11/04/2010 04:49 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The 2 Most Common Motivations for Losing Weight

The holidays are coming. It's that time of year when most people gain weight. If you do this year after year, the weight can creep up and stay up if something isn't done to counteract it.

In doing the research for my book about the process of weight loss, (which will be out very soon I'm happy to say) I have learned a lot. One of the most interesting things I learned is why people lose weight.

I have surveyed over 300 people who have lost weight and kept it off. I ask each of them what made them decide to lose weight. Although they all had different ways of phrasing it, it all boiled down to only two reasons. Those are: health and vanity. That was it. Health and/or vanity!

I began thinking about myself, and the hundreds of people I have helped to lose weight in my practice, and realized that this was true across the board. The younger you are, the more vanity tends to be the motivating factor. When you are middle-aged, both vanity and health play into the motivational aspect of weight loss. The older one is, the more health is a motivating factor. However, regardless of age, it was one, or both of these things, that spurred people on to make the changes to lose weight.

Most people who lost a significant amount of weight, and kept it off, had a triggering event that got them started. An example of that might be seeing themselves in a photo and being shocked by their size. Someone may have said something to them like, "Do you really think you need that dessert?" Or they went to buy clothes and their usual size was too small. Triggering events can be powerful motivators, but you don't need one to get started right now.

The heavier one is, regardless of age, the aspects of physicality played into the motivation to lose weight. Meaning, that not only was health a concern but also mobility. Being heavy takes a toll on the body. If you are very overweight, just getting up and down is hard. As a youngster, if you are obese, it is very difficult to run and play. As we get older it can become painful to walk as the knee joints are vulnerable to damage from the pressure of the weight.

The holidays can be experienced with joy and pleasure without the weight gain. In fact, you can start today keeping track of your calories and eating really healthy whole foods. You might even be able to lose some weight before the holidays really kick in. Wouldn't that be fun and enjoyable? Feeling fit and healthy feels better than any food tastes!

Losing weight is not easy. It requires us to change our habits, for the long term, if we want to not just lose it but also keep it off. Maybe this holiday season you can begin to make the changes you can carry on into next year and the year after. Perhaps this can be the year that you don't add the extra weight.

The more motivation you have, the better. So, think in terms of what motivates you. If it's health, make a list of what health issues will be improved by losing weight. If it's vanity, imagine how good you will look and feel when you get to your goal. Maybe even by next Thanksgiving, you will be there.

You can do it!

If you want to make contact with Irene you can find her here.