Losing fat can be a daunting journey, and you might feel your motivation start to wane. If you’re struggling to maintain your mojo, these five tips will help you stay motivated.
1. Don’t worry about the scale
If you have a lot of weight to lose, like one-hundred pounds or more, then you’ll likely see rapid progress on the scale as you lose weight. However, if your fat loss goals are smaller, you probably won’t see such drastic changes on the scale – and that’s okay.
Society conditions people to rely on the scale to indicate progress, but your scale is not the most reliable reflection of progress. Weight fluctuates daily, sometimes by five or more pounds, and it’s not all related to your fat loss progress. There’s a better way to measure progress: photos.
2. Take pictures every week
If you’ve been losing fat already, you may have noticed that the inches come off faster than the pounds. Before you notice a huge change on the scale, your pants start to become a little looser and your shirts become a little baggier. This is completely normal as you burn fat.
Pictures are the most reliable way to track your progress because the inches tend to come off faster than the pounds. You can be the same weight for a few weeks and still lose a noticeable amount of fat around your waist. If you’re looking at the scale, you’ll miss your progress. If you take photos, you’ll see your progress right away.
Take photos from the front and each side at the end of every week. Depending on how hard you’re exercising, you might see progress every week or two. Try to take them in the same position, the same distance from the camera, wearing the same type of clothes if possible. It will help you note your progress better.
3. Don’t focus on calories alone
Using an online calculator to get your daily caloric needs is a good place to start, but it’s not going to be exact. Not all calories are equal, and you’re not going to need the same amount of food every single day.
For example, if you try to cram down an 800-calorie dinner just to get your calorie count in, you’re probably eating food you don’t really need to eat. Likewise, if you’re trying to be satisfied with a 500-calorie meal to avoid going over your daily allowance, you’re probably not getting enough food.
Instead of counting calories, it’s helpful to learn how to listen to your body and learn how to eat to fuel your needs. When you learn how to read your body’s needs, you’ll eat meals that are more satisfying and you’ll eat the right amount of food. You won’t stuff yourself, and you won’t starve yourself.
Counting calories is tedious
Don’t eat your meals just to meet an arbitrary calorie goal for the day. Have a rough idea for what your target is, but don’t drive yourself crazy trying to micromanage every bite.
Instead, eat when you’re hungry and don’t eat when you’re not hungry. If you can’t finish your meal, put the rest in the refrigerator to eat later. If you’re still hungry after you finish your meal, eat a little bit more.
If you’re working out regularly and you’re making progress, eating a little more when you’re hungry will actually support your energy needs.
4. Eat a routine set of meals if possible
A big part of your progress will come from consistency in what you eat. When you eat the same meals, you’re less likely to wander around looking for something to make for dinner. It’s easy to lose motivation when you stop making progress, so do whatever you can to stick to your meal plan.
You don’t have to eat the same thing every day, but try to come up with a set of meals you can easily make without much thought. Once you have a handful of meals, start doing some meal prep.
5. Prepare your meals ahead of time
Here’s a simple step-by-step method for easy meal prep:
- Cook your meats for the week. Instead of cooking meals every day, prepare as much ahead of time as possible. For example, cook all of your meat for the week and add your sauces and spices. Instead of cooking from scratch, just reheat the meat for tacos, soups, or other dishes.
- Cook full meals. If it’s possible to cook full meals without ingredients turning soggy, cook a large batch of something, like homemade chili for example. Cook enough for at least a week, but when it comes to the next step, you can actually make more than a week’s worth without it going bad.
- Combine some ingredients. There are some ingredients you can’t combine ahead of time, like lettuce and salad dressing. However, you can prepare batches of salad toppings that include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pepper, salt, and beans.
Combining all of these ingredients in portion-sized containers makes it easier to make your salads. All you have to do is chop your lettuce, add your portion of toppings, and then dress it up.
- Freeze meal portions. Once you cook a big batch of something, portion it into containers that you can keep in the refrigerator and freezer. Keep a week’s worth in the refrigerator, and put the rest in the freezer.
Each day you eat one of your prepared meals, take a portion out of the freezer and place it in the fridge to thaw out over the next few days. Using this type of rotation will keep your meals fresh and delicious.
Meal prep is easy when you make your meals simple.
Need help planning your meals? We can help
If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of planning your meals around your fitness goals, we can help. We offer a nutrition coaching program that can be tailored to meet your needs.
After a consultation, we’ll create a custom nutrition strategy to help you meet your fitness goals. We can revise your plan at any time, as needed. You won’t be on your own with this program. One of our staff members will check in with you periodically to see how you’re doing and support you to stay on track.
With our nutrition coaching program, we won’t just tell you what to eat – we’ll tell you why you’re eating certain foods so you can understand how to maintain your meal plan process on your own.
Check out our nutrition coaching program page for more information or enroll today.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!