How to Get the Discipline to Lose Weight

Positive housewife standing near filled fridge
Making the right choices may be hard. (Image: JackF/iStock/Getty Images)

If losing weight were easy, no one would be overweight. Many people try and fail every year to shed extra pounds; according to the International Food Information Council Foundation, a whopping 69 percent of American citizens are attempting to lose weight or keep it off. If you're one of them, you might find that you start off motivated, only to see your willpower fade when you become hungry or tired. Finding the discipline to lose weight requires concentrated, ongoing effort, but it is possible.

Step 1

Visit your physician for a check-up, including blood work. Discuss your weight-related concerns and ask how your weight is affecting your health. Learning you're prediabetic or that you have high cholesterol or blood pressure can be the reality check you need to start your weight-loss regime. Ask for a referral to a dietitian or nutritionist if you need help making a healthy eating plan.

Step 2

Set a goal and place reminders of that goal in visible places. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, write that goal -- and the steps you will take to achieve it -- on a piece of paper and tape it to your refrigerator. Tape another to the bathroom mirror. Make an image file of your goals and use it as your computer desktop or smartphone screen. The more visual reminders you give yourself throughout the day, the harder they are to ignore.

Step 3

Make a concrete exercise plan instead of just telling yourself you need to work out. Schedule a regular exercise date with a friend, family member or personal trainer. Sign up for an exercise class; if you've paid for sessions, that's extra motivation to attend.

Step 4

Declare your intentions publicly on a social media page or blog. Friends on social media or blog commenters can be powerful motivators when you don't want to work out or when you want to binge on junk food. Post your workout plan for the day to your social media page as soon as you wake up, and tell your friends to comment on your status throughout the day asking if you've followed through.

Step 5

Compete with someone. Make a bet with a family member or friend and set the stakes high enough that you don't want to lose. For example, if you don't exercise for 30 minutes per day, five days per week, you have to do the dishes for a month, take your competitor on a weekend vacation or -- the best motivator of all -- give him money.

Step 6

Commit to at least five minutes of exercise each day. Don't want to go to the gym? Fine. Jog in place for five minutes in your living room, go for a five-minute walk, or put on your favorite song and dance vigorously until it's over. Build a daily exercise habit, even if the time you put in seems negligible. By forcing yourself to do what's good for you, even for just a few minutes, you build a sense of mastery over bad habits and inertia.

Step 7

Sit in a quiet spot and meditate. Breathe deeply and calm your mind while visualizing your goals. Schedule a short meditation session every day to check in with yourself, calm your racing mind, and refocus your attention on what you really want.

Step 8

Consult a therapist. If you're having trouble sticking to your weight-loss goals, you may have deeper psychological issues holding you back. Counseling, especially behavioral therapy, can help you learn new and better ways to approach your goals.

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