Knowing you need to lose weight isn’t enough you keep you dedicated to any weight loss program. The issue we keep trying to fix is how we eat and/or start exercising, but we find ourselves unmotivated during these changes. We’re not happy being overweight. So why is it so difficult to stick to a program? The real issue we need to focus on is our bad habits. We need to create good habits that are led by intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

We need to understand what creates a need for us to succeed on the diet. Why is it really important to you?

What is intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation comes from these internal forces that shape our behavior: expectations, dreams, goals, need for safety, belonging, congruence and growth. According to Brendon Burchard, intrinsic motivation is based on two things identity and obsession.

How do successful dieters tie their diet goals to their identity? They have actions planned out in their calendar that they will take throughout their diet to make them successful. Maybe, Sunday is meal prep day, or they have notifications on their phone to remind them to eat or drink. Highly motivated dieters do something people on a diet are rarely willing to do, that is journal about their meals, activity and overall day. Log all your hours, practice and preparation. You can’t be half interested in a diet and decide sometimes I’ll exercise and sometimes I’ll eat right. If you’re mad about the weight you didn’t lose with the effort you didn’t put in, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We have control over our efforts.

You must not be afraid to be accountable for when you are and aren’t successful. Reflecting on how it feels to be successful and unsuccessful is important. Have a journal where you ask yourself at the end of the day: Did I live up to my values and expectations for giving my best and doing a good job?

I want you to think about the person you want to be at the end of your weight loss. How does this person go about their day and how do they feel? I want you to incorporate some of those ideas into your life now.

Here’s an exercise from Brendon Burchard’s book High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way:

High Performance Habits How Extraordinary People Become That Way

Image via Goodreads

  1. The values that are important to me to live include…
  2. A recent situation where I didn’t live my values was…
  3. The reason I didn’t feel it was necessary to live my values in the situation is…
  4. A situation where I was proud of myself for being the person I need to be was….
  5. The reason I felt it was important to be that type of person then was…
  6. When I lose the weight I will feel, be, and do…
  7. It’s important to me to obsess over my health because…. And I will do it by…


Intrinsic vs Extrinsic

It’s extremely important to know your intrinsic motivation. If you want your motivation to be even stronger it’s key to know what your extrinsic motivation is. We are all motivated by something outside of ourselves whether it’s a high power, a sense of purpose, legacy, destiny, or moral responsibility.

  1. Create real deadlines.
  2. When do you want to be the weight you want to be? Is there vacation coming up? A wedding? Unless you have clear deadlines, it is easy to become distracted and fall off course. If you know where you are going you can make sure you choose a path daily that does not involve temptation.
  3. What’s the last thing you succeeded doing? What led to your success and how can you incorporate those actions, or habits into your diet? What motivated you then? What did you tell yourself to pull through?
  4. Burchard suggests getting your internal and external focus set a desk trigger- Who needs me on my A game? Ask yourself what is your A game? Have I been bringing it today? What would my A game look like? Consider long-term what will happen if you don’t lose the weight. How will that affect your family? Will you miss a son’s or daughter’s wedding? Will you not be able to keep up with the kids? Could you travel? Could you have a heart attack and miss it all? Why is losing this weight important? To feel more confident for a raise?
  5. Be an expert dieter. Don’t dabble and get frustrated you didn’t lose weight. Dabblers are on a diet on days or during meals they feel like dieting. They tell the world they’re on a diet, announce the success of day one and disappear. To be an expert dieter you need to plan your meals, prepare your meals, plan workouts, and know everything about your program. Don’t eat something you don’t know if you can have or not. Consult your dietician.
  6. Understand completing your goal is motivating others in your life to get healthy too. If you can do it then so can they. If you have kids and you’re focusing on losing weight it teaches your kids the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle.
  7. Affirm the Why. It’s important to let other people know your goals and to say them to yourself confidently daily. Creating an obligation to complete your goal puts your ego on the line. Looking at your reasons for dieting what affirmations can you create as if you achieved your goal? Ex: I am healthy. No matter if it’s day one of your diet or thirty if you are eating healthy then you are healthy. Come up with rewards for when you reach your goal that is not food. We don’t reach our goals by enforcing bad habits.
  8. You Squad. Surround yourself with people who are healthy and who have completed a diet. I’m not saying get rid of your family or friends who struggle with obesity. Try to spend more time around people who make the decisions you need to make: healthy eating, working out, and healthy habits. Burchard suggests discovering: Who are the most positive people in your life? How can I make time for more positive people in my life?
  9. Find someone who successfully finished the diet or lives a healthy lifestyle. Once a week check in with them with how you are doing on the program.

Wishing you success on your diet journey!

Feature image via Ayda Ersoy