Staying Motivated When No One Notices

When I was at my highest weight of 305, I never completely gave up dieting. I’d be “content” for a while, but inevitably, I’d try some new eating plan in the hopes of losing weight once and for all. And the happy thing for me was that I could lose weight. I’d pretty easily drop 20 pounds but then I’d just as easily gain that 20 pounds back.

What made me quit so soon? Why wasn’t the scale moving motivation enough for me to keep going with my attempt at weight loss? I don’t have the definitive answer, but one little piece of the puzzle for me was that it was hard to do all that work of eating “better” and not have anyone notice.

Because, at 300 pounds, it took a lot more than 20 pounds lost for someone to notice the change. But I didn’t realize that at the time. Instead, I thought that people should just notice. The funny thing was that even I couldn’t tell a difference so I don’t know why I expected/hoped that my friends would be able to.

So, discouraged by my lack of stellar progress and saddened that all my hard work wasn’t being rewarded, I’d quit yet again. The 20 pounds would come back on and guess what? No one even noticed I had gained weight – not that they said anyway.

How do you feel when no one notices that you’ve lost weight? How do you stay motivated?

Obviously it took a long time for me to stay motivated without verbal acknowledgement from people I knew. I let that (and other things) stop me dead in my weight loss tracks.

The final time I lost weight I went into the whole experience with different eyes. Instead of losing weight and achieving a new level of fitness for praise and acknowledgement from other people, I embarked on my journey for me.

♥ I was the one who needed to get fit.

♥ I was the one making daily choices that would help or hurt my health.

♥ I was the one wearing sized 28 clothes.

♥ I was the one who could change my life and reap the benefits.

I have to be honest though – it was still hard to push through alone. 20 pounds down. No one noticed. 30 pounds. No one said anything.  It wasn’t until I had lost 50 pounds that the first person noticed I had lost some weight, and even then, they weren’t entirely sure. I still remember my good friend saying, “Diane, have you lost some weight?” She asked tentatively, as if she didn’t want to hurt my feelings if I hadn’t.

I wanted to grab her and jump up and down but I was afraid I’d hurt her so I just calmly said, “Yes, I’ve lost some weight.” I didn’t tell her how much and she didn’t ask. It was a still a good feeling to finally have her notice.

But her noticing didn’t increase my motivation to lose weight that last time because her reactions and the reactions of other people weren’t why I was finally lose weight. I was losing weight because I knew I needed to and was ready. I knew that no matter what other people thought – I needed to stay motivated for me.

Where are you on your journey? Do you have a hard time staying motivated if people don’t seem to notice your efforts?  Diane

41 thoughts on “Staying Motivated When No One Notices

  1. Samantha says:

    I came by earlier and the comments were closed! I came back and see you opened them. Thank you because this is such an important topic.

    I really have a hard time when no one notices. I know I am doing it for me, but it’s nice when other people can tell that I’m finally doing something good for myself!

  2. Matt says:

    This can be a hard thing. I don’t want to be a “look guys” kind of person, but even for me it’s nice when people notice.

    I guess I’m doing this for me, but still do enjoy having notice.

  3. Sara N. says:

    It’s me. I’ve done this before when people don’t notice quick enough. I quit so fast. But then there are some times when I don’t want people to make a big deal over the whole thing.

    It’s complex – but you are 100% right – it comes down to the fact that I’m doing all the work for me and eventually other people will notice.

  4. Ashley says:

    Great post! When I first started to lose weight, I was almost embarrassed when people noticed, because I didn’t really tell many people that I was trying to get in shape because I was afraid of failing. Funnily enough, my grandfather, in his late 70s at that time, was the one who was most vocal about the changes and curious about what I was going at the gym.

    Now, of course, I love it when people notice. I’m kind of hurt when people I haven’t seen in years don’t acknowledge it. About two years into my weight loss, a boss asked me in front of several coworkers if I’d been losing weight (I had only been at that paper like, a month and they didn’t know the history) and while that would have mortified me at one point, I told her yes, that it was a long work in process.

    I have even more to say about this … I should e-mail you!

  5. Monica says:

    I can relate to this because I want people to notice, and when they don’t I want to eat candy. But then if I eat candy I feel guilty for eating it and that’s not a good result to be sure.

    Doing it for me and staying motivated in spite of apparent lack of notice on others part can be hard. Sometimes though people do notice but they don’t say anything right then.

  6. Brenda says:

    I don’t have a hard time now staying motivated. I think it’s because the real reason I am getting healthy now, for my heart and to lower my risk of cancer (which is why both of my parents died too young). It’s always nice to see an old friend who hasn’t seen me in a while and get a nice complement, but when I get up early to ride the bike or go out for a jog in the evening, it is to give my heart a good work out and to work up a sweat.
    The reason I was never sucessful before when ‘dieting’ was because I only had my eyes set on getting ‘thin’ and I wasn’t making healthy lifestyle changes. I was just eating hardly nothing and ‘working out hard’ for a week and giving up.

  7. Lori (Finding Radiance) says:

    Comments are wonderful, embarrassing, irritating all rolled into one sometimes! I get asked that question a lot about where the motivation comes from and I says it’s not motivation anymore, but dedication. Think I might get a t-shirt that says that 😀

  8. Marcelle says:

    I lost weight for me this time as well…and my friends also never noticed when I lost 5kg for example….which on my size was big and I noticed..but kept going – I try compliment others now as I know how motivating it is.

  9. Kristina says:

    I am so there! I have lost right at 60 pounds and unless I say something about it, know one notices. Its so disheartening…..but I know that when I hit 100 pounds lost….people will see it! And then 200….oh yeah! I dont do it for them, but the comments certainly make you feel like what your doing is being noticed. But this is for ME! For my health! And that is what I am trying to stay focused on! Great post!

  10. Diane says:

    For me it has never been about appearance, either direction of the journey. Weight has never topped me from doing things like wearing shorts, wearing a swimsuit, getting in a pool or so forth. And likewise comments from others about my progress or lack of comments have never been a desired thing- and I am not sure why. When I lost 110 pounds there were a few occasions when I met up with family members and friends that I had not seen a while, and they had a kind of jaw drop reaction that made me feel really uncomfortable. My thought was “the inside is the same, only the shell is different so why are YOU suddenly different”. I do not do this for appearance, but instead overall health and that is something I carry with me no matter what the size label on my clothing says.

  11. rebecca @ durch dick und duenn says:

    like many of the other commenters, I loved getting compliments but eventually they wore off, and somehow I managed to gain back all the weight I took off.

    this last time I set out to lose weight, I prayed people wouldn’t notice and wouldn’t compliment me because I had heard it so often. I didn’t want this time to be like all the rest where I would eventually gain it back. It felt different this time,I graciously accepted every comment with a Thank You and left it at that unless I was probed for my info.

    In times past I would have gushed and gushed about what I was doing. Not anymore, reality is, most people don’t care unless you have a pill that allows them to continue doing what they are doing and yet lose 50 lbs1

  12. Tiffany says:

    Wow- I needed this post today! It’s so funny, sometimes I feel like when I read your blog I am fast forwarding through a year b/c those are the kind of things that I am struggeling with now but will be completely different for me next year.

    I do struggle with no one noticing- I mean there have been 2 people who have said anything but I guess 25lbs just isn’t that noticeable when you still weight 330! Could you maybe share a little bit about when you noticed the most weight coming off? I know you said 50lbs was when others noticed but did you see a huge difference between 200 and 180?

    Thanks so much!
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Day #21: The Straw(s) that Broke the Camel’s Back… =-.

  13. Erin says:

    This one hits home with me, for sure. I’m down 50 pounds, and people have noticed. Oh yes, they have indeed! Family I only see once a year (or less) But, I’ve been plateau’d for almost a year. 🙁 I’ve still lost fat inches and replaced them with muscle, and people have noticed that, too. I am frustrated with the plateau, for sure, but I just keep pushing through and doing what’s best for my body, because I know I’ll get there.
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..Turkey! =-.

  14. Melissa says:

    I can totally relate. I would always quit soon after I started, because even though the scale would move, my clothes didn’t feel any different and no one noticed any changes.

    I’m at that point now, I’ve lost but nothing else has changed. But this time I feel different about it! I just have to keep telling myself I’m already halfway to the point of where I know I will at least be able to tell, so I want to keep going!

  15. Dr. J says:

    Well said, Diane! I don’t know exactly when it happened, but when I started to do things because they were important to me, and not to get recognition from others was an important turning point. The interesting thing is, I probably got more recognition after that 🙂

  16. Mia says:

    When I was younger, I tried to loose weight for vain reasons. I always failed, miserably. It was when I did it solely for myself, for health reasons, that I finally succeeded. I wonder if that was because I “heard the clock ticking”! Looking good often lost to a chocolate sundae but living longer….that can’t loose out to anything!


  17. 'Drea says:

    Other people keep telling me that I look smaller but I’m stalled on the weight loss. It’s a little challenging to keep plugging away at the gym when you don’t see the number on the scale decrease.

    Also, it’s hard not to indulge in certain foods because I feel like the scale isn’t moving anyway. Therefore, I should just go ahead and…
    .-= ‘Drea´s last blog ..And You’re Ready Now? =-.

  18. Sunny says:

    It WAS hard the first 20 lbs/til someone, anyone, finally noticed. The praise has been heady, to be sure. But you are absolutely right; until we are in this for the right reasons (ourselves and our health)….it won’t work/last. It can’t be just to reach a specific number (looks at herself) or to wear a certain size clothes. It has to be the realization our lives and our health is at stake, and needs to be fixed. When we really, truly realize that and accept that and our responsibility to ourselves, THEN we can really start working on losing the weight. It’s that dedication to ourselves that helps fuel the long-term motivation required to succeed. Thank you! You always make me think!!
    .-= Sunny´s last blog ..Patience is a virtue….. =-.

  19. Laura says:

    I’m in my way. Now my weight is 191, and I have lost 15 lb in the last 4-5 months. Nobody, except people who knows that I’m dieting, has noticed it. But I’m happy with this. As it has been said before, if someone knows, it creates a pressure for if I’m not able to arrive. But, in general, this time I don’t worry about what people says.

    Previously I lost many weight, but one day someone told me I was fat, and after this I started to be more and more fat. I asked myself: why botter about being fit if I’m eating very few and I’m doing a lot of exercise and I’m still fat?

    Now it doesn’t matter. I want to be fit for me. It doesn’t matter if peoples does not notice.

  20. josie says:

    One of my bosses had been on vacation for several weeks because his wife had a baby right after Christmas. So I hadn’t seen him since before Christmas. When he first walked in the other day his first words were “wow, you’ve definitely lost weight”. That made me feel good. I still can’t notice a physical difference when I look in the mirror…only when I’m comparing by before/during photos can I see a change. I’m looking more forward to the day when *I* can see the change in me, then hearing it from others.
    .-= josie´s last blog ..Good Intentions =-.

  21. Sandra says:

    I have to admit that having outside confirmation that I am losing weight certainly helps in my motivation but it isn’t all I need. Even if the scale doesn’t move too much, as long as the inches move, then I can easily stay on track. I get discouraged when the scale doesn’t move at the rate I think it should but I am slowly letting that go.
    .-= Sandra´s last blog ..oi vey – I’m having one of those weeks…. =-.

  22. Hope @ Hope's Journey says:

    Where I am on my journey today is trying to recover from my mini-binget the other night. I kind of screwed up, and I’m working my way back. 🙂

    The way that I feel is really a motivation for me. When I’m eating healthy and working out, I feel 1000% better than I do when I’m eating crap food and shunning the ole’ workouts. But, I NEVER ever get tired of hearing “Wow, Hope you look so skinny today,” even though compliments are not my main motivation.

  23. Quix says:

    I was about to comment on how that never really mattered to me and then I thought about it. It really DID when I first started out. When I was more concerned about appearance than performance. It meant a damn lot to me when my parents complimented me (after chiding me on my weight for years). At the beginning though, the scale really helped. Seeing the number go down 1-2 lbs a week, even if no one noticed, was SUPER helpful. And the sparkpeople community, even if they couldn’t SEE me, could support and celebrate losses with me. My hubby was definitely supportive as well, so that was another big help.
    .-= Quix´s last blog ..Ask The Audience =-.

  24. WaistingTime says:

    It can be nice when someone notices… but I agree with you – We have to do it for ourselves. And the worst thing about someone noticing for me has been wondering if they then noticed when I gained weight back! But my yo-yo days are over. Or will be soon, anyways.
    .-= WaistingTime´s last blog ..It’s All Small Stuff =-.

  25. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Hi Diane. Love the new look of your blog by the way!!!

    Yes, it can be hard to stay motivated if nobody notices & makes compliments to spur you on BUT as a life long process, we are going to have to learn to motivate ourselves as well so…. it is something that you have to learn.. to do the hard work no matter what else is going on.

    I have been at this a long time so I have my internal motivation but I do admit when I was younger, the compliments really helped BUT I was going to do it whether I got them or not cause I wanted to look & feel better for me.
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Body Learning; New Picture; Book Giveaway Winner =-.

  26. The Chubby Girl Diaries says:

    The many times I tried before, I wanted everyone to notice.

    Right now, I know that I have a ways to go before *I* even notice. And i’m going on the fact that I feel so good working out and eating right. I didn’t feel that way when I was eating crappy food and living sedentary.

    Great post!! 🙂

    .-= The Chubby Girl Diaries´s last blog ..Checking in with yourself – staying on track with health and fitness goals inspite of it all =-.

  27. MyKashiDiet says:

    I don’t know Diane, I feel more pressure NOW that people are noticing, i get questions and everyone focuses on the numbers… not my focus,as you know, I just want to be healthier and let the weight take care of itself, I don’t want to feel the pressure – I don’t want to hate myself beacuse of a bad day – I just want to stay possitive and move forward… at my pace, gradually becoming a new me….
    but now they’re watching, asking questions, wanting to replicate… and the pressure makes my focus change – like I owe them something… to lose more… no for me but for them…sorry I’m rambling, but I knew you’d understand
    .-= MyKashiDiet´s last blog ..if it’s not tasty… you won’t eat it!!! =-.

  28. Anonymous Fat Girl says:

    This time around I haven’t had many people notice that I’ve lost about 24 lbs. It’s okay. It doesn’t bother me. What I’m finding out is how much I enjoy that people notice how hard I’m working out at the gym. We had three more people in our workout group last night. It’s crazy! People want to work out with the fat girl! That feels good. I guess it’s because it’s helping others and at the same time I know I’m reaping the benefit too.
    .-= Anonymous Fat Girl´s last blog ..So, YEAH, I got my reward tattoo today. Wanna watch? =-.

  29. Karyn says:

    It is funny for me because sometimes all it takes is for my jeans to fit looser to keep me going. Other times it like, ‘What’s the point? I get no incouragement from others noticing.’

    It isn’t so much that way anymore. I want to look good for me, and be healthy for my family. Who cares what the neighbor thinks. Going to the water park with my family last Sunday was awesome because when I put my bathing suit on that I had only bought a few months back, and it wasn’t snug anymore, I was ecstatic. I had to stop in the mirror and check myself out! Afterwards, my hubby mentioned that he thinks it’s time to buy another new swim suit as mine looks to big now. Yipey!
    .-= Karyn´s last blog ..Birthday fun! =-.

  30. Tammy says:

    I have a huge extended family. I just went to a baby shower for one of my cousins (there’s 33 of them), last Sunday. There were 35-40 people there, none of which I’d seen since last May at the family reunion. I’ve lost 40+ lbs since the reunion. I thought EVERYONE would notice and say something. Turns out, only 2 said something. Instead of being happy about that, I was irritated that the other 30 people didn’t say a dang thing, lol. will I ever be happy??? 🙂
    .-= Tammy´s last blog ..Trench Warfare =-.

  31. Mackattack (Beth) says:

    I always notice when I see someone that I haven’t seen in awhile. Do they say something? Do they tell me that I look good? or do they say “i haven’t seen you in so long?” It’s hard not to hear the positive reinforcement…But I still love feeling my clothes feel bigger!
    .-= Mackattack (Beth)´s last blog ..Caesar’s Salad =-.

  32. John W. Zimmer says:

    Funny but my scale was all the motivation I needed. If people did not notice – I would eventually tell them if they were close.

    The hard part I always had was the weight feeling right… so I’d “reward” myself with eating and partially negate the progress… a vicious cycle (I’m about to break) 🙂
    .-= John W. Zimmer´s last blog ..Have Garage? Need Health Club? – NOT! =-.

  33. Susan says:

    I lost 30 lbs and the only people who noticed were my family. Or at least, they were the only ones who said anything. It kind of irked me, but like you, I was at the point where I was doing it for myself and not for compliments. I like to tell myself now that people never noticed I was 30 lbs overweight because they were more focused on who I really was as a person 🙂
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Clearing the Air =-.

  34. Leah says:

    This is something I can relate to for real this time around. I have started this journey for me and my health.

    I appreciate the compliments on my weight loss when they come, but really the only thing that matters to me most is that I’m progressing towards my goals.

    I think it makes a big difference when people lose the weight for themselves versus someone else. You’ve made me think… thanks! 🙂

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