If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you have probably been lured into the process by some appealing looking diet du jour. Maybe you’ve even lost the desired weight, only to regain it and perhaps more. Full of self loathing and disappointment, you lick your wounds and vow to try again—next time you’ll have more willpower.

Newsflash: It’s not about Willpower.

Many people have come into treatment with me to lose weight explaining that they’ve tried everything and that they just see themselves as weak individuals with no willpower. I always explain that you have to start by asking yourself what is motivating you to lose weight? Once you begin to understand your reasons for wanting to lose weight, you can truly start to make progress.

In thinking about writing this article, I discovered many different definitions of motivation but only one really hit the nail on the head. According to motivation-for-dreamers.com, motivation is the reason for an action, that which gives purpose and direction to behavior. It is “what drives you” to behave in a certain way or to take a particular action. It is your WHY.

Over the 30 years I have counseled people desiring weight loss, I have always reminded them first and foremost, that Slimworks®, my non-diet, mindful eating approach is not the quick fix that diets promise. It is a process that takes time, energy, sustained effort, and a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them. In addition, you must practice being self compassionate, not self critical or judgmental. But first you have to begin by looking at the various motivators that are driving your desire to change and lose weight—your very own WHYS.

These reasons are very important. It is crucial that you take time to think about them, since I have worked with countless people who initially come in to lose weight for the wrong reasons that inevitably lead to failure and frustration.

What are the wrong reasons for losing weight?

Here are ten common ones to avoid:

1. Losing weight for an event—a reunion, wedding, family gathering

Whenever you make an event your reason for losing weight, it is destined for failure because once the event is over, so is your motivation.

2. Losing weight to be loved by your partner, parent, significant other

The focus has to be on loving yourself unconditionally as well as caring for and about yourself first, not trying to lose weight to get that love and affection from others. You’re the source- it has to come from within.

3. Losing weight to start dating

Your life has to start now, there’s no need to postpone things that you truly want—including a partner.

4. Losing weight to fit into a specific size or be a certain number on the scale

You will discover that when you learn to eat according to your physical hunger and stop when you’re comfortably satisfied, your body will naturally gravitate toward a comfortable body weight that is sustainable. You have to be realistic and not strive to be the weight you were in high school. So keep the focus on the internal processes and your body will follow.

5. Losing weight to go on vacation

Don’t wait, plan a vacation now. No need to punish yourself or delay a much needed opportunity to rest, relax, and rejuvenate and experience someplace new. You will get much more out of giving to yourself than depriving yourself.

6. Losing weight to buy new clothes

Throughout the entire process of losing weight, you have to feel comfortable in your body. Tight fitting clothes just make you feel self conscious and overly aware of not being where you want to be. Buying new clothes that fit your current body size will make your feel more attractive and as you lose weight, you can always have them taken in.

7. Losing weight in order to join a gym, do an exercise class or start an exercise plan

Isn’t there something oxymoronic about this. You go to the gym to enhance your weight loss efforts, not to mention, the endorphins that your brain releases that make you feel good overall. Remember there are people of all different shapes and sizes at the gym and if not, look around and choose a gym that feels comfortable to you.

8. Losing weight to go out with friends

If someone is truly your friend, they don’t care what size you are, they love and appreciate your for who you really are both inside and out. Depriving yourself of fun with friends will just land you back into isolating and using food for comfort and soothing.

9. Losing weight in order to look for a new job

Pursue a new job now. If you’re unhappy with your present job, redo your resume, buy a new interviewing outfit, get some job coaching and go for it! No need to put your life on hold.

10. Losing weight to go to the beach or the pool

There are all different sizes and styles of bathing suits out there—in stores and on line. If you enjoy the beach but deprive yourself from going, it will backfire. This is where self compassion comes in, buy something you feel comfortable in and enjoy being by the ocean. Go out and live your life, no need to sit on the sidelines!

So if any of these reasons are some of your motivators for losing weight, think again. Your reasons have to be deeper and more meaningful, ones that will withstand your urges to eat emotionally, impulsively, compulsively, and mindlessly. They have to come from within.

Once you have your list of reasons, write them on an index card. Put them by your bedside table and read them when you wake up in the morning and when you go to sleep at night. Keep another copy at work in your desk drawer and one in your wallet so you can refer to it at anytime. Constantly reminding yourself of your motivators can help to imbed them in your unconscious. You can even have a good friend with a soothing voice record them onto a CD that you can upload onto your Iphone.

Be Creative and Focused on Your Goals and You Will Stay Motivated!!