Get ready and fire up; the key to weight loss is getting motivated and staying motivated – Advertisement – Brief Article

It happens more often than not. People looking to lose weight begin their diet or exercise regimen pumped and ready to meet their goal. But instead of shedding pounds, they shed their motivation, bringing them back to where they began. Experts have weighed in on the issue and they have found that motivation is the biggest calorie burner and the best way to keep those pounds permanently off. But staying motivated is hard.

More than 54 million Americans are currently dieting, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But the nation’s obesity rate continues to rise. Of those who do successfully lose weight, 90 to 95 percent cannot keep it off. Kerri Plum, a 27-year-old human resources representative, has made three unsuccessful attempts to reach and maintain her goal weight since attending college. “When the weight is gone, it’s hard not to think, `Hey, I deserve dessert tonight or a bag of chips with lunch today.'”

After that forbidden bag of chips or double-fudge sundae is consumed, people usually feel guilty or unhappy, says nutritionist Colette Heimowitz, director of education and research at Atkins Nutritionals. “I ask my patients if the momentary pleasure is worth that feeling,” Heimowitz says. “It’s an empowering learning opportunity. They need to understand the impact of their choices. Once they know that, they have the power to lose weight.”

But that knowledge sometimes isn’t enough to motivate a person, says Heimowitz. “You can know it in your head, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into practical action. You also have to internalize that motivation.”

People can begin to nurture motivation by noting why they want to lose weight and by picking a specific goal weight, experts say. That will help them stay focused. Checking weight regularly and keeping food and fitness diaries assist in monitoring a regimen’s success. Doctors at the National Weight Control Registry noted that consistent self-monitoring works: In their research they found that nearly 3,000 people who successfully dropped 30 pounds or more kept it off for a year. Those people also were on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, burned 2,800 calories per week (equal to walking about four miles a day) and always ate breakfast.

Exercising or dieting with a friend also is a big motivation booster, experts say. According to Richard Stuart, Ph.D., avoiding tempting food and weight loss are strongly influenced by intimate partners. So while intimate partners can motivate each other to lose weight, Stuart warns that a fine line exists between caring and disinterest. In one study, Stuart found that 49 percent of the women who were most successful in shedding pounds said their husbands were actively involved, while the rest cited their husband’s noninvolvement as key to their success. Among those who didn’t lose weight, 57 percent said that their husbands’ efforts to help undermined their self-confidence and motivation; the rest said they stopped trying because they believed their husbands were not interested enough in them to help.

Eventually, nothing succeeds like success, Heimowitz says. “If you see results quickly and feel good as you slim down, you’ll be motivated to continue.”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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