Steps To Develop The Proper Weight Loss Mindset
Jay Nixon author of 'The Overweight Mind' states that as little as 20% of weight-loss success is about diet and mechanics, the rest is mental.
“Getting a handle on [your] mindset is what leads to long-lasting results”.
If you really want to lose weight and keep it off, then you have to focus on changing your mindset first, not your diet. Changing your attitude about losing weight is the single biggest predictor of whether or not you will be successful. Your intention, inner resolve, and acceptance of yourself are all crucial for you to effectively change your behavior and your life for the long term.
Losing weight is not about fixing yourself. It’s not about focusing on what’s wrong with you or what you need to change. That is a negative mindset. Instead, successful weight loss happens when you embrace the goal of lasting health, and set your mind in the proper ways, which will enable you to enjoy your life, live longer, and pursue the activities you want.
You can learn new habits and develop new ways of thinking about food and eating. It just takes time and practice. It takes the right mindset and a focus on what is important. It takes getting your mind right so that your lifestyle choices can follow. Here are our top strategies for changing your mind so that you can change your life.
Prepare For Changes
With weight loss and its journey come changes
- Dealing with challenges
- Changing habits
- Dealing with cravings
- Attention from others as your body changes
- A total change in lifestyle
- Saying goodbye to an older version of you
The decision to lose weight may seem like one you make with your rational mind, but in reality, it is one you make with your heart. In your soul is where you get in touch with your deepest fears as well as your most heartfelt dreams, and in this lies the key to lifelong healthy habits.
Motivation varies from person to person, it may be a desire to look good, or a more negative one that stems from fear, such as the threat of heart disease or type 2 diabetes that results from overweight and obesity.
Your real motivation, what lies deep down, likely comes from a negative place, like fear. You may fear chronic disease or missing out on your favorite activities. You may be afraid that others will make fun of you or that you won’t live as long as you like. While these are valid reasons to lose weight, you first have to acknowledge that that is, indeed, where your motivation lies.
Think about what would happen if you did not make positive changes for your health. What are the positive consequences? If you want to make health a priority in your life, you have to prioritize it for the right reasons. And focusing on the positive outcomes of these new habits is what will sustain over the long haul, not living in fear of what might happen if you fail. Keeping this positive motivation in the forefront of your mind and your decisions will enable you to be successful in your change efforts.
True lasting motivation always comes from your heart not from your head. A deep heartfelt desire goes a long way to lasting weight loss.
Make 2 Lists
- Make a list of all the negative consequences of not losing weight
- Make a list of all the positive consequences of losing weight
Make sure to be thoughtful and detailed in your lists, motivation is key in lasting success. Those who have solid motivation and keep in the forefront of their mind for life, enjoy lasting weight loss success.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Instead of using your mistakes as a reason to berate yourself, learn from them. When you fail, and you will fail, you will have slips, learn from those, let them prop you up instead of tearing you down. Seek self-knowledge to avoid the same mistake in the future.
Learn From the Past
Instead of focusing on all the times you have tried and failed to lose weight, let your past be your guide. What can you learn from your past successes and failures that you will apply to your present situation? Don’t beat yourself up about breaking promises to yourself in the past.
Use those experiences as opportunities to gain self-knowledge, so that you don’t have to repeat your mistakes again. We all fail from time to time. What is most important is that you learn from these missteps as you keep moving forward in life.
Make Your Goals Attainable
Often, that gung-ho feeling sets people up for failure. The first step toward getting healthy and staying that way is to start today by doing something. And the first inclination for many is to jump in with both feet, doing new things you have not done with your body in a long time (if ever).
Instead of making it a goal to run for 30 minutes every day this week, start with a more attainable goal. Can you walk for 20 minutes at least three days this week? Meet this goal, then increase it incrementally, building up to your final aim.
Instead of focusing on big goals like losing 50 pounds, break it down into smaller goals of 10 or 5 pounds at a time. Those big goal numbers can be overwhelming and deter motivation to continue since it can take a long time to get there.
Another mindset shift that helps in this regard is instead of thinking I need to lose 50 pounds,” think “Today, I will focus on changing bad habits, so I will eat a salad for lunch instead of a cheeseburger.” One day at a time. One meal at a time if necessary.
By overloading yourself with expectations to make such drastic changes in your life all at once, you are setting yourself up for failure. Set real, attainable goals, and remember that each day is one of a million steps you will take toward your journey to improved health. And the only way you’ll get there is by taking it one step at a time. One day at a time. One minute at a time.
Change Your Goals
Your goal should not be to lose weight. Your goal should instead be the more sustainable and important healthy habits you want to adopt in your life over the long haul. And your daily goals should be things you can accomplish each day to help make those new habits a reality. Instead of focusing on losing three pounds this week, instead, focus on eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day for a week.
Instead of worrying about the scale, ask yourself if you are drinking enough water each day or getting enough sleep? Goals should be about your health, not about your weight. The scale does not define you. It informs you. Don’t forget that.
Self-Control And Self-Discipline
Self-discipline isn’t something you should just focus on when it comes to your food choices. It is something you should be practicing in all aspects of your life. Self-control is a skill, like any other in your life. The more you use it, the easier it becomes to use it and the stronger your willpower. Self-control is a muscle that needs to be constantly strengthened in order for it to be stable and grow. Every time you resist temptation, you develop your self-control.
Resisting temptation is important in all aspects of your life if you want to be healthy, so learn to exercise your self-discipline in many ways, and you’ll see how it pays off when it comes to your eating.
Ditch The Cant's
The word can’t must be abolished from your vocabulary.
- I can’t eat right
- I can’t stand healthy food
- I can’t exercise
- I can’t lose weight
- I can’t take the workouts
- I can’t find time to eat right
- I can’t cook healthy, so I’’ just keep eating out, whatever they serve
All those can’ts bring you down, and it really is a matter of perception, and a false belief system, because in reality, you CAN do all those things. Start turning the “I cant’s” to “I CAN,” make a conscious effort, turn those “I can” statements into mantras. Change your mind from “I Can’t” to “I CAN.”
Learning to be more grateful can actually improve your chances of successfully losing weight and living a healthier life. When you have more gratitude for the positive things in your life, you behave in more positive ways and feel better about the opportunities you have.
Being grateful also has been shown to reduce the presence of stress hormones in the body, which can make you feel stressed and can lead to binge eating and other unhealthy habits. Start each day be acknowledging your gratitude to help make your healthy changes permanent.
Forgive Yourself and Others
Your regrets, grudges, and anger could be what’s really weighing you down. Carrying around unresolved feelings, whether about yourself or other people, can keep you from staying positive and committing to the healthy changes you need to lose weight successfully. All those vivid emotions you feel during the day, including your suppressed road rage and your uncontrollable irritation at the barking dog next door, are coming from somewhere. And that place is where all your negative emotions go to hide. It’s also where all your bad habits feed.
When you learn to forgive, you are much more likely to become healthier, feel less stressed, and remain focused on the positive goals you have set for yourself. Fixation of these negative emotions is a sign that you have not dealt with some of your feelings, which is crucial if you want to achieve health and wellness. Let it go, and you’ll start to feel lighter.
Find Fulfillment In Life, Not Food
Eating preferences and patterns become much easier to change for good when you are getting what you want and need out of life in other ways. It’s no coincidence that many people have successfully and permanently lost weight when they have changed jobs, pursued a dream, or removed themselves from an unhealthy relationship. Once you are happy in other areas of your life, you no longer need to find happiness in food.
You are not unhappy because you are fat. You are fat because you are unhappy. Knowing this means you can make the necessary changes you need to create more joy and spark more satisfaction in your life, which can help you make the kinds of healthy changes necessary to change your weight for good.
What do you want to do with your life? If you were entirely free to make any changes in your life that you wanted, what would you do? Look deeply into your heart to unearth your dreams, and you’ll soon see that initiated positive changes in your life to make these dreams a reality will allow you to live the healthiest life you have ever imagined.
Becoming healthier is a way to take care of yourself. It’s not a reward for good behavior or punishment for poor choices. Being healthy is the reward. In the same way, food should not be used as a reward, and exercise should not be considered a punishment. These are two things you do in order to care for yourself, which allows you to be the best person you can be.
According to registered dietitian Laura Cipullo, author of Women's Health Body Clock Diet, "Keep in mind that making healthy choices is a way of practicing self-care, food is not a reward, and exercise is not a punishment. They are both ways of caring for your body and helping you feel your best. You deserve both” (https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2016-09-19/10-ways-to-shift-your-mindset-for-better-weight-loss).
Build a Community
Making significant changes in your life is difficult, especially when you are on your own. You alone are the only one who can make changes, but you can’t make them alone. That’s why it’s always helpful to become part of a larger community that is dedicated to the same healthy lifestyle that you are. Your community can also focus on emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthy habits that help to improve your overall wellbeing.
Those who have help from a supportive community are much more likely to achieve their goals. When you are trying to make changes alone, you can feel isolated and scared, which leads to anxiety and depression. These emotions are much more likely to derail your chances of success. So, stay connected if you want to remain successful.
If you don’t like a face-to-face group, you can consider an online community. Or join a gym or become active in a club that engages in a particular activity you love. Whatever it is, find a way to connect with others.
Focus and Breathe
Establishing an intention in everything you do can help you to remain focused on your goals and what you believe is important. Start each day, each activity, each meal, and each workout with a moment of reflection. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply, to think about what you want to do and why you are doing it, and then begin.
Purposeful breathing and setting of intentions make it clear that you are choosing each of your behaviors. Things don’t just happen to you; you make choices that make those things happen. This practice forces you to confront the many different options you make in a day to determine when and how you are opting for the healthiest possibilities you can.
Build Your Resilience
Being able to bounce back from obstacles and hardships means you have a capacity for resilience. Resilience involves patience, problem-solving, determination, and perseverance, which can combine to help you find ways to overcome challenges and start over after failures. Actionable goals you can do every day are better to focus on, and when you occasionally stumble at these, it’s easier to bounce back, too.
Being patient, a vital component of resilience is important to your weight loss journey. It takes time to safely and healthily lose weight, and you need to work every day at taking one tiny step closer to your goal. When we are so used to instant gratification, this can feel maddening. But patience helps you appreciate your hard work and acknowledge the value of what you are working toward, as well.
Break Up With Your Critic
We know how powerful that inner critic can be. We saw that in the first section. If that voice is controlling your life, then it’s time to break up. Identify the negative thoughts that most often get you into trouble when it comes to your healthy eating choices and make a plan for how to change or stop them. When you hear that voice, stay “stop” out loud.
Say out loud the positive things you want to tell your critic that are reminders of why you are making these choices. Repeat this often, every time you hear the voice. Break the chain of the thought, and it is less likely to return. Repeat frequently, and you’ll notice that, over time, that voice will disappear.
Become A Friend To Yourself
It is easy for many people to be very hard on themselves when it comes to their weight or appearance. The standards you hold yourself to are likely much stricter than any that others would even consider asking you to uphold. And you are probably much harder on yourself than you ever would be on someone else. Why the double standard?
Learn to treat yourself in the same way you would a friend struggling with the same issues. Treat yourself with compassion and respect if you want to learn to love and accept yourself.