When spring arrives, I’m always more motivated to lose weight. It’s not just that I wear fewer clothes as the weather gets warmer (although that should be motivation enough!), but also I feel more energized and motivated to be outside and get moving.
Over the years, I’ve struggled with finding a way to lose weight without it feeling like drudgery or sacrifice. I don’t care much for pain, and I like delicious food. Exercise and diets were never very appealing.
But trumping my distaste for pain and sacrifice is my desire to remain healthy, energetic, and active. When I was in my twenties and thirties, I didn’t worry much about this. I didn’t need to. But as I’ve reached midlife, my metabolism has changed. A few extra pounds can appear and jump on my thighs without my knowledge or permission.
As my children have grown, I’m no longer running around chasing them. I have a sedentary job that requires I sit in front of a computer for many hours a day. I love my work, but you’ve probably seen or heard the alarming statistics about sitting for hours during the day. It leads to weight gain, heart problems, and early death.
Also, a few years ago I read the book Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond and realized how I needed to change my attitude and actions around exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. I had to be proactive, but I needed some weight loss motivation.
Let’s start with some of the basics about calories and weight loss.
In general, about 3500 calories equals one pound of body weight. You’d need to consume 3500 fewer calories than you usually do or expend those calories through exercise (or a combination of those) to lose one pound.
But this can’t be done by drastically reducing your calories in a short amount of time.
Often, as we eat less, our bodies expend calories at a slower rate. This may be an adaptive phenomenon to prevent starvation and ensure our survival. It’s called diet induced adaptive thermogenesis, and it can be quite frustrating when you’re trying to lose weight.
That’s why it’s more realistic to go slowly by cutting 500 calories a day (a total of 3500 per week), and eating a healthy, balanced diet. And if you add exercise in the mix, you can lose a pound or more a week. This rate of weight loss is considered reasonable and healthy.
With these basic facts in mind, here are 5 ideas for weight loss motivation:
1. Buy a scale
I know, this doesn’t seem like a fun idea to motivate you. But it will be in a week or so. A study at the VCU School of Medicine reveals people who weigh themselves daily or a few times a week tend to lose more weight. Checking your weight frequently helps you notice small increases and allows you to make quick changes in your diet and exercise routine.
For me, it’s been incredibly motivating to watch my weight go down. The more I lose, the more I want to stick to my plan. Consider keeping a journal to write down your daily weight. Seeing it on paper is even more motivating.
Remember to weigh yourself first thing in the morning, preferably at the same time. Also, remember that you tend to drop more weight in the first couple of weeks of dieting, mainly due to water loss. It may slow down after that, but don’t let it frustrate you. You’ll still lose weight, just not as quickly.
Be sure to invest in a decent scale so you get accurate readings. The EatSmart Precision Digital Bathroom Scale has gotten nearly 12,000 five star ratings on Amazon. For $29, it’s well worth having a scale that is accurate and lasts for years.
2. Up your veggies
I never thought I could live without eating meat, but now I’m an “almost” vegetarian. I eat fish or chicken a few times a month. I dropped red meat entirely after reading studies on people who live to be 100-years-old.
I’m not suggesting you must become a vegetarian to lose weight, but increasing your veggies and decreasing your meat intake will definitely help. The fiber and water in vegetables will fill you up, and vegetables tend to be lower in calories.
I’ve recently focused more intently on eating a plant-based diet and have found I don’t miss eating meat at all. A few weeks ago, I went on a trip to Asheville, North Carolina where you can find some of the best vegetarian cuisine around. It inspired me to cook more interesting vegetarian meals at home.
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 onion chopped
1 cup red, orange, or yellow pepper (or a mix)
1 cup cubed sweet potato or butternut squash (I microwave these first until they are partially cooked but not mushy)
1 cup chopped or torn kale (or spinach)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/2 chopped avocado (optional since it’s high in calories)
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 T olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 t yellow curry power
1 t ground turmeric
1 T fresh chopped cilantro
Sautee the broccoli florets in the olive oil for 5-10 minutes. Add the onions, peppers, garlic, curry, and turmeric. Sautee until veggies are crisp/tender. Add the kale and sweet potatoes or butternut squash cubes and sautee a few minutes more (until kale is wilted). Throw in the cilantro and raisins at the last minute to warm them.
Serve in a bowl over brown rice with a sprinkle of the almonds, feta cheese, and a 5-6 cubes of avocado.
You can make a variation of this dish to suit your preferences and diet goals. Here’s a great list of calories in various vegetables.
3. Jump up and down
I’ve never found an exercise I enjoy more than rebounding. Rebounding basically involves jumping, running, and exercising on a rebounder or mini trampoline. Rebounding has an amazing array of health benefits, and it provides a low-impact, safe cardiovascular exercise.
Amazingly, 20 minutes of rebounding equals one hour of running for a cardiovascular workout. It also accelerates your metabolism to burn calories.
If you get serious about rebounding, you should invest in a decent rebounder.
The Mini Trampoline Cellerciser Rebounder and Needak Rebounder Platinum Edition Half Fold Soft Bounce are two of the top-rated rebounders. If you want to try it out without spending much, check out the Stamina 36 inch Folding Trampoline for about $35.00.
You can rebound easily in your home while watching TV or listening to music, or you can take a rebounding class. Here’s a video of an urban rebounding class so you can see how much fun it is:
4. Zumba your bumba
I admit I’ve never taken a Zumba class, but dang it looks like so much fun! Zumba’s an aerobic dance workout featuring moves and steps inspired by Latin American dance with Latin American dance music.
Research has shown you can get a great workout with Zumba, and it’s like going to a dance party! You don’t feel like you’re exercising. But students burn an average of 369 calories per class. You can easily find a class in your area by googling “Zumba classes” and the name of your city.
Take a look at this video that shows a Zumba class and explains more about the benefits of Zumba:
If you don’t want to join a class, you can enjoy Zumba from the comfort of your home by using Zumba video instruction. Take a look at this Zumba set: Zumba Fitness Exhilarate Body Shaping System DVD.
5. Take a hike
This weekend I hiked a beautiful trail in north Georgia called the Panther Creek Trail. It was a spectacular hike running along Panther Creek the entire distance, culminating in a stunning waterfall at the end of the hike. It was a 7 mile hike round trip, some of which was uphill and a bit rugged. But the scenery was so incredible, it didn’t feel like exercise.
When I got home, I researched how many calories I burned on the hike. Based on my weight and the type of hike, I burned somewhere between 350-400 calories an hour. We were hiking for several hours, so I probably burned close to 1000 calories during the day.
Of course you can’t hike that much every day, but taking a long hike in a state park or nearby trail on the weekend is great exercise and so peaceful and relaxing. Be sure to pack healthy snacks and bring lots of water to keep hydrated. You can find great trails in your state by looking here.
If you need to lose weight, remember there are fun ways to shed the pounds without feeling pain and sacrifice. Mix up your fitness routines and add some fun outdoor activities that get your heart pumping. Bike riding, walking, in-line skating, and jogging are also fun and healthy ways to lose weight.
A combination of a healthy, plant-heavy diet plus exercise five or six days a week is the best way to get started. Make a plan now for your weight loss goals and get started with the fun!
How do you get motivated to lose weight? What fun fitness routines or outdoor activities have helped you with your weight loss goals? Please share your experiences in the comments below.