• Louise Atkinson

Turbo-charge your diet motivation - NOW!

Do you want to know the secret of sticking to a diet plan? Any diet plan? REALLY sticking to it, long term?

Grab a pen and piece of paper because the answer lies in doing this exercise. It’s a simple – but a VERY effective way to unpick the absolute essence of your motivation.

First, ask yourself: why do you want to lose weight?

Most of us have our answer ready. Maybe you’ve got a holiday coming up and you want to look good by the pool? Maybe your clothes are starting to feel uncomfortably tight? Perhaps you’ve been advised by your GP to shift a few pounds?

Write this first reason down at the top of a page (research shows the act of writing is a powerful tool for change).

Now ask yourself: WHY? Why is this important to you? What would it really mean for you if you do lose weight? Why is it important to you to look slim at the beach? Why do you dislike your clothes feeling tight? Why has your GP advised you to lose weight?

Write down your new answers. Look at them, think for a minute, then, again, ask yourself: WHY? Why would being slimmer make you happy? Why do you care about what your GP says? Why would diabetes, heart disease or an increased risk of cancer be a problem? Why do you personally want a lighter-weight future?

Write down every possible rationale that springs to mind. Think about what you’re writing, then ask again: WHY?

We call this ‘the funnel game’ because the idea is for you to really question your motivation and generate every single possible reason why weight loss is a GOOD idea for you – then throw all these ideas into the big wide end of an imaginary funnel.

If you keep asking WHY? The answers start to percolate at the bottom and you will eventually reach one single core motivational factor that is so strong and so compelling that there are simply no more WHY?’s left.

The best and most powerful WHYs we’ve found are the deeply personal statements such as: ‘I want to be healthy and fit into old age so I can play with my grandchildren’ or ‘I want to be agile and active in my 60s so I can travel the world when I finally get to stop working’ or ‘I want to do everything I can to avoid the family risk of heart disease or diabetes’ or ‘I want to run a 10k race with my daughter’ or ‘I want to be picked for promotion’.

Your aim is to find a core reason that applies very much to you and which resonates very, very deeply. This is your true ‘why’. When you find it, hold it dear. This is the North Star that will guide you home when/if things get tough.

Because any successful life change – such as getting fit or losing weight - means finding a motivation more compelling than ‘I’m feeling a bit meh’ or ‘I want to drop a dress size’ if it’s going to help you stick to that diet or exercise regime through thick and thin, and resist the temptation of chocolate biscuits when you’re feeling tired, hungry or vulnerable.

Psychologists have discovered that it is only whenyou get to grips with the deep-seated, core, life-affirming forces that drive your actions, that you will be able to make proper, lasting changes to your habits and behaviour. Studies show that drilling down to find your fundamental core motivation for losing weight like this is a key step to long-term success.

When you know your WHY write it down. Put it into the notes on your phone, write it out on pieces of cardboard and stick them on your fridge, by the food cupboard, in your car, near the exercise bike and by the TV – make sure there’s a reminder of why you’re doing this on, or near, all your diet sabotage flashpoints.

Pull out a reminder of your key WHY if you’re ever struggling to find the motivation to get to your Zumba class, or you feel a strong urge to reach for a glass of wine.

This is the prompt that will bring you back home on the tough days, when the parties are in full swing or you’re just feeling a bit ‘off message’. It will help shore you up when cravings are overwhelming, and it will keep you feeling strong, and grounded and properly Shrinktastic.

You can try this funnel exercise BEFORE you start on a diet plan, if your weight loss is beginning to plateau, or if you feel your will power beginning to weaken. But for best effect, try it when the sun is shining, because it will really help make things easier when the going gets tough.

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