In my consultations with individuals who are trying to lose weight, I often ask them, “why now?”  Many people are motivated to lose weight because of health problems that are affecting their quality of life.  One of the more common reasons is that they don’t like the way they look.  They’re not happy with their bodies.  But there are some who feel “I should lose weight” and have a more difficult time really digging deep enough to find clear motivating factors that are strong enough to keep them going through the long journey to a healthy weight.

Why is this important?  Many of you have been on diets before.  You may have even lost weight.  Then something happened.  Maybe you changed jobs or you went through a breakup of a relationship.  In other words, LIFE HAPPENED.  If we live in our fantasies, we can pretend that life won’t happen again.  But it will!  So over my 20+ years in medicine, I’ve tried to help people not just with weight issues but with other eating disorders, serious medical problems, etc. learn to change their behaviors.  What has made most of them successful is having motivating factors that anchor them to the process of staying on track, doing whatever is needed until they reach AND THEN MAINTAIN their goal.

What can you do?

Make a list of 20 reasons why you want to make a behavior change – whether it be eating more healthily, losing weight, lowering blood pressure, etc.

From that list, take your top 5 reasons.

Next write under each of these top 5 reasons how LIFE might interfere.  For example, if your goal is to be more physically fit, life could interfere in the following ways:  if you live where it snows, maybe you won’t be able to go outside to exercise.  THEN WHAT?  Or, what do you do if your boss needs you to work late on a project?  THEN WHAT?  Or maybe your child gets sick.  THEN WHAT?  Or you get bored working out on the treadmill.  THEN WHAT?

Next, for each THEN WHAT, write down your back up plan.  If you find it hard to do this, make sure you are really motivated to accomplish this goal.  If you feel you are motivated but just lack skills, ask yourself WHO can help you get skills.  For example, for the THEN WHAT of you get bored with your exercise – you could take a dance class, try yoga, etc.  If you have trouble coming up with other ways to make exercise fun and sustainable, work with a personal trainer and see if they can help you do this.

When you’ve answered all of the above questions and you have backup plans for all your THEN WHATs, you are ready.

Take the time to do this for yourself so that when you put in the time to lose weight, you will accomplish your goal and it will be maintained.