On my weight-loss journey, I realized that success always come down to my motivation.
Sure, I lost more than 40 pounds by changing my diet and moving my body. But these lifestyle changes were only a result of being determined and motivated.
Science backs this up: A recent meta-analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at different weight-loss plans and found no significant difference between the success of one program over another. Rather, it all came down to the individual’s motivation to stay with the program — that's what made all the difference.
While my willingness to be healthy was always there even when I was overweight, my actions did not always reflect my desire. I'd do pretty well for a while eating healthfully and exercising regularly — until life would get in the way. I’d face that chocolate bar, or go out for a big dinner on a Friday night after a stressful and hectic week. As a result, my whole weight-loss plan would go out the window.
It wasn't until I realized the five things that really kept me motivated that I finally achieved my ideal body. If these desires resonate with you, I hope you can use them as inspiration for your own journey:
1. I wanted to experience life to the fullest.
Back in 2010, I was so overweight that life actually became physically challenging. My touching thighs made it uncomfortable to walk, and climbing a flight of stairs felt like an intense cardio workout. My whole body was always sore in the morning, and getting out of bed made me feel like I was in my 70s (and I don’t mean a fit 70-year-old lady).
My lower back always hurt, I suffered from chronic bladder infections, I had an incredibly weak immune system, and my throat was always sore (even in the summer). I developed dermatitis on my hands, had premature wrinkles under my eyes (at the age of 23!), and my broken-out skin was always hidden under a thick layer of makeup.
I knew that if I continued living like this, it would only get worse.
And yet I wanted to dance, travel, be passionate with my partner, be able to run if I needed to and generally feel full of energy and alive. I loved life and wanted to live a long and full one.
I realized that if I kept my bad habits, I wouldn’t be able to experience life to the fullest. And that was one of my biggest motivations to change.
2. I wanted to express myself with clothes and feel confident.
When I was overweight, I didn’t feel like myself at all. I often felt like I was hiding in another woman’s body.
My excess weight dictated what clothes to wear, as I didn’t want to look ridiculous in short dresses or tight shirts. I was always pretty good at hiding my "imperfections" with smart clothing choices — so some people didn’t even notice my extreme weight gain.
But I realized I was using my clothes to camouflage rather than express myself. My heart was longing to wear beautiful dresses that would reflect my personality.
I was also hesitant to approach new people because I was afraid that they would judge me because I was fat. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to lose weight to feel confident and great about yourself. But if this is holding you back from being your true authentic self, like it was me, then you can use it as motivation to slim down.
3. I wanted to love myself.
When I started my journey of self-discovery and self-growth, I realized how important self-love is.
Deep inside I knew that my unhealthy habits — like eating junk food, drinking alcohol and excess caffeine, and lack of exercise — represented a lack of self-love. A person who loves herself doesn’t pollute her body or sabotage her health.
So I decided to commit to learning to love myself. When I faced challenges or needed to make a decision, I often asked myself, “What would a person who loves herself do?” I'd let the answer to this question guide me.
4. I wanted to help create a better world.
On my weight-loss journey, I adopted a plant-based diet. At first, the motivation was totally selfish and I only did it for my personal health. However, the more I learned about the environmental and ethical aspects of a vegan diet, the more motivated I was to continue.
When I learned about the practices of animal farming, I stopped considering meat a food, and staying away from it didn’t require any willpower. By choosing to not contribute to the horrible practices of animal farming, I also helped myself get healthier.
5. I wanted to inspire others.
My desire to learn led me to study nutrition and become a health coach. I started guiding other people who needed my health advice, and, eventually, it became my full-time job.
Being a positive role model for my clients and readers made me focus on improving my diet and fitness even more.
You don't necessarily need to become a health coach, but you may be inspired to lose weight because you want to be a positive example for your children, parents, partner, or other loved ones in your life.