How to Keep Going When You Feel Like Quitting

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Losing weight is hard. So is keeping it off. Both require long-term motivation and commitment. Both require sacrifice and willpower. Motivation, commitment, will power, and a willingness to sacrifice can wan over the long haul. So, what do you do when staying the course seems like more effort than you want to expend?

How to Keep Going When You Feel Like Quitting

Keep doing something.

I’ve got a confession to make: I have not felt like running this summer. Last summer, I ran all summer long – double-digit long runs in the heat of the summer. I just haven’t wanted to do it this summer.

And, the treadmill? Boring! Until Monday, it had been weeks since I’d really run.

Even though I wasn’t doing much running, though, I did keep moving. I rode the stationary bike (while watching Friends). I walked, with intermittent jogs, on the treadmill. If I was feeling really industrious, I’d hop on the elliptical.

None of these options provided the intensity or the calorie burn that I’d been used to with running, but they definitely provided more than sitting around doing nothing. Even when your motivation is flagging, something is always better than nothing.

Be honest with yourself.

Deceiving yourself accomplishes nothing. Be honest with yourself about your calorie consumption, your exercise habits, and any weight gain.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been sitting about 3-4 pounds higher than I’d like to be. I was okay with that, for a time, as long as I was maintaining there. For the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve been a couple of pounds over that.

When I weighed yesterday, I was about 6 pounds over where I’d like to be for the high end of my weight range. That means, it’s time to reel it back in and get serious about working out and about tracking my food.

It’s been my experience, over the last three years, that it’s kind of rejuvenating to spend a little time relaxing on the eating habits and the workouts a bit – as long as you’re still doing something (exercise), you aren’t going crazy with the eating, and you aren’t quitting. As long as you are honestly willing to reel it back it when it’s clear that it’s time.

For me, it’s time.

As long as you’re willing to be honest with yourself, taking a week – or a few – off from heavy workouts and strict calorie counting can help you jump back in to weight-loss with renewed focus and commitment and a stronger intensity.

self-portrait 2011

Find someone to hold you accountable.

It’s really important, wherever you are on your weight-loss journey, that you have someone you can trust to hold you accountable. You need someone who will call you on it if you’re not being honest with yourself.

You need someone who will hold you accountable for your choices and remind you of your commitments without being preachy. I told Brian on Sunday night that I was going running on Monday because I knew he would ask me, later, if I had done it. I didn’t want to have to tell him no.

I ran on Monday.

The kids wanted to stop for a Dairy Queen Blizzard on Sunday night. I did, too. Brian didn’t stop. I would have eaten one. I would have gotten a snack size one, but still, I didn’t need it. I was glad that Brian was willing to be my willpower for me when mine was feeling weak.

Find someone that you can trust and that you’ll listen to without getting defensive. Ask them to be your accountability partner. Then, let them.

Take a look back.

When your willpower and commitment have taken a back seat, remind yourself of how far you’ve come. Look at photos and videos of yourself at your starting weight – and at your milestones along the way.

Think back to how you felt at your starting weight – physically, emotionally, and mentally. Remember how excited, strong, and empowered you felt at each weight-loss milestone you’ve reached.

Think about the things that you can do now – or can do more easily – that were difficult at your starting weight. I think about how I used to get out of breath tying my shoes or walking up our stairs. I remember how my knees and feet hurt. I’ll never forget how low my self-esteem was.

This past weekend, Brian and I were looking at a video tape from 4 or 5 years ago – when I was still obese. There was a time I would have been disgusted by that video – ashamed of it. I didn’t feel that way this time though. I would describe what I felt as “morbid fascination.”

I had almost forgotten how difficult it was to move and how ashamed of my body I was. It was a good reminder. It reset my resolve to never be that woman again.

Before Disney 2009

Don’t quit.

I tried to lose weight many, many times in the 16 years I was obese. None of those times ended in failure because I kept doing the right things and just didn’t succeed. They failed because I quit.

If you need to take some time to regroup, to rest, to let your body find it’s new set-point, do it. But don’t quit.

Know where you want to be, where you’re willing to be, and where you don’t want to be. I know what my goal weight is. I know what my “happy weight” (the weight where I could be happy and which I can maintain comfortably) is. And, I know where I’m unwilling to be.

When I weighed yesterday, I was getting into that “unwilling to be” territory. That means that it’s time to quit playing around and get serious again.  That (and the gorgeous fall weather) is why I’m getting back into my running routine. It’s why I’m tracking my food again.

Don’t spend too long in the valley.

It’s normal to have ebbs and flows in your motivation, commitment, and willpower over the course of your weight-loss. True weight-loss isn’t a short-term fix. It’s not something that you’re going to do for a little while, then go back to your old habits. It’s a lifetime change – a lifetime commitment.

Marriage and weigh-loss have a lot of similarities. Just as a marriage takes continuous work and effort, so does weight-loss and maintenance. And just as a marriage is going to have it’s peaks and valleys, so does weight-loss and maintenance. Just as a marriage is worth the work, so is weight-loss and maintenance.

I think the problem comes when you start considering weight-loss something you’re going to quit doing some day (kind of like if you consider divorce and option for your marriage). If you don’t realize that it’s a complete lifestyle change, it’s easy to quit when things get tough, instead of recognizing that it’s a day-by-day – or hour-by-hour – commitment.

When you realize it is, in fact, a lifestyle change, though, it’s easy to see the valleys for what they are – just temporary lows or resting places before you start the climb to the peak again. You know the peak, right? It’s the exhilarating place with the gorgeous view where you can look back on how far you’ve come and feel the pride of making the journey and reaching your goals.

Where are you right now? Are you making the climb, resting in the valley, or enjoying the view from the peak? Or maybe you’re just getting started. I know the road seems long and hard, but it is so worth it from the other side!

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  1. Thank you for this timely post. Today is the start of my new eating habits. I didn’t wake up feeling particularly great about it and now I fell a bit more motivated. When I need some encouragement I’ll come back and read thru your journey.

  2. Amazing how we are led to the motivation we need..this post feels like it was written for me.. πŸ™‚ I had established a good workout routine then we PCS’d…have been living out of hotel rooms for two months which led to excuses for poor food choices and lack of exercise. I had just hit the 20lb weight loss mark before we moved and now have put on more than half of that, maybe more…I am to afraid to weigh myself. We have been in our house for three weeks, the boxes are unpacked and school has started…..it was time for the excuses to stop! My walk/jog this morning was not as strong as it was a couple of months ago but I did it…today is a new day. Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. I’m so glad I could encourage you today. You’re right — it is a new day! We only fail when we quit. Getting off track isn’t failure; not getting back on can be. Congrats on getting moving this morning. My run on Monday wasn’t as strong as my last run either, but I don’t think it will take either of long to build back up. Let me know how you’re doing.

  3. Thanks for the motivation Kris!!! I found your site this summer as we were getting ready for a new school year; the reason I kept reading was because of your weight loss story. (The schooling info is great too!) I have struggled with my weight for the last 20 years and this summer was my “this has to stop moment”. My goal this morning was to improve my 3 mile time; and with your words “am I going to quit” running through my head, I was able to cut a whole minute off my time!!! Three more minutes and 40 more pounds to reach my goals!! Keep up the good work! Your an inspiration! You’ve got these 6 pounds they don’t have you!!!!

    1. Way to go on cutting a minute off your run time! That’s huge! Congrats! Thanks for encouraging me, as well. You’re right — we’ve got this!

  4. Thank you for this. πŸ™‚ You have no idea just how timely.
    I lost 30 lbs last summer/fall… and then for Thanksgiving I let myself eat all the food I wanted. Every dessert I wanted. And as much as I wanted, because I knew that come Monday it was back to the diet and exercise.
    Well, it’s been about a year and I’ve lost -7 lbs… negative because instead instead of losing I am seven pounds HEAVIER than my Thanksgiving weight. I was never able to get back on track.

    I still have a long ways to go. LONG ways…
    But I won’t quit.

    Thanks again!

  5. I’ll be your partner. I was in the same boat, a few pounds above my top happy weight, before I started running about two months ago. We also stopped eating animals. For the first time in almost a year those pesky pounds are leaving-but slowly like they did when I lost all of my weight-not quickly like a fad diet.

    I have found that maintaining is tougher than losing, when you have a lot to lose it is hard to slow the fast roll of weight coming off.

    I also wanted a mini Blizzard on Sunday, and I also passed. I am now below my number, and am reaching back for my lowest weight. I suppose training will help that, and all of the kickboxing and running…

    Good luck!

  6. Oh Kris!
    What an inspiring post! Your “before” and recent pictures were such a contrast it nearly took my breath away!
    Thank you for motivating us to keep our bodies fit for the work God has called us to do!

  7. God really does have amazing timing. I’m working to stay out of the “I’m not OK with what I’ve gained” area after losing 120 lbs. several years ago. I have found two things to be true when a few pounds here or there creep back in. First, if I beat myself up about them, I’m doing more damage than good. Second, my husband (who is the BEST husband ever) encourages me to put on my old size 24 jeans (I wear an 8/10 now) to remind me from where God has delivered me. That, my friends, is motivation to keep on working!

    1. Yes, putting on those “before” jeans always renews my commitment and focus. Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come. It helps to be reminded of all I’ve accomplished and the fact that I never want to go back.

  8. I LOVE this! I just recently lost almost 70 pounds and would like to lose 10 more- but overall, I am fine with where I am. I am gaining strength for the next peak, i guess you could say. i hope you don’t mind- I shared this post with all my My Fitness Pal peeps. It’s a really inspiring post. thank you!

  9. Now that I’m on the committed-to-losing track, I am starting to think ahead to the maintenance phase. I’m surprised to find fear as one of the emotions I’m working through. Fear of not maintaining my goal once I get there. I’m exploring why I feel that way, because if I can commit to getting there, I can commit to staying there. But the nagging thought keeps returning: “you’ve never done it before, you won’t now.” Your post was helpful in showing me what its like to prevent failure from happening.

    1. I completely understand that fear. Completely. I think part of it is, it seems that it may be a little easier to stay motivated when you’re seeing the pounds drop off. You lose that sense of urgency when there isn’t any change going on.

  10. I also got off the running track this summer, cause face it, summers in Mississippi are very, very hot. I didn’t stop all together, but I biked a lot instead. I also allowed myself to eat mostly whatever I wanted, which has led me to put back on more pounds than I would like. My running pace has slowed down too. I am back on track now with the exercise and the eating right, for the most part. I did read an article in one of my running magazines that has stuck with me. A story about a woman, I don’t remember who, and her mantra was, “Make It Happen!” I now quote this when I want to walk while running. Sometimes I shorten it to MIH! It has seemed to help! Thanks for your blog and for being so open about how hard this all is!

  11. Thank you for the inspiration, it’s applicable to other challenges I am facing in my life right now.

    I’ve recently gone through a time where I decided, also, that I would never again fail because I quit, I would just fail because I wasn’t good enough to accomplish the task at hand.

    Blessings to you!

  12. Dang you, Kris! I came over here, all ready to chime in about how to keep homeschooling when you want to quit. (Think Dori in Finding Nemo). At that same time, I was looking at my clock, thinking that maybe I wouldn’t be able to fit running in today after all. Then I read your post. I WILL get out and run today. I will set my timer for an hour, work hard, and then run.

    Ask me about it tomorrow. πŸ˜‰

      1. I ran, OK?! You better have too!

        Seriously…thank you for the push. I did 2 laps at a nature trail near our home, for a run that was somewhere between 2-3 min. It felt good to use my body again. And it was an absolutely beautiful day in the woods!

        1. I did. And, I had a note beside my computer to remind me to ask you if you did. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you did and hat you enjoyed it. It’s been gorgeous weather for running here, too. Makes it hard to make excuses not to go.

  13. Reading this post reminded me why I use to love reading your Eclisped Blog…I admit I miss it!!! I always appreciated your transparency.

    1. Thanks, Judy. My intend was to merge the two blogs because I just didn’t have time to maintain both, but I’ve really dropped the ball with the health and fitness posts. I’m really going to try to do better! Thanks for the encouragement.

  14. You will never know how much this post has helped me. I’m in the valley and my self-confidence has taken a big hit. I lost 40 pounds about 5 years ago. I’m afraid of the scale but I think I’ve gained about 1/2 back. Today, I am going to get on the treadmill. I am going to make myself strong again. If you can do it, so can I.

  15. I think my husband is afraid I’ll become obese someday. But I know I never will. Like you, I always come to a point where I say enough is enough, time to get serious. And unless I’m pregnant, that point is basically ideal weight for someone my height with a bigger bone structure than I have.

    I just had a baby last July, so I’m actually at that point right now. But I got a postpartum boot camp exercise program, and I’ve only missed 2 days in 3 weeks. I feel trim and fit! The scales and the mirror don’t agree, but who cares? I’m building muscle, losing fat, standing tall and feeling great!

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