How to Motivate Yourself to Lose Weight

how to be motivated to lose weight

Your weight loss journey is extremely personal. Whether you set out to improve your health, feel more confident, or prove to yourself you could do it, your motivation to continue comes from within. But sometimes it can feel challenging to tap into the motivation to keep losing weight, especially during stressful periods of your life.

To learn how to motivate yourself to lose weight, you’ll want to understand where your motivation comes. When you’re equipped with the knowledge of how to harness both your internal and external motivation, you can remain confident and in control of your weight loss journey.

What Are the Different Types of Motivation?

Motivation is divided into two categories: internal and external. Internal motivation, (or intrinsic), comes from within.Internal rewards that make you genuinely happy power your inner motivation. For example, when you lose weight to feel more confident or to lower your risk of disease, you’re internally motivated. These rewards motivate you because they make you feel good about yourself.

Outside factors drive your external (or extrinsic) motivation. The desire to receive an external reward powers your external motivation. External motivation will typically fit into an “if/then” scenario – if I lose weight, then I can buy new clothes. If I don’t lose weight, then I’m stuck with my closet full of old clothes. You risk not being able to shop for new clothes which power the idea of a reward. And that creates external motivation to lose weight.

Both internal and external rewards can get you started on a weight loss journey, but only one results in long-term goals. 

Get Motivated to Lose Weight with Internal Motivation

getting motivated to lose weight

Your internal motivation arises because the action you take is naturally satisfying to you. It comes from a desire to learn, grow, and actualize your potential. Because of this link, internal motivation typically drives your long-term goals.

When you tap into your internal motivation, it can power a new healthy lifestyle or fuel your desire to continue on your current path. As you hit milestones along your journey, your internal motivation will create unique moments for you to feel proud, excited, and focused on the way ahead.

Studies show that you’re more creative when you’re internally motivated. When you find new ways to lose weight, build a customized diet plan, research fun recipes, or try new hacks to lengthen your intermittent fast, you’re being creative. As you pursue your long-term goals, internal rewards are your key to find innovative and enjoyable ways to motivate yourself to lose weight. 

How to Use External Motivation to Keep Losing Weight

Unlike internal motivation, external motivation is better suited for short-term goals. External rewards are often superficial, and you look to them for immediate gain, not for your benefit over the long haul. However, that doesn’t mean that external motivation can’t be beneficial for your weight loss journey. External rewards take multiple forms – you can indulge in something tangible like an edible treat, or learn a new skill or routine. 

Suppose you hit a rough spot in your fitness journey. An external reward can be the motivation you need to complete a workout – if you power through a 30-minute exercise, then you can have a small dessert with dinner. Or, if you’re getting bored with your traditional cardio routine and still head to the gym, you can try a more upbeat and interactive workout, like Zumba.

Some external rewards can generate curiosity for activities in which you’ve had little initial interest. For instance, if you learn a new Zumba-inspired cardio routine to replace your outdated one, but discover you love dancing, what was once an external reward can transition into an internal one. In other words, what was an external reward to learn new skills can become your inner motivation to pursue an activity you genuinely enjoy?

Life Hacks to Tap Into Your Internal Motivation 

If you’re having trouble staying motivated to lose weight, it’s time to tap into your internal motivation, which can help power your long-term goals and ensure that you enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re struggling to find your inner motivation, start by clearly defining all the reasons why you want to lose weight.

Take a moment to write all your reasons down. Keep a written record of your intentions; it will help you stay accountable and give you a better idea of what rewards you find vital. Then, consider the following life hacks to focus your internal motivation:

1. Do Your Research 

Your inner motivation is sparked when something in your life grabs your attention and persuades you to learn more. That desire to learn more is called cognitive curiosity. Before you dive into your weight loss journey, do a bit of research to excite your inner motivation.

If you teach yourself the various intermittent fasting protocols or research the systems of your body that can benefit from diet and exercise, like cell autophagy, it inspires your cognitive curiosity. When you stimulate your brain with new information, you can trigger an interest that powers your internal motivation.

2. Set Achievable and SMART Goals

Make it your objective to set achievable goals for yourself. “Achievable” doesn’t mean “easy” – instead, you should set goals that are possible but aren’t guaranteed without hard work and determination. To make your goals achievable, break down significant goals into smaller, more accessible milestones

Set accessible milestones by using SMART goals:

  • Specific – Each goal is direct and details exactly how you will accomplish it. 
  • Measurable – You can track the progress of each goal, like in pounds lost or time spent fasting.
  • Attainable – Each goal is challenging, but can be accomplished with your available resources.
  • Relevant – Each goal relates to your weight loss journey or overall task at hand. 
  • Time-Based – Each goal has a deadline or a time to quantify progress. 

Studies show you’re more motivated while pursuing goals that have personal meaning to you. So, be sure to set goals that resonate with you and relate to the reasons you wanted to lose weight in the first place. 

3. Document Your Weight Loss Journey

If you find yourself stuck mid-journey, look back at how far you’ve come, it may be all the motivation you need. Document your weight loss journey with before and after photos or keep a journal as a reminder of your success. And you can use Simple’s ‘Meal Tracker” feature to keep a record of your meals.  When you’re feeling low on motivation, reflect on the smallest improvements or wins, and it can become an internal reward to keep you going.

motivation to keep losing weight

4. Find a Fitness Buddy to Motivate

When your motivation runs low, find a fitness buddy to give yourself a motivational boost. Research shows you can increase your internal motivation in situations where you gain satisfaction from helping others. Plus, a fitness partner can make tough workouts more enjoyable and help hold you accountable for your success. By cheering on a friend, you both can find the motivation you need to crush your goals.

5. Share Your Accomplishments and Enjoy the Recognition 

Not sure what to do with your before and after photos? Share them! It’s only natural to enjoy having your accomplishments recognized by others, and it can increase your internal motivation. Don’t be afraid to share your progress and enjoy the recognition you receive.

6. Plan for Challenges and Setbacks 

If you’re learning how to be motivated to lose weight, don’t be discouraged if you encounter a setback. Challenges are common, especially when you’re trying to incorporate weight loss into an already-busy schedule. Instead, plan for obstacles and setbacks. The best way to keep motivated to lose weight is to anticipate roadblocks, stay positive in the face of a challenge, and remember that each day is a chance to live a healthier lifestyle.

7. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

If you see someone else getting praised for their appearance or weight loss, don’t let it diminish how you feel about yourself. Their success has nothing to do with your progress. Rather than comparing yourself to others, be kind to your body at each stage of your journey.

Stay in your lane and measure your success against the SMART goals you’ve set, that way, you’ll improve your confidence and feel better about yourself – all of which will help raise your internal motivation.

The Best Way to Keep Motivated to Lose Weight

While external rewards like fitting into an old pair of jeans or having other people notice your weight loss are fantastic, your motivation to keep losing weight will come from within. With an understanding of your internal motivation and how to tap into it, you can confidently find your best way to keep motivated to lose weight.

Author's bio


Grace Trumpfeller

Grace is an avid health and wellness advocate with nearly a decade of experience in the diet and nutrition industry. With a vast background in journalism and creative writing, her core focus is to empower individuals to reclaim their health and vitality by providing expert advice rooted in ...