5 mental strategies that will help you lose weight — and keep it off

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There’s only two and a half months left in 2018. Which means that many of us likely have a health goal that’s been collecting dust on our resolutions list. How many of you rung in the New Year with a renewed commitment to lose weight, only to throw in the towel until 2019? Be honest.

If this cycle has occurred more times than you’d like to admit, you’re not alone. Setting a weight-loss goal is easy to do, but following through on it is a different story. Which is why losing weight is consistently one of the most popular resolutions, but few of us actually accomplish it. In fact, one survey found that at the end of the first week of January, 30 percent of people have already called it quits.

What may come as some consolation is that even the fittest among us know the struggle is real: “Many know me from social media as the jump rope queen and fitness trainer who is always smiling while coming up with difficult and creative workouts. What they may not know is that like everyone else, I too struggle with finding ways to keep my motivation up when it comes to diet and exercise,” says Janine Delaney, psychologist and fitness expert whose social media platform has amassed almost 2 million followers. “As a full-time psychologist, wellness influencer and mom of two teenage girls I have an awful lot going on. Sometimes it would be easier to head for the couch with a bag of chips than plan a healthy meal and fit in a workout. Still, I make it happen.”

How exactly? We’re glad you asked. The difference between those who throw in the towel and those who actually reach their goal is simple: staying motivated. It’s not a matter of if your motivation will wane, but when. And when it does, Delaney falls back on her expertise as a psychologist to have the right structure in place to stick with it.

Here are her five tried-and-true strategies that she uses to stay committed to her goals — even when she encounters the inevitable dip in motivation.

Set SMART goals

Setting the right goal is the first step — and arguably the most important. Setting the wrong one can set yourself up for failure before you even begin.

“A not-smart goal would be ‘I want to lose weight’ or ‘I want to get fit,’ they are very vague and general,” says Delaney. “What we need to do when we set a goal is think about how we are going to put the action behind it. A SMART goal would be ‘I want to lose 10 pounds by June 1 so when I go to Aruba on vacation I can wear a bikini.’

Besides being specific, it comes down to personalization: the goal needs to be realistic and meaningful for you. Walk yourself though this checklist to ensure that the goal you are setting for yourself is a SMART one:

  • Specific: How much weight do I want to lose? A specific number.
  • Measurable: Is there a way that I can track the results?
  • Attainable: Is the goal realistic?
  • Relevant: Is this something that I actually want to do? What will keep you intrinsically motivated is setting a goal that’s meaningful to you.
  • Time-bound: When is it going to be completed? What steps happen next?

Plan ahead — and find your intrinsic motivation to do it

It sounds simple, but there’s truth to the adage: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

“For busy people, [planning ahead] is the most efficient way to get done what you need to get done — whether it’s your job, your workout, meal planning … It’s not easy and we have so many things going on. Putting things down on paper clears your brain. Now you don’t have everything in your head; it frees up the space to focus on what you need to do. “

She recommends setting aside time on Sunday to plan out the week ahead. “Planning is so important from an organization perspective,” says Delaney. “When it comes to organizing you really need to think about what’s important to you. I always tell people, don’t over-schedule. You don’t have to say yes to every single invitation. Think about what your week is going to look like and how you’re going to find time for what’s important.”