Having the goal to lose weight is a reasonable goal. Most people understand that losing weight is entirely possible to achieve. In fact, the mathematics behind weight loss can be easily calculated and quantified. Weight loss is very possible from a physical standpoint — eat fewer calories than your body requires and you'll lose weight.
So, if this is the case, why do so many people struggle to lose weight?
Why So Many People Fail to Lose Weight
The primary reason so many people fail to lose weight is because they lack the long-term self-discipline. To their defense, it takes effort and a plan to maintain self-discipline over the long haul. Soon we'll discuss techniques people can use to keep self-discipline and motivation at high levels.
But first it may help to understand the process behind losing weight and then to discuss some of the psychological factors that come into play.
Psychological Factors During Weight Loss
Many psychological factors are involved in the weight loss process and are frequently overlooked and underrated as major obstacles to success. Losing weight requires consistent, long-term dedication, but indeed it begins with a single idea — it starts as an overwhelming urge to change your life in a major way. This decision for change is packed with power and longing, and with this comes massive amounts of motivation.
The initial motivational burst is not the issue; where people get tripped up is sustaining these powerful feelings. As we stated before, weight loss requires a long-term approach — the process requires consistent changes sustained over a long period of time (often months at least). However, after that initial bursting desire for change, the starting motivation gradually dwindles. Likewise, self-discipline and willpower to stick to your weight loss plan slowly fades.
With the lack of motivation and willpower to stick to your healthier lifestyle, the temptations to cheat or give up entirely will creep into your mind, lodging themselves there. If these lodged temptations aren't dealt with in a healthy way (i.e. not fed cookies), they will fester in your mind until you eventually do give in to them. Then your self-esteem will take a hit for giving in and "failing", and your willpower will weaken even further — beginning a negative cycle that will repeat until you give up on your weight loss goal entirely.
Not good. It's an ugly picture, but it's the process by which many people give up.
So, what can you do to combat this?
Weight Loss Tool: Commitment Devices
There are many tools to help with weight loss, such as following a personally-tailored diet plan or hiring a personal trainer, but a popular method that is often overlooked is to use commitment devices.
What Are Commitment Devices?
A commitment device is a way to "lock yourself" into doing something that you may not be able to follow through on without the device. Essentially, commitment devices are tools that people have used successfully to achieve longer-term goals.
Using this technique, people can make difficult actions or processes easier to achieve, such as weight loss.
Examples of Commitment Devices for Weight Loss
1. The Junk Food Ban
A good example — and one of the more popularized techniques — of a commitment device geared toward weight loss is not to bring any junk food into your house. In this way, the objects of your temptations will not be nearby when your willpower is at its weakest.
If it's not physically in the house you can't eat it on impulse when your self-discipline is failing. Rather, you have to leave your house, get in your car, drive to the market, buy the food, and drive home (assuming you wait that long to rip open that bag of chips).
Many people have found "The Junk Food Ban" to be helpful for losing weight. A tip that goes with this is to avoid grocery shopping and other stores with junk food when you are hungry. If you are satiated when you shop, you won't be driven on impulse to purchase last second snacks and treats.
2. The Picture Barricade
Another popular commitment device is to put motivational pictures — such as a picture of your favorite celebrity in her/his swimsuit — in places where you tend to have the weakest motivation and willpower. Some common placement examples include right on your refrigerator so you have to look at these pictures before you open the refrigerator and potentially break your diet. Another placement example that has worked for some is to place these pictures on your bathroom mirror, which can provide a boost of motivation every time you pass it — mirrors can also, until you begin to see results, bring your self-esteem down and therefore lower your ability to resist that large chocolate chip cookie that will (temporarily) make you feel better.
Give the "Picture Barricade" a try.
3. The Fan Section
Yet another great example of a commitment device is to tell people about your health goal — as many people as possible. Part of the reason for doing so is that it will indirectly bind you to your goal and make you feel compelled to follow through for fear of letting all those you've told down — i.e. since they know your plans, they will also come to know if you give up. Because fear can be a very powerful motivator, this device can help push you through rough patches.
The next benefit of using this commitment device is that people can help re-motivate you. When you are feeling down or can tell your willpower is weakened (which will happen), talk to the people you've told and let them re-inflate your motivation levels. We're all in this together, after all.
An important note for this technique is that it's essential to only include people who will be supportive and not destructive to you. So be sure to exclude those people who aren't also interested in your or their health, or the people who will try to get you to cave and break your diet "just this once." Telling these people as a commitment device will likely do more harm than good. Also try to stay clear of them whenever you are feeling a lack of motivation or willpower.
Surround yourself only with people who care about you, your health, and your goals.
4. The Motivational Supplement
There are many supplements out there that can provide you with a slight boost in motivation and focus. The most popular type of supplement for this is a pre-workout supplement — our favorite pre-workout supplement is made by Optimum Nutrition (view it on Amazon) — but using any health supplement should help improve or maintain motivational levels.
A couple other types of supplements that may provide motivation for losing weight are fat burners or whey proteins, but hundreds of great supplements exist. It may be beneficial to browse Amazon for motivational supplements.
5. The Light at the End of the Tunnel
This commitment device example is a favorite of many people, and understandably so — who doesn't love some fun in the sun? As you may have guessed, this device consists of planning a trip to some vacation destination (preferably somewhere with a beach, so you can show off your new and improved beach body).
This vacation will function as your "Light at the End of the Tunnel", and looking forward to this trip — imagining how you'll look in your new rocking bathing suit — will provide you with ample (and continual, as the excitement builds) motivation.
Of course, the downside is that it can cost significant money to go on a vacation. Thankfully, however, the primary reason many people have the goal of losing weight in the first place is because they already have a trip planned and want to get in better shape for it.
With that said, there are many affordable vacation options for showing off your ripped beach bod. It may just take some research to find one that fits within your budget.
Either way, this commitment device is a very powerful motivator.
6. The Team Effort
Last but certainly not least, we have "The Team Effort". Similar to "The Fan Section", this device relies on other people. It is perhaps the best commitment device you can have for weight loss, and it has been successfully used by many.
The idea behind it is simple: Find a group of people who are also eager and motivated to lose weight, and come together as a team. The team mentality will aid all of you — when any of you are feeling low on motivation, your "team members" will come to your aid and provide encouraging words, and vice versa. In this way you will all help each other achieve your goals.
This technique has been used successfully on a wide-scale with programs such as Weight Watchers and Curves, and often you can find local support groups you can attend in which people come together and talk about their goals and obstacles, as well as to provide and receive encouragement. To find one of these groups, go to your favorite search engine and type something like "local weight loss support groups".
So, when it comes down to it, a commitment device provides you (and your willpower) with layers of protection, particularly when you're feeling most vulnerable to totally give up on your goals.
Hopefully you will find one (or more) of the above commitment devices helpful. Here are some more example of commitment devices that may be useful (though not all are geared toward weight loss).
Try these weight loss commitment devices and you will give yourself a better chance to succeed with your weight loss goal.
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