What Your Weight Loss Plan Is Missing

If you're dieting and not seeing the results you want, don't get discouraged! We asked ESSENCE readers who've lost weight and kept it off for their slim down secrets. Here are 10 elements your weight loss plan could be lacking if the number on the scale is at a standstill.

Nicole Marie Melton Jun, 18, 2014

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"Where the mind goes, the body follows."  It's true!  Find a mantra to repeat to yourself or keep a vision board to read when the going gets tough and avoid negative self-talk.  Committing to a long-term weight loss plan is a challenge, so give yourself credit for making the choice to improve your health. On the days you feel defeated, refer back to your mantra or vision board for an extra boost.

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Sure, you can aim to exercise every day for a month straight, or lose 10 pounds in 10 days by drinking only green juice, but in the long term, quick fixes can do more harm than good. For long term success, all of the women we interviewed mentioned that the weight came off slooooowly. Aim for 2 pound weight loss per week.  Take small steps to reach your goal so you're not overwhelmed by too many diet changes all at once, which can make you more likely to give up altogether.

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If you still have junk food in the cabinet from your pre-weight loss days, you may still get tempted to eat it. Go through your cabinets and purge any items that are not on your new meal plan. If you used to say yes to every happy hour invite, you may have to turn down those offers to make time for the gym after work instead.  It's going to take serious sacrifices to see real results, so be sure you're committed to the new lifestyle ahead.

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If you hate the treadmill, you're less likely to make a trip to the gym after a long day.  Sticking to a workout routine is hard enough as it is, so be sure to plan activities that will keep your make your workout fun. Try a spinning class or grab the kids and go play in the park for the afternoon. Or, maybe sign up for bounce camp-- a new workout class where participants jump on mini trampolines.  Sounds fun, right!

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It's true what they say: losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise.  Prepping your meals in advance will help you stay on track.  Don't rely on willpower to keep you from stopping at the fast-food joint after a busy day. Grab your groceries for the week in one shopping trip, cook three or four dishes, and place them in Tupperware so you can just grab and go!

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The ladies we interviewed all mentioned that they used a fitness app or journal to record their weight loss at least once per week.  Seeing your progress in writing can serve as a major boost in confidence.  It also helps you get back on track if you see you've gained a few pounds back or, even change up your workout plan if you hit a plateau.  My Fitness Pal, Map My Fitness and Lose It (pictured here) are three great apps we recommend.

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All of the women we spoke to who've lost weight and kept it off said that having a support system was key in their journey.  Whether you have just one girlfriend who you can vent to about your cravings ("Girl, if I see one more carrot stick, I'm going to scream!") or a larger group such as Weight Watchers, having an accountability partner makes all the difference.

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Social media can be a great motivator in your weight loss journey.  There are so many bloggers and everyday women just like you who are sharing their workout routines and recipe ideas on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Some of our favorite accounts are @FollowTheLita, @Paparoxi, @Ashleyjoi and @TheGreenTableQuest.  All of these sisters are so inspiring, and there are thousands more out there!

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Many of us celebrate holidays and accomplishments by having a big dinner out or ordering cake and ice cream, but when you're trying to lose weight, you have to find non-food rewards.  For example, you can splurge on fancy workout clothes with every 10 pounds you lose, or sign up for FabFitFun membership which will deliver health and beauty treats right to your doorstep to keep you motivated in your fitness journey.  ($49, available at FabFitFun)

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There are several factors that contribute to weight loss that you have little control over,  including genetics and your metabolism.  Whether you're long and lean like Kelly Rowland, or short and curvy like Amber Riley, there is beauty in all shapes and sizes!  Make sure your weight loss goals are realistic for your genetic body shape and strive to be healthy, not just "skinny."