In Categories: Practical Tips

The beginning of a healthy lifestyle change can be an exciting time. But after a while, life often starts to get in the way. We travel for work. The holidays come up and so do our stress levels. Old habits can slip back into place before we even realize.

How do we stay motivated when the initial excitement wears off? Is motivation the best strategy for us to reach our goals? We asked the Virta patient community for their best advice.

#1. Find Your Why

For any change, there’s probably a reason you want to make it. Identifying exactly what that reason is and reminding yourself of it often can help you stay focused when times get hard. Write it down in a journal or even on sticky notes around your house as a reminder.

There are different kinds of motivation to keep in mind. Extrinsic motivators are external, like a reward or a fear of punishment. Intrinsic motivators are internal. You’re motivated to do something for its own sake, for personal satisfaction. Extrinsic motivation can be a powerful tool to stay on track when getting started, but intrinsic motivation tends be more meaningful and last longer.

Here are few of the “whys” that Virta patients identified:

Eyesight: “I was primarily motivated by increasing health issues. My eyesight and other things were causing me great concern. I also had the feeling that I wouldn’t live very much longer if I didn’t do something drastic and soon!”

Family: “I knew type 2 diabetes was wrecking my health and my loving family needed my TLC.”

Feeling better: “Initially my motivation came from being sick and tired of being sick and tired. The prospect of having to take medication for the rest of my life was depressing and seemed inevitable after battling with my diet for five years. I was at my wit’s end. Nothing was working…After making all of the necessary lifestyle changes, we can’t imagine ever going back! My motivation now stems from feeling so much better and experiencing all the wonderful health benefits that being kinder to my body have to offer.”

#2. Embrace Challenges

No matter how much we plan ahead, unexpected things come up that challenge our commitment to healthier choices. By taking a mindful approach and welcoming the situation as it is, we can diffuse negative emotions around our habits.

Difficult times are an opportunity to cement your commitment to a healthier way of life. If you do lapse, remember that it’s a part of the process. Recommit to your goals and move forward with what you’ve learned.

“I still feel very motivated, but I do get tired of the fight sometimes. I feel like I have had to wage war in order to get healthier, but it’s definitely a war worth fighting!”

“We all have moments of temptation or weakness, because we are human. For me it’s different now. Instead of temptation and weakness having the upper hand, I am in control. I choose what I will eat and when I will eat it. The benefit of making good choices overrides the temptations and this in turn fuels my motivation to continue loving myself and helping my body heal.”

#3. Find a Community

A support system can be essential to making healthy lifestyle choices stick for good. If you don’t have people in your life that support the changes you’re making, try looking online for communities in your area or on social media.

Virta patients connect with one another in a private community. We asked them who also keeps them going when times get hard. Here’s what they said:

“Many people! Me, my husband, my family. We all deserve to be the very best of ourselves. I must love myself, first and foremost, in order to fully love those around me. I am motivated to share the best of myself with all of my family.”

“My grandson. I want to be there for him.”

“I do what I do not only for myself, but for my son. I have family and friends that have so many nice things to say about my progress and that is very motivating, but the person that motivates me the most is my health coach! I couldn’t have done this without him!”

#4. Own Your Story

It’s completely normal for motivation to wane over time. If it does, it’s important to focus on the actions you can take moving forward to stay true to your goals. Building a habit of discipline will help you stay strong in the face of challenges.

“Don’t give into any lack of motivation, but try to think of all the good things that are happening. I also play a visualization game. I picture the results of what will happen to my BG and how bad I will feel if I don’t stay the course.”

“I feel like there are so many good things that keep me motivated and I just try to always keep those things in mind and to know it’s a process. A process which I have to concentrate on daily, sometimes even by the minute if I’m having a rough time.”

“I give thanks and praise every day for each day that I am blessed with, even in times of challenges. As long as I am doing what is right for me for the right reasons things will move in the direction as they are intended to. I focus on the forward motion, I don’t allow myself to be derailed by the little bumps along the way. It’s a journey, not a race.”

Accepting ourselves, lapses and all, is key to making healthy choices a part of a sustainable lifestyle. By putting in the work to make healthy habits, you’re making a long term investment in yourself.


  1. Thanks! I needed to read this today! I am trying hard to get refocused and back on track. These are good reminders.


  2. Hi:

    Thank you for all the fine work you do and the information you share.
    I appreciate everything in a text format as I’m not a fan of podcasts etc.


  3. This is an area that needs more emphasis. I have been reading and researching this Way Of Eating for several years now and I still haven’t overcome the temptations. I am a type 2 and have all the symptoms of metabolic disease but I STILL can’t beat this thing. Most of what you read is the success stories and they make it seem like clockwork. Evidently, not everyone loses their carb addiction in just a few weeks or I am truly and outlier!


    1. As I’ve heard Dr. Phinney say, keto is like a tiny island. And, it’s easy to drift out to sea! For me, it’s helped to explore my personal upper limit of dietary carbs, so that I can map out my “island”, which lucky me: is a bit bigger than 20 total carbs. It’s also helped me to find some keto-friendly treats to enjoy on those occasions when only a little-something-sweet, or a little-something-salty-and-crunchy will do. My progress has not been totally a straight line. Some say for them, it has been. Others fear judgment, and present themselves as unerring perfectionists, even though they harbor secrets. I’ve seen whole online communities of people who present themselves as unerring keto dieters. I think that will be the death of keto as a diet trend! We need to help people navigate openly and honestly through the rough waters. Suppressing speech and expecting people to present false personas will only make people move onto the next popular diet trend.


    2. Roger, I agree that the ‘poster child’ testimonials can be discouraging for those of us for whom the changes take longer and the healing takes more patience. You are by no means an outlier! I can’t overstate the value of having a coach attached to a health team like Virta provides to help you navigate your particular needs. Beating a sugar addiction is challenging!


    3. Right there with you!


  4. Great motivator


  5. After I skip that cake or ice cream or chips I really wanted, I always think about it later. How happy I am I didn’t eat it. Remembering how good I feel about not eating it helps for next time and last longer than any fleeting pleasure. Most times now I have no problem saying no. On the rare occasion that I do say yes I note how that pleasure is short lived and that also helps me say no next time.


  6. I keep my old insulin box in my fridge. It’s empty now, but every time I open the fridge and see that box – it’s a positive and negative motivator. I mentally celebrate that I don’t have to give myself shots anymore, and I remind myself that no “treats” are worth doing that again!


  7. I thought that I was a failure because I “fall off the wagon” a lot. I try real hard to find my motivator but still it is not motivating enough. I am on a real high right now on wanting to do and choose the right things. Reading these posts has helped me see that unfortunately but fortunately that I am not alone. The program had worked for me in the beginning with great results but then the celebrating started to take place and my old habits started to come back with force. I quit smoking cigarettes in 1999. It came to me that cigarettes were controlling my life and I wanted that control back. My motivator to NEVER smoke cigarettes again is ……..It was torture to quit and I never want to suffer that torture again. It makes sense to me right now to take that logic and apply it to reversing diabetes. The new way of life that the Virta program offers may not be easy but worth the rewards just as quitting smoking. Good luck and stay optimistic. It can be done.


    1. Virta Health

      Great outlook Liz, Thank you for sharing!


  8. Thank you all above, I was so good for a while, the desire for a sandwich real bread overcame me, unfortunately, yes my sugar levels went up, I was not feeling well. Therefore today I started back on my Keto diet, feeling so much better and thinking why did I suppotage my good work …. Yes get over it, it happens and continue my great diet, that reduces my BSL’s makes me feel bright and alert and energetic. I found a new recipe Keto for Bread to try. I will soldier on with all your support and inspiration
    thank you


    1. Virta Health

      Thank you for sharing Susanne! Yes, slips happen, great job getting right back on track! Here is a quick article on the consequences of cheating on a ketogenic diet.


  9. Timely and Encouraging ! – for someone who who previously dropped 60 lbs in 6 months AND bring A1c back to normal from 3x above… then had a setback and ‘found’ 30 of those lost pounds…
    I knew how to succeed, – but this helps to get going again.
    – THANKS !


    1. Virta Health

      You are so welcome!


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