Updated: Mar 18
If one of your healthy living goals includes weight loss, you've probably noticed "diet" tips are not hard to find. There are countless books, magazines, and websites devoted to weight loss, each one telling you, “This is how you do it!” And while their approaches may differ (paleo, keto, plant based, etc.), the common theme is that they address making changes to your food choices in order to generate the desired result.
Any “diet” you choose, chances are, it will give you some results in the short term. But if you want to make weight loss stick for the long haul, then you need to address the mindset. Studies show you improve your chances of success (both short and long term) by having a number of behavioral strategies in your toolbox. In other words, when you address the behavioral, emotional and mental aspects of weight loss in conjunction with food choices, it makes all the difference.
Here are 5 simple mindset shifts that will supercharge your weight loss and strengthen your ability to keep the pounds off, for good.
Think About Why You’re Doing It
Why you want to lose weight can make a lot of difference. If your reasons are solely based on being happier or looking a certain way then studies show you are actually more likely to fail. That is because there really is no way to know that losing weight will actually make you feel better about the way you look or who you are as a person. While it may enhance feelings of happiness, weight loss alone cannot define it.
Instead of choosing these kinds of reasons as your basis for weight loss, dig a bit deeper. Think of your weight loss as part of a journey to becoming a healthier you and not just a means to an end with only one target goal. Working toward weight loss presents a great opportunity to introduce healthy habits into your life, such as eating healthier and moving your body more, which sets the tone for improving your health as well as achieving weight loss, resulting in increased longevity and improved quality of life. When your ultimate goal is to live a longer and healthier life, weight loss is more likely to happen and stick as a result of your new healthy habits.
Don’t Go For Broke
Trying to do too much too soon can work against you and this is one of the reasons why fad diets and drastically reducing calorie intakes have not been shown successful in the long term. While you might find some success initially, chances are you will quickly lose momentum and find it difficult to maintain day-to-day. In fact, in some cases your mindset might even contribute to weight gain, especially if you are yo-yo dieting or regularly restricting then exceeding calorie intakes.
When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady tends to do better for long term results versus trying to lose weight as quickly as possible.
You’re a more likely to succeed when you focus on smaller shifts that add up to bigger lifestyle changes. And when you practice those small steps every day, they’ll soon become habits. Think of weight loss as a result of improving your health and fitness and know that while you may not see big, dramatic results right away, the effects of improving your daily habits a little at a time will actually offer you a better chance of achieving your weight loss goals (and sustaining them), compared to focusing on one big goal that is more likely to lead to frustration and failure.
Breaking the Emotional Eating Cycle
One of the factors that can make weight loss feel so challenging is emotional eating. We often eat when we’re not really hungry and in a response to certain emotions. Breaking the link between your food habits and your emotions is a key mindset shift to master if you want to lose weight and keep it off.
Moving away from emotional eating will help you recognize and react to genuine hunger cues, so you’ll learn to eat when you're hungry and not just to soothe how you're feeling. Mindful eating is a great way to get back in touch with your body’s hunger signals. Look for new ways to address your emotions that don’t involve food, such as going for a walk or journaling. Taking these types of small steps can make a huge difference in your ability to lose weight naturally, without feeling punished or restricted.
Visualizing Weight Loss Success
Visualization can be a powerful technique for weight loss, especially when combined with positive self talk. How does visualization work? The theory is that when practiced regularly it actually helps to rewire pathways in the brain, which is excellent for breaking old habit patterns and establishing new ones.
To get the most out of the experience, visualize yourself at your ideal weight, with your body fat transforming into a much more positive form of energy. Keep this mental image in mind as much as possible.
Use positive affirmations and self-talk together to raise awareness as to how you’ll feel when you get to your goal. Focus on how you’ll feel in your health, fitness and overall wellbeing, not just on how you look or how much better you imagine life will feel when you're thinner.
Although visualization takes you on a journey into the future, you want to keep your self-talk in the present tense in order for visualization to be most effective and support a healthy mindset shift. Remind yourself that you have the power to change your body, if you believe you are much more likely to achieve!
Doing a visualization and positive affirmation practice every day can be much more effective than you might think. If you have ever visualized your dream job, relationship, or even destination vacation you understand. All of that positive energy put forth into your goal keeps it in the forefront of your mind, so you naturally begin to make choices that support it.
The best way to get started is by making a plan for your life long goals for your health, fitness and wellbeing, not just the short-term ones. You will see the big picture as well as the steps you can take (small and large) to make those dreams a reality.
Remember to remain body-positive. It is important to recognize all the wonderful things about your body now as you work toward your goals. Focus on your strengths and abilities, note what you are doing well as you embrace new habits, explore what you need to thrive mind, body and spirit, and appreciate all your body does for you each day! One of the main reasons for focusing on body positivity is to reduce the negative impacts a poor body image can have on your mental health and wellbeing. Having a more positive relationship with your body plays a role in how you feel about your appearance - no matter what size you are - and is reflected in how you perceive your self-worth. Studies have shown that having a negative body image is often associated with an increased risk for some mental conditions, including depression and eating disorders. Highlight those things you love about yourself (i.e., how you are as a person, a friend, a partner, a parent, those qualities that you are proud of), and love yourself enough to improve your health and fitness so you can be the best version of you, to yourself and others.
If you are a woman who is ready to live healthier and happier, ditch the diet, and discover small steps that make a big impact so you can live a life you love in a body you are proud of, then I invite you to come join me inside my women’s-only Facebook Group - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where busy women go for tips, tools and support so they can eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!