Image by: Dana Robinson
By Harper Finch
During the first two weeks of your diet, the pounds melted away. You were positive and motivated. But as you got further along, your progress slowed and you started to feel a little discouraged. Now you’re wondering why you even bother trying. This is pretty normal for most people trying to lose weight and get in shape.
The factor that will determine your ultimate dieting success is not whether you will get discouraged, but how you will deal with discouragement when it comes.
#1) Expect Setbacks
No matter what your goals are or how strong your willpower is, there will be setbacks in reaching your weight-loss goals. If you have an accidental “cheat day,” don’t beat yourself up about it. Start anew the next day with a positive mindset and a new resolve to make it a better day, full of healthy choices. “If you expect plateaus and setbacks, the discouragement you experience can be significantly lessened than if you had let them take you by surprise,” advises Nathaniel Lambert, Ph.D.
#2) Don’t Let Someone Else’s Weight Loss Discourage Yours
You and a friend decide that it’s time shed a few pounds, so you embark on your weight loss journey together. After the first week, she’s lost one pound more than you have. By the end of the month, she’s way ahead. You’ve been killing yourself in the gym and it just doesn’t seem worth it to try so hard when you see so little progress.
Don’t give up! Losing one to two pounds per week is pretty typical and is a safe range to stay in, say most experts. However, people lose weight at different rates for various reasons. For example, if your lifestyle habits already involve eating well and getting light exercise, you will lose less per week than someone who normally eats very poorly and never exercises, simply because their lifestyle has more room for changes.
Your metabolism will also play a big role. Someone with a naturally-higher metabolism will, of course, lose weight faster. So your husband, who has more muscle mass and less body fat will see pounds melt off faster than you will. You can give your metabolism a boost by focusing on strength training to increase your muscle mass, since muscle helps you burn more calories, even when your body is at rest. But you will still probably never be able to match your husband pound-for-pound. The easiest thing to do is just accept it and feel good about your own progress.
#3) Stop Checking the Scale
It’s pretty natural to want to step on the scale every morning to see how your weight loss is progressing. But that might mean bad news for your motivation. Sometimes, the scale won’t budge at all; other times, the number will rise. This can be extremely frustrating, especially when you’ve been very diligent. But before you start to get discouraged and head for the ice cream, remember a few things:
Plateaus occur for everyone. Jillian Michaels explains, “Having a stretch where your weight loss slows to nothing is a natural phenomenon. You’re consuming fewer calories than you used to, so your metabolism has slowed down to conserve them.” Stick with your workouts and healthy eating, she says, and you will start to lose weight again after about three weeks.
It can be especially frustrating if your weight increases. But if you have started a new weight-training regimen, you are probably going to gain weight as you gain muscle mass. It looks a little scary on the scale, but remember that added muscle helps you burn calories, so it’s getting you to your goal physique faster.
The best advice I’ve seen for battling pound-related discouragement is to ditch the scale. Rather than focus on pounds lost, focus on the positive changes you see in your body. The changes you see in the mirror can be much more gratifying than the ones you see on a scale. During the plateaus, they can keep you from getting discouraged. Your toned arms and flatter stomach, the way you killed it during yesterday’s workout–those are the things that will keep you motivated to keep at it.