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13 Motivational Hacks From People Who Lost Weight And Kept It Off

Real talk from people who know exactly what you're going through.

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We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the biggest challenges they faced on their journeys to transform their health and wellness and how they overcame obstacles to motivation. We got tons of stories about lifestyle transformation, and in particular we got insightful tips from people who set out to lose weight and after some trial and error, did just that, and kept the weight off. Here are the best tips from 13 people who have faced some of the most difficult — physically and emotionally — aspects of sustainable weight loss and reflected on how they did it.

1. Take fitspo with a big ol' grain of salt.

Carolyn Kylstra / / Via

"Sometimes looking at pictures of people farther along in their fitness journey can be real motivating, but other times it can really screw with you mentally. At some point along the way, I realized that looking at people who I considered more fit than I was, could make me feel defeated.

It took me awhile to realize that just because they look like that on Instagram or Facebook, doesn't mean they don't have cellulite or skip out on the last five minutes of cardio or occasionally eat too many sweets. We're all human!"

— Brooke C.

2. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that slip-ups and failure are the same thing.

"The most important thing is to not fall into the trap of 'I messed up, so I might as well just [give up on] the whole thing.' Those three cookies probably didn't do too much harm. That whole box will be much harder to compensate for.

[This time] I just recognized when I made an iffy food decision, and kept moving along making healthy ones, instead of going, 'Oh, you had some candy, might as well order deep-dish pizza.'"

— Melanie B.

3. Look at yourself expecting to see and intending to celebrate progress.

"I've found that because you see yourself daily, it's hard to notice how far you've come. When I feel this way, I'll put together a before and after photo just to remind myself of how I looked vs. how I look."

— Cheri H.


4. Remember that you're doing this not just for the result but for the journey, too.

"I, like many, think that if I eat something 'wrong' or have a bad day, week, etc., my goal is no longer achievable and I have proven that I am a failure ... Also, when I am working out consistently and eating properly and all that good stuff, and still see an unwavering number on the scale, it gets very discouraging. The best way to conquer those two feelings are to remember you are doing this not only for the end result, but to enjoy the beautiful process and ride that leads there.

Constant reminders of self-worth are very essential."

— Lauren L.

5. Realize that happiness is not determined by the number on the scale.

"I ended up gaining about five pounds back and realized that I was happier those pounds heavier. Those five pounds were the occasional night eating ice cream and drinking wine with friends. They were the five pounds that made my life better, less obsessive. I still work out and live a healthy lifestyle but I’m happy five pounds heavier ... I’ll let them stay because I finally got over that a number on the scale would mean happiness.

The only way to be happy is to just be."

— Annie M.

6. Think of fitness as a way to practice self-care, whether that means working out or taking a rest day.

"I have to remind myself daily that my fitness is a part of my self-care and that I need to honor my body and mind — if it means pushing myself through that last rep or taking a day off."

— Faith K.

7. Change the way you speak to yourself.

"I had to reinvent the way I speak to myself. I had to look in the mirror and smile when I saw the changes in my face, not look for flaws elsewhere. I set small goals and gave myself a lot of positive reinforcement...

But most importantly, I had to undertake this for me and because it was my choice. I had to decide I was worth it."

— Kathleen C.


8. Realize that setbacks are basically part of the plan.

"In the beginning, setbacks will always get you down. You'll feel defeated and like there's no point. But after a few (dozen) setbacks, you begin to realize that's part of the process. Every program and diet doesn't work the same for everyone. You'll find the one that works best, then you'll stumble along the way.

But stumbling isn't failing. It's learning."

— Anonymous

9. Don't deprive yourself.

"I sometimes think that one party, one piece of cake, one cookie will undo everything. I feel like I am going to undo all of the weight loss. I still feel sometimes like one beer or one cookie will make me gain everything back.

The truth is that I can still enjoy beer, cake, etc. in moderation. My unhealthy life was full of these things all day, every day. I have to remind myself that my healthy life does not include these things every day, but only once in a while."

— Kortni M.

10. Set multiple goals including some that don't have anything to do with weight loss.

Sasajo / Getty Images

"... I set a final goal weight for myself, but I also had other long-term goals, short-term goals, weight loss goals, and fitness goals.

It helped me to have lots of them, because if I got behind on one or didn't reach one on time, I still felt good about the other ones that I HAD reached. For example, my running goal was to run a half-marathon by Easter, and I also wanted to hit my goal weight by Memorial Day. I ran the half-marathon, but I didn't hit my goal weight before Memorial Day, but I was OK with that because I was able to reflect on my other accomplishment.

Because weight loss is complex, and difficult, I found it important to set myself up for success."

— Deirdre R.

11. Get over gymtimidation by realizing that people are too wrapped in their own thing to look at what you're doing.

"There's this attitude that people at the gym are smug jerks who will stare and make fun of you. I was certain everyone was wondering what the fat chick was doing at the gym. But then as I started to talk to people, I found out most either were so engrossed in their own fitness journey that they hadn't thought anything of me at all or they had noticed my progress and were impressed.

A couple people who became my friends turned out to have formerly been overweight themselves, but now were in amazing shape.

The only person judging me was me."

— Enid B.


12. Don't be afraid to ask friends to share their expertise and give advice.

Sally Tamarkin / BuzzFeed

"Another thing I've learned is to not be afraid to ask. Use your resources and the people around you. I knew nothing about swimming or biking but I recruited friends of mine who were stronger in those activities. I asked nutrition questions to people who I knew had success in their diet/meal plans. And I worked with a friend who taught me correct conditioning and strength training.

It's OK to not know what you're doing and to ask for help. If you never ask, the answer is always no and you miss out on great opportunities to better yourself and learn."

— Christina M.

13. Most of all, keep things in perspective.

"Your body is the home to your soul. Your soul is who you are, your body is just the vessel through which it travels."

— Shelby L.

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