New Year’s is the time for resolutions, and as January’s frigid days give way to the warmth of spring, it’s easy to stay inspired by the sense of growth and renewal. Even the longer days can help us feel like we can do more. Unfortunately, by the time summer rolls around, losing weight can feel harder, as the warmth has become a sweltering heat and the days feel too long. It can become uncomfortable to stick to a summer weight loss plan, especially if it involves heading outside, and the temptations of frozen treats and over-indulgent backyard barbecues can sometimes make your healthy diet feel less appealing. That doesn’t even account for any time off for vacation, when your motivation for weight loss is at its lowest point.
This is the mid-year slump, and if you’re not careful, it can seriously stall your efforts to lose weight. More importantly, it can skew the way you feel about your progress, undermining your confidence and demotivating you to stick to the plan you’ve laid out.
How to Stick to a Summer Weight Loss Plan
The mid-year slump can affect anyone that’s trying to achieve a fitness or athletic goal. Since you’re not the first to stumble, you should realize that it’s possible to reignite your weight loss motivation. The following tips are how others have moved forward with their goals despite the high humidity, rising ozone, and the siren call of the neighborhood ice cream truck.
Don’t Over-Think It.
Despite the fact that most people think lowered motivation is a sign of failure, waning weight loss motivation during summer is completely natural. Motivation is not a static thing that either does or does not exit. Rather, it operates in a rhythm much like a tide of water at the beach. When you ignite your motivation, it swells, but it also gradually rolls back. Remember that you’re allowed to give yourself a break, and take this opportunity to approach summer weight loss with fresh eyes.
Take Time to Process Why Your Motivation Is Low.
Just as some things can bolster our motivation, other things can undermine it. For some, it may be new responsibilities or relationships that changed certain priorities. For others, it may be associated with depression, which can cause lethargy or sap the energy out of a person. And yet there may be others that are anxious about the weight loss process itself; they’re afraid of judgment when they go out for a run or try to use cardio machines at the gym.
You’ll have to root out the cause (or causes) because they’re unique to you, your experiences, and your body. Once you’ve identified your demotivator, you can find ways to ensure it stops interfering with your weight loss this summer.
Assess Where You Are Now to Refresh Your Strategy and Routine.
Whenever it is that you resolved to lose weight, you have to recognize that that moment is in the past. You made the best plan you could based on your situation at the time. Now, however, you are in a different place with new experiences to guide your strategy. Honestly evaluate how the last six months have worked out and outline which tactics worked and which didn’t. Evaluate your goals and time frame, then adjust them to be more realistic.
Silence Your Inner Critic… and Consider Ditching Your Scale.
The phrase “be more realistic” may sound discouraging, but in fact, it’s an important factor in maintaining your motivation to lose weight during summer. When you set unrealistic goals, you won’t be able to achieve them, leading you to criticize yourself more, feel worse about your weight loss, and make it harder on yourself to achieve any progress.
That’s just one reason why your inner critic is a terrible motivational tool. The other is that engaging in self-criticism physiologically triggers the fight-or-flight response and releases the stress hormone, cortisol; this hormone is known to cause cravings, especially for sweet or fatty comfort foods. For similar reasons, you may need to stop weighing yourself at home. That may seem counterintuitive, but consider what happens when the numbers don’t match your hopes and expectations – self-criticism. Save the scale for specific weigh-in deadlines rather than checking every day, and make a plan for tackling the specific issues behind weight fluctuations with tools such as craving control supplements.
Plan Smaller Benchmark Goals and Think Beyond the Scale.
Speaking of deadlines, most people in the position of worrying about their motivation are trying to lose a greater amount of weight. That takes a lot of time and a great deal effort. However, a deadline that’s so far away makes it difficult to keep in sight. That’s why you need to plan in benchmark goals during a summer weight loss plan. Achieving those smaller goals is encouraging, which in turn fuels your motivation for achieving you goal weight. You should also bear in mind that the number on the scale shouldn’t be your only goal. Sometimes your weight loss can plateau for a time, and there are numerous factors that contribute to your weight at given times. Be sure to make some of your benchmarks other active accomplishments: turning a two-mile run into a three-mile run, taking the stairs at work every day for a month, increasing how long you use a standing desk from an hour per day to two hours per day, or getting in touch with a weight loss doctor instead of giving in to cravings. Celebrate the ways you’re changing and the new habits that you’re establishing.
Don’t Use Models or Actors for Inspiration.
Remember what we said about unrealistic goals? The hi-res photos online, glossy pages of a magazine, and the big screen represent exactly that. Actors and models are paid (in part or in whole) because of how they look – it’s their job, and it’s an unattainable standard for anyone that has to spend office hours doing something else. Some engage in unhealthy habits to achieve those looks, while others have a high metabolism or are lucky enough to have a private trainer and a private chef to cater solely to their unique needs.
To be honest, that’s only a fraction of why you shouldn’t use them as inspiration. Even your inner critic is just a piece with a heavy impact on your motivation to lose weight. You see, constantly comparing yourself to the “perfect” and unattainable weight of actors and models actually demotivates you further. You unconsciously internalize that perfection, so every time you make the slightest mistake, you might start thinking there’s no point in even trying to lose weight and begin gaining weight.
Do Surround Yourself with Motivational Reminders.
Just because you can’t use your favorite physic as motivation doesn’t mean you can leave encouraging reminders for yourself to boost summer weight loss goals. Pin up photos of you when you were at your best weight, or hang the dress, jeans, or suit you want to fit into by the mirror. Find other ways to encourage yourself, even if it’s leaving a sticky on your bathroom mirror. It’s best for these to be positive, however, sometimes aversion can be powerful. Perhaps your father or uncle died of a heart attack, or you were obese, sedentary, and unhealthy enough to develop type 2 diabetes. What you want is to validate the right behaviors and avoid reminders that punish yourself. You should also keep a weight loss journal so it’s easier to see how far you’ve come.
Reward Yourself Before You Reach Your Final Goal Weight.
The thrill of success for achieving a benchmark goal isn’t the only reward you have to give yourself, and sometimes, the things you put off until you’ve hit your goal weight shouldn’t actually wait that long. Remember, your weight loss plan shouldn’t be about punishing yourself or suffering – you’re working to be in a position to enjoy life. Develop a complete rewards system that further validates hitting each goal along the way.
Don’t Do It Alone.
It’s easy to lose perspective when the only perspective you have is your own. Incorporate friends or family, whether it’s to help hold you accountable or hit the gym with you. Make sure you have people you can rely on to be both honest and compassionate. Depending on your health and how successfully you’ve attempted to lose weight so far, you may even want to consult professionals like doctors and nutritionists.
Summer can kill your weight loss motivation. But it’s important that you do renew it. Remember why you decided to lose weight to begin with, accept that the heat is slowing but not stopping your progress, and find ways to encourage yourself instead of punishing yourself. These three things, along with the rest of our tips, can get you back on track and moving toward your ultimate weight loss goal this summer.