If you want to lose weight and keep it off, it is very important that you consciously define the reasons that are motivating you.

You need motivators that you can get behind and that will see you through the tough times of weight loss and maintenance. Exactly why do you want to lose weight?

Your reasons for losing weight and improving your lifestyle must be your own, meaning that you are doing this for yourself and are committed to change for life, not just for a short term goal .

They must have a personal, emotional hook to them in order to have the highest effectiveness in carrying you through those times when you feel like you just can’t do it anymore. Once you have that long term motivation, you will find it much easier to maintain the loss that you worked so hard to achieve.

Last year I tried over and over again to get back on track and lose the excess weight that I had regained, however I just could not get with it. I would eat healthy and exercise for 2, 3, or even 5 days in a row, and then eat and/or binge on dead, processed foods. I would start over again each Monday and do the same thing as the week before, creating a pattern that went on for weeks, which turned into months.

There were a few reasons for this which I will separate into their own topics, however a main reason was that I simply did not have a strong enough motive for sticking to my plan to lose the weight. I didn’t have any reason powerful enough to see me through when the going got tough and I craved those unhealthy foods.

Now on the surface, I did “want” to lose weight, who doesn’t? Anyone who is overweight wants to drop poundage. I knew I was lacking motivation, however I could honestly not come up with something that would keep me on track. The best that I had was the fact that I wanted to fit back into the clothes that had fit me six months ago, but even that wasn’t enough.

My desire to overeat and eat unhealthy foods was stronger than my desire to change. Are you aware of what is motivating you? Are your motivators strong enough to get you through the losing phase, and most importantly, help you maintain your loss once you achieve it? Or, on the other hand, are you motivated by an outside force, such as the media, a spouse, family member, or a single, upcoming event?

If you have decided to begin a weight loss program because you feel you should lose weight to fit into someone else’s idea of physical beauty, then you will most likely find your motivation waning soon after beginning your program.

Additionally, while losing weight for an upcoming event such as a wedding, reunion, vacation, or holiday can be a very motivating goal, what often occurs after the event has passed is a large drop in motivation to maintain the loss, since the event was the main focus for losing the weight.

Old habits return and what follows is a regain of the lost weight, and possibly an even higher end weight. It is more than likely that one will slip back into old habits soon after the event is complete, unless there was a larger, personal, underlying motivation for the weight loss.

Long term motivators such as gaining your health back so that you will be around for your children, gaining inner peace by ending the battle with yo-yo dieting and the emotional turmoil it can cause, or losing weight to enjoy the small things in life again are the key to maintaining weight loss. Of course, the reasons I’ve listed would only work if they have meaning for an individual.

For myself, rather than focusing on losing weight now for an upcoming event, I am sick and tired of the lifelong issues I have had with this topic. I have come a long way and done a lot of work in this area up to this point in time, however I have further to go. I am now ready to uncover any and all reasons that I eat for emotional reasons, any fears I have of being fit and trim, the reasons I sabotage myself, and anything else that comes up along the way. I am willing to heal this issue in order to move beyond it to achieve deeper, personal growth.

So what if you are reading this, and you realize that your greatest motivation for losing weight is an upcoming event? You realize that this is a climactic event, and that you may have even had this experience before: you lost weight for such an event only to regain it (plus a few pounds) in the weeks and months that followed. You don’t want to go through this again and you want to maintain your loss.

What I suggest is taking out a piece of paper right now, before going any further. Take just 5 minutes and brainstorm, writing down all of the possible reasons that you can come up with on why you want to lose it and maintain it. No one else needs to read this; write whatever you can think of that you can use for motivation.

After you’ve done this, read your list and note those reasons that you feel some emotion for, the ones that resonate with you. If you don’t have any reasons that really grab you, then put more time into your list. If you’re at work, commit to do this on your next break, or as soon as you return home tonight.

Once you have at least one reason that motivates you beyond the short term, you are well on your way to lifelong weight management. You will next need to examine whether or not the regime of diet and exercise that you are currently using to lose weight is one that you can turn into a lifestyle and commit to for the rest of your life.

If it is not, then the next step (covered in upcoming posts) will be to create that healthy lifestyle that you can live with, one that will ensure that you maintain that loss that you worked so hard to acquire.