Friday, October 23, 2009

Motivational Tips & Tricks

“How do you stay motivated?”

It was pointed out to me recently that much of the advice I dole out is of the “big picture” variety. I rarely get into the specifics of how to stoke the fires of motivation, how I’ve managed to keep my head in the game while I’ve made my way along the perpetual grind that is a weight-loss journey.

What follows is just a random group of tips and tricks that I’ve found to be helpful. They may be impractical or ill-suited for your personal use, but maybe there’s something here that could help you tweak your current plan or better find your own place in your own way. I apologize in advance for the low-entertainment value, but I’m trying to build up some good karma points to apply to my next weigh-in…

  • Pack a bag. I don’t know if mornings at your house are as hectic as mornings at my house, but I’ve found that packing a gym bag the night before increases the likelihood that I’ll actually make it to the gym by roughly 10,000%.
  • Downsize the wardrobe. Occasionally wear pants that are borderline too-tight in the waist. That constant pressure all day will help keep your mission on the front burner. If that’s unworkable, keep a stack of too-tight pants in your closet and try them on once a week. The scale’s one way to keep track, but finally zipping up some pants that you couldn’t wear earlier is the kind of victory that can propel your progress (and motivation) in a big way.
  • Don’t hide the number. I follow quite a few blogs where the writer doesn’t seem to want anyone to know their weight. Putting those numbers front and center keeps me motivated to do well each and every day. I absolutely hate posting gains and am annoyed at the very idea of busting up good streaks of losing weeks. Don’t be ashamed of a number. It’s going down anyway…
  • Try something crazy. Nothing else working to keep you on track? Write a check for $100 to whatever organization you despise the most; stick it in a stamped envelope and give it to a friend to mail if you don’t reach your short-term goal. Now that’s motivating!
  • Get the whole family involved. It’s hard to stay sharp if you feel like you’re rowing the boat all by yourself. Even if they’re not overweight, your family will benefit from eating healthier and being more active.
  • Don’t let setbacks set you back. You had an idiot moment and had drive-thru fast food for lunch (did you have to eat it in the parking lot?). It’s nothing to be proud of, but it’s also no reason to let it wreck your entire week. Put it behind you. Better yet, use it as the impetus to get in an extra-effort workout. The pendulum swings both ways, you know.
  • Exercise your “no thank you” muscle. I was in a staff meeting this week where a couple of boxes of fresh donuts were being passed around. I took a donut, just to be like everyone else. But I watched as the boxes went around the room. Several people said “no thanks” and guess what? It wasn’t a big deal. I had one bite of the pastry, and folded the rest up in my napkin. Again, nobody cared. I think we believe we’re calling unwanted attention to ourselves when we say “no thanks,” but the truth of the matter is that nobody’s really paying attention. Whether or not we have a donut just isn’t all that important.
  • TV or not TV. I’ve made one rule about TV for myself. If you’re going to watch something with commercials, DVR it first. The Biggest Loser takes about 20 minutes to watch when you FF past the product placement segments, cliffhanger endings and commercials. All that extra time can be better spent exercising, laundry, blogging, working… basically doing anything else…
  • Get a handle on weekends. Easier said than done, but I think this is one of the biggest problem areas people have. The first step to getting past it is the realization that it’s something that’s going to take extra planning and more of a commitment to your program. Weekends take us out of our routine and put us in more social situations where saying “no” seems to be denying ourselves our well-earned fun. I’m not saying shut yourself in during the weekends, but success means that you’ve got to make some tough choices if you want to get through the weekend unscathed.
  • Find what drives you. Is it the worst photo you ever took? The best one? A picture of your children? A high school reunion that’s scheduled for next summer? That favorite pair of jeans that’s languishing in your closet? Whatever it is, keep it out where you can see it. Let it help you keep that fire inside burning hot.
  • S-l-o-o-o-o-w down. The eating, that is. You’ll be amazed at how much more food it will seem as though you’re eating if you actually let the fork hit the table every once in a while. Even if you eat the same amount that you would have wolfed down, you’ll feel fuller and more satisfied.
  • Understand that it’s all interconnected. When I blow off a workout, it affects my mood, my sleep, even my appetite. I’ve come to realize that this trek’s about more than just managing my diet, more than just making sure I exercise X times a week. Those things are important components, but managing it all… stress, family, work, sleep… is the key to dropping the pounds.

Most of this is the common sense stuff you already know, but just the act of writing it all down has helped me realize where I’ve started dropping the ball in some areas. It’s difficult to keep the focus on all the time, but it’s sure hard to make any serious headway when you’re flailing around without a real sense of purpose.

Good luck on keeping your game face on and here’s hoping you (and I) have a kick-ass weigh-in this week.



  1. oohhh I likey!

    sometimes I hate going to the gym but rarely do I feel that way when I leave...

    I always feel super motivated and accomplished after a tough session!

    thanks for this great list on a Friday!

  2. Awesome list! Jack, please do more posts like this. Those of us who have a million failures under our belt (literally) really want to know how the winners do it. More details!

    My absolute fav. is writing the check to the organization you despise. I spend money on myself all the time, so that never works as a motivator, but a check written out to, say, Sarah Palin, would TOTALLY motivate me to stay on track! (No offense to anyone who loves her, just the first name that popped into my mind!)

  3. I needed this with the weekend coming up. I have to plan my strategy to knock off more one lb by end of month.

  4. This is a great list! I hope you have a great weekend.

  5. Great tips. Some I knew, others are not exactly new but sometimes we need to be reminded. :)

  6. Awesome tips. Thanks for sharing! Some clever ideas and truth in there - especially the part about skipping a workout and feeling like crap afterward. It really does affect everything you do.

    Have a great weekend! I'll be exercising my 'no' muscle!

  7. Perfect! I love this post, because all your tips are easy, practical, and are actually real tips!!

  8. So glad you posted these! Even more glad that I'm actually going to follow some of them!

  9. Great stuff Jack. Here's my TV rule. I call it my get off my ass rule. If I am watching something I could be watching it from the exercise bike...or at least doing something like folding laundy for instance.

    It's the idle on the butt time when hunger seems to make its attacks.

    So basically...stay busy.

  10. Weekends are so bad for me, for just that reason. My journalling and activity go right out the window. I hate getting to Monday and regretting things I should have done...

    I'm so glad I found your blog Jack!

  11. Great list. I love the "try something crazy" that just might work.

  12. Some great tips here (I've seen your blog mentioned all over the place so had to come have a look see!)

    I think being able to record TV shows and fas forward through ads is fantastic. I may watch a lot of TV but I don't have to waste any precious time on ads now. Huzzah!

  13. Great list. So great I'm printing it out. You're a rock star Jack. Thank you!

  14. Great list! I like the downsize the wardrobe one. I thought I was the only one who did something crazy like wearing too tight in the waist pants! It works! Unless you give in and move up a size! I refuse to do that anymore!
    Here's to great weight loss!

  15. LOVE IT. I'm writing my check now.

  16. So, what you're saying is that what I do on the weekend DOES count? Sheeet! I thought I got a free pass.

    Removal of elastic waistbands definitely helped maintain the motivation.

    But sometimes, the motivation just ain't there. And if we try and work up the motivation, it just won't materialize. Sometimes it's just a matter of going into robot mode and doing it, whether we're motivated or not.

    Great post!

  17. i just had two weeks off exercise. im a different person, and NOT for the better. got the blahs, humbugs, and dont cares, ugg.

  18. Great tips! Here's hoping for a loss for you.

  19. You didn't mention prepping lunches ahead of time. I plan out my breakfasts and lunches for the week and that REALLY helps me avoid reaching for whatever is handy when I get hungry. Great list Jack. Packing that gym bag ahead of time is key for me too. :)

  20. My eating suffers when I get lax in the exercise department, too. I definitely feel like it's all connected!

    As someone getting back on track, I thank you for the list! While most are common sense, things slide (including priorities!)over time and this post was a perfect gentle reminder of where my head needs to be if I'm gonna succeed at this weight loss game.

    Thanks for the congrats on my update post today! I'm wishing you a great weekend and good luck with the scale this week!

  21. I feel like all I ever say to you is great post Jack, but it really is true, you right good things that help to make people laugh, help them think, help motivate. I look forward to every word. Hope you have a great weekend.

  22. Great tips. It's great to laugh through it, but there is no denying the work, etc ... that we have to put into this. I like seeing your success pictured here now. Great!

  23. Cutting back carbs this week has completely diminished my cravings for bad stuff....and completely supercharged my loss this week. We all need to find what works for us..and a lot of time it is trian and error. After 7 months on this journey I have learned that, for me...exercise and lowering carbs works wonders for my hip-line.

    Jack, good advice. I have been following all of that advice, actually...which was quite validating for me.

    One more thing...find fresh food recipes that you LOVE...that fill you up and satisfy you and that are healthy and fall within your dietary guidelines. Write them all down....and use them..make extras so you have meals to put in the fridge for later that way when you are unmotivated to cook something, you can just reheat a healthy unprocessed meal.

  24. these tips really helped. thanks for posting them! especially the last one about everything being connected. I wish I had realized that earlier, when I fell asleep at 5 am and my whole next day was completely thrown off.

  25. let the fork hit the table every once in a while...lmao.
    that was a good list Jack. That should give people some ideas.

  26. Great stuff Jack! If people take just half of your points, they will be on the right track! I do a lot of what you do. And yes, I have a pair of pants that keep me on track for sure! I try them on to be sure all is well. With muscle, sometimes the scale is not the best indicator so the pants tell all! No fudging it if they are too tight... unless you want bigger legs or something like that! :-)

    I am a no thank you person. I have learned that it only matters what is right for me, food wise. People get used to me & they do not take offense. If I really want to try something like a homemade goodie, like you, I will take a bite & move on.

    I also just know mentally that I never want to be where I was before the weight loss not only physically BUT MENTALLY TOO! I really think about how the excess weight effected me mentally & how I felt. That keeps me on track!

    Great post Jack. I loved it. I love your humor/entertainment but I love this too!

  27. Love the post! And although it may be common sense, you know what they say... common sense ain't so common!

    Thanks for the reminders and tips!

  28. Thanks for some great tips! Thanks for acknowledging weekends, that's my worst time!

  29. Great tips! How about just the general tip to have a plan? I know it helps me if I know what I'm supposed to eat for the day and what workout I have planned - if I wake up and meander out with the goal to do "something" and "eat healthy" I can get sidetracked real quick.

  30. Great tips and timely post...just in time for the weekend! Seems like that is when I get those cravings and when I fall off the wagon...

  31. I think you should put all of those tips on a magnet and sell them. BIG BUCKS Jack, big bucks! :)

    PS I liked your tips...many of them are in action over here! :)

  32. All good tips. I like the one about the $100 check--I'd rather go the rest of my life without eating candy than give money to PETA! And the one about TV shows, too. I watch all my shows on the internet and they're like, 43 minutes!

  33. I actually have a pair of shorts from my high school days on my bathroom door that I have actually tried on before I chppse to eat off my planned food. It's stopped me a couple of times.

    Packing a lunch and always having a granola bar with me too. That way I have little excuse, if I'm hungry I have the reasonable choice easily in reach.

    I weigh on mondays... it helps me keep focused thinking about that over thee weekends.

    I do have some food "rewards" I know every one says they are not the way, but I think in moderation (not every day) going to a chinese food place in a way keeps me more on track, because I do plan it and also plan around it. For me it's learning to be in control of food, not afraid of it or somehow needing to avoid it all the time.

    At foolsfitness the modivation is to be stronger... to get to the buffet quicker, and lift plates of food that weigh more!- Alan

  34. A post worthy to be bookmarked, thanks for great and inspiring advice!

  35. Great tips, some of them I'm already using.

    I record everything I watch on TV. It's my little present to watch something (without the damn commercials) after I've been running or went to the gym.

  36. I so LOVE your Blog. It's so nice to have such great entertainment and motivation in one stop!! I'm printing the list so I can doublecheck myself in these areas through the week.

  37. Definitely like posts like these! Great reminders, 'cuz I so often forget the stuff that works to keep me on track. I skipped the scale this morning because of yesterday's poor eating and I probably shouldn't have. I NEED that reminder!

  38. Thumbs down to wasting the donut. I think a better strategy is to just say no, rather than take one bite and waste the rest. Few people need to eat donuts, but sometimes leftover donuts are a special treat for the cleaning crew, a coworker looking for a late afternoon treat, or someone else. If you take one, bite it and then pitch it, it's just wasteful. If the person who brought the donuts sees how many are eaten, they have a better idea of how many to get next time.

  39. great post Jack (as always) since I restarted my journey in May i've been trying and doing much of the things you advise.

    Great mind eh,

  40. Interesting post... I can see that you put a lot of hard work on your blog. I'm sure I'd visit here more often.
    from Magic Tricks.



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