The Saturday Skinny: How to stay motivated to lose weight

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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A little more than a year ago, losing 100 pounds seemed like a daunting, and nearly impossible, task. As someone who had tried diet plans, pills, gimmicks, shakes and just about every other fad to come around, I thought I was stuck being overweight. Today, through a common-sense approach of proper diet and regular exercise, I’m only 12 pounds shy of my 100-pound goal. If this over-40 father of five can do it, so can you. MOTIVATION This week let’s talk about motivation. What I had to do was find it and hold on to it. Discouragement, disappointment and despair can easily overtake me. I can fall into a funk, losing my drive. Setbacks can be blown out of proportion when compared to the big picture goal. So, in a moment of weakness, I somehow ended up devouring a chocolate bar that had managed to smear itself with peanut butter. Do I allow this bump in the road to prevent me from making the journey? Do I allow myself to be discouraged because I had an unhealthy snack? There was a time when I did. I can still hear those old thoughts: “What’s the point? I can’t lose that much weight anyway. It’s impossible and I’m obviously too far gone to pull myself out of the hole now, so why not just give in and enjoy life? Why not just relax on the couch, watch some TV and eat chips and ice cream? Are those fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies? Oh yes, give me some of those!” I had to make an entire shift in my outlook and lifestyle. That was the only way to rid myself of those self-defeating thoughts. I am worth the work and effort. It hasn’t been easy and there have been plenty of bumps in the road along the way. One thing I haven’t lost is my drive to make healthier choices. What would I rather do, sit on the couch and watch TV or watch that TV show while doing 45 minutes of step exercises? The decision to get my butt up off the couch is now what drives me. If I find myself sitting and “zoning out,” I know it’s time to start moving. Complacency is also dangerous. Yes, I’ve lost 88 pounds, but if I were to decide it’s time to “stop” and return to my old eating habits, I’ve lost the war on my waistline. This is an ongoing process, a lifetime commitment to treat myself better and with respect. My body is like a machine. I wouldn’t put junk in the gas tank of my vehicle, so why do it to my body? I need the proper nutrients and caloric intake to keep this machine running and healthy. A lack of motivation can kill any weight loss plan. All components (diet, exercise, sleep, positive attitude) need to be in place. Some notes: I don’t take pills. I don’t have a gym membership (but recommend you get one, since it will make things a lot easier). I don’t have a trainer (but, again, believe it would make this task a lot easier). I don’t belong to any organizations such as Weight Watchers (but many people have a lot of success in that program so I’m not knocking it). I did this on my own due to limited time and having two small children to raise. I recommend consulting with your doctor and checking out other plans before starting any weight loss program. EXERCISE TIP If I find I don’t have the time to get out and exercise, I bring exercise inside. The Wii Fit Plus is a great beginner’s tool that allows me to keep track of my progress, set my own exercise routines and is fun. For a more advanced workout, I also use The Biggest Loser for the Wii. Bob Harper telling me to keep going can be very motivational. If you don’t have a Wii, find exercise in everyday tasks. My two youngest kids, ages 1 and 3, can make a complete mess, scattering small toys everywhere. Rather than grabbing a bucket and picking them all up in one sweep of the living room, hallway and kitchen, I will walk over, squat and pick up each one individually, returning it to the bucket at the farthest end of the room. This is a good way to tidy the house while getting that body moving. RECIPE OF THE WEEK I like this smoothie as a quick breakfast or lunch meal replacement. It’s packed with nutrients and is quite filling. 1 cup non-fat plain (or flavored) yogurt 1 frozen peeled banana 2 cups frozen strawberries 1 cup frozen blueberries 1 cup non-fat milk 1 tablespoon honey (optional) 1 handful of raw baby spinach leaves 1 tablespoon wheat germ Throw ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Since I’m using frozen fruit, there is no need to water it down with ice cubes. This is a great meal-replacement when I’m on the go. The wheat germ and yogurt are great sources of protein. Check the ingredients if you purchase pre-frozen fruit (such as the strawberries from Raley’s). Avoid those that have added sugars or “preservatives.” Serving size: 1 pint Makes 2.5 servings Don Chaddock is the managing editor of the Telegraph and can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @anewsguy.