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Liz Ash was enjoying her career as an attorney, but one of her must challenging cases wasn’t with a client–her greatest challenge was trying to stay motivated for her personal weight loss. Facing a quickly approaching high school reunion, Mrs. Ash needed ideas to stay motivated, especially since she had a long way to go on her weight loss journey.
Her answer was innovative: instead of allowing herself to become discouraged, Mrs. Ash founded what she calls her ‘project management system’ for weight loss. She started a blog, named, appropriately, Lawyer at Lunch.
But this isn’t just any blog. Inspired by a night she looks up and couldn’t get back to sleep due to anxious thoughts, Mrs. Ash realized there was something she could do, and that was written. While she didn’t initially publish the first post, she began to chronicle her weight loss journey, and also her thoughts, even life experiences. The more she blogged, the more empowered and motivated she felt to continue down her journey of healthy weight loss.
But that isn’t all she did.
Using the blog as a springboard for her own ideas, Mrs. Ash began to set goals for herself. Unlike some who try to lose weight, her goals were not all about the number on the scales, but also barometers of overall health, such as blood pressure levels. By setting a schedule, different benchmarks, and putting her managerial and organizational skills to work, Mrs. Ash managed to lose one hundred and ten pounds while working forty hour work weeks.
Inspiring as that is, we know not one approach works for everyone. The fact is, weight loss is a challenge, with ups and downs, making it hard for many to stay motivated.
In this article, we’ll give some ideas to help you do just that–make weight loss less of a challenge and stay motivated to reach your personal goals.
- 1 Do I need to lose weight?
- 2 Why isn’t B.M.I the best measure for weight loss?
- 3 What is a healthy body fat percentage?
- 4 What are the most common reasons for plateauing during a weight loss program?
- 5 What are some of the worst ideas for weight loss and staying motivated?
- 6 What weight loss challenge ideas can help me stay motivated?
- 7 Do you have any weight loss challenges to suggest?
Do I need to lose weight?
Before we dive into how to overcome weight loss challenges, let’s check if you need to lose weight in the first place. To be sure, weight is an issue both around the world and in the United States. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly forty percent of Americans age twenty and over are considered overweight, while over seventy percent of those classified as overweight are also obese.
It’s a problem for children and adolescents as well. Over twenty percent of adolescents are considered obese, and over eight percent of children ages six to eleven.
How do you tell if you are overweight? You’re probably more than well aware of B.M.I. A body mass index of 18.5 to 24 is considered healthy weight 25 to 29 is classified as overweight, and anything above that, obese.
Dieting when you’re already within a healthy range has decreasing benefits. Dieting down below a healthy B.M.I. can set you up for health problems, including brittle hair and nails, cardiovascular issues, lethargy, and even mental health issues.
But figuring out if you need to lose weight or not isn’t quite as simple as you might think.
Why isn’t B.M.I the best measure for weight loss?
As it turns out, body mass index probably shouldn’t be the gold standard. While there is some truth to B.M.I, what constitutes a healthy weight is a little murky–because body mass index does not properly take into account muscle or body frame.
The limitations of using body mass index to calculate weight is that it is meant to calculate excess weight instead of actual body composition. Older adults tend to have higher fat percentages naturally, women have higher body fat percentages than men, and anyone with higher muscle mass may be prone to have an artificially high B.M.I or classified as overweight when they are not.
That isn’t to say B.M.I. is useless. A good practice is to combine B.M.I. with a body fat test. There are many body fat calculators available, from scale with body fat calculators to more precise, handheld body fat analyzers you simply squeeze.
Of course, it’s possible to get your body fat tested by a professional as well, but having body fat calculating equipment may be a good investment, and even more accurate, than tracking pounds for your weight loss goals.
What is a healthy body fat percentage?
Healthy body fat percentages vary by age and gender, with different categories of under fat, healthy, overweight and obese. The following guidelines are provided by Mayo Clinic :
- 20-40 yrs old: Underfat: under 21 percent, Healthy: 21-33 percent, Overweight: 33-39 percent, Obese: Over 39 percent
- 41-60 yrs old: Underfat: under 23 percent, Healthy: 23-35 percent, Overweight: 35-40 percent Obese: over 40 percent
- 61-79 yrs old: Underfat: under 24 percent, Healthy: 24-36 percent, Overweight: 36-42 percent, Obese: over 42 percent
- 20-40 yrs old: Underfat: under 8 percent, Healthy: 8-19 percent, Overweight: 19-25 percent, Obese: over 25 percent
- 41-60 yrs old: Underfat: under 11 percent, Healthy: 11-22 percent, Overweight: 22-27 percent, Obese: over 27 percent
- 61-79 yrs old: Underfat: under 13 percent, Healthy: 13-25 percent, Overweight: 25-30 percent, Obese: over 30 percent
The goal, of course, is to shoot for a body fat somewhere within the healthy range. This is a more accurate way of understanding what weight loss may be helpful for you. But as always, consult a health professional before undertaking a serious weight loss program, but for dieting and exercise.
What are the most common reasons for plateauing during a weight loss program?
To be sure, weight loss is a true challenge, and it’s easy to see why people lose motivation along the way. Some of the most common challenges to weight loss include not having a plan, not having a support system, and being unsure of how to start.
Without an idea of what to eat, what kind of exercise to do, and solid goals in mind, weight loss can feel discouraging.
Another challenge is weight loss plateaus. Ideas that weight loss is always even and continuous are sadly misguided. In fact, it’s normal to experience some plateaus over the weight loss journey. Reasons you may experience plateaus, or even setbacks include:
- Your body is still adjusting. When you change how much you’re eating or exercising, weight and fat loss doesn’t always come instantly. Be patient, and if you don’t see any movement after a week or two, consider some other ideas.
- It was water weight. If you find yourself going down in weight one week only to see it go exactly back to where it was or stop, chances are, if you stuck to your routine, it’s possible that your initial weight loss was water weight. To target fat loss, combining exercise and diet is ideal–but we’ll get more into that topic in a moment.
- You’ve lost motivation. While it’s true that weight loss plateaus can result in you losing motivation, a plateau could also be a sign that you’re already losing motivation–perhaps the journey seems long and you haven’t stuck to your goals.
- You don’t have realistic, or concrete enough goals. Without realistic or specific goals, it’s hard to optimize weight loss.
- You don’t have the support you need. Support can come in the form of both health professionals and friends, but support can really make or break some of the greatest weight loss challenges you face.
What are some of the worst ideas for weight loss and staying motivated?
While we’re about to provide some tips and ideas for the best ideas for weight loss, we’d be remiss to not mention some ideas that may very well deter your progress. One of the most common, if not the most common mistakes when it comes to weight loss is focusing solely on a specific weight. Having a weight range goal is a good idea, but keep in mind that weight can fluctuate up to a few pounds in a day.
Another reason it’s not good to hyperfocus on a number is that it can be discouraging and not a true reflection of your progress, especially if you’re always doing strength training exercises to develop muscle.
Another bad idea? Avoiding weight lifting entirely. Not only is a combination of cardiovascular and strength training essential for your health, but it also can help weight loss efforts by increasing your metabolism.
But above all, the worst mistake you can make when it comes to weight loss is losing hope that you can do it. Let’s take a look now at the best weight loss challenges ideas to keep you motivated.
What weight loss challenge ideas can help me stay motivated?
Now let’s dig into some weight loss challenge ideas to help you stay motivated. All of these ideas are meant to challenge you but also motivate you, no matter where you are in your weight loss journey.
- Try an at-home workout system. If you find you’re short on time or even just shy about going to a gym, investing in exercise equipment at home can be a great way to motivate you to continue or start an exercise routine. From stationary bikes to rowing machines, ellipticals, and strength training equipment, there’s no reason you can’t get a proper workout in at home. Purchasing the best exercise equipment also allows you to train safely after dark or in the morning and even during inclement weather. While there are many benefits to outdoor exercise, indoor equipment is a way to mix your exercise routine up and provide a reliable way to get a workout in.
- Try protein shakes. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with putting together a diet on your own and also don’t have time to prepare full meals all the time, challenge yourself by replacing a meal or two with protein shakes. Though protein shakes as meal replacements aren’t in of themselves long term solutions, the best protein shakes can provide you nutritional support, build muscle, and manage both hunger and blood sugar levels. While the past it’s true that many protein shakes contain natural ingredients to support your body even beyond weight loss, including supporting enzymes, body movement, and even your immune system with ample protein. Plus it’s a no-fuss way to stick with nutritional goals.
- Invest in strength training. Another great challenge to keep you motivated for your weight loss goals is to start a strength training program. While it may seem at first like a difficult challenge to take up, as much as strength training two times a week can result in significant gains. Still not convinced? Consider that a program like Crossfit or Bodybuilding optimizes your weight loss by developing muscles and overall strength. By doing so, higher muscle mass improves metabolism and can make your fat loss goals easier to achieve. Not only that but adding strength training to your regimen can prevent injuries and work as a form of cross training with cardiovascular workouts.
- Hate cardio? Enlist support. If you’ve been challenging yourself to take up a new cardiovascular program but find your motivation waning, there are several things you can do. First of all, enlist the help of a friend of a family member. Make sure that it’s someone who will be supportive and not disparaging, but also firm enough to help keep you accountable. A supportive friend or family member can give you a reason to not only stick to a fitness routine but to even look forward to workouts.
- Don’t have a reliable workout partner or having trouble coordinating schedules? No problem. You can still stick to a fitness routine and get the support you need through a fitness trainer. If you, like many people, think a personal trainer is out of budget, consider a program like Noom, which works through a digital app and provides access to diet plans, an online community, and even, at certain levels, professional trainers to help keep you motivated and stay on track with your goals.
- Ditch the strict diet. One of the reasons that so many find staying motivated so challenging is because their diets are overly restrictive. Not only can restrictive diets actually increase cravings and set you up for failure, but even if they do ‘succeed’ they are a dangerous way to lose weight. Except for specific health concerns, diets that completely eliminate entire food groups are not the best idea. With the exception of some under medical supervision, you generally don’t want to go for diets that dip further than twelve hundred calories a day. In fact, some of the best diet plans, such as Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem, incorporate both snacks and occasional treats. Doing so provides balance in your diet and establishes a healthier relationship both with your body and with eating.
- Try a commercial diet. It’s more than understandable if you’re a bit way when it comes to taking on the challenge of following a commercial diet, like the South Beach Diet, but some of them can actually be quite helpful–so long as you know the best diets available. While you certainly do not have to enlist on a commercial diet, it’s one of the better ideas if you find yourself not knowing what to eat, how to plan, and even if you’re simply short on cooking time. Make sure that the plan suits your lifestyle, is well respected, and provides a variety of food groups. Commercial diets are not the same as fad diets; the best commercial diets, in fact, provide support and offer healthy, balanced snacks and meals.
- Add in some healthy snacks. Feeling like you’re getting cranky in between meals or your energy is dipping? You might want to add in some snacks. While this may sound contradictory to general weight loss principles, it’s actually not. Allow yourself a small snack or two during the day can keep you motivated to healthy eating, manage your blood sugar and hunger levels, and actually reduce your overall intake. The key, of course, is to invest in low calorie, filling snacks. Eating a snack or two a day is actually a hallmark or many popular diets, including the Atkins Diet.
- Find an exercise and diet plan that works for you. Weight loss takes hard work but it is not meat to feel impossible. Setting realistic goals are reassessing them when or if you run into roadblocks is a great idea, but so too is making sure that exercise and diet plan is working for your personal preferences and lifestyle. If you’re diabetic, there are plans that offer specific diets catered to your needs. Some enjoy online workouts like Insanity, while others prefer rowing or the elliptical. There is no single correct way to lose weight, so remember this is your journey to improved health, and no one else’s’.
- Create a challenge and reward system. It’s great to have a larger goal but if it’s far away, it can be easy to lose motivation on your weight loss journey. Challenge yourself to create incremental goals every week or month. Seeing yourself meeting those goals and then rewarding yourself in a nonfood or exercise way can make the entire process all that more manageable, as well as provide something to look forward to–and recognize the progress you’ve already made.
- Give yourself a reason to lose weight. Our last of our ten ideas to stay motivated for weight loss is to write down why you want to lose weight. The more reasons, and more depth to those reasons the better. Something as simple as wanting to look thinner is too vague to truly motivate you. Think of health improvements and other reasons why you’re on this weight loss journey, then keep those ideas somewhere so you can remind yourself regularly.
Do you have any weight loss challenges to suggest?
While these are all great tips to stay motivated, a weight loss challenge may be a great idea too. A weight loss challenge is month-long plans that help jumpstart your weight loss journey. As opposed to some diet and exercise plans, weight loss challenges are meant to be shorter term, lower commitment, and a self-guided way to keep weight loss fun and also provide some sort of structure.
Most set a guideline as to how many pounds you can expect to lose within a twenty-eight or thirty day days and combines a variety of physical activities, eating plans, and support. These weight loss challenges have soared in popularity and be found both in book form and online. Nearly all of them are low cost, or even free.
Let’s take a look at what some of the best weight loss challenges have to offer.
- Step it Up Challenge: This twenty-one-day challenge has been featured on a variety of mainstream media outlets, such as CNN, the Today Show, PBS, and the Chicago Tribune. A personalized workout and eating plan, as well as tips, are sent directly to your email. This weight loss challenge is meant to be fun, including exercises that can be done with groups or friends and less conventional dancing inspired moved to make workouts exciting and energizing. Signing up is easy–you just need your name and email to begin. Plus the workouts are easy to do wherever you are and require little in the way of equipment.
- 30 Day Slim-Down Challenge: This 30-day challenge comes from Shape and is among the simplest challenges you can try, with a focus mostly on improving your endurance and strength in a safe way. No sign up is required. Each day has a different exercise for you to try, providing a balance of activities to try to keep your regimen interesting. Paired with progressive exercise goals is a small food goal for the day, with ideas open enough that can be easily customized for you and your needs. It may not be as comprehensive as other weight loss challenges, but it’s a no fuss and healthy approach to help you stay motivated.
- Get Strong 2019 Challenge by Livestrong: Livestrong’s challenge consists of four to five weeks designed to work towards one of three or a combination of three goals: weight loss, healthier eating, and building muscle. A healthy recipe, follow along with workout, tips, and even playlist suggestions come every day to your email. You’ll even get advice on other challenging situations, such as reducing muscle fatigue and eating out at restaurants. The workout schedule combines a great balance of strength and resistance training, cardio, abdominal exercises, and necessary rest days.
- 30 Day Weight Loss Challenge by Rumble: This weight loss challenge is offered as an app through the Apple Store. Video-guided workouts are catered towards six different fitness levels. You’ll also get a weight loss tracker and thirty-day diet plan. You can select for seven different diet types, and the interface is praised as being easy to use. This app does cost money: it’s priced at around three dollars a week, a cost that goes down if you continue beyond thirty days.
- 4 Step Weight Loss Challenge: The 4 Step Weight Loss Challenge promises a weight loss of up to ten pounds in a thirty day period, but also focuses on improving sleep, boosting energy levels and self-esteem, and even improving mood. Four simple steps are meant to leave you feeling both more refreshed and motivated. The focus is on staying hydrated, cutting out added sugars, practicing portion control, and getting in exercise six days a week. Of all the weight loss challenges, this is arguably the simplest but also the least detailed–so it depends on what you’re looking for. These are more general guidelines and open to interpretation, which make it the most flexible but less structured weight loss challenge of the ideas we’ve mentioned.
If you are starting one on your own or with a bunch of friends, I would recommend it last 2 or 3 months tops! If you are taking on one of the challenges I’ve recommended above, there are different time lines, but remember, weight loss is about making lasting, sustainable changes over time, but a weight loss challenge can be a fun way to motivate yourself and your friends for support!
Move more, eat less — that’s what a lot of people say, but sometimes it’s not that easy. Take a step back at the habits you have, the lifestyle you have and make small, lasting changes. If you are struggling, talk to your doctor, there might be some other issues going on if the scale isn’t budging.
Good question! Start a weight loss challenge Facebook group, get others to sign up, go for walks and do fitness activities on your lunch break and encourage everyone to take part! At the end of the challenge, have a big – healthy pot luck meal to celebrate!
Erin Jamieson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Miami University of Ohio. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in After the Pause, Into the Void, Flash Frontier, and Foliate Oak Literary, among others, and her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Erin, once a varsity athlete and now a recreational runner, knows how important it is to get whole and quality nutrition. She hopes to help guide consumers to the very best products and plans to optimize their health.