When we emerge from our winter cocoons, we’re often laden with weight we put on during the colder, more sedentary months. It can be a struggle to find the motivation to reenergize and lose the excess pounds.
But spring is a great time to commit to weight loss. It can be tough to create the right mindset, but it pays off.
It paid off for Ontario County, N.Y., human resources analyst Erica Brown. In 2014, Brown and her husband, Mike, made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight and improve their health. They chose the Advocare 24-day eating challenge, which included an eating plan and supplements. They also added daily treadmill walks for exercise.
“It wasn’t a huge workout—just walking 10,000 steps a day,” Brown says. “The eating challenge taught us portion control and how to overcome cravings.”
They made moderate success, but when it garnered compliments from friends, Brown felt even more resolve to maintain her healthy habits.
Like Brown and her husband, you can overcome the mental drags that hold you back from losing weight. It starts with changing how you perceive yourself, your goals and your successes.
Make It Real By Being Realistic
If you’re not used to an active, mindful lifestyle, it’s easy to get sucked into—and eventually discouraged by—an overly ambitious routine, says Ajia Cherry, an American Council on Exercise-certified health coach and personal trainer. When you begin your journey, don’t do too much too fast.
“If you are making a big lifestyle change it’s not always a great idea to dive in deep,” Cherry says. “(By doing too much at the start), you’re setting yourself up for failure because your goals are so broad and different from your norm. Your likelihood of adhering to this new schedule is very small.”
Start out with something simple and attainable. For example, perhaps you’re too busy to make a healthy brownbag lunch. Or maybe you notice that you grab a chocolate from the receptionist’s candy bowl every day. Ask yourself what you can do to change. Then do it until that one change becomes your regular routine.
Cherry knows that people get frustrated with focusing on one small change because they want to fix everything right away. Remember that those slow, small changes will make a big difference in the long run.
“If you change just one small thing each week, look at how different your life will be in one year,” she says.
Focus on Your Successes
Weight is only one of many indicators of your bigger health picture. Cherry says everyone focuses on the scale’s number without considering what that number represents. Instead of doing that, focus on real life achievements.
Look for your wins somewhere else, Cherry says. Can you walk around the block now without breathing hard? Are you eating less added sugar? Is your blood pressure lower? Are you stronger? Do you have more energy? Being aware of small successes builds your momentum. It’s a pattern Cherry has seen time and time again with her clients.
“That positive reinforcement is the mental pump up that will take you to the next goal,” she says. “You’ll emerge healthier, which for many includes weight loss.”
Brown can attest to this. Because she started losing weight, she also needed to buy new clothes to fit her new body, and that—along with the compliments she received—motivated her to keep going.
“I loved needing to buy new pants,” she says. “It really motivates me to keep up the good work.”
As for the inevitable bad days? Cherry says not to worry—everyone has them. Use it as a learning experience.
“It’s an opportunity to identify the trigger and figure out how to handle it,” she says.