How To Cultivate The Right Weight Loss Mindset
I do a lot of writing about the mind and how our thinking is vital when it comes to achieving what we want. But what is the right mindset for weight loss? In this article I will look at how you can adopt a weight loss mindset to maximise your chance of success.
Where does the problem lie?
Losing weight is difficult for a lot of people, but why is this? Is it because people don’t know what to do? Is it because there is not enough good information or advice?
In my experience most people who want to lose weight actually know (roughly) what they need to do.
Yes of course there are different strategies you can employ and certain strategies work better than others. But most people realise that:
- I should eat a bit less
- I should eat less rubbish
- I should focus on making better food choices
- I should do some regular exercise
Most people understand these things and yet most people still struggle to lose weight (and keep it off). The issue (usually) is not knowing what to do – it’s getting yourself to do it.
Does this sound familiar? If so, you are like countless other people who want to lose weight but can’t seem to take the right actions consistently.
In short, most people fail not because of what they don’t know (although that can be an issue too), but by not having the right mindset.
The wrong weight loss mindset
So what is the wrong weight loss mindset?
Well for a start just take a look and see what is being advertised around us in the world.
“Buy this miracle potion and achieve results in just 3 weeks”
“Try this weight loss program and achieve your dream body in just 6 weeks”
“Do you want to eat whatever you want and still lose weight??”
As you can see from all of these statements, the focus is always on quick victories and events, not on process.
Generally speaking, people are looking for the miracle cure. People are looking for amazing results in just days or weeks. People are looking for a way to undo the results of a lifetime of unhealthy habits, the easiest way possible.
Perhaps you can relate or know someone who can?
We live in a world of instant gratification, where we have become used to getting whatever we want, when we want it. We have become used to getting things the easy way, NOW!
Then, when someone tells us that something might actually take some discipline, work and sacrifice, we run the other direction.
My friends, all of these things are completely the WRONG mindset if you are serious about losing weight, and keeping it off.
You probably have the wrong mindset if:
- You think losing weight is all about sacrifice or deprivation
- You always look for the latest ‘diet’ or ‘secret’
- You spend a tonne of money on supplements hoping to avoid the real work
- You see dieting as a short term thing like ‘losing weight in 4 weeks to go on holiday’
- You go with how you feel each moment, instead of following a clear plan
- You justify things to yourself all the time, or blame outside factors
What is the right weight loss mindset?
The brutal truth is that if you are serious about wanting different results in your life, the you have to be prepared to make some real changes – and that includes to your mindset.
When I talk about mindset, I refer to everything that goes on in our heads regarding a subject, and there are two main components:
- Our approach (how we view the goal and the process surrounding it)
- How we manage ourselves through the process
I’m going to talk a bit about managing yourself later in the post. For now though let’s focus on the first aspect of mindset – your approach.
Let’s say that you decide you want to lose weight.
Basically through making that decision you are setting yourself a goal. We looked above at all the ways to think which would class as a ‘wrong’ mindset.
So what is the right mindset?
Well to start with here are a few key aspects:
Weight loss mindset 1: Think long term
Like it or not, real and sustainable weight loss is a game which should be played in the long term. Yes I know you are going on holiday in four weeks, but consider this:
Every time you diet on a temporary basis, you set up a likely rebound effect. When we diet in the short term, it’s possible to take all kinds of shortcuts. Why?
Because we know that we only have to take action for a few short weeks. Therefore it’s easy to make ourselves eat well, go to the gym etc – because we know it’s temporary.
We even go to extremes and lose LOADS of weight in a short space of time. Again, because our goal is temporary.
What happens when the holiday is over? The reason for dieting is gone, we can’t continue the extreme action, and we quit. Our weight balloons again.
Therefore start thinking of weight loss as a creation of a new lifetsyle. It’s a long term project and it takes time to do it properly and create permanent change.
Set long-term goals and break them down, don’t hope for 6 week miracles.
Right weight loss mindset 2: Think habits, not willpower
Real change in life is about building new habits. It really is as simple as that.
The problem with most people’s mindset is that, rather than cultivating healthy habits, they rely on pure willpower and motivation to get them through every decision.
There are different ways to build new habits (including self-management), but one of those ways is to start small.
Remember our minds do not like huge change in a short space of time. Also, motivation and willpower are both fleeting – which means if you expend them trying to make MASSIVE changes in just a few weeks, you will burn out and give up.
Start small with a few key actions you’d like to build into your life. Keep practicing them until they become habit, then add a few more.
Don’t expect 5 gym sessions and 5 cardio sessions straight away. Start with one of each per week, then build up slowly.
Don’t expect a huge diet overhaul instantly – gradually add and reduce different things over time. This is the steady and sure way to progress, and results.
Right weight loss mindset 3: Focus on process, not events
Whatever you do, stay away from anything which is promising the ‘secret’ in a short period of time. These are classic signs of marketing to ‘event-thinkers’.
Weight loss is not an event. Building a leaner body takes time. A great body is achieved step by step, by step, by step. One at a time.
Look at it this way: if you always go for the quick-fix, you will discover it doesn’t work and give up. So you’ve wasted your time anyway.
Better to invest your time in a long-term process (strategy) which will actually work, no matter how much time it takes.
Small habits, repeated regularly, with conviction, are what lead to success – not a miracle potion or pill!
Right weight loss mindset 4: Change the way you see yourself
Why is it that so many people struggle with their weight? Why is it that so many people hope for the secret or quick fix?
The answer is that most people view themselves in completely the wrong way. In a way which is not supportive to what they want.
- Instead of thinking “i’m someone who can never stick to a diet”, believe that you can.
- Instead of thinking “dieting is such a struggle”, think “I’m building a new lifestyle and nutritional strategy”
- Instead of thinking “the road is so long”, think “one day and one choice at a time”
Those are just a few examples but the fact is that if you are to change your choices, you need to begin changing your self-image. Why? Because we tend to live up to our own self-image.
It’s not easy, but it’s another small process which can yield massive benefits if applied.
You can read more about overcoming your limiting beliefs in this post.
The power of self management
So, the first part is having the strongest approach to your goal. Now the second part of having the correct weight loss mindset is how you deal with the process.
Dealing with the process is all about being able to self-manage.
I am a firm believer that having an ability to self-manage is absolutely key to achieving success in anything. It’s one thing to set goals, but it’s another to keep taking the right action consistently, even through the tougher moments.
Remember that at the beginning we are motivated, so action is easy. Self-management is purely about helping ourselves take action when the motivation fades.
Managing yourself can be as simple as a mental tool which flicks a switch in your mind. A great example is Mel Robbin’s 5-Second Rule.
If something is new or unnatural to us, then about 75% of the time we are going to feel like making the wrong choice (our mind wants to stay comfortable).
The 5 Second Rule basically jump starts the mind into a bias for the action we know we should take. You just count down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1……and do the thing you know you should!
Simple, but it works!
A self-accountability tool
Another very powerful way of maintaining the weight loss mindset is to have some kind of accountability tool for yourself.
What is going to hold you accountable to your actions in the moments of weakness, or when you just can’t be bothered?
If your answer is ‘nothing’ then you are going to struggle.A self-accountability tool puts your ability (or inability) to carry out the process, right in your face.
For example I have an Excel checklist which lists the 9 or 10 actions I am committed to taking every single day. They are just small, simple, mostly easy things – but if I don’t have the list, I probably won’t do them.
However having the checklist (I have to check it off every single day) mean’s that I have an ‘in my face’ reminder of how committed I am.
If I don’t do what I’ve said I will, it is right there in front of me in bright green/red!
This doesn’t mean that I have ‘failed’ or that I should beat myself up. It simply shows me the truth about whether I am taking action or not. This is extremely motivating!
An even more effective way to do it is to have someone else ask you the questions on your checklist at the end of each day!
This may sound silly or restrictive, but it really works. These kinds of tools are used by very high performers such as CEOs, to manage themselves and their teams (Triggers, Marshall Goldsmith).
If you want to go a little deeper on self-management, check out this post.
Remember that steady wins the race
Above all, keep focused on the process, not the outcome. Focusing too much on the results we want can demotivate and stress us – and the small day to day actions suddenly seem insignificant, and the result far away………
But they are NOT insignificant and the result is NOT so far away!
The small, subtle, day to day choices are absolutely everything. They are what determine who we become and what we achieve. Everything takes time, just commit to the process.
Steady wins the race. Doing the right small things, everyday, over time, leads to incredible, sometimes unbelievable change.
Good luck in your weight loss journey. Please remember to take the right approach. Forget the secrets, the potions, the pills and the bullshit: play the long game, but start playing it NOW.
The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
Triggers by Marshall Goldberg
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson