By: Natalie Chormann

So maybe you started the new-year off strong. You promised yourself you would eat your vegetables and do your squats; that you’d be hitting the gym every day. Yet, after a few weeks the motivation inevitably starts to wan, don’t worry you’re not alone. Trying to be healthy and lose weight is hard, anyone can tell you that. It takes effort and dedication in order to make lifestyle changes that yield real, lasting results. Trying to lose weight can also be totally overwhelming. It starts to feel like you can’t eat anything you want and that the gym is an endless sea of questionable looking machines you can’t even fathom how to use, all of which can make you want to quit. The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are a few tried and true tips to help keep you motivated while you work toward a healthier you.

Don’t compare your progress to others.

It’s so easy to look around you to other people at the gym or on social media and compare your results to theirs. This is problematic because not only is everyone at different points in their health journeys, two years of effort looks very different that two months, but also everyone’s body responds differently. Some bodies respond much quicker to healthy habits than others. Never judge your progress against those around you, just do your best and trust the process.

Get off the scale.

Then throw it out the window, seriously. The scale measures weight, and weight alone. It has no differential of muscle versus fat. Muscle weighs more than fat so the scale has no idea if you toned up or binged on cookie dough. Furthermore, not only does the number not always go down, but also it can even go up sometimes as you build muscle. Don’t let that get you down. The scale does not measure your hard work or your self worth.

Take progress pictures.

A much better way to measure your progress is to take pictures of yourself in the same outfit as you progress through the weeks of working out and eating healthy. Yes, it seems and might even look a little silly, but it’s hard to see the daily changes in our bodies as we try to slim down, which can get frustrating. It’s a bit like trying to watch your hair grow. By comparing pictures taken a few weeks apart it’s much easier to see how far you’ve come and how much you have accomplished which helps motivate you to keep going strong.

Make SMART goals.

SMART goals stand for Specific Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound goals. By setting goals this way you have set deadlines for yourself that are easier to stick to and work towards. Additionally, goals that are realistic and can be measured so that you can track your progress are much more likely to succeed than just casting big blanket statements like just trying to lose weight eat healthier.

Surround yourself with people on the same healthy path.

Surrounding yourself with people who have similar health goals as yourself is crucial to your success. Having friends or family that want to hit the gym with you and try the new healthy restaurant and just understand the healthy habits you’re trying to employ makes a world of difference. When you are surrounded by people who don’t prioritize health or worry about weight and are always trying to get you to go for a beer or a pizza, it can be exhausting and isolating. They just don’t understand the reality of what you’re trying to do. Who’s going to go to a pizza parlor and order a salad while their friend’s pound a steaming pizza? No one I know. Finding friends on the same path with similar goals as you, keeps you from feeling alienated by you attempts to be healthy, and provides an important support system.

Be patient.

Losing weight takes time. Creating a sustainable healthy lifestyle takes time. There are no quick fixes, magic pills, or shortcuts that can really help you lose the weight. It takes hard work, effort and determination. It can be tough and it sure doesn’t happen overnight. So be patient with yourself, you’re doing your best. Good things that are really worth having, like your health, take time.