Are you trying to lose weight? If so – why? The answer to that question may be more important than you think. According to a new study published in the Open Obesity Journal, your chance of success is higher if you’re trying to lose weight for the right reasons.
Weight Loss Motivation Matters
Researchers at the University of Surrey were curious as to why some people are more successful at losing weight than others. We all know people who have tried to lose weight and never lost much and others who successfully lost 20 pounds or more. What distinguishes those who fail from “successful losers?” According to this study, it’s not just how much motivation they have – but the source of their motivation.
Researchers looked at the factors that motivated 292 members of Slimming World, the largest weight loss organization in the United Kingdom, to lose weight and made an interesting discovery. Those who were most successful at losing weight were “internally motivated,” driven by the desire to please themselves rather than “externally motivated,” spurred on by the desire to please other people. People motivated by the desire to be healthier or feel better were more likely to be successful than those who wanted to look good for a wedding or to please their husband or a member of their family.
The same holds true for sticking with an exercise program. People who work out for the pleasure of moving their body and the sense of well-being it brings are more likely to lace up their exercise shoes than those who exercise primarily to lose weight or look better in a swimsuit.
The point of all this? Your goals and priorities really do count when it comes to sticking to an exercise program over the long haul. If you’re trying to lose weight to please someone else or working out so you can fit into a smaller pair of pants, you may be setting yourself up for failure in the long run.
The Importance of Having a Realistic and Sustainable Plan
Whether you’re trying to lose weight or get fit, you need to know why you’re doing it and plan your strategy around it. For example, you’re more likely to stick with an exercise program if you’re motivated by factors within yourself – you like the way exercise makes you feel and you experience some degree of satisfaction and enjoyment when doing it. If you select an activity you don’t like, regardless of how effective it is, you’ll be less motivated to do it regularly. That’s why it’s important to choose something you enjoy. That means finding an activity you love or adding more variety to your workouts – working out to a number of different DVDs rather than doing the same workout every day.
Motivation to Lose Weight and Diet
Just as exercise needs to “sync” with your internal motivations, your diet should too. That’s why diets that are overly restrictive or limit too many food groups aren’t effective in the long run. If your motivation is to feel better and improve your health, an extreme diet won’t cut it. A certain amount of flexibility is important, and you need to adopt an eating plan you can stick with long term. Extreme diets and diets that focus on a limited number of foods or limit complete foods groups aren’t sustainable. Even if you lose weight, it won’t be permanent. Are you really going to stick with the cabbage soup diet long-term?
What Does This Mean?
Make sure you’re motivated to lose weight and you’re working out for the right reasons. Internal motivators, doing it for yourself because you want to feel good and be healthier, will lead you down the path of success. Doing it to fit into a smaller pair of jeans or to look good for a special event or person may not.
Medical News Today. “Successful Slimmers Do It for Themselves”
Science Daily. “What’s Motivation Got to Do with Weight Loss?”