invite your girlfriends over to try out your new favorite healthy recipe, bring your significant other to the park and play tennis or go for a run together, or call a relative or loved one when your cravings are making you crazy. Support is absolutely key to staying healthy, and you’ll feel accountable to someone else in your healthy journey. Plus, you never know who your healthy habits may inspire!

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

Use these tips to stay motivated:

  • Continue to remind yourself of the benefits of reaching your goal. It may be looking good in those summer shorts or having more energy to keep up with your kids. Put up notes to remind yourself if necessary.
  • Weigh yourself weekly and give yourself a NONFOOD reward. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be giving yourself a candle-lit bubble bath or getting a backrub from your spouse. Get creative!
  • Continue to focus on health and wellness. Read books and articles that are motivating. Also, avoid environmental triggers that stir up your cravings such as watching food-related T.V. shows and meeting your friends at your favorite pastry shop.
  • Keep graphic records of your accomplishments! Watching that line on your weight graph go down or the line on your exercise graph go up can be quite motivating!
Wendy Batts
Staying positive can be a tough thing to do especially with the ups and downs associated with losing weight. While there are many strategies and tactics that someone can use when setting and keeping goals, we’ll focus on a couple tips here.
  1. Remember it’s about baby steps. Don’t overwhelm yourself with lofty goals. Set small manageable ones that are achievable along the way. It can be as simple as” tomorrow, I will get breakfast just right”. Remember how we climb a ladder? That’s right: one rung at a time.
  2. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Losing weight is almost never a straight shot but a journey with detours and u-turns along the way. Accept that these will happen and let go of the momentary obstacles or less-than-healthy choices we all sometimes make. It’s important to get right back on track to maintain your overall progress.
Everyone responds differently to varying types of motivational strategies.
To stay positive in order to achieve your weight loss goal:
  1. Take one day at a time.
  2. Have a picture of your dream body on your bathroom mirror and laminated in your pocket.
  3. Consistency is key.
  4. Stick with short workouts
  5. Get a sponsor and be a sponsor.
  6. I work with gold medal athletes and Broadway stars and they aren't perfect, so you need not be either.   
  7. Don't criticize yourself. Why spend your time beating yourself up when you could use that time to be doing things you enjoy and are fun! 
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Sign up for Dr. Oz’s 11 Weeks to Move It and Lose It in 2011, and get a buddy. Surround yourself with positive people who are either on the journey with you or who support you on your journey. You should consider what your life will feel and be like when you reach your goals, and also consider what your life will feel and be like if you continue to gain or remain static.

A huge part of losing weight is believing you can do it and realizing it’s not going to happen overnight. Here are some tips to help you get your mind right while you are losing your weight.

  • Make a visualization board: use a current photo and find a photo of yourself at a happy weight.  Leave a space in the middle for the changing you – this way you can actually see your progress along the way.
  • Chose a realistic goal date. Plan on losing about 1-2 pounds per week. Remember it took a long time to put this weight on and it is going to take time to get it off.
  • Think positive:  every time you are having negative thoughts about your weight…do something about it – literally, do 10 squats to remind yourself that YOU have the power to make this happen. Then follow up with some push-ups to drive the power attitude home!
  • Enjoy your daily success! If your pants are a little looser today – NOTICE -and be happy for yourself.  Realizing the little victories will make you move from granny panties to hot panties a lot more tolerable.

Using these few tips will make losing your weight a more positive experience and give you that edge to keep the weight off for a lifetime.

Dominique Adair

I have long said that "no-one feels bad enough into good behavior."  In other words, when we feel good about ourselves, we want to do the right things for ourselves (eating well, moving the right amount, taking time to de-stress, nurturing our relationships, etc.)  Journaling can help you stay aware and catch yourself slipping too far into negativity.  Many of my clients begin the day by writing a self-affirming statement, and when doubt creeps in, they go back to the statement as reinforcement.  I also believe that finding key people in your life to help you stay positive can be very helpful.  Think for a moment about those people who you tend to feel good around, and who you believe are genuinely happy when you have a personal success.  Connect with those people and ask them if you can reach out on occasion for a little positive energy.  Lastly, don't be afraid if you are a little down.  We all have a huge range of emotional potential, and sometimes we feel great and sometimes we don't.  By allowing yourself a little "down time," you'll come out the other side.  And bravo, just thinking about this question and taking time to write or read it, means that you are exploring some of the challenges that come with successful weight loss. 

Believing in yourself is a very powerful predictor of the success of personal change. Many people believe that the way you think about yourself is ultimately what you become. If you truly believe you will be successful, you will be successful. If you truly believe that you will fail, you will fail. Not only do people who believe in themselves achieve more, they are also able to more easily bounce back from minor setbacks and avoid becoming discouraged. One of the first things you need to understand is that you can lose weight if you work at it hard enough. You may need to keep telling yourself you can do it until you finally believe you can. Then, you need to set a specific goal of what you would like to achieve. Just saying you are going to lose weight is not good enough, you need to be specific as to how much and set a realistic time frame for your weight loss. Success breeds success, so it will be important in the beginning to set small, short term goals. When you begin to achieve success with these initial goals, tackling the larger ultimate goal will not seem so impossible. In terms of planning a weight loss goal, it is safe to lose one to two pounds per week. Write yourthe goals down and remind yourself of them every day. This will keep them fresh in your mind and illusrate that you have an important goal you are working towards.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.