The Real Reason You Can’t Stay Motivated to Lose Weight (And It’s Probably Not What You Think)

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Do you ever feel like you’re just spinning your wheels when it comes to achieving your weight loss goals? 

I know for SO many women, this is a huge struggle, and honestly, it’s something I sometimes struggle with too.

Because let’s be real—it’s hard to stay motivated when it doesn’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re constantly surrounded by people who are NOT working towards the same goals and maybe not that supportive of yours. It’s hard to stay motivated when things don’t immediately go the way you wish they would.

The truth is that the road to losing weight and getting healthy can feel very long. It can feel overwhelming. It can seem impossible. It can even feel hopeless or like it’s not worth it.

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But what if I told you that the reason it feels so hard to stay motivated actually has NOTHING to do with motivation at all? What if I told you that deep down, there’s something else getting in your way?

I can’t tell you how many women I’ve worked with over the years who’ve told me that they’ve been on a million different diets and tried a million different things, and yet they never seem to be able to stick with anything for very long because they just can’t stay motivated. Or they’ll start out really gung-ho and then after a few weeks, they’ll totally fall off the wagon and go back to their old habits. Or they’ll get discouraged when they don’t see the results they want right away, and then they’ll just give up. Or they’ll have one bad day and then use that as an excuse to quit.

And honestly, I think we’ve all been there at one time or another. I know I have. There have been so many times in my life when I’ve tried to lose weight and get healthy and just failed. So many different times when I’ve had to wrestle with feelings of frustration and hopelessness and even anger at myself for not being able to stick with it.

But I really do believe that if you’re feeling this way, and you’ve struggled with staying motivated or sticking with your weight loss goals, or really ANY big goal in life, that the problem actually ISN’T your motivation.

You’re More Motivated Than You Think You Are

Because the reality is, if you’re here, reading this blog post right now, then you ARE motivated. You have to be. You wouldn’t be taking the time to educate yourself. You wouldn’t be putting yourself out there and trying new things. You wouldn’t be looking for a better way.

And honestly, I think that’s the first thing that’s really important to recognize, because so often we start to beat ourselves up and tell ourselves that we just don’t have what it takes, or that we’re lazy, or that we just don’t have enough willpower to lose weight and get healthy. We start to believe all the negative things we say to ourselves when we look in the mirror, and we start to believe that it’s our fault that we got to this place and that it’s our fault we can’t seem to change.

But that’s not true. That’s a lie. Because you ARE motivated. You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t. And the fact that you’re reading and learning about a better way, and that you’re interested in personal growth and bettering yourself, and that looking for a way to take action—that’s all the proof you need.

And honestly, that’s the first thing I want you to be encouraged by—to recognize and acknowledge that deep down, you actually ARE motivated, and it really is possible for you to make the changes you want to make.

But at the same time, I also want to acknowledge that it can still be really hard—that even when you ARE motivated and even when you know that something needs to change, and even when you’re ready to take action, that it’s still really tough to stay motivated and to keep going when you don’t feel like you’re making progress or you’re not seeing the results you want to see or when you’re not seeing the numbers on the scale move in the direction you want them to go. It’s hard to stay motivated when you’re constantly surrounded by people who are NOT trying to get healthy and who constantly tempt you with foods and drinks that you know aren’t good for you.

Why it’s So Hard to Stay Motivated

And honestly, that’s the second big thing I want to address, because I think that understanding WHY it can be so hard to stay motivated, especially when you’re just starting out on your weight loss journey and you’ve got a long way to go, is really important, because it can help you to overcome some of those obstacles and stay the course, even when it feels really tough.

So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about some of the reasons why you might be struggling with motivation, and what you can do to stay motivated, even when you don’t feel like it.

What Motivation Is (And What it Isn’t)

First things first, what is motivation, really?

So the first thing I think I’d like to do is just define our terms a little bit, and make sure we’re all on the same page about what it actually means to be motivated, and what motivation actually is.

Because when it comes to weight loss and getting healthy, I think that motivation is a word that we all use a lot, but that we don’t always fully understand. It’s a word that we throw around rather casually, and that we often use as a catch-all for whenever we’re feeling inspired or hopeful or when we’re simply interested in doing something.

And yet, I don’t think that’s actually what motivation is. Because the truth is, motivation is not just a feeling. It’s not a fleeting emotion. It’s not just inspiration or excitement or interest.

Motivation is actually a REASON or a PURPOSE for doing or achieving something. It’s a deep-rooted desire. It’s a belief in the value and importance of a particular outcome. It’s an understanding of what’s at stake if you DON’T follow through. It’s a recognition of the benefits and the rewards that will come when you DO take action. It’s a sense of personal responsibility. It’s a willingness to do the hard work and sacrifice in order to get what you want.

And when you think of motivation in that way, it really is a pretty powerful force. In fact, it’s the most powerful force in the world. Because when you have a strong enough reason for doing something—when the benefits of taking action and achieving a particular outcome outweigh the costs of NOT taking action or the costs of staying in the same place—then you will find a way to make it happen.

That’s what motivation really is. And that’s why I said at the very beginning of this episode, that if you have a lot of weight to lose and you’re struggling with staying motivated, the problem probably isn’t your motivation. Because in all likelihood, you actually DO have a really strong reason for wanting to lose weight and get healthy, or else you wouldn’t be here. You have a purpose. You have a desire. You have a belief in the value and importance of this outcome.

And yet, for so many of us, that’s not enough, is it? Because even with what should be a pretty strong reason for wanting to make changes in our life, and even with that deep-rooted desire and belief in the value and importance of our goal, we still allow ourselves to get derailed. We still struggle with staying motivated. We still find it so hard to keep going when it gets tough.

Why It’s So Hard to Stay Motivated

So why is that? What’s really happening when we say we’re struggling with motivation, even when we know we have a strong enough reason?

Well, I think a lot of it comes down to what I like to call our SOCIETAL MOTIVATORS, and the fact that for a lot of us, our societal motivators are actually MORE POWERFUL than our true, deep-rooted motivation.

Our societal motivators vs. our TRUE motivators

So what do I mean by that? Well, in a nutshell, I’m talking about all the things that society has conditioned us to believe are most important and most motivating in our lives, even when they’re not actually in line with our true values and our true goals. I’m talking about all the things that other people tell us we should care about. All the things that we see on TV and in movies and in magazines and on social media. All the things that our friends and family say are important. All the things that we’ve been taught to believe are the most important and motivating factors in our lives.

And for most of us, these societal motivators are actually MORE POWERFUL than our true, deep-rooted motivation, because they’re the things that we’ve been conditioned to believe are most important, and they’re the things that we’ve been conditioned to believe will bring us the most happiness and success. And that makes them pretty hard to ignore.

So what are these societal motivators? Well, they’re all the things that most of us have been conditioned to believe we should care about MORE than losing weight and getting healthy, MORE than building our business, MORE than going after those big things that we really want to do, even when that’s not actually true. They’re the things that we THINK are more important, even when they’re not actually in line with our true values and our true goals.

And honestly, it’s different for everyone. Because we’ve all been conditioned in different ways, and we all have different things that we’ve been taught to believe are the most important. But for most of us, these societal motivators can include things like:

– The desire for comfort and convenience

– The desire for instant gratification

– The desire for acceptance and belonging

– The desire for pleasure and enjoyment

– The desire for status and recognition

– The desire for control and power

– The desire for security and stability

– The desire for love and connection

– The desire for excitement and adventure

And honestly, the list could go on and on, because we’re all motivated by slightly different things. But the important thing to understand is that for most of us, these societal motivators are actually more powerful than our TRUE, deep-rooted motivation to lose weight and get healthy, because they’re the things we’ve been conditioned to believe are most important, and they’re the things that we think will bring us the most happiness and success.

And that means that when these societal motivators come into conflict with our true motivation, they will almost always win out. Because they’re more powerful and more deeply ingrained.

So how does this play out in real life? Well, let me give you a few examples:

Example #1: Comfort and Convenience vs. True Health

Let’s say that your true, deep-rooted motivation for losing weight and getting healthy is that you want to have more energy and feel better, so that you can be a more active and present mom for your kids. In this case, your TRUE motivation is your desire to improve your health and have more energy, and your belief that this will allow you to be a better mom.

And honestly, that’s a pretty strong motivation, isn’t it? I mean, what could be more important than your health and your family?

And yet, for a lot of us, this true motivation often comes into conflict with our societal motivators for comfort and convenience. Because let’s face it, it’s a whole lot more comfortable and convenient to just keep doing what you’re doing, and to keep eating all the foods and drinking all the drinks that are making you unhealthy and causing you to gain weight. It’s a lot more comfortable to just sit on the couch and watch TV instead of going for a walk or playing with your kids. It’s a lot more convenient to just keep ordering takeout and eating processed foods, because honestly, it takes a lot of time and effort to cook healthy meals and cut out all the processed junk.

So in this case, your true motivation for health and family is coming into conflict with your societal motivators for comfort and convenience. And when that happens, we almost always tend to choose the more comfortable and convenient option, even when it’s not actually in line with our true values and goals.

Example #2: Instant Gratification vs. Long Term Results

Or let’s say that your true, deep-rooted motivation for losing weight and getting healthy is that you want to be able to look in the mirror and feel confident and good about yourself. In this case, your TRUE motivation is your desire for self-acceptance and your belief that this will bring you the most happiness and success.

And once again, that’s a really strong motivation, isn’t it? Because we all want to be happy and successful, and we all want to feel good about ourselves.

And yet, for a lot of us, this true motivation often comes into conflict with our societal motivators for instant gratification. Because let’s face it, we live in a world where we want what we want, and we want it NOW. We’ve been conditioned to believe that we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it. And that’s why we’ve become so addicted to all of our instant gratifications—whether that’s in the form of food or shopping or social media.

So in this case, your true motivation for self-acceptance and happiness is coming into conflict with your societal motivators for instant gratification. And when that happens, we almost always tend to choose the instant gratification option, even when it’s not actually in line with our true values and goals.

Example #3: Acceptance and Belonging vs. Sticking to Your Plan

Or, let’s say that your true, deep-rooted motivation for losing weight and getting healthy is that you want to be able to feel more confident and comfortable in social situations, and to be able to participate in activities and events with your friends and family without feeling embarrassed or left out. In this case, your TRUE motivation is your desire to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

And honestly, that’s a really powerful motivation, isn’t it? Because we all want to feel like we belong, and we all want to feel accepted for who we are.

And yet, for a lot of us, this true motivation often comes into conflict with our societal motivators for pleasure and enjoyment. Because let’s face it, when you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, there’s a lot of things that aren’t always very enjoyable—from having to say no to certain foods and drinks, to feeling like you have to skip out on dessert, to having to make the effort to exercise or be more active. And when that happens, we almost always tend to choose the more pleasurable option, even when it’s not actually in line with our true values and goals.

How to Tap Into Your Inner Motivation

So I guess the real question becomes, then, what do you do when your true motivation comes into conflict with your societal motivators?

Well, the first step is to simply be aware of it. Recognize that this is what’s happening, and understand that it’s completely normal to feel like you’re struggling with motivation, even when you know you have a strong enough reason for wanting to lose weight and get healthy. Because the reality is that for most of us, it’s not our TRUE motivation that’s lacking, it’s our ability to stay true to it in the face of societal pressures.

The second step is to reframe your thinking. Instead of viewing these conflicts as failures or weaknesses, see them as opportunities for growth and learning. When you choose convenience over health or instant gratification over long term results, use that moment as a chance to reflect on why you made that choice, and how you can make a different choice next time.

Lastly, remember to always stay true to your inner motivation. You have to consistently find ways to remind yourself of why you started this journey in the first place, and to make your true motivations stronger than your societal motivators. What can you do to make sure your WHY is always top of mind? Maybe it’s posting it on your wall, or making it the screen shot on your phone. Maybe it’s listening to this podcast and other motivating audiobooks and podcasts so that you have a constant stream of inspiration in your ear.

Or it might be hiring a coach or joining an actual program that’s devoted to help you reach your goals so that you are not only getting the support you need, but you’re truly INVESTED in your goal. Our Thin Adapted System is a great place to start.

But most importantly, be kind and patient with yourself as you navigate through these conflicts. You’re not alone in this struggle, and with determination and self-awareness, you can overcome it.

So keep pushing forward, and remember that your true motivation is always worth fighting for. In the end, it’s about finding a balance and staying true to yourself. It may not always be easy, but with a clear understanding of our true motivations and a strong mindset, I do believe any of us can overcome any obstacles that come our way.

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About the Author: AZ