A Beginner’s Guide to Dieting Motivation: How to Get and Stay Motivated

If you want to lose weight, you need to make changes to your diet. Eating right is one of the best ways to drop some pounds, and achieve a healthy lifestyle. 

Creating a diet plan is one thing, but staying motivated to stay on it is another challenge altogether. There are many obstacles that stand in your way, from peer pressure to lingering cravings.

So how do you maintain dieting motivation? If you are embarking on a new eating plan and need some help staying on track, keep reading. The following article details some ways to get and stay motivated on your diet plan.

Set the Right Goals

The first thing you need to do to stay motivated is to set the right targets. These include long and short-term goals.

It is not enough to simply make your goal “losing weight.” This is an unspecific and ambiguous target and will take you a while to complete. Instead of motivating you, this vague goal will cause you to lose your drive.

Set an overarching target, but then compose some smaller, more attainable goals. These are also known as “process goals.” Use the SMART model to make these goals.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Sometimes the acronym will vary slightly, but it always captures the same idea. This is a model also used in business, but it is applicable to dieting and weight loss as well.

Having specific and measurable goals will make it so that you always know whether or not you achieve your goals. Putting a time limit on your targets will ensure that you stay on track.

By making your goals attainable and realistic, you help yourself stay motivated. Goals that are ultimately out of reach will not hold your focus. By making SMART goals, you can keep yourself motivated and on track for your long term goals.

Here are some examples of good SMART goals:

  • I will make 5 keto dinners this week
  • I will drink 8 oz of water every day when I wake up
  • When I go grocery shopping this week, I will stick to the low carb list that I made and not buy junk food on impulse

Write these goals down, so you can keep track of them. As you will notice from these examples, it helps to diversify your goals. Don’t make them all about the poundage on the scale.

Keep a Food Journal

One thing that motivates people is keeping a food or weight loss journal. This means keeping track of everything you eat and drink day in and out. You can also use it to record how you feel after certain diet milestones, and keep photos of your progress.

There are a couple of ways a journal can help you.

First, it will help you count calories. One of the most important things about dieting is making sure you are getting the right amount of calories and nutrients to help your body function.

Second, it will help you notice patterns. Are you more likely to eat healthy on the days you work out? Are you drinking sugary drinks more than you thought you did?

Noticing these patterns is the best way to eliminate toxic habits and make your journey easier.

You can keep this log in a traditional journal. But these days, there are also numerous apps designed for this purpose as well. If you enter your meals carefully, the apps can tell you exactly what nutrients you are consuming.

A lot of people also find it useful to keep a social media diet journal. Post pictures of your healthy meals, or of yourself after a workout. By inviting your online community into the process, you give yourself an audience that will motivate you to stay on track.

Develop a Routine

Routines are great ways to keep yourself on track. For example, building time for a healthy breakfast into your morning routine will ensure that you start the day off on the right foot. Beginning the day the right way will help you stay focused on your goals throughout the day.

When we break in our routine, that’s when the opportunities arise for straying from our diets. By maintaining a schedule, we increase our chances of staying on track.

One way to help yourself keep your routine is to develop a cooking schedule. If you adopt a keto diet, for instance, you may have to make most of your meals at home. This means you’ll need to become familiar with your kitchen if you are not already.

If there are days when you don’t have time to cook (maybe due to work or school), then plan a cooking day for the week. On one of your days off, pre-make or prep meals for the rest of the week. That way, you can have diet-friendly, delicious meals at the ready without needing to put in additional effort.

Of course, there will be things that break your routine. Holidays, sickness, and other obstacles will present themselves. When this happens, it’s easy to slide out of your routine altogether.

So it is important to not beat yourself up when you slip up or skip a day. Reset as soon as you can and get back to your goals. That brings us to the next important part of staying motivated: a positive attitude.

A Positive Attitude and Emotional Care

Taking care of your mental state is a huge part of staying motivated. Weight loss is a vulnerable process, and it’s easy to feel discouraged. Maintaining a healthy outlook is the best way to stay motivated.

This is especially true if you are susceptible to stress or comfort eating. You need to find other ways to help improve your mood besides a sugar boost. Try the following methods:

  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • A soothing bubble bath
  • Going for a walk
  • Spending time with a friend
  • Self-affirmations

Notice how all of these things will give you an endorphin boost, but without contradicting your diet goals. In fact, some of these things will even aid in your weight loss journey. 

A lot of people choose to practice self-affirmations as a motivation tool. By focusing on positive thoughts, you enable yourself to accomplish your goals.

If maintaining a positive outlook with regards to food and dieting is really difficult, seek additional help from a professional. Remember, the ultimate goal isn’t just weight loss….it is a healthy lifestyle. And part of a healthy lifestyle means a healthy mind.

Beating yourself up is not helpful. Instead, practice self-care to stay motivated in your goals.

Keep Positive Company

But you shouldn’t be the only positive force in your life. Your friends and family should also be included in your weight loss journey.

That’s why you should involve them in the process, and make them aware of all of your goals. That way, they know if they are potentially endangering your progress.

For example, if your friend invites you out to a burger joint, you will be tempted to break your diet. But if your friend knows you are trying a new low carb or keto diet, they will likely pick a restaurant with more diet-friendly options.

Beware of friends or family who do not support your goals. Friends who pressure you to break your diet or don’t support your process are not helpful. They will ultimately demotivate you.

Kindly ask your friends and family to support your goals. If they cannot, you may need to redefine your boundaries with them.

One fun thing you can do is invite people to cook with you. You can try out a new keto recipe or modify one of your old favorites to incorporate diet-friendly food. This gives you a fun way to do things with your friends, while still sticking to your diet.

If you know someone who is also starting a new diet plan, you can try doing some things together. It always helps to go through these lifestyle shifts with a buddy. Community support will help you stay motivated and focused.

Surround Yourself With Healthy Options

One of the best ways to stay motivated is to surround yourself with healthy options. When we don’t have access to food that’s on our diet, we will break our routine and reach for something else. Hunger causes us to not think these choices through.

By making sure you never run out of diet-friendly options, you ensure that this doesn’t happen. Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with foods that are on your diet, including snacks. That way, you always have something to reach for that doesn’t break the rules.

A lot of people who begin a keto diet find that cooking keto is new to them. And many of the recipes you may keep in your pantry are no longer meals you can default to. So you are going to have to learn some new recipes so that you don’t break your diet.

Invest in some keto cookbooks, or find some cooking websites that specialize in your new diet. Keep a folder of dozens of go-to options so that you don’t get bored of the same two or three.

If cooking regularly is new to you altogether, search for locally-based meal services in your area. There are a lot of meal services that cater to specific diets and are customizable even beyond that. This can take some of the strain out of cooking on your diet full-time.

Related Questions

  • What if as I am dieting, I notice weight fluctuations from day-to-day? Do I need to change my meal plan?

There are a lot of things that cause your weight to fluctuate that have nothing to do with food. Water intake can be one of them. Always give yourself a five-pound range for your target weight.

It may help to space out your weigh-ins. People who weigh themselves every day are more likely to notice these minor fluctuations. Weigh yourself once per week to see your true weight loss.

  • Do I need to exercise if I choose the right diet plan?

Exercise and diet together is the best way to achieve maximum health. But there are a lot of ways to work movement into your routine. Try looking for fun ways to engage in an athletic activity in order to stay motivated.

But remember that when you increase the amount that you exercise, you may also need to raise your caloric intake.

  • What if I am still trying to find a diet that is right for me?

There are a lot of diets out there to choose from. The keto diet is a popular choice right now. To really know what diet plan is best for you, it is necessary to consult your doctor.

A lot of people find it helpful to work with a nutritionist while they are dieting. They can educate you about your diet and why it will work for you.

Dieting Motivation Comes From Within

While there are a lot of things you can do to increase your dieting motivation, remember that it all comes from within. Treat yourself well and forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Remember, the goal is not just weight loss, it is a healthy lifestyle and relationship with yourself.

We have a lot more informational material about certain diets, like keto and low carb meal plans, on our blog. If you read this article and need more information on which diet may be right for you, you can find more information here. 

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