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Staying motivated/Long term goal achivement - stuck after 40lb loss

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Roman G · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 170

Last year, I was 176 lb, at my heaviest, and now I am 136lb. I lost 40 pounds!

A little preface:

I was overweight most of my life, turned 28 in Sept. Tried to lose weight but I never gave it any real effort.

Last summer I got on a scale and it said 176lb and I almost lost it. I am 5’5, male, no muscle mass at that point.
June of last year 2015, I read a post here on MP by a user which mentioned and decided to try it. Wanting to lose weight for a while and a combination of fun to count calories I was able to start losing weight pretty easily. It took me a year to lose 40lb, mostly because I was slacking here and there. Over the course of a year while losing weight, I did various tests and experiments on my body and learned how to tweak food intake and how my body reacts to variables. I realized the cycle my body goes through with every number of pounds. Losing weight is not a problem for me, staying motivated is becoming a losing battle as I still have a number of pounds to go.

My goal: is to be around 12% body fat or rather have a visible midsection and be in a VISIBLY physically good shape. I want to look good and climb at my hardest. I am training regularly (mostly for ice climbing season now) but will start hang boarding and training for rock season January 1st. I have about 6-7 lb more to go to be <12% body fat.

I understand this is just a mental struggle and I am at a loss and I just can’t break past my point. It’s become really frustrating. Evenings for me are the hardest. I stick to my plan through out the day and don’t deviate from my plan, but come evening when I get home from work, I over eat and keep telling my self, “just today is okay!” EVERYDAY. I am not gaining weight, I am simply overeating and not staying in calorie deficit. I know why I am not losing weight, I just can’t bring myself to stop consuming more calories in the evening. Perhaps food is just a mental stress relief after a stressful day at work. But I have never been a stress eater as far as I can tell.

Changing routines, times, locations, making a schedule, creating a whack in the system, none seem to be producing the mental edge I’m looking for to stay on track. When I get home from work every evening, the last thing I care about is a sixpack. Right after overeating, I get mad at myself and force to go work out/burn calories if I can muster enough anger(sounds depressing). I can stay at pretty much the same weight level and control my weight. Staying motivated to lose more weight however is a big struggle. Do I just not want it bad enough and created this delusional image in my head? Maybe.

This may not be the place to ask, but there are some really motivated folks here on MP so I’m curious what has worked for you, as far as getting your motivation to train, diet, reach your goal weight/fitness level, long term goal achievement.
Do you have a routine that you activate once you get off track? Daily reminders? Pictures of your goal? A threshold that you won’t allow yourself to go past and able to snap back? Do you stare at a mirror and tell yourself: “I can crimp and pull on slopers all day”, “today I won’t eat junk, today I will stay in calorie deficit”. Maybe something is holding me back and I just can't see it.

I am trying to figure out what it is that is holding me back, or rather why I’m losing motivation for long term goals. Perhaps after all I just don’t want it bad enough…

I want to hear what has worked for you to stay motivated.


Ross Ayer · · Southington, CT · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 60

Find a project outside that you are TOTALLY in love with. You need to find something about .5 to 1 grades above limit and just dial the moves one at a time. Then work on the crux(s) and keep working out what you need to. I have several things that I am working outside, and since winter hit, I am in a bad mood. However, I am training core and fingers to hit them hard next season. Best of luck and climb on

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 125

Did you meet your goal of being visibly in shape and having that ripped mid-section? Getting to 12% may just not be in your cards. Losing weight is way easier when you have lots to lose. As you get down to what is a minimum healthy weight, each ounce becomes tougher and tougher, since you have fewer and fewer to lose.

Focus on your other goals. Are you making progress on the climbing grades? Are you getting more reps in he weight room, more miles on the treadmill?

If you are overeating, change your shopping habits so you don't have things at home that allow you to overeat.

polloloco · · Downey, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 255

Do you work out right after work? Like - go to the climbing gym for a few hours after work. That should relieve some stress. Follow up your workout with a balanced recovery drink/light meal and a shit ton of water. I've found that I typically don't have a crazy appetite after this.

To answer your question about motivation: I have a long term climbing goal and a mid term climbing goal and spend way too much time browsing MP for cool climbs. That keeps me motivated.

Also, I'm helping my buddy stay motivated. He's competitive, so we set each individual goals and are competing on the % progress towards our goals. Maybe a competition with some friends could be the ticket, or signing up for some event you know you can't do in your current state. Marathon, tough mudder, Mt. Rainier course, Mt. Washington,

Cameron Saul · · San Francisco · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 10

I think you should be careful about the anxiety you're experiencing about this goal. If you're getting that angry with yourself on a regular basis, you can bet that at some point that mentality will take it's toll - at a minimum you're going to get tired of it and return to normal. You've already lost ~20% of your body weight! That's crazy! Don't kill yourself over some arbitrary 5lbs. That's too much stress over the weight of a big dump.

If you decide this is a goal you want to hit and maintain, you need to find a way to do it without all the anguish. You need to find a way to make it easy, find a routine you can keep.

I agree with the post above about being careful at the grocery store. I don't buy crackers, cookies, or sweets of any kind for that reason. If I have them, I can't stop eating them.

polloloco · · Downey, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 255

Ah, this reminded me of a thing I try to follow with snacks. Don't eat stuff you didn't make. Want cookies? Sure, but make them from scratch. It's a pain in the ass. Crackers? Same thing, sure eat them but you have to make them. You'll end up eating less of the high calorie low nutrition foods. Fruits and vegetables? Easy! Eggs? Easy! Of course there are exceptions. Just another thing that might nudge you towards your goals.

Derek DeBruin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 585

I'll start with: nice work. Seriously. Getting to where you're at has already taken some serious motivation and discipline, and that's worth acknowledging.

I don't think there's necessarily anything directly "holding you back." Losing the last few pounds of weight is often quite difficult. You're likely hovering around your body's set point, which can make it challenging to lose weight. However, being engaged in a cycle of work stress, stressed eating, and then reactionary exercise does not sound like a super happy or healthy thing.

There are a number of behavioral options you might look at that are simple fixes but can have long-term impacts through small change. Knowing what you're "weaknesses" are when it comes to food, how you eat it, etc. can be helpful. I'll use some examples that work for me; your mileage may vary.

1. I really like sweets/dessert. I have stopped buying them. My wife likes them, too, and will get them on occasion. Since we tend to swap grocery shopping responsibilities pretty regularly, there's just half as much junk in the house.

2. Only buy high-quality chocolate, etc. When that bar of dark chocolate that I really enjoy costs $5, I'm much more likely to savor it and make a small amount last much longer than buying the monster bag of cheap stuff for the same price.

3. Only eat homemade desserts. I have a cookie recipe I really like that I've cut the sugar down on without messing with the flavor. If I'm willing to go to the effort to make the stuff, I get to eat it.

4. Keep the sweets in the basement pantry, not the kitchen cabinet. Even just the extra effort of having to walk downstairs provides a mental cue for me to evaluate whether I really want the stuff.

5. Have better options on hand. I'll go to town on fruits and veggies I really enjoy, and when I prepare them, I make extra so that I have snacks for later that are better options than whatever junk has ended up in the cabinet. And if I overeat on well-prepared veggies or something, it's a much smaller impact on calories.

6. Leave the food in the kitchen. When eating, I prepare a single plate of food in the right amounts and take it to the table. The rest of the meal is left on the stove/in the kitchen, which means I have to actually get up to go get seconds instead of just shoveling more from the pot right in front of me.

These are all fairly simple/innocuous things, but there's a lot of support for them in behavioral psychology as effective ways to help manage food intake. Maybe some of them could apply to your situation.

Regarding the stress, are there other stress relieving things you could substitute to prevent over-eating? Sometimes just chewing gum helps me--it occupies me, it's a little sweet, and comes at low caloric cost. Maybe you dig stretching/yoga, video games, reading, a favorite TV show, etc.

You could also look at creating a reward for positive behavior, something like: "I can only watch Game of Thrones if I didn't overeat." This might create better immediacy for your motivation than "12% body fat will be so rad sometime in the future if I just don't eat that extra burger."

Finally, consider the value of your 12% body fat goal. Why is that the goal? Mark Twight quipped in a classic book on alpine climbing that "Appearance is a consequence of fitness." So, what is it you want to be fit to do? If you focus on that goal instead, appearance and weight loss will likely come as a by-product.

When it comes to that goal-setting, an inspiring long-term goal is great, but you'll want intermediate goals that will help with the long-term goal and keep up the stoke. Keep reminders of them around. My long-term goal is the desktop image on my computer. My intermediate goal is the background on my phone. My short-term goals are visible every day as I can't go anywhere in my house without passing by the hangboard or the old ice tools I use for training.

Daily goals can also be helpful--just one single achievable objective toward your health/fitness/diet goals. Try to keep them straightforward and positive. For example, "If I feel the need to eat more today, I'll eat those extra veggies I made last night," or "If I feel the need to eat more today, I will get the dishes done instead and then take the dog for a walk." These are easier alternatives than, "I will not overeat today," which is harder to achieve.

Best of luck. Keep it up!

normajean · · Reading, PA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 100

You are experiencing normal resistance to weight loss the body puts up when the body fat level gets too low. In addition, blood sugar tends to drop for most people in late afternoon, just as they get home from work. Thats likely driving you to eat uncontrollably.

What has worked for me in the past is keeping protein intake high (1g per pound of body weight), distributing calorie intake evenly through the day, and eating high protein snack before leaving work so by the time i ate dinner i am not that hungry.

It also sounds like your 12% bf goal is mainly about looking good. Keep in mind that weight loss like that comes at a price of muscle loss. On typical weight loss diet 30% of weight loss is due to muscle loss). Not the best thing for improving rock climbing although being lighter can balance some of the negatives.

Carla R · · San Jose, CA · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 110

What is your diet like exactly? Losing weight is sometimes more than just a calorie deficit. For me, I've found that really focusing on high protein and low carbs (and almost always complex carbs) has helped me push towards a lower weight and better muscle growth.

Everything Derek said above is great advice too. Make it harder for yourself to overeat or make bad choices, and don't focus so much on the weight and focus on how you look (as you'll weigh more but be gaining muscle if you keep up with the training). If you're tending to overeat a lot it could be that you're lacking the necessary calories to feel full, and so you're looking to get those in elsewhere (i.e. overeating).

And as always, you should feel good. Remember what your goal is, and cut yourself some slack! You've crushed it so far to get to this point.

Good luck!

DRusso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 380

I have also experienced the battle that it is to lose weight. I lost 85 Pounds in 11 months then got in a bike accident which resulted in a torn ACL and MCL. I gained 60 pounds as a result of limited mobility and depression. I then lost 65 pounds over 10 months and stayed that way for a long time but continue to battle with losses and gains.

When you are describing the pattern of over eating at night or after long days of work, I have also experienced those same feelings. It is important to try to avoid habits that involve food as a way to cope with stress, being tired or depressed. I have had to really train myself to think of food only as fuel and not something I derive enjoyment from.(I know that sounds terrible but its what worked for me.)

Also what worked really well for nighttime alternative to eating was drinking tea. If you can sleep on caffeine then that works well as an appetite suppressant as well.

Also seltzer water that has a flavor mimics something sweet but with no calories, and if you are really struggling at night and want to really push it then sleeping pills will put you out so you can't eat.(that's kind of a last resort and not very healthy)

T-rack · · Merced, CA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 185

Try intermittent fasting. It's given me the mental edge to be more in control of my hunger and cravings. On days that I fast I find myself to be less hungry and more in control of those impulses. Cheat days are necessary though, but then I'll also do a 24-hour fast. So I think it balances itself out.

If you're interested, this was what got me really into it.…

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 290

Lots of good stuff above!

Go to TED talks and look up "why dieting doesn't work" for newer research on keeping weight off. Losing is the easy part, staying that way is really tough. Yo-yoing is really bad for you.

So, just have a 5 pound range to stay in. Weigh just once a week. If you are on the high end, just cut back a little. Like, no maple bar with the cappuccino. One or the other. Yeah. Eat a maple bar. Remember, keeping it off has to be just part of a normal day to day, year after year, life, full as possible of living.

I'm cutting straight to the chase in the next one.

Do you drink? If you are at all prone to depression, alcohol is not your friend. Loads of people can back that one up. You may "have no problem" with it, but even then, two beers or a maple bar with the latte?

Give yourself credit for your accomplishments. ALL the time. As soon as the shithead starts talking crap in your head, tell him to sit down and shut the fuck up. And yes, it is hugely helpful to personify that, and talk back.

Just for grins, now and then, strap that weight back on. Zip a 20 bag of spuds in your jacket, and throw 20 pounds of something in a book bag, and go for a walk. That should help remind you how awesome you are!

There's lots more along those lines, but the bottom line is it has to be sustainable, which means you have to be happy.

Best, Helen

PM welcome, if you want cheering on.

Roman G · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 170

Thank You all getting some great stuff here, going to re-read a few times.

Just want to clarify by what I mean when I say over eating:

My BMR (on average for my height/weight/age- 5'5/136/28) is around 1500 Calories.
My daily goal is 1200 calories - assuming I'm not working out hard or sitting home all day. Numbers go up according to my daily routine.

When I say over eating, I mean by a few hundred calories(300 to 400 to 500), so instead of 1200 to stay in the deficit to lose approx. 1 pound per week, I am eating around 1500-1600 calories.

I am not miserable by any means and have changed my eating habits last year and started eating really healthy not just for weight loss but because of how I feel and how it makes me feel.

Its fairly easy for me to remain and maintain weight, its losing just a bit more everyday that's making it so frustrating. I've essentially been able to maintain my weight for half a year. I know HOW to do it, it's staying motived and getting down to the reasons why I cant stay motivated seeing how badly I want it now vs. few hours later when I get home.

I am making a list of my food weaknesses as suggested above and currently its: sliced apples, strawberries, banana and nuts all mixed with honey (foaming at the mouth as I write this haha)

Fortunately I don't eat a lot of sweets anymore since last year nor have any bad cravings for sweets. Sometimes here and there I indulge in small amounts (burning off/balancing out with my diet)

As far as drinking goes, I only started drinking a few years ago...and if I do drink, its very little, pretty rare.

As far as not weighting my self so often as mentioned above: I do better if I weight self EVERYDAY, few times a day to see how my body is changing from day to day. Weighting my self helps me to gauge and stay in check more easily. is a great example of losing my motivation........
I can be weighting my self every day, eating as planned, and losing weight. No cravings. One day i'll get on a scale and it will say 134.4. And just like that, something in my head flips a switch and I say to my self....WOW I'm losing weight, I lost half a pound since few days that I am at 134.4 I can indulge today with something nice... today is okay since I lost all this weigh . I was never able to break past 134.0lb because of that debilitating thought. However weighting my self everyday definitely helps for me to stay in check and balance my self.

This is really all about motivation and keeping focus. For I am not struggling and asking WHY IM NOT LOSING weight (I have that part down) its HOW CAN I STAY MORE MOTIVATED...

Writing out these thoughts definitely puts things in perspective and helping me analyze things better. Thank You all for some really good points :)

T-rack · · Merced, CA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 185

Don't count calories.

Mac P · · Denver, CO · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 40

I've read about evidence that positive feedback can actually take the place of a goal and reduce motivation. This was in regards to telling people that you are going on a diet, they congratulate you, and your brain's goal-accomplishment zone gets triggered, and you lose motivation to actually go on a diet. Sounds like this scale is providing you that positive feedback and then you lose that motivation.

Well done in all regards, losing the 40 lbs, keeping it off, and in being dedicated to finding out the information you need to keep going!

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15

You can give yourself a break and do things you enjoy. I start to lose motivation during long training cycles, and I've found if I stop training for a week and just climb or ski or whatever, I "remember" why I want to be more fit and I get some motivation back.

But I also echo the questions about <12% BF.

Essential 2–5%
Athletes 6-13%
Fitness 14-17%
Average 18-24%

Why do you want to go so low? The last few percent are the hardest, the least valuable, and also the most risky to your health. It's hard to motivate yourself to get there if you don't have a real, deeply compelling reason you need to get that low, aka "I need to win (Olympic medal|Bodybuilding championship|etc)". If you want to be healthy and look good, that's 14-17%. Few women are really attracted to 6% BF.

P.S. Fat is fuel. I'm not a nutritionist, but I suspect if you like hiking, backpacking, mountain climbing, any kind of endurance sport, then single digits are actively bad.

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 70

Roman do you also track your 10 day trailing average for weight? It fluctuates a lot less than your day to day weight. I find it helps me to pay attention to this number and basically ignore what happens day to day.

Echoing what people said above though, the more weight you lose the harder it becomes. I lost ~25lbs many years ago and tbh for me it wasn't that hard. But now I find I can only motivate when there is an athletic goal (that is, sending) that will benefit from weight loss. Weight loss for the sake of weight loss at some point just becomes needless stress.

Roman G · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 170


I have found the very same exact thing for my self and have realized this when people are complementing me on weight loss and my family is telling me I'm ridiculous for wanting to lose any more weight, that I find self being less motivated. Since then I mentally try to block it out anytime I hear it.


I want to get down to this low BF mostly for looks for my self. Something I always wanted was a ripped mid section. Very frustrating knowing you have a ripped mid section covered by bodyfat.

Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15
Roman G wrote:Patrick, I want to get down to this low BF mostly for looks for my self. Something I always wanted was a ripped mid section. Very frustrating knowing you have a ripped mid section covered by bodyfat.
Ok, that's understandable, and yes you need a lowish (10%?) BF for really nice abs.

They say a six-pack is made in the gym & revealed in the kitchen. Maybe after all the cutting, you can take some time for a bulk cycle, focus on really building up those abs, and then come back to cutting? Especially considering, it's incredibly hard to build muscle while cutting. I know you've been training, but after all this cutting, you've inevitably lost some ab muscle. Go get that back with a short bulk before the final cut!

It's hard to work on the same thing for a long time.

It's also really hard to work in deficit, it's mentally taxing, and you've been doing that for 18 months. I'm not a body-builder, but I have to go on little 5lb bulk cycles every now and then because I tend to eat too little. Let me tell you, I love training so much more when I'm on a bulk cycle.
Patrick Shyvers · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 15

P.S. People estimate Ryan Gosling is 10-12% BF. If you are at 12% and your abs look nowhere near as good as his, that's evidence you need to stop cutting and do more work on the "building" side

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 290

40 pounds is also a lot of loose skin hanging around. At your age, that will probably go away, just not as fast as you might like!

And, maybe take some measurements (waist, hips, thighs). Weight can stay the same or increase, but be rearranged into muscle. When my weight stays "parked" for awhile (months) that's been when I've dropped a size, which matters more than the weight.

Good for you on the sweets! Not gonna happen for me. Ah, well.

And, that craving may be your body telling you it's wanting something, not just lusting.

Best, Helen

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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